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The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers

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A lot of people talk about how great it is to start a business, but only Ben Horowitz is brutally honest about how hard it is to run one. In The Hard Thing About Hard Things, Ben Horowitz, cofounder of Andreessen Horowitz and one of Silicon Valley's most respected and experienced entrepreneurs, draws on his own story of founding, running, selling, buying, managing, and inve A lot of people talk about how great it is to start a business, but only Ben Horowitz is brutally honest about how hard it is to run one. In The Hard Thing About Hard Things, Ben Horowitz, cofounder of Andreessen Horowitz and one of Silicon Valley's most respected and experienced entrepreneurs, draws on his own story of founding, running, selling, buying, managing, and investing in technology companies to offer essential advice and practical wisdom for navigating the toughest problems business schools don't cover. His blog has garnered a devoted following of millions of readers who have come to rely on him to help them run their businesses. A lifelong rap fan, Horowitz amplifies business lessons with lyrics from his favorite songs and tells it straight about everything from firing friends to poaching competitors, from cultivating and sustaining a CEO mentality to knowing the right time to cash in. His advice is grounded in anecdotes from his own hard-earned rise—from cofounding the early cloud service provider Loudcloud to building the phenomenally successful Andreessen Horowitz venture capital firm, both with fellow tech superstar Marc Andreessen (inventor of Mosaic, the Internet's first popular Web browser). This is no polished victory lap; he analyzes issues with no easy answers through his trials, including demoting (or firing) a loyal friend; whether you should incorporate titles and promotions, and how to handle them; if it's OK to hire people from your friend's company; how to manage your own psychology, while the whole company is relying on you; what to do when smart people are bad employees; why Andreessen Horowitz prefers founder CEOs, and how to become one; whether you should sell your company, and how to do it. Filled with Horowitz's trademark humor and straight talk, and drawing from his personal and often humbling experiences, The Hard Thing About Hard Things is invaluable for veteran entrepreneurs as well as those aspiring to their own new ventures.


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A lot of people talk about how great it is to start a business, but only Ben Horowitz is brutally honest about how hard it is to run one. In The Hard Thing About Hard Things, Ben Horowitz, cofounder of Andreessen Horowitz and one of Silicon Valley's most respected and experienced entrepreneurs, draws on his own story of founding, running, selling, buying, managing, and inve A lot of people talk about how great it is to start a business, but only Ben Horowitz is brutally honest about how hard it is to run one. In The Hard Thing About Hard Things, Ben Horowitz, cofounder of Andreessen Horowitz and one of Silicon Valley's most respected and experienced entrepreneurs, draws on his own story of founding, running, selling, buying, managing, and investing in technology companies to offer essential advice and practical wisdom for navigating the toughest problems business schools don't cover. His blog has garnered a devoted following of millions of readers who have come to rely on him to help them run their businesses. A lifelong rap fan, Horowitz amplifies business lessons with lyrics from his favorite songs and tells it straight about everything from firing friends to poaching competitors, from cultivating and sustaining a CEO mentality to knowing the right time to cash in. His advice is grounded in anecdotes from his own hard-earned rise—from cofounding the early cloud service provider Loudcloud to building the phenomenally successful Andreessen Horowitz venture capital firm, both with fellow tech superstar Marc Andreessen (inventor of Mosaic, the Internet's first popular Web browser). This is no polished victory lap; he analyzes issues with no easy answers through his trials, including demoting (or firing) a loyal friend; whether you should incorporate titles and promotions, and how to handle them; if it's OK to hire people from your friend's company; how to manage your own psychology, while the whole company is relying on you; what to do when smart people are bad employees; why Andreessen Horowitz prefers founder CEOs, and how to become one; whether you should sell your company, and how to do it. Filled with Horowitz's trademark humor and straight talk, and drawing from his personal and often humbling experiences, The Hard Thing About Hard Things is invaluable for veteran entrepreneurs as well as those aspiring to their own new ventures.

