This is a fantastic book for new and grizzled designers alike. Mike Monteiro, CEO and Co-Founder of Mule Design, explains the ins and outs of working as a designer in any situation. How to handle good and bad clients and managers, stagnant teams, and even crushing inner turmoil all designers face. He does it with a joke, an anecdote, and a story around every turn. And if you're interested in the audiobook, Monteiro narrates it himself wonderfully adding the color you'd expect from someone with the battle scars earned from running a design agency.
For designers, performance and utility from computing hardware is a must. Even if you're more inclined towards Windows, Apple's computers are best-in-class regardless of the operating system. While most designers will say to go with a Mac because it's easy to use, I recommend it because of the performance, durability, and especially for the MacBook Air, how lightweight it is. Working in design often means presenting work, working long hours, and traveling; the MacBook Air M1 is perfect for all of it: quiet, sleek, mess-proof and childproof, and it lasts. And, if you're going to be working from home exclusively, the Mac Mini M1 is identical except that it's got more ports, a fan, and is less expensive.
Buy the MacBook Air M1, or Mac Mini M1
Apple TV (3rd Gen/4th Gen)
A trick I learned as a young designer, especially in a co-working office, is to bring your own hardware for presentations. That doesn't just mean a computer; bring your method of presentation too. With a MacBook (of some kind) and an Apple TV (the 3rd gen is just fine for this purpose, though if you're presenting in 4K, which is never going to be a standard expectation, then the 4th gen is bigger but works just the same), you can present your screen within minutes with just a single cable connection. And it'll be to the Apple TV, not the laptop. And, if you're in a building with Wi-Fi you can't use or that isn't stable, set up a hotspot and everything will flow perfectly. This method has proven far more successful than any other in my career; nothing has come even close to working as well.
Buy on Amazon (only the newest model is available through Amazon
Ed Catmull, the Co-Founder of the acclaimed animation studio Pixar, does an incredible job of detailing his process of building the company where the focus on quality made it a household name. Every designer, and really anyone interested in working with people, can learn and grow from the lessons detailed in this excellent book. I can't recommend it enough.
Like Creativity, Inc., Richard Branson's The Virgin Way is a fun, straightforward explanation of the VIrgin CEO's tactics and methods to achieve his vision across numerous businesses and ventures. Short and concise, Branson doesn't mince words to express how he's achieved his success. The clarity in his methods is something we can all learn from.
Buy on Amazon (note that Amazon lists cheaper paperback copies, but it's actually a different book)
As a young Product Manager, I found The Hard Thing About Hard Things to be enlightening. Ben Horowitz's journey as the Co-Founder of the VC Fund Andreesen Horowitz, details the story of his career through hardship and struggle. Tough decisions to make and how he made them. Beyond the simple clarity of understanding long-term goals and acting on them, Horowitz is excellent at expressing the challenge of making those decisions and how heavily they can weigh, and his methods to overcome that adversity, often against the grain of his colleagues. Yet his methods proved invaluable for his success, and those of the companies he's worked for and with, namely Netscape and Loudcloud (later, Opsware).