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Hi, I am

Desirai Sweder

I am a product manager.

about me

Services & Specialties

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PRODUCT MANAGEMENT

I manage the intersection of design, business and development while keeping the customers in the middle.

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START-UPS & TECH COMPANIES

I work with high growth startups to build and develop product teams that deliver on the vision of founders and early investors.

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REMOTE PROJECT MANAGEMENT

I manage development teams & liaise with marketing, support, sales, product and management teams all over the world.

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PRODUCT CONSULTING

I help founders and product managers build the systems and processes that define and get their product to market.

Work Process

DISCOVER

IDEA

DESIGN

DEVELOP

TEST

LAUNCH

Clients

SaaS Products

amazooka

merchant-metrics-logo-transaparent

Fun Facts

19 Countries Visited

Location Independent Since 2016

4000 Cups Of Coffee (and counting)

Full Time Autodidact & Data Nerd

resume

WORK HISTORY

February 2019 – Beyond

Senior Product Manager

Personio

Personio is the HR Operating System powering SME businesses in Europe.

August 2017 – January 2019

Product Management Lead

DoubleDot Media

Doubledot Media offers 7 different training and software applications designed to help our customers set up successful retail and marketing websites. Our flagship product is SaleHoo, an online supplier directory.

I guide core product team on product initiatives like OKRs, data driven decision making and process improvements.

My product focus in the organization is on strategic development of adjacent markets by developing new products for related markets.

April 2019 – August 2019

Project Management Lead (Freelance)

Arcanium Collective

I helped to build the Project Management vertical inside of Arcanium – a location independent freelance development agency based out of the US.

February 2018 – July 2018

Director of Product

Self Key & KYC-Chain

I lead the Product team for the SelfKey & KYC-Chain Ecosystem, and work as the Senior Product Manager for KYC-Chain.

KYC-Chain is  a B2B Compliance Platform that drives KYC Processes in Fintechs, Banks and Crypto Exchanges. SelfKey is a blockchain based identity wallet and marketplace which aims to give people control over their own identity.

January 2017 – June 2017

Chief Product Officer

AMZ Tracker Inc.

I built a new 3 person product team for all of AMZ Tracker’s suite of Amazon Seller Software when it was relocated to Shenzhen, China.

AMZ Tracker employs over 25+ people, across 5 continents and has thousands of clients across the world on 6 different software products.

My primary focus when building the product team was communication. – Across our diverse western and Chinese teams, but also between my product managers and our customers.

We were able to collectively stabilize the platform and start re-positioning our software to align with the changing market.

July 2016 – June 2017

Product Manager & Marketing Automation Specialist

Merchant Metrics & AMZ Tracker Inc.

I worked at AMZ Tracker as a Product Manager for Merchant Metrics, the Amazon FBA Financial Dashboard after it was acquired by our parent company.

Merchant Metrics expanded from 2 to 5 employees and grew to hundreds of customers.

I manage the scope and key relationships that make sure we are creating a product that our customers love, value for our company and are positioned to take advantage of opportunities in the market.

(I also design the marketing automation infrastructure that connects our awesome customers to AMZ Tracker’s suite of products)

January 2016 – July 2016

Product Manager & Onboarding Specialist

Amazooka LTD.

I was the key product strategist & product marketer at Amazooka, the All-In-One Amazon Analytics Platform.

Amazooka had 6 employees, across 3 continents and had hundreds of customers on three different software products.

I converted strategy into systems that work. At Amazooka that meant designing the systems that convert leads into customers and keep them on our platform.

(I also designed the onboarding and feedback cycle systems that keep us in touch with our customers and aligned with our market)

2015

Digital Marketing Consultant

Interrobang Marketing & DS Consulting Services

Interrobang Marketing is a Boutique Consulting Firm.

We helped businesses entrepreneurs & small businesses create digital marketing platforms that nurtured prospective customers through the entire sales funnel.

EDUCATION

2013

Bachelor of Commerce

St. Mary’s University

Double Major: Finance and Management

Download CV

Software Development Skills

Product Management

Design

Product Discovery

Team Leadership

Project Management

Product Marketing

TESTIMONIALS

david

David Hehenberger

Founder / Merchant Metrics Fat Cat Apps

Desirai has consistently shown initiative, drive and creativity when approaching problems. She helped create new processes and scale Merchant Metrics to accommodate the substantially larger and more diverse AMZ Tracker customer base.

Managing Director

Rachel Mazza

Managing Director / SEO Conversion Content and RM Media & Marketing

While I admire and respect her deep commitment to expertise and specialization in product management and team management – I would gladly CREATE a new position simply to hire Desirai on my team.

I can say with confidence that Desirai was the single most versatile, effective and results-driven manager on our team. She created a clear roadmap for our products and integrated her executable plan seamlessly with the marketing, development and executive teams.

Terry

Terry Lin

Product Manager /AMZ Tracker & Terrylin.lol

Even as our resources were spread thin, we were still able to work together and get new features shipped, bugs removed, and quality improvements in the product roadmap. She is reliable, capable, and highly responsive when it comes to team communications, and executes on a very high efficiency when it comes to getting things done.