30 review for The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers

  1. 5 out of 5

    Arjun Narayan

    Executive Summary: This is a book about Ben Horowitz's war stories. Ben Horowitz has good war stories, if you care about the narrow space of Venture Backed fast growth technology startups. I'm not so sure that they generalize to the point of making a good management guide. You might be better off reading some Drucker. First: the absolute preliminaries: Ben Horowitz co-founded LoudCloud with Marc Andreessen in 1999, with a plan to do enterprise managed services (what has now grown to the SaaS and Executive Summary: This is a book about Ben Horowitz's war stories. Ben Horowitz has good war stories, if you care about the narrow space of Venture Backed fast growth technology startups. I'm not so sure that they generalize to the point of making a good management guide. You might be better off reading some Drucker. First: the absolute preliminaries: Ben Horowitz co-founded LoudCloud with Marc Andreessen in 1999, with a plan to do enterprise managed services (what has now grown to the SaaS and IaaS space). They were technological pioneers in that space. They weathered the dot com bubble burst, but it was touch and go (since most of their clients were other tech firms going bankrupt). They IPOd in a post-bubble environment with a declining market. They pivoted to become Opsware, a tech services firm (i.e. further up in the backend of the managed services stack). They pivoted as a public corporation close to bankruptcy which is a nightmare I wouldn't wish on my worst enemies. They weathered NASDAQ delisting threats, mass employee revolts, ..., the whole Mad Max scenario. So he offers the prospect of excellent data from the inside. Ben also has a reputation in the valley as a no-bullshit guy, so this is valuable Second: some initial thoughts. To the extent that Ben's stories will generalize, they only apply to fast growth venture backed tech startups that plan to IPO. It bears repeating that this is but one subset of the technology space - the subset that gets a disproportionately large amount of press coverage and fanfare. So much of the lessons are the kind that you've probably already osmosed from the Paul Graham/Peter Thiel/A360Z/AVC crowd. And if you haven't, then you should probably start with Paul Graham and Peter Thiel rather than jumping into this book, which has a narrower scope and doesn't make much effort to make clear the context. That's okay, since it's aimed at the specific crowd, but just be aware if you're not of that crowd and thinking of reading this book. Ben tells the story from the technical CEO perspective, which is a fairly rare perspective to get, given the depth of Ben's experience: Note that Paul Graham only walked the walk through a ~50 million dollar acquisition, and never faced the challenges of being the CEO of a publicly traded corporation. Peter Thiel did, but is ultimately a non-technical founder. Besides, the PayPal mafia is fairly cagey about the war stories around PayPal given the extent of the internal fights (e.g. the ouster of Elon Musk from CEO) that they want to cover up. Much of the other available writings are from the V.C. perspective, and lack founder experience. Thus, this book does give us an opportunity to read the thoughts of a founder CEO all the way through and beyond the IPO stage. But it is by no means a masterpiece that stands alone. It does offer an incremental view if you are primarily interested in the narrow niche of venture backed startups, and serves as a 4 star or 5 star book of anecdotes that have potentially generalizable lessons, if read critically, while fully aware of the appropriate broader context. That's a big asterisk though. So I will attempt to summarize the core lessons that I personally got out of the books, given that I am not solely interested in this space: 1. Being CEO in a fast growth venture startup requires learning at an incredible pace. The job description changes almost completely within 6 months given the growth rate. There isn't any way to get that experience except networking with founders who have previous lived experience as founder CEOs of large companies. This is why, for example, Zuckerberg had long walks with Jobs. A top notch VC firm will definitely help you get that, which is why they are so valuable. The rotating board circuit in the top Silicon Valley firms will provide this, if you can get them to sit on your board (Horowitz, for example, holds Bill Campbell's advice in particularly high esteem). You probably can't, unless Sequioa, Founders Fund, Andreessen-Horowitz, or KPCB is backing you. 2. At the end of the day, you have to make incredibly complex strategic decisions with extremely limited information, which creates crazy stressful environments. 3. To Ben's credit, he does focus on good management, but mostly doesn't add anything new to the corpus. It's mostly the usual good stuff: don't do arbitrary things, don't publicly shame people, don't let people get away with enriching themselves at the company's expense through strong arming, don't do short term things that jeopardize the long term, and if you do, it will rapidly become the culture and will remain permanently broken. Again, a decent coverage of the standard MBA literature covers this space better. 4. Being CEO is a lonely job. You cannot expect your executive team to understand all your decisions given their limited scope. You also cannot spend the time to give them the broader scope all the time, since that takes away from doing their own jobs. But if you don't, they might stop trusting you. It's Catch-22s all the way down. 5. In addition, while the CEO mentor network can help with your emotions, they can't help you with the decisions, since it will take them weeks to get up to speed on the context. You're really on your own on these decisions. 6. It's also emotionally harder when your final decision is 55/45, and you're facing opposition from underlings/your board that is 90/10 the other way, but lack the appropriate context. So you're on the fence leaning one way, but others are convinced that you're wrong. At this point, you should just learn to trust yourself, since you're the only one with the appropriate context. Your board should be more experienced than you, so they should be aware of this information asymmetry. Consequentially, they'll usually just rubberstamp what you decide anyway. This doesn't make the decisions any easier to make. 7. You absolutely need to develop decision making processes that are insulated from your own emotional rollercoaster/insecurity. Ben likes writing things down until the words are convincing on their own. I do too. Whatever your methods are, you will absolutely need to rely on them since you're going to be alone in the decision making processes, and need some check to make sure you're operating logically with no emotional biases. So develop those early. (I personally recommend the LessWrong corpus, but you might find that too kooky. Your choice.) 8. Ben Horowitz really likes rap and hiphop. That's not my thing, but whatever, I can respect his artistic side. Anyone who criticizes him for that aspect of his personality is really missing the point. Context that Ben Horowitz did not mention that I think would have greatly improved the book: 1. The tides are turning, and the days when Venture Capitalists could oust founder CEOs and replace them with "adults" are permanently gone. Zuckerberg, and the fact that founders (like Horowitz and Thiel) now lead top Valley VC firms has permanently changed the landscape. So a lot of the fighting that Ben had to do, and the perpetual underconfidence that he did it with, won't apply to future founder CEOs. This book adds to the growing corpus that helps make your case to not be ousted, which partially obsoletes that aspect of lessons in the book. Ironic, I know. 2. Fast growth tech startups that have a distinctive tech advantage can win despite terribly dysfunctional management. When you're in a greenfield technology space, you can do whatever you want, and still win just from the tech advantage. For example, Valve gets cited a lot for it's "no management" structure, but they sit on a giant money spigot called Steam that just prints money. If I also owned such an oil derrick, I could probably get away with mandatory sex parties every Thursday. This doesn't make the case for workplace orgies. 3. There is great talk about how Ben rescued OpsWare from near disaster through their final acquisition by HP for 1.65 billion dollars. But there is not a single mention of how OpsWare fared post-acquisition. For all I know (and given the next point, I suspect) this was a shitty deal for HP. 4. It doesn't help that Ben Horowitz heavily raided the OpsWare executive team to form the core team at his next venture (the VC firm Andreessen-Horowitz). That can't have been good for OpsWare at all. 5. Ben talks about how you really need your executive team to hit the ground running. You can cover for one executive to get them up to speed, but you can't cover for every executive. Thus, you need to hire top tier talent, often from outside. This is great. But this also forms a good explanation for why top executives often seem to be from a different planet, move in completely different circles, and get paid orders of magnitude more. But Ben doesn't cover any of these pathologies, or how it really is a necessary side-effect of the realities of the executive responsibilities. 6. From Ben's raiding of his previous form for top executive talent, I get an increasing suspicion that the top talent moves in tight-knit teams that gel well together. Your management priority should be to network and form these connections from an early stage (definitely before you found your own VC-backed fast growth startup). If you don't have this focus, you have to develop it at a late stage in the game, and for that you _really_ need top VCs, otherwise you will not be plugged in at all and have no access to these folk.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Brad Feld

