1 Year, 12 Months, 12 Books

Jim Tsipoutas
4 min readJan 5, 2021

What a year, what a journey! For most of us, this year brought and changed things that none of us would believe that could have changed in such a short period of time. But humans are by nature resilient creatures and we will always find a way to adapt and evolve through difficulties.

“Remember, rough seas, make great captains”

As we are leaving back this unpredictable year I would like to share with you 12 books that kept me alive, optimistic and gave me new horizons of learnings, new ways of thinking and a new me. We are what we feed our minds.

1. Brief answers to brief questions | Stephen Hawking

My favourite human and scientist. I kept hearing his computerized voice while I was reading the book.

“Be brave, be curious, be determined, overcome the odds. It can be done”

2. Articulating Design Decisions | Tom Greever

“Your ability to properly set, adjust, and communicate expectations is more important than your ability to crank out killer designs on a daily basis.”

Communication is about everything. Good design is good communication. This book can be a nice addition to your set of tools, from running productive meetings to securing support and getting consensus from stakeholders.

3. Choice Hacking | Jennifer L. Clinehens

Really helpful insights from cover to cover. Theory, backed up by examples then suggestions for application. You can pick it up and use it as a workbook/blueprint. A nice book for beginners in studying behavioural science and why people behave the way they do.

4. The Five Dysfunctions of a Team | Patrick Lencioni

I really enjoyed this little book. Suggested by Stathis Loverdos, while having one of those short and quick breaks while working at the office, that can lead you to new paths and learnings. It’s very readable and approachable, and it’s easy to see how it would work in a situation you would actually be faced with when leading teams.

5. Quiet Leadership | David Rock

It’s easier for the human brain to build new connections than to change old ones. This is the basis that this leadership/coaching guide is built on. I recommend this one to people learning to coach, whether managers, mentors or just great friends or partners.

6. Radical Candor | Kim Scott

Kim Scott is my hero. Be a Kickass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity. If all people would start moving towards radical candor the world would become a better place. I cannot say more, just read this book.

7. The Art of Resilience | Ross Edgley

Well, this book came in a tough period of my life and gave a new perspective of believing in myself and keep trying to succeed towards my goals whatever the obstacles could be. A big big thanks to my manager and mentor Steven Grech for being present always when I needed help or a piece of advice.

8. Inspired | Marty Cagan

A must-read for anyone involved in building digital products, not only Product Managers but also software engineers, tech leads, designers, engineering managers and so on. You can also visit https://svpg.com/ for more great articles from @martycagan

9. No Rules Rules | Reed Hastings, Erin Meyer

The dots connect beautifully about the importance of creating an environment for high candor, high freedom and ultra-high innovation. One of the most valuable reads for 2020.

“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.”

10. Org Design for Design Orgs | Peter Merholz, Kristin Skinner

Essential reading for anyone interested in managing an effective in-house design team. Great practical approaches to make sure that Design has the leadership, structural, and operational chops to take full advantage of the seat it has gained at the business leadership table.

11. 21 Lessons for the 21st Century | Yuval Noah Harari

As Harari explains:

“We are now living in an age of information explosion … The last thing people need is more information. What they really need is somebody to arrange all of the bits of information into a meaningful picture — and this is what I try to do.”

Essential reading for every human being on this planet.

12. UnLearn | Barry O’Reilly

As the book subtitle mentions… Let go of past success to achieve extraordinary results.

Unlearning is surely an act of being vulnerable. You need to allow vulnerability and be uncomfortable in uncertain environments. That is where learning happens.

“All progress takes place outside our comfort zones”

Thank you 2020. To a better 2021!

Happy New Year to all

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Jim Tsipoutas

Product Design Manager @KaizenGaming (Stoiximan & Betano). Obsessed with design systems. Design Sprint Facilitator. Blockchain enthusiast.