Tamara Herbst

Owner / R&R Wellness

Through Desirai’s desire to help me and the business succeed and by laying out a feasible plan, my plan of action was clear. Following the business plan, 2 months later my business is where I hoped it would be.

Library


 

Let your mind become a lens, thanks to the converging rays of attention; let your soul be all the intent on whatever it is that is established in your mind as a dominant, wholly absorbing idea –Antonin-Dalmace Sertillanges


In Progress:

  • Mindfulness by Ellen Langer
  • Invisible Man by Ellison
  • Crossing the Chasm
  • Art of Product Management
  • The Great Mental Models
  • Cloud Computing
  • Footsteps on the moon
  • Introducing Github
  • Competing Against Luck
  • Jobs to be Done: A Roadmap for Customer Centered Organization

Completed Book Count

Since June 2015 (sans comfort fiction) = 121

Year To Date= 50

December 2019

The Players Ball: A Genius, a Con Man, and the Secret History of the Internet’s Rise by David Kushner (4/5)

  • I picked this up as a recommendation from Wired. This investigative piece was written much like a novel and quite fantastical. One almost can’t believe that it is true. Kushner attempted to share the thoughts and feelings of the men involved and I wonder on his investigative methodology here, it wasn’t included in the audio book. IT parallels so much of my experience working with Blockchain companies, foreboding really.

The Book I Didn’t Want to Write by Erwan Larher (4/5)

  • This has been on my to-read list for some time. If the measure of a book is getting pulled through it, waiting for the next time to pick it up, then this is a good book. Touching at times, interesting always, this memoir pulls together the attacks on the Bataclan and on France in a literary take. I know Erwan and others that suffered that night, I think this book does them justice and like the Larher’s I know, is hopeful and maybe a bit idealistic.

Lives of Girls and Women by Alice Munro (4/5)

  • I’ve been working through book for this for some time as part of a wider desire to read Canadian Literature. It took so long to finish in part because it made me uncomfortable. Not only is it very on point in terms of coming of age, but also of being Canadian, a woman. Munro makes you feel. I can understand why this book won the Nobel Prize.

Unreliable Memoirs by Clive James (4/5)

  • I chortled all through this short memoir of James’ early years growing up in Australia. His wit and candor not only proved to be entertaining, it encouraged me to look on my own childhood with a gentleness and humour that largely escaped me. My only lament is that he just passed away, luckily he has a broad swath of work that I can work through. I am trying to explore more criticism in my reading.

Indigenous Relations: Insights, Tips & Suggestions to Make Reconciliation a Reality by Bob Joseph with Cynthia F. Joseph (3/5)

  • This is an excellent book for businesses that are trying to navigate their relationship with Indigenous groups in Canada. It delicately walks through the subtleties of language, action and formalities at a high level. It is definitely more skewed to a corporate audience.

Black Rednecks & White Liberals by Thomas Sowell (4.5/5)

  • This was an excellent book. I picked up this book after reading a post of my friend Micah. Very glad I did. I cannot say that I agree with everything that Sowell says, but this book made me re-evaluate and challenge my beliefs across the board, especially in relations to culture, minorities and success. Impeccable logic, excellent.

Linchpin: Are You Indispensable by Seth Godin (1/5)

  • The low rating on this book is not because you cannot glean some useful information that could elevate your career. It’s because the format is horrendous, it reads like someone who is dehydrated and wandering the desert in search of water. Maybe trying to be prophetic? The last 17 pages of the book are all you need – by then he got out of the sun and had a drink of water.

November 2019

Gather Together In My Name by Maya Angelou (4.5/5)

  • I’ve made it a mission to read one of Angelou’s autobiographies in the winter each year. She takes me to places I’ve never been and imparts what it really means to be human, to be figuring it out, to just live without judgement. Lovely – truly a gift.

Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers, and Challengers by Alexander Osterwalder, Yves Pigneur (4/5)

  • This book, albeit a bit dated, was a treasure trove for thinking through a product audit I am undergoing at work right now. I was able to use it as a handbook that sparked ideas for how to innovate. It would be hard to read as a stand alone text though, much more useful as a companion to a project.

In Defence of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto by Michael Pollan (4/5)

  • Eat Food. Not Too Much. Mostly Plants. Pollan has a way of making the complex really quite simple. It was another great book to listen to while fermenting food, making bread, curing meat and otherwise exploring in the kitchen.

Artificial Unintelligent: How Computers Misunderstand the World by Meredith Broussard (3.5/5)

  • A very good primer on some of the underlying tech and issues that can arise for non-mainstream (white male) groups when technology is applied for their use cases. There were some leaps in logic that I deemed either unfair or not sufficiently supported by her evidence. She probably falls into the Liberal Media bucket that conservatives throw around, but her work was both accessible and informative. She introduced me to data journalism, ProPublica and other interesting tidbits.

October 2019

China in Ten Words by Yu Hua (4.5/5)

  • I’ve lived in China (and HK) and knew vaguely the outlines of the cultural revolution and “why” mainlanders were so different than the HKers. This book was poignant, easy to read and eye opening. Highly, highly recommend for everyone as a base line understanding of modern China.