    This is one of the best books you’ll ever read on entrepreneurship and being a CEO. If you are a CEO, read this book. If you aspire to be a CEO read this book. If you are on a management team and want to understand what a CEO goes through, read this book. If you are interested in entrepreneurship and want to understand it better, read this book. On Friday, I spent the entire day with about 50 of the CEOs of companies we are investors in. Rand Fishkin of Moz put together a full day Foundry Group CEO S This is one of the best books you’ll ever read on entrepreneurship and being a CEO. If you are a CEO, read this book. If you aspire to be a CEO read this book. If you are on a management team and want to understand what a CEO goes through, read this book. If you are interested in entrepreneurship and want to understand it better, read this book. On Friday, I spent the entire day with about 50 of the CEOs of companies we are investors in. Rand Fishkin of Moz put together a full day Foundry Group CEO Summit. It used a format Rand has used before. We broke up into five different groups and has sessions on about ten total topics throughout the day. The groups were fluid – people were organized by category (alpha and beta) but then went to the topic they were interested in. There was a moderator for each session – the first five minutes was each CEO putting up one “top of mind” issue in the topic, and the then balance of the session (75 minutes) was the entire group spending between 5 and 15 minutes on each topic. It was awesome. We finished with a fun dinner at Pizzeria Locale. I drove home with my mind buzzing and arrived around 8pm to see Amy laying on the coach reading a book. So I grabbed by iPad and looked to see what was new on it. I’d pre-ordered Ben’s book so it was in slot number one. It felt fitting to start reading it. At 10:30 I was finished with it. The Hard Thing About Hard Things was the perfect way to cap off a day with the CEOs of the companies we invest in. Trust me on this one. Go buy The Hard Thing About Hard Things right now. Ben – thanks for writing this and putting 100% of your heart into it.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Otis Chandler

