HackerNews Readings
40,000 HackerNews book recommendations identified using NLP and deep learning

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Clean Code: A Handbook of Agile Software Craftsmanship

Robert C. Martin

4.7 on Amazon

43 HN comments

Designing Data-Intensive Applications: The Big Ideas Behind Reliable, Scalable, and Maintainable Systems

Martin Kleppmann

4.8 on Amazon

34 HN comments

The Martian

Andy Weir, Wil Wheaton, et al.

4.7 on Amazon

27 HN comments

The Pragmatic Programmer: 20th Anniversary Edition, 2nd Edition: Your Journey to Mastery

David Thomas, Andrew Hunt, et al.

4.8 on Amazon

27 HN comments

Snow Crash

Neal Stephenson, Jonathan Davis, et al.

4.3 on Amazon

24 HN comments

The Mom Test: How to Talk to Customers & Learn If Your Business Is a Good Idea When Everyone Is Lying to You

Rob Fitzpatrick and Robfitz Ltd

4.7 on Amazon

22 HN comments


Frank Herbert, Scott Brick, et al.

4.7 on Amazon

20 HN comments

Seveneves: A Novel

Neal Stephenson, Mary Robinette Kowal, et al.

4.1 on Amazon

20 HN comments

Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams

Matthew Walker, Steve West, et al.

4.7 on Amazon

19 HN comments

Project Hail Mary

Andy Weir, Ray Porter, et al.

4.7 on Amazon

18 HN comments

Never Split the Difference: Negotiating as if Your Life Depended on It

Chris Voss, Michael Kramer, et al.

4.8 on Amazon

18 HN comments

Brave New World

Aldous Huxley

4.6 on Amazon

16 HN comments

Thinking, Fast and Slow

Daniel Kahneman, Patrick Egan, et al.

4.6 on Amazon

16 HN comments

The Design of Everyday Things: Revised and Expanded Edition

Don Norman

4.6 on Amazon

15 HN comments

A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction (Center for Environmental Structure Series)

Christopher Alexander , Sara Ishikawa , et al.

4.7 on Amazon

15 HN comments

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djohnstononApr 2, 2021

I would recommend reading "The Mom Test". You can knock it out in a few days and it's got some pretty good insight on finding the right people and also getting meaningful feedback.

ensiferumonJuly 22, 2021

Most of these fall under the term "product - market fit". All key points really. Fail at the these and it's an uphill battle to acquire and esp. Retain customers.

Good stuff to read "the mom test" and "sell more faster".

cutemonsteronMay 23, 2021

I'm thinking one underlying mistake was to not have read a book like "the mom test" before trying to monetize faker.js?

I.e. not first finding out if it's something people want to pay for, before building the SaaS.

A mistake that's easy to do

vincentmarleonApr 1, 2021

I wish this book wasn’t called the Mom Test, people I’ve recommended it to didn’t take it seriously because of that. But it’s definitely one of the best books ever written on problem validation.

jasfionMay 6, 2021

What your target market wants is not that easy to determine. I've heard the book "The Mom Test" is a good read to help with this. I've started reading it recently.

autheticityonMay 14, 2021

What do your users say and do?

Do you know about user interviews and user research? Here's a great short intro: https://www.slideshare.net/xamde/summary-of-the-mom-test

I strongly recommend learning about product management and user research. Read The Mom Test and The Lean Product Playbook and do what's relevant. Start there!

Happy to discuss more and share more resources that could help. Email in profile.

chegraonApr 2, 2021

Hmm... I just read a great book by Rob Fitzpatrick that talks about having customer conversation. It's called The Mom Test.

I did a summary here: https://www.chestergrant.com/summary-the-mom-test-by-rob-fit...

I recommend getting a copy, solid advice from a past y-combinator founder.

this2shallPassonJuly 16, 2021

You're welcome!

Lucky indeed. Their resources are so valuable. The Mom Test is always worth a re-read, I recommend it so often to people.

I understand the tendency to be broader and speak to more different people (larger target market, more potential buyers), but it makes it harder to effectively communicate your message in the language of the buyer. Also different people have different priorities. The more focus, especially at first, the better.

Do some experiments and see who has the problem in the most pressing way, or who can and is willing to pay enough to solve it to make it work for you and them. Consider size of company, decision maker, potentially industry/sector, location, time since money raised, bootstrapped vs investor funded, anything that makes sense - you never know which niches will be amenable to you.

ghufran_syedonJuly 16, 2021

totally agree - I fell into this trap before of mistaking “customers think it’s a good idea” for “customers will pay”

This video from yc explains how most of our conversations with (potential) users are at best useless and at worse misleading, and how to do it better. Based on the book, “The mom test


haltingproblemonApr 4, 2021

This is a great writeup and thank you for sharing with so much candor. You are light years ahead of everyone who has ideas and has not tried them and learnt the lessons.

You learnt experientially what most either never learn or a rare few learn from books like The Mom Test. Even compared those who read the book and get it, I fear it does not translate to a lived earned experience.

Take some time to rest, recuperate, recharge and go build #4!!

this2shallPassonJuly 14, 2021

Have you read The Mom Test? Highly recommended. Here's a summary: https://www.slideshare.net/xamde/summary-of-the-mom-test

- Exactly who is your ideal customer, and what do they care about? Veteran CEO of 4 person seed stage start up in FinTech world trying to build an MVP? Mid career hiring manager at a Series B or C company in healthcare looking to expand their team long term? Recruiter at a Series D company with 20,000+ employees trying to meet their quota of leads for the week? Someone else? Drill down here. Once you identify it and validate that through experiments, focus on as few as possible - ideally just one.

- Is it clear to your potential customer what problem you are solving for them?