Educated by Tara Westover (3.5/5)

  • This memoir was gifted to me, it is well written and as impartial as one could hope in sharing something so personal. I don’t think this was as moving or impactful for me as it is a story that I understand, and echos different aspects of my own history. Regardless, impressive story about overcoming incredible odds and really reaching for the top and all the struggles along the way.

Becoming by Michelle Obama (4/5)

  • I found this to be a very candid autobiography from the former first lady. She didn’t come across as innately political, in fact the opposite. It was an easy read, gave me insight into the previous presidency of the US, the hope juxtaposed against the pragmatism.

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning for Business: A Non-Nonsense Guide to Data Driven Technologies by Steven Finlay (4/5)

  • This was a great follow up to the more technical focused ML books I have been reading, especially helpful was his outline on how a Data Scientist would approach a project. Heavy on the GDPR, but useful if you don’t already have a handle on this.

Smart People Should Build Things: How to Restore Our Culture of Achievement, Build a Path for Entrepreneurs, and Create New Jobs in America by Andrew Yang (3/5)

  • This was my first exposure to Venture for America.  I’ve been mulling over the non-profit model, how to keep smart people doing impactful things and using the start-up ecosystem to develop people and drive growth in Canada. This part auto-biography/part policy outline gave me some interesting inspiration on how to take that to Canadian cities (especially looking at secondary cities for immigration outlined in Maximum Canada below).

September 2019

Maximum Canada: Toward a Country of 100 Million  by Doug Saunders (4.5/5)

  • This book made me cringe at all the missed opportunities Canada has had in terms of growth, innovation and stature (which translates to opportunity and connectedness for Canadians). I’ll be using Saunder’s book as the blueprint for how I evaluate candidates and vote this election. It was honest, realistic and outlined the needed policy changes to institute the kind of Canada I would like to see. It completely revamped my historical understanding of how Canada grew as a country. HIGHLY RECOMMEND for Canadians.

Steal Like An Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative by Austin Kleon (3.5/5)

  • This was in my AltMBA course materials. It was pretty easy to flip through and an entertaining read. I found the flow of words a bit challenging to follow, but some actionable ways to inject more creativity into your work and life.

Machine Learning for Absolute Beginners: A Plain English Introduction by Oliver Theobald (4/5)

  • Where this is definitely for absolute beginners, you will need a handle on math to get real value out of this book. Theobald does an excellent job at simplifying enough, exacting examples and even taking you through your first ML algorithm. I was able to take his concepts and apply them immediately at work.

The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever by Michael Bungay Stanier (3.5/5)

  • Very actionable and clearly defined take-aways with habit formation baked into the book. Despite this, I found it challenging to read, namely because it was lacking a flow and the humour, at times, detracted from the message. The habit formation logic was also a little stretched at times.

Onboarding: How to Get Your New Employees Up to Speed in Half the Time by George B. Bradt & Mary Vonnegut (2.5/5)

  • I read this to get a better handle on an Employee Onboarding product, it is very focused towards promoting their consultancy, but did have some good general knowledge as well.

The Phoenix Project: A Novel about IT, DevOps, and Helping Your Business Win by Gene Kim, Kevin Behr & Spafford (4/5)

  • Although this isn’t a novel that I would recommend if you are looking for real fiction, this was a great and easy introduction to what exactly is it that DevOps do, how to align business goals with technology and better reach and manage up in expectations as a PM. Easy read, and really helped me frame business and user needs better.

Cracking the PM Interview: How to Land a Product Management Job in Technology by Gayle Laakmann McDowell & Jackie Bavaro (3/5)

  • Picked this up to get a better handle on the ambiguous role of a PM and how to address being a non-technical PM in a workforce that seems to be driving towards tech. It uncovered a few unknowns for me that have helped reshape what I am pursuing.

Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation by Michael Pollan (4.5/5)

  • My partner and I have been working our way through Pollan’s collection via Audio. Our latest book from Pollan did not disappoint and inspired us back into fermentation – Kimchi and now Kombucha!

August 2019

Introduction to Networking: How the Internet Works by Dr. Charles R Severance (4.5/5)

  • This landed on my reading list thanks to Taylor Pearson and set off a cascading search for other books that demystified technology in such a impactful way. Excellent read, Severance does a great job at making technology accessible.

Everything is Fucked, A Book About Hope by Mark Manson (5/5)

  • This is his follow-up to his Subtle Art … book, and it does not disappoint. He points directly at the *thing* that bothers us and provides a real framework on how to rise above it. Not everyone’s cup of tea in terms of delivery, but I love it.

Personal History by Katherine Graham (4/5)

  • I first came across Katherine Graham in The Post, played my Meryl Streep and then in The Outsiders by Thorndike and was intrigued by the duality of Ms. Graham. This book was honest and gave me a glimpse into a completely other time and the evolution to today. Worth the read, but it is a commitment. I worked on this for a couple months before crossing it off the list.