    I haven’t read many (any?) books that are written by CEO’s for CEO’s. If you are a CEO, aspire to be a CEO, or really, manage anyone - you need to read this book. This quote is perhaps my favorite one from the book. At the top, nobody is there to tell you what to do. It’s easy to look at some leaders and wonder how they knew what to do to become so successful. Are they just really smart? The truth is that they likely did what everyone else in that situation has to do - get scrappy and just figur I haven’t read many (any?) books that are written by CEO’s for CEO’s. If you are a CEO, aspire to be a CEO, or really, manage anyone - you need to read this book. This quote is perhaps my favorite one from the book. At the top, nobody is there to tell you what to do. It’s easy to look at some leaders and wonder how they knew what to do to become so successful. Are they just really smart? The truth is that they likely did what everyone else in that situation has to do - get scrappy and just figure it out - and don’t give up. "Great CEOs face the pain. They deal with the sleepless nights, the cold sweats, and what my friend the great Alfred Chuang (legendary cofounder and CEO of BEA Systems) calls “the torture.” Whenever I meet a successful CEO, I ask them how they did it. Mediocre CEOs point to their brilliant strategic moves or their intuitive business sense or a variety of other self-congratulatory explanations. The great CEOs tend to be remarkably consistent in their answers. They all say, “I didn’t quit.” My second favorite quote from the book speaks to one of the greatest challenges all entrepreneurs face: work/life balance. I like to say "work hard, play hard". But sometimes it's easy to forget the play part. Or to buy flowers once in a while. But the cost of those on your health or relationships can cost much more. "As a company grows, communication becomes its biggest challenge. If the employees fundamentally trust the CEO, then communication will be vastly more efficient than if they don’t." Ben had a lot of great advice on how to hire well, especially executives. Looking to avoid reactionary big company execs when you need someone who will come in and get stuff done proactively. Looking for people who can think on their feet and not make everything a nail for the hammer of their prior experience by asking “How will your new job differ from your current one?” Looking for people who are mission driven and use the “team” prism instead of the “me” prism. He also had advice about onboarding, and training. Hiring for strength instead of lack of weakness. I’ve definitely seen instances of this - where a candidate is great in some areas that we really need but isn’t great at everything. Knowing what you value most is critical here - and I fully admit - not easy to do. "I’d learned the hard way that when hiring executives, one should follow Colin Powell’s instructions and hire for strength rather than lack of weakness." On hiring internally vs externally. Internal candidates across often do better, which is a great thing to think about when building a team. "when it comes to CEO succession, internal candidates dramatically outperform external candidates . The core reason is knowledge. Knowledge of technology, prior decisions, culture, personnel, and more tends to be far more difficult to acquire than the skills required to manage a larger organization." One of my favorite sections was "Managing strictly by numbers is like painting by numbers". No matter how well you instrument your metrics and goals, you can ever perfectly encapsulate everything you need your company to be doing. Innovation is often like this - with many big innovations the team will often struggle to find how it drives value as it doesn’t seem to hit the core metric. But they can all agree it will improve things. I think a big part of the CEO’s job is to have a strong product vision, and to not compromise on it. "I often see teams that maniacally focus on their metrics around customer acquisition and retention. This usually works well for customer acquisition, but not so well for retention. Why? For many products, metrics often describe the customer acquisition goal in enough detail to provide sufficient management guidance. In contrast, the metrics for customer retention do not provide enough color to be a complete management tool. As a result, many young companies overemphasize retention metrics and do not spend enough time going deep enough on the actual user experience. This generally results in a frantic numbers chase that does not end in a great product." Ben talked about the difference between CEO’s who can set direction for a company (often founding CEO’s) and those can can operationally run it as it grows. How great CEOs need to be good at both, and founding CEOs who don’t scale are those who don’t learn the operational side. And conversely, operational CEOs who don’t get good at making decisions about direction will fail. Ben talked about how "Some employees make products, some make sales; the CEO makes decisions." The strength of those decisions is built upon having data. Data about what customers think. Data about what employees think. Data about the metrics. A CEO has to be a constant data accumulating machine. Another nuance was that a CEO can make a decision at any point in time with the data they have now, identify what data would change their mind, and seek it out. "Great CEOs build exceptional strategies for gathering the required information continuously. They embed their quest for intelligence into all of their daily actions from staff meetings to customer meetings to one-on-ones. Winning strategies are built on comprehensive knowledge gathered in every interaction the CEO has with an employee, a customer, a partner, or an investor." Ben’s stories about Loudcloud and Opsware and the Hard Things he dealt with were impressive. I do think they spread too much throughout the book and would have been better concentrated in one part of the book and supplemented by more examples from other companies. But that doesn’t detract from one can learn from them. It was strange that he opens each chapter with rap lyrics - that often seem very disconnected to the chapter. I guess he likes rap - but still… Pretty cool Ben had Michael Ovitz as an advisor. And that he modeled A16Z after CAA - where instead of independent agents/VCs, have a shared network - and invest in strategic networks that will help the companies. Michael Ovitz on dealmaking: “Gentlemen, I’ve done many deals in my lifetime and through that process, I’ve developed a methodology, a way of doing things, a philosophy if you will. Within that philosophy, I have certain beliefs. I believe in artificial deadlines. I believe in playing one against the other. I believe in doing everything and anything short of illegal or immoral to get the damned deal done." One interesting tendency Ben points out is that “When a company starts to lose its major battles, the truth often becomes the first casualty.”. You have to be vigilant in looking for the truth, and have backbone spot it. The reason for this, is that "humans, particularly those who build things, only listen to leading indicators of good news." Which is so true! We can always find reasons to excuse away bad news, and reasons to believe good news means more than it should. Ben closes with a quote I really believe in - life is about the journey, not the destination. So you have to embrace the journey. Be so mission driven that the struggles you inevitably face are worth it. "Life is struggle.” I believe that within that quote lies the most important lesson in entrepreneurship: Embrace the struggle."