- Do they think you are the best way for them to solve it? What alternatives do they use currently? What's painful about it? What's better about your solution, so compelling that they should try it?

- Is the problem they think you solve one of their current

If the issue is with framing or marketing, here's a useful guide: https://www.julian.com/guide/growth/intro

Good luck!

rjyounglingonApr 19, 2021

I respect your opinion, and if you're the type of person who considers that a blanket conflict of interest than our book isn't for you.

I don't consider that good or bad, it just is. Similar to how some people prefer fish over meat and vice versa.

However, I will push back against the broad stroke generalization that you either teach people for free or charge money and be considered a scam.

Our advice is solid and battle-tested. There's Rob who wrote the Mom Test and Devin who wrote The Workshop Survival guide with Rob. And then there's our community with over a 100 up and coming authors who we're helping increase the probability of success through our process. The early results are already positive and it'll only improve as we keep trying to nail our process even more.

Is YC a scam because it isn't free?

If an author is like Tai Lopez you don't get word of mouth and burn through your lead pool. That means you're constantly trying to attract fresh leads, which is why these scams eventually tend to break.

What we're doing is teaching a process that minimizes some of the common mistakes authors make. Yes, we're charging money for that.

But if you look at our process, or heck, just read this article, you should be able to see that there's value worth paying for.

If you use nothing else but this article with these 4 common pitfalls to avoid, you'll do better vs. not having read it. And this was free.

So, I don't think your argument holds any water.

chdanielonJune 23, 2021

Hey HN,

I'm Daniel Ch: /r/SaaS moderator[1], founder, etc. I'm launching to HN this podcast, "Talk To Your Users": https://anchor.fm/talktoyourusers

I've previously tested an idea on Twitter [2] (in typical 'talk to your users' validation fashion) and on subreddits [3]: live examples of 'Talk to your users'

The feedback seemed interesting, so... I am now launching it!

What's the idea? - I record (with consent) conversations with users. People that are/will/were users of my product. Why?

Situation: One of the top advice bits in the startup/product world is: talk to your users. PG said it multiple times, but double-stressed it by saying: Half the advice I give to startups is some form of "talk to your customers." And then there's The Mom Test: a book about how 'learning if your business is a good idea when everyone is lying to you'.

Problem: Ok, any practical examples? I mean me listening to founder X talk to user Y. With good and bad examples

My solution: I'm doing this: recording my conversations with users.

What product will I talk about? - The answer is: I don't fully know. I'm as of now building PriceUnlock.com, a tool that helps SaaS founders find&set the perfect pricing for their tool. But maybe due to the conversations, we'll see a pivot. Or two. Or maybe it'll all go well and I'll just 'talk to my users' about future features. Who knows where this takes us? But I'm launching today with 6 episodes.

[1]: https://www.reddit.com/r/saas

[2]: https://twitter.com/chddaniel/status/1404484140209082368

[3]: https://www.reddit.com/r/ProductManagement/comments/nzvazj/i...

arnonejoeonApr 1, 2021

The book 'The Mom Test' is all about this.

rahimnathwanionJune 9, 2021

Also: The Mom Test, by robfitz

rapseyonMay 18, 2021

Read the book: The mom test

ajdegolonJuly 25, 2021

Go read The Mom Test.

rahimnathwanionMay 7, 2021

Rather than asking people which view they prefer and why, it might be better to build a better understanding of:

1. When do they look at their overall roadmap view?

2. Why?

3. What actions do they often take as a result (e.g. print it out for upper mgmt, drag around the timing, ...)?

4. Why do they need to do those things?

5. ...

I could be off base but, based on your questions, I'd suggest you dial up the time you spend interviewing your customers about their problems.

The book 'The Mom Test' is a great guide for how to put this advice into practice.

rdrdonMay 15, 2021

I appreciate your honesty, and sharing this may just save someone else from making a similar mistake with Upwork. So thank you.

Having read over this and a few other replies I would definitely say it would be worthwhile taking a step back now, don’t fall into the sunk cost fallacy and continue to burn through cash/time building things you think will help, spend a bit of time away from the keyboard, reading The Mom Test as others have suggested, it’s honestly a fantastic book, very actionable and probably won’t take you long to get through. That will put you in the right mindset for where you are in your journey and what you need to do next - which boils down to trying to validate some of your ideas, the correct way.

Finally you mention someone offering mentorship/advice, and you taking it, just be cautious with who you take advice from, the best person to take advice from is probably someone a few steps ahead of you, that means finding someone who may have just secured their very first bit of seed money as a solo/duo founding team, or an indiehacker who’s reached say $1000 MRR for a B2C app.

Good luck.

irjustinonMay 6, 2021

> how do you find the time to build that idea out

Based on this, I'm assuming you want to build an idea that makes money first.

You need to solve a problem that's worth paying for. Easily said, of course.

The Mom Test[0] is a book about how to ask questions that are worth pursuing as a business.

> do some of the good ideas get left out?

That's the question really to focus on. Don't worry about developers or building yet - the first question to ask is - is there really a problem here?

The first step really is about a basic litmus test. What's the cheapest way to "test" the idea without a costly build? End user research, landing page with some targeted traffic,

All about getting to a few potential customers who will give you feedback.

After that, then I say start building.

If you build in a vacuum (you and some developers), you're likely to get it very wrong.

[0] https://www.amazon.com/Mom-Test-customers-business-everyone-...

akbarbonMay 15, 2021

For a dating/social app what matters to users is the pool of other users. Are there enough users, etc.? and the answer is no (at this point).

I will look into the sources you shared. I have heard of The Mom Test and The Lean Product Playbook but haven't still had a chance to check them out. Will definitely do.

Thanks for the offer also. Will get in touch.

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