jackie-bavaro-my-life-in-books

My Life in Books: Jackie Bavaro

4 min read

We are delighted to welcome Jackie Bavaro - author of two books and a former Head of Product Management at Asana - for the latest installment in our My Life in Books series.

Jackie has picked out four books that have had a big impact on her life. Have you read any of them?

Getting Things Done - David Allen

Getting Things Done - David Allen

As a kid, my report card always said “needs improvement” on neatness and organization. I knew I was disorganized, but I honestly couldn’t understand how anyone else was organized.

It seemed like an impossible task. Luckily, at my first job someone recommended this book to me and it changed my life. I finally became an organized and reliable person.

This tiny book is filled with advice, but the most important concept for me was the idea of writing everything down in a single place. Instead of stressing over remembering all of my tasks, I started writing them down and relaxing.

I stopped feeling ashamed about my “bad” memory, and decided to accept myself and work with what I had. It felt like a huge weight was lifted.

Most self improvement is a slow process, but this book helped me overnight. I’d recommend it to absolutely everyone.

Predictably Irrational - Dan Ariely

Predictably Irrational - Dan Ariely

One of my econ teachers told us, “Economics is the study of unintended consequences.”

History is filled with examples of policies that had precisely the opposite of the intended effect, as in the time farmers reacted to “We’ll pay you not to produce corn” by producing more corn.

They wanted to raise their baseline corn production so that they could be paid more the next year for not producing corn.

This book, along with Thinking Fast & Slow, The Design of Everyday Things, and Nudge, illuminates various ways that while human behavior isn’t always straightforward, it can be understood, predicted, and accommodated.

The deeper we understand how people think, the better we can design successful solutions.

Outliers - Malcolm Gladwell

Outliers - Malcolm Gladwell

I love all of Malcolm Gladwell’s books. He’s able to bring important lessons to life with memorable stories. This book introduces the “10,000 hours of practice” concept for achieving excellence.

This drills into the fascinating question of how people get better at things. It’s inspired me to pick up new hobbies and attempt to develop skills in places where I previously thought I had no chance.

If you like the topic, Peak: Secrets From the New Science of Expertise, goes even deeper into the science of deliberate practice and developing strong mental models.

I also love Gladwell’s TED talk on choice, happiness and spaghetti sauce.

The Unbearable Lightness of Being - Milan Kundera

The Unbearable Lightness of Being - Milan Kundera

I’ve read several books by Milan Kundera over the years, and by some kind of magic, each one seems to speak directly to my life at the moment.

"We can never know what we want, because, living only one life, we can neither compare it with our previous lives nor perfect it in our lives to come."

This quote resonates so strongly with me. We can’t A/B test life. We go through life, making decisions, and we can’t be sure which ones are right. It’s tough, but there’s some comfort in remembering that this applies equally to everyone. We’re all just winging it.

About Jackie

Jackie Bavaro is the author of Cracking the PM Career and Cracking the PM Interview. Previously, she was Head of Product Management at Asana, and earlier a Product Manager at Google and Microsoft.

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