  4. 4 out of 5

    Chris Johnson

    This is the very best business book I have ever read. I would estimate that I've read roughly 1,000. I've loved maybe 100. This one is in it's own category, a book that both documents the times about 12-15 years ago and paints a picture of what we can do today. I cannot recommend it highly enough, and I cannot say more strongly: read it. If you know me - email me at my personal address and I'll buy it for you. There are a few things that happen to an entrepreneur. I've faced down the belly of the This is the very best business book I have ever read. I would estimate that I've read roughly 1,000. I've loved maybe 100. This one is in it's own category, a book that both documents the times about 12-15 years ago and paints a picture of what we can do today. I cannot recommend it highly enough, and I cannot say more strongly: read it. If you know me - email me at my personal address and I'll buy it for you. There are a few things that happen to an entrepreneur. I've faced down the belly of the 'no cash, people might find out that we are phonies' thing a few times, but this adds a vocabulary to the emotions that I've felt off and on all my life. These are my people, this is what I aspire to be, how I aspire to live, and the journey I aspire to take. Some will say that the book is for funded startups - and I'm a 'hustler for life'. I say nonsense: the struggle scales. It is just as scary fighting for your own personal livelihood as it is fighting for the jobs of 300 people. There is practical information: how to conduct a review, how to live your life how move forward. I can't say more strongly: if anything I've said has ever moved you over the years go out and buy this book. A couple things: I missed my spot on the standby list because I was so engrossed in this book. I *literally* cried during a story of how they dealt with an employe's cancer during a merger.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Eric Lin