June 2019

Mindfire: Big Ideas for Curious Minds by Scott Berkun (4/5)

  • Scott had some good ideas all in short essay form here – largely copied from his blog. However, the format does do them justice.

Very Good Lives: The Fringe Benefits of Failure and the Importance of  Imagination by JK Rowling (3/5)

  • The book is good and I read it as a little book club book. However, it is just a reiteration of her Harvard address which she delivers wonderfully and you can watch here.

Slicing Pie Handbook: Perfectly Fair Equity Splits for Bootstrapped Startups by Mike Moyer (3.5/5)

  • A great primer on dividing equity and creating fairness inside of startups. Very accessible and a great read.

May 2019

Making Things Happen: Mastering Project Management by Scott Berkun (2/5)

  • This really didn’t resonate with me, I think it is likely because I am dealing on a smaller team/start-up mindset. Probably a good fit if you were dealing with large projects or companies.

Bad Feminist: Essays by Roxanne Gay (2/5)

  • I did not like this book. There were moments of near-goodness, but much of it reads like a pop-culture snapshot from 2014. The prevailing message/saviour of this book was just the flexible and fluid definition she provided to feminism and the imperfections that lie therein.

Creativity Inc. : Overcoming Unseen Forces that Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Ed Catmull (4/5)

  • I generally don’t subscribe to unfettered optimism and idealism, but Catmull has the chops and track record to back it up. It is heavy on Pixar awesomeness, but has a lot of legitimate take-aways. I found it a great input while I am crafting my strategy for team building.

Smart Cuts: The Breakthrough of Lateral Thinking by Shane Snow (4/5)

  • I was able to glean quite a lot of goodness from this, some of the ideas are not unfamiliar but Snow pulls together real world examples and how-to’s to get his point across. Easy read – certainly recommend.

April 2019

The Bonjour Effect: The Secret Codes of French Conversation Revealed by Julie Barlow & Jean-Benoit Nadeau (3.5 /5)

  • I’ve been slowly reading this book over the last 2 years. I found it to be fitting as a Canadian (Quebecois) view on France, French People and French Culture.

The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals by Michael Pollan (4/5)

  • Michael Pollan is one of those guys you would love to have over at dinner just for the quality of conversation. Highly recommend this book to get a real understanding of the cost of a meal.

Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness by Peter Godfrey-Smith (3.5/5)

  • I listened to this book, which probably isn’t the best medium. It is quite dense and leans heavily into philosophy. I don’t know if I can say, I recommend it, but it is an interesting treatise on what we consider intelligence and how that has developed.

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (4/5)

  • This is a great book to have on a coffee table, thought provoking and well written in a bite-size piece. Recommend having a read an a conversation – Adichie is an elegant and inspiring woman.

March 2019 

The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right by Atul Gawande (4.5/5)

  • Really excellent book on how something as simple as a checklist can focus professionals in complex spaces to really deliver their best. Immediately actionable, very readable.

The Dip: A Little Book that Tells You When to Quit (and When to Stick) by Seth Godin (4/5)

  • Seth’s books are always on point. I didn’t find this particularly inspiring, it was useful in helping me clear out the half-baked plans I have sitting on the shelf of my todo list.

The Secret History of Wonder Woman by Jill Lapore (3.5/5)

  • This truly was a Secret History. In many times the family unit from which Wonder Woman was birthed was ahead of its time, in many ways it still is. Curious story – did drag a bit though.

Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces that Shape our Decisions by Dan Ariely (4/5)

  • I’ve been nursing this book for almost a year. It is a good read, and has definite value inside of product organizations as a break from conventional reasoning and helping uncover the true motivations behind users actions, especially for assessing qualitative data.

The Outsiders: Eight Unconventional CEOs and their Radically Rational Blueprint for Success by William Thorndike (5/5)

  • Well worth the read whether or not you are a CEO. It completely changed how I make decisions in my life and in my work. I challenge someone not to find value here.

The Orenda by Joseph Boyden (3.5/5)

  • This is the first new non-fiction book I have read in some time and is part of an exploration into Canadian Literature. He shared considerable insight into early native american cultures in the well-researched book.

February 2019

The Education of a Coach by David Halberstan & David Maraniss (4.5/5)

  • Despite not being a fan of American football, or sports in general, I was immediately taken by this book and finished it in a matter of days. It was very well written and is a gem for anyone looking for excellence in their work. Not everyone is obsessive, but certain traits do well in anyone’s life. I picked this off of a Ryan Holiday book list – very worth a read.

Metabolism Reset Diet: Repair your liver, stop storing fat, and lose weight naturally by Dr. Alan Christianson (3.5/5)

  • I was looking for a cleanse post-Christmas and was recommended this by a friend. It was very informative when it comes to liver function and how the body works. Not sure if I will do the diet, I’ll update if I do.

January 2019

Code Girls: The Untold Story of the American Woman Codebreakers of WWII by Liza Mundy (4.5/5)

  • My partner and I listened to this on Saturdays as an audio book over the last couple months. It was very well written/researched and an intriguing story. Mundy did an excellent job of capturing that era with these women, the prologue was very heartwarming, interesting and heartbreaking all at once.

The Curious Barista’s Guide to Coffee by Tristan Stephenson (4.5/5)

  • Another great companion for the coffee enthusiast, there is a lot of overlap between this one and the World Atlas of Coffee below – however this book focuses on making coffee vs where it comes from. Where your interest lies should drive your decision in purchasing either of these books.

The World Atlas of Coffee: From Beans to Brewing – Coffees Explored, Explained and Enjoyed by James Hoffman (5/5)

  • Really great book breaking down coffee from a historical to technical to geographical point of view. It’s my constant companion with each new bag of coffee I buy. Well worth it for coffee geeks.

A Brief History of France by Cecil Jenkins (4/5)

  • A gift from my inlaws – this book was well written and condensed a very rich history into manageable pieces for a near beginner. Highly recommend if you start dating a French person.

December 2018

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou (5/5)

  • I had this sitting in my to-read pile for a while but knew little of Maya before picking it up. This was the first of her autobiographies and it was incredible and immediately sent me searching for more of her and her works. Highly, highly recommended – incredible writer and woman.

Cows, Pigs, Wars & Witches: The Riddles of Culture by Marvin Harris (3/5)

  • I’ve been reading this book intermittently over the last year. It continued to be interesting, yet never really inspired me. It wasn’t until the end until I realized it was a much older book. For anyone looking for a different understanding of religion, from a purely academic standpoint, this is very good.

Factfulness – Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World — and Why Things Are Better Than You Think by Hans, Anna & Ola Rosling (3.5/5)

  • The book was well written, it was very much like Hans was sitting across a table talking to you about the state of the world. It is coming from a deeply humanist perspective and glosses over much of the environmental crisis we find ourselves in, and thus I found it lacking.

All Our Relations – Finding A Path Forward by Tanya Talaga (4/5)

  • This book was the first that I had read on Native suicide. Talaga went beyond the borders of Canada to look at the inordinately high suicide rates in aboriginal populations on almost every continent. It was well delivered, if lacking cohesion in places.

Rock, Paper Scissors: Game Theory in Everyday Life by Len Fisher (4/5)

  • This book was both entertaining and informational. His natural curiosity about life, and willingness to experiment with everyday situations brought a lightness into what could be a heavy topic. Coupled with actionable insights, I would highly recommend this as a light intro into Game Theory.

Heirloom Wood: A Modern Guide to Carving Spoons, Bowls, Boards and other Homewares by Max Bainbridge (4/5)

  • This book was simple and beautiful, looking forward to my next hobby.

November 2018

Norse Myths & Tales by Dr. Brittany Schorn (2.5/5)

  • I picked this up because I grew up with a hard cover copy of Ingri D’Aulair’s Norse Gods & Giants always in the house. It was a beautifully illustrated book and captured my attention and interest in mythology. Although I enjoyed the nostalgia in reading this book, it wasn’t particular well presented and didn’t add any depth to the book.

An Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America by Thomas King (3.5/5)

  • Easy reading from a style/attitude/humour perspective, not so easy from a content perspective. Excellent research, presentation and history – a must read for anyone looking for an easy entry into Native History in North America.

A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson (3/5)

  • Bill Bryson remains at the top of my “most amazing dinner guests” list. This audiobook lived at the intersection of interesting and easy to have on in the background on Saturdays. It did start to drag at the end – worth a listen.

Defying Hitler: A Memoir by Steven Haffner (3.5/5)

  • Really excellent read from the perspective of a educated class German raised in WWI and coming of age in WWII. Toutedly more emotional than most of Haffner’s later works, this truly is a gem.

October 2018

Rich Dad Poor Dad: What the Rich Teach Their Kids About Money That the Poor and Middle Class Do Not! by Robert T. Kiyosaki (5/5)

  • Excellent and actionable book by Kiyosaki. He balances the two frames I find in constant conflict – the Liberal “right” way to do things vs. the effective business focused side. His insights completely changed the way I look at my life.

Seven Fallen Feathers: Racism, Death and Hard Truths in a Northern City by Tanya Talaga (4/5)

  • This is a part of a larger Canadian theme into better understanding both Canadian history and the perspective of the native people. Talaga did a good job of tying our past into the challenges of the present.

September 2018

A Short History of Canada by Desmond Morton (5/5)

  • Excellent summary of Canada, he made it both interesting and balanced. In a country as young and diverse as Canada that is hard thing to accomplish.

August 2018

A Short History of Progress by Ronald Wright (4/5)

  • An honest look at progress, the definition of which I had taken for granted. Wright uses real world historical examples to outline the results of unfettered progress – which is essentially the world today. Excellent read – Recommend.

July  2018

My Brief History by Stephen Hawking (3.5/5)

  • Light-hearted and fun, this was an easy weekend read into a character I continue to uncover. Honest.

A Geography of Blood: Unearthing Memory from a Prairie Landscape by Candace Savage (4/5)

  • Part memoir/part history of the Cyprus Hills region straddling the Alberta/Saskatchewan border. I had mixed feelings throughout this read. Really appreciate how Savage captured the native history of the area though. It gave me a better insight into the oft praised “peaceful victory” of the RCMP in the Sitting Bull situation – which was really just starving him out.

On Hitler’s Mountain: Overcoming the Legacy of a Nazi Childhood by Irmgard A. Hunt (4/5)

  • Really easy reading book that breaks the fold behind one middle class families relationship with Nazi rule during WWII. It casts light on how easy it is to be human and the importance of dignity.

April 2018

Your Productized Consulting Guide by Jane Portman (4/5)

  • I was initially put off by the size of this manual, but it is probably the most actionable read so far this year. I could feel a plan of action catalyze as I read through the guide. Spot on.

March 2018

CryptoAssets: The Innovative Investor’s Guide to Bitcoin & Beyond by Chris Burniske & Jack Tatar(4.5/5)

  • Probably the best book I have read on the subject. I didn’t approach this as an investor, but from a product perspective. It covers the history of key projects in a way that is both interesting and provides a larger context in which to view crypto and the market/mindset of those that are investing.

February 2018

The Internet of Money: A collection of talks by Andreas M. Antonopoulos  (2.5/5)

  • This book was a good primer on Blockchain and uncovered some of the most common misconceptions. However, as is the nature of books on “talks” it did get repetitive and the form was tiring and extraneous by the end of the book.

January 2018

Inspired: How to create tech products customers love by Marty Cagan (4.5/5)

  • Excellent book on how to be practical when thinking and building lean in tech organizations. Really provided some excellent tools and insights into how product teams are built and should be organized.

November 2017

The Promise of Canada: 150 Years–People and Ideas That Have Shaped Our Country  by Charlotte Gray (5/5)

  • This is by far the BEST book I have ever read on Canadian Culture. Sometimes it takes an outsider to really question and understand what is going on, something I think is very typically Canadian.

The Four: The hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Google and Facebook by Scott Galloway (4.5/5)

  • Excellent book that really takes a look at the giants of this decade and unpacks how consumers look at them – really sobering. Not that I agree with all Scott says, but refreshing perspective that has made me look more critically at the tech giants and how they are shaping our present.

Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport (4/5)

  • I’ve seen a measurable change in my habits since I started reading this book. I’ve read this book slowly over the last few months as I slowly adopted more and more deep work principles. Very very valuable.

October 2017

Originals – How Non-Conformists Rule the World by Adam Grant (4/5)

  • Excellent book. Really good balance of research and practical application that anyone can turn into actionable implementation in their day to day.

September 2017

The Ultimate Question 2.0: How Net Promoter Score Companies thrive in a Customer-Driven World (3.5/5)

  • This was a really good overview on NPS scores and how they could be used in different contexts. It wasn’t as practical as I would liked but can be applied to smaller enterprises.

August 2017

Don’t Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability – Steve Krug (5/5)

  • Funny, Engaging & On-Point. Highly recommend as an easy entry to basic UX research for the layman.

Badass: Making Users Awesome – Kathy Sierra (3.5/5)

  • I really love Kathy Sierra, she is a very brilliant and funny woman. The book was ok, but she has one or two different talks available online for free (and that are EXCELLENT) that cover the majority of the content of the book.

March 2017

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking – Susan Cain (5/5)

  • Although I first heard of Susan Cain years ago, I finally took the time to read her book. It gave me not only insight into my own introvert tendencies – but also into Chinese Culture that I am experiencing every day.

Average is Over: Powering Canada beyond the Age of the Great Stagnation – Tyler Cohen (4/5)

  • This book helped cultivate a series of ideas I’ve been mulling over into a cause-effect relationship complete with many chess references. Great book – could have done with a little less chess

February 2017

Strategize: Product Strategy & Product Roadmap Practices for the Digital Age by Roman Pichler (4.5/5)

  • This has been an AMAZING read for helping me frame my products inside the competitive landscape. It retested many of my assumptions and helped create new mind space for old problems. Definitely recommend reading.

Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl (4/5)

  • Excellent read. I usually stay away from these kinds of books as they tend to be heavy and leave me feeling despondent. But Frankl’s book is a classic and addresses that very point. Poignant treatise on meaning and where you should go looking for it.

The Map Thief by Michael Blanding (2.5/5)

  • I wouldn’t call the story gripping (although the subtitle does), it was an interesting read. I feel little sympathy and much disdain for those that pilfer public works for personal gain and essentially steal history from the rest of us. I am finding out that I need to be much pickier with my biographies, whereas this was interesting – it wasn’t worth the read.

January 2017

Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday (4.5/5)

  • Another amazing read. This book helped me to cut through the surface woes of my life and helped me find calm and focus without sacrificing relationships or people.

Operation Brewery: Black Hops – The Least Covert Operation in Brewing by Dan Norris, Eddie Oldfield & Michael McGovern (3.75/5)

  •  Black Hops is a craft brewery on the Gold Coast of Australia. Starting a brewery in on my bucketlist – these guys shared their entire story from guerrilla brewing to opening day. As very digital marketing savvy guys, they were able to drum up a lot of support and crowdfunded part of their start-up costs.

December 2016

Practitioner’s Guide to Product Management by Jock Busuttil (4/5)

  • This was a great read. He doesn’t get too bogged down in the tactics, but provides an excellent overview of Product Management, it’s struggles and it’s joys. He uses some storytelling, but throws in some helpful constructs that attune a Product Owner’s thinking.

The Subtle Art of not giving a F*ck: A Counterintutitive Approach to Living a Good Life by Mark Manson (5/5)

  • This was an entertaining and powerful read. Mark has a way of cutting to the core of something. The simple mantra’s that he shared in the book have a way of immediately releasing tension and providing perspective.

Good Morning Mr. Mandela: A Memoir by Zelda la Grange (3.5/5)

  • A new initiative that I am taking on is to read biographies of important figures in the countries that I am visiting. This was the first – it gave me a real insight into how Afrikaner’s think and how the face of South Africa has changed over the last twenty years. Zelda isn’t a writer (and it shows) but her story helped me understand the country.

November 2016

Princess, More Tears to Cry by Jean Sasson (1/5)

  • I picked this up staying at an Airbnb in South Africa. Although it was definitely interesting to see a new perspective. I didn’t connect to the Princess – her life seems more of a caricature and the narrative falls flat.

My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem (5/5)

  • This was an excellent read & well written- it cast a new light on women’s struggles over the last 50 years and the type of community organizing and listening that changed the rights of women in the western world.

— I took a little break here and re-read ALOT of fiction over the summer —

March 2016

Winter of the World by Ken Follett (4/5)

  • Another masterful b0ok by Ken Follet. Although brutal and disturbing  at times. Many of the scenes shook me to the core, but I still listened to it all the way through. Audio books have replaced TV and Netflix and my eyes are thanking me for it.

Fall of Giants by Ken Follett (4/5)

  • I have stumbled across Ken Follett before and I appreciate his ability to craft vast and intricate worlds. I did enjoy this but thankfully listened to the audio book instead of reading it. It seems to be a book you could read while an entire day floats by.

Ask by Ryan Levesque (3.75/5)

  • Ryan had some excellent insights for getting feedback from customers. His work is geared towards information products (and physical products) and although some of the insights work for me, it is not 100% my style.

22 Immutable Laws of Marketing by Al Reis (4.5/5)

  • Amazing Book. The examples are a little old but the book re-frames your thinking on marketing and branding. Well worth the read, although I am going to check out the 22 Immutable Laws of Branding and 11 laws of internet to see if I can frame my business into the structure a little better.

Customer Engagement by Intercom.io (3/5)

  • I’ve been focused on reducing churn in Saas Businesses. This was a kindle book from Intercom.io. It touted a lot of its product, but also had some excellent framework for messaging and it was a QUICK read that I could implement immediately.

February 2016

— I took a couple months off of reading. I needed space to focus on doing things not thinking things. —

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho (5/5)

  • This was a beautiful, short read that kick started my Thailand adventure. It is great to get your head in the right space for adventure. Another book I would recommend having a hard copy of, books like these are meant to be read and shared.

January 2016

— Another slow month for reading, but super quick for life. —

Allen Carr’s Easy Way To Stop Smoking by Allen Carr (5/5)

  • The first time I read this book, I quit. It wore off. I re-read it and am experiencing some success. HIGHLY RECOMMEND.

December 2015

— Super busy! Didn’t finish any books but read a bit out of everything.—

Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed (3.5/5)

  • This was a good book to pick up and flip through intermittently, but I would never recommend reading from cover to cover. It does get a little repetitive, but the advice is pretty on par.

November 2015

The Crossroads of Should and Must by Elle Luna (5/5)

  • This was a beautifully illustrated book with an excellent method for putting life and pursuits into perspective. Definitely recommend picking up a copy of the book (Don’t buy on kindle)

The Ten Commandments of Business Failure by Donald R. Keough (1/5)

  • This book was horrible. Admittedly, I was the wrong audience. It is made for middle management in big corporate giants – ignore.

October 2015

Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores The Secret Side of Everything by Steven Levitt & Stephen Dubner (5/5)

  • Real Estate Agents and the Ku Klux Klan? Need I say more. Read it.

Limitless Travel by Matthew Bailey (3/5)

  • Matt promoted this through his blog at livelimitless.net. I was able to glean some good little tips here and there, but these books are more like a “kick in the butt” and “keep the eyes on the prize”, digital nomad go go go kind of book for me.

Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson (4/5)

  •  I love little books with succinct messages. This little book is all about dealing with change. It helped me push through some of my anxiety that has been creeping up in the last few weeks, lean into discomfort and make some hard decisions.

The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss (5/5)

  • Fantasy binge bleeds into October. Will probably pick up the same books in 6 months time… again.

September 2015

The Name of The Wind by Patrick Rothfuss (5/5)

  • I love high fantasy novels. Patrick Rothfuss Kingkiller Chronicles were exactly the kind of escapism that I needed in the spare moments between mad projects and deadlines this month.

Scientific Advertising by Claude Hopkins (4/5)

  • I’ve been exploring more and more copy writing lately, in part because of Derek Johanson’s Copyhour.com. This helped me understand the bottom line, instead of wandering off into marketing dream land.

Live Your Truth by  Kamal Ravikan (3.75/5)

  • Good book. I like keeping a pick-me-up book in my back pocket. Kamal offers simple sage advice in a easy to digest and implement format.

Big Travel, Small Budget by Ryan Shauers (3/5)

  • This was a good book. I got some great long-term travel ideas from its pages and it helped keep my mind aligned with my current travel goals. But it is more tailored for Americans, and I am not much of an “overlander” but he makes some compelling arguments for picking it up.

August 2015

The Way To Love by Anthony De Mello (5/5)

  • This book was AMAZING. It acted as a catalyst for awareness, gratitude and self-awareness. This is my Sunday read, I still go back to it when I am having trouble letting go of beliefs, attachments and fears that are pulling me off track.

Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel by Rolf Potts (5/5)

  • This was on my read list for a long time, I picked it up while on an extra long layover in the Edmonton Airport. It helped me reorganize my life around a big goal I want to pursue – TRAVEL. If you are planning to do any long-term travel. Buy. This. Book.

Shady Characters: The Secret Life of Punctuation, Symbols & Other Typographical Marks by Kieth Houston (3.5/5)

  • This was one of those interesting and factual books that I leaned on when I needed mental mindspace. It was great but started to drag after a while.

Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk (4/5)

  • I was late to this party, but I needed an easy read to defrag the mind and it filled the space nicely.

Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends on It by Kamal Ravikant (5/5)

  • I am a huge fan of short and to the point books with clear instructions to make big changes. I have adopted the few little hacks in this book for some of the BIGGEST gains, best experiences of the last year

July 2015

The First 20 Hours: Learn How To Do Anything… FAST by Josh Kaufman (4/5)

  • Quit Complicating Things. Quit trying to be an expert. Kaufman lays out a clear directive for achieving competency in anything inside of a month. Great read. Honest Narrative.

Do The Work! by Stephen Pressfield (5/5)

  • It made me laugh. Hit a nerve. If you are having trouble struggling through a project and need a quick pick-me-up on inspiration and getting to the next step – Steven clearly outlines the creative process and “RESISTANCE” – You are not alone!

The End of Jobs by Taylor Pearson (3/5)

  •  “Blog Book” category. Great ideas – easy to read and glean inspiration for the aspiring entrepreneur. Insight into the hidden risks of jobs and the consistently lower entry cost for entrepreneurs.

4 Hour Body by Tim Ferris (4/5)

  • Great Read – long book. I haven’t read cover to cover, but am taking it off in chunks like he recommends. Motivated myself to get a kettlebell and start swinging.

June 2015

Moonwalking with Einstein by Joshua Foer (5/5)

  • Easy and Entertaining Read. I can relate to short passionate bursts of obsession – I have never take it so far though. Enjoyed the insights into experts and understanding memory. Was able to pick up some clever memory hacks.

5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman (5/5)

  • Massive Insight into Communications Styles and the Importance of using the right language with a loved one.

Choose Yourself by James Altucher (3/5)

  • I love James Altucher. Great Message. Highly entertaining. But the “blog turn book” style makes it difficult to pull out a congruent message that is easily understood and repeated. Best for light reading with a funny and positive spin.

Just Your Type by Paul D. Tieger & Barbara Barron-Tieger (3/5)

  • Went down this path trying to find how different personality types interact inside of relatioships. It gave me a deeper understanding of the car model I first saw on personality hacker. But fell short for me when they matched types.

Lost in the book case: (Started reading but never finished)

  • Predictably Irrational – Dan Ariely
  • Draw to Win by Dan Roam
  • The One Thing by  Garry Keller &  Jay Papasan
  • Madam President: The Secret Presidency of Mrs. Woodrow Wilson
  • The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding
  • PPC Strategies for Amazon Sellers
  • Steal The Show – Michael Port
  • Heaven & Hell – Thes Psycology of Emotions – Dr. Neel Burton
  • The Art if Failure  – Dr. Neel Burton
  • Free Will  Sam Harris
  • Complex PTSD -: From Surviving to Thriving – Pete Walker
  • The War of Art – Steven Pressfield
  • Non-Obvious Rohit Bhargaba
  • Trust Me, I’m Lying – Ryan Holiday
  • Mastery – Robert Greene
  • The Lean Product Playbook – Dan Olsen
  • Hidden Figures – Margot Lee Shetterly
  • The Ad Week Copywriting Handbook – Sugarman
  • Secret Lives of Great Artists by Elizabeth Lunday
  • Hooked by Nir Eyal
  • Quebec Tradition and Modernity
  • Weaponized Lies – How to think critically in a post truth era
  • Manage hour day-to-day: Build your routine, find your focus and sharpen your creative mind
  • The Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday
  • Essential Scrum
  • Big Debt Crisis
  • What works on Wall Street
  • Thinking in bets
  • A brief history of human kind – Sapiens
  • The Tyranny of Cliches
  • Inner Game of Tennis
  • Principles – Ray Dalio
  • The Fog of War – Censorship of Canada’s Media in WWII

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