    If you got advice from someone you found really annoying - even if it was good advice from an interesting perspective - would you be able to get over how annoying the person talking your ear off is? That's basically where I am with this book. I think his advice is really interesting, and it's clear that a lot of the lessons he's learned throughout the course of his career were earned with blood and sweat, but ultimately, I'm not sure I can get past how annoying I found the voice he was writing in If you got advice from someone you found really annoying - even if it was good advice from an interesting perspective - would you be able to get over how annoying the person talking your ear off is? That's basically where I am with this book. I think his advice is really interesting, and it's clear that a lot of the lessons he's learned throughout the course of his career were earned with blood and sweat, but ultimately, I'm not sure I can get past how annoying I found the voice he was writing in. - He sets up the most epic humblebrag ever, first by talking about this Bill Campbell guy and how awesome he is, and what a great mentor Bill Campbell is to people like Jeff Bezos. Then at the end of the book he introduces one of the chapters by sharing that Bill Campbell told him he (Ben) was the best CEO he's ever worked with. Nice. - He uses rap lyrics from the Trinidad James "All Gold Everything" song to make a really relevant tie-in to the topic he's discussing because he likes the lyrics I guess? But I really want to take advice from someone who will take a break from bragging about shit to drop some Trinidad James. That really makes me feel like this guy's not just any CEO. He's a cool CEO. - He is one of those people who reads The Art of War and tries too hard to apply it to business situations. - Isn't it cool that he curses at work? Btw profanity can be great when used on purpose by a CEO to make a point. Btw profanity can be great when used on purpose by a CEO to make a point. Btw profanity can be great when used on purpose by a CEO to make a point. (Fuck. Sorry. That's about how many times in the book he makes this point.) - Even though he's supposedly a Kingkiller and done all this other cool shit, by the end of the first book, Kvothe has done basically nothing. Okay, I'm drinking too much haterade and all the books I don't like are blurring together. I'm cutting myself off.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Patrick Brown

    It's hard for me give this a rating, as I haven't really read many other how-to business books. I liked the narrative section at the beginning of the book a bit better than the tactical advice section, but I think that's probably just how I prefer to get information. There are some great lessons in here for non-CEOs, but I suspect it's even more valuable for those who have founded and/or run a company. I think most relevant and/or interesting to me were: * Hiring for strength rather than lack of It's hard for me give this a rating, as I haven't really read many other how-to business books. I liked the narrative section at the beginning of the book a bit better than the tactical advice section, but I think that's probably just how I prefer to get information. There are some great lessons in here for non-CEOs, but I suspect it's even more valuable for those who have founded and/or run a company. I think most relevant and/or interesting to me were: * Hiring for strength rather than lack of weakness. If you're bringing someone new onto the team, really think hard about what strengths are most important for the job and find someone who is world class at those things. If that person isn't as strong at everything else on your check-list, don't sweat it. * Importance of one-on-ones as a management technique. It's sort of incredible that people can manage without one-on-one meetings, but I guess it happens. The big breakthrough (or at least, the one that I hadn't put into words before) is that it's the employee's meeting, rather than the manager's. I mean, duh, but still a good framework for thinking about the meeting. * As a CEO, you don't have time to develop your direct reports. I suspect this is really difficult for many CEOs to deal with at first. I know it would be tough for me. But it makes sense -- at that level, you just have to be able to do the job with minimal-to-no developmental runway. Anyway, for my first management book, this one was fun and readable and very honest. Also lots of hip-hop quotes, for those who roll that way.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Lena

    Ben Horowitz joined Netscape in the very early days and proceeded to ride the internet wave all the way up, all the way down, and everywhere in between over the course of his career. In this memoir/business advice book, he recounts choice moments from his extensive career and shares information he found important along the way. In a world filled with Rah-Rah You Can Do It! business books, I found the tone of this book incredibly refreshing. The opening paragraph gets right to the point that it do Ben Horowitz joined Netscape in the very early days and proceeded to ride the internet wave all the way up, all the way down, and everywhere in between over the course of his career. In this memoir/business advice book, he recounts choice moments from his extensive career and shares information he found important along the way. In a world filled with Rah-Rah You Can Do It! business books, I found the tone of this book incredibly refreshing. The opening paragraph gets right to the point that it doesn't matter how much you believe in your company when your market has crashed, your funding is disappearing and your employees are revolting. The key to really being a successful entrepreneur has less to do with your vision and more to do with your ability to make good decisions when there are nothing but bad and worse options to choose from. Horowitz' personal stories were the most interesting part of the book; particularly gripping was his tale about desperately trying to raise money right after the NASDAQ crash when his company was on the verge of bankruptcy and his wife was undergoing a major health crisis. He is incredibly honest as he talks about the sheer terror, the sleepless nights, the nausea and the incredible emotional toll trying to right a failing ship takes on the entrepreneurial soul. In the middle section of the book, he offers more specific advice drawn from things he has learned over the years, including an interesting discussion on the difference between hiring for strength instead of for lack of weakness. Much of this section won't be useful for people outside the tech industry, however, as I don't think issues like how to handle job applications from people who work for your other CEO friends are likely to apply outside the small world of Silicon Valley. A lot of his advice also applies to people who are running companies with hundreds if not thousands of employees. Despite not being in that world, however, I still found this book a useful read. Given how grueling starting and running a company is, it's helpful to get signposts from someone who has been through as much as Horowitz has.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Angie Boyter

    This is not a book that I think many general readers would enjoy. The first part is about the author's experiences building and running various tech companies and is fairly interesting. Most of it, though, is a huge compendium of short bits of management advice that gets very tedious. It might be of interest if I were looking for a how-to book, but, even so, it seems to be based pretty heavily on the author's own experience, i.e., "I did this. I was successful. Ergo, this is the right thing to d This is not a book that I think many general readers would enjoy. The first part is about the author's experiences building and running various tech companies and is fairly interesting. Most of it, though, is a huge compendium of short bits of management advice that gets very tedious. It might be of interest if I were looking for a how-to book, but, even so, it seems to be based pretty heavily on the author's own experience, i.e., "I did this. I was successful. Ergo, this is the right thing to do." I suppose that is better than taking advice from a failure, but I would prefer more than one sample point. I read it based on a positive mention in The Economist. I guess they are better at commentary than book recommendations.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Josh Steimle

    I rarely read the same book twice, but I'm going to do just that with this book. In fact, I'm considering reading it once a month for the next year until everything in it is ingrained in my consciousness. Why? Because this book has the lessons I need in my business, right now. I'm in the midst of hiring my core team that is going to help us grow. I've gone through, and continue to go through, many of the challenges faced by Horowitz, albeit with fewer zeros on the ends of all the numbers. This b I rarely read the same book twice, but I'm going to do just that with this book. In fact, I'm considering reading it once a month for the next year until everything in it is ingrained in my consciousness. Why? Because this book has the lessons I need in my business, right now. I'm in the midst of hiring my core team that is going to help us grow. I've gone through, and continue to go through, many of the challenges faced by Horowitz, albeit with fewer zeros on the ends of all the numbers. This book has definitely made it into my "top 10 books all entrepreneurs must read" list. I only give five stars to books I believe everyone should read. This book isn't a must-read for everyone, but if you're an entrepreneur it has five stars for you. Update March, 2015. I've read it three times. Starting on the fourth time. Yes, it's that good and useful. Update March, 2015. Four times. Every time I read it I learn several new things that are directly applicable to my business, right now.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Summer

    I can't take insights from someone who has so little insight about himself. Cases in point: As a white boy, you do not have to call yourself the "Jackie Robinson of barbecue". You can just say you are good at barbecuing. Or say nothing, really because it's irrelevant. That fact that your grandfather once WENT to a black neighborhood is not a story. Seriously you should not tell people that, because IT'S NOT A STORY. The fact that you bullied your wife into going on her first date with you, is ki I can't take insights from someone who has so little insight about himself. Cases in point: As a white boy, you do not have to call yourself the "Jackie Robinson of barbecue". You can just say you are good at barbecuing. Or say nothing, really because it's irrelevant. That fact that your grandfather once WENT to a black neighborhood is not a story. Seriously you should not tell people that, because IT'S NOT A STORY. The fact that you bullied your wife into going on her first date with you, is kind of a story... but it doesn't reflect well on you. I wish I could get past these things because Horowitz undoubtedly know much more about business than I do. But no. I'm out.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Bülent Duagi

    It's a must read if you're into management + tech. The hard thing about hard things is that nobody and nothing really prepares you for them.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Anshu

    Horowitz is the most prominent VC firm in the valley. This book depicts great stories about the struggle from Horowitz. Initial few chapters are good and the reader gets more curious especially how his business was transformed from selling cloud solutions to pure software based. How they pivot on initial phase. However, after 2-3 chapters, I got lost since this book turned into management/leadership lessons. That's the point I got lost. I was hoping that Horowitz will talk more about personal jo Horowitz is the most prominent VC firm in the valley. This book depicts great stories about the struggle from Horowitz. Initial few chapters are good and the reader gets more curious especially how his business was transformed from selling cloud solutions to pure software based. How they pivot on initial phase. However, after 2-3 chapters, I got lost since this book turned into management/leadership lessons. That's the point I got lost. I was hoping that Horowitz will talk more about personal journies, his investment journies and the struggle that the funded startups faced. Good learnings though. I had to skip few pages just after glancing those.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Ethan

    Superb and unique book for its target reader - the founding CEO of a software company. Real, practical guidance that no one else has covered in a business book. Becomes rapidly less applicable the farther the reader is from the target. A few useful nuggets for non-founding CEOs, executives of non-software firms, and non-CEO founders, but this is by no means a generalist book on entrepreneurship or "business". Largely collected from Horowitz' blog, so regular readers there will not find too much ne Superb and unique book for its target reader - the founding CEO of a software company. Real, practical guidance that no one else has covered in a business book. Becomes rapidly less applicable the farther the reader is from the target. A few useful nuggets for non-founding CEOs, executives of non-software firms, and non-CEO founders, but this is by no means a generalist book on entrepreneurship or "business". Largely collected from Horowitz' blog, so regular readers there will not find too much new. It also suffers from blog collection syndrome, meaning the structure of discrete essays precludes much of a continuous line and results in some distracting repetition. Also some unintended cut-and-paste ephemera (e.g., a reference to "the commenter above"). Still, downright excellent overall and I suspect massively helpful to any founding CEO of a software company.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Mateusz Kurleto

    This book was a game changer for me. I started reading it in the middle of my biggest struggle as a founder and CEO of Neoteric (#32 on Deloitte Technology Fast 50 CE). It was recommended by my co-founder, Mateusz Paprocki. Ben shares tough stories here. He says what he fucked up and how did he manage to make it up. It helped me to trust my instincts and bet my decisions during company transformation on the values I live by. It's only 1 month since I started implementing the changes and I already This book was a game changer for me. I started reading it in the middle of my biggest struggle as a founder and CEO of Neoteric (#32 on Deloitte Technology Fast 50 CE). It was recommended by my co-founder, Mateusz Paprocki. Ben shares tough stories here. He says what he fucked up and how did he manage to make it up. It helped me to trust my instincts and bet my decisions during company transformation on the values I live by. It's only 1 month since I started implementing the changes and I already see a huge improvement of both business and personal life. I wish I had read this book 2 years earlier. I recommend it to anyone who has entered fast growth. I hit the glass roof before adopting - you don't have to and this book can help you prepare.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Louis

    Some interesting insights, but nothing life-changing. I often felt like he was trying too hard to draw generalizations based on his experience at one particular company (Loudcloud/Opsware). And it's bizarre that he introduces each chapter with rap lyrics, often without any obvious connection to the chapter's topic.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Eugene

    great lessons about running startups, hiring people, managing people, being ceo in good and bad times. I liked the direct style of the writing with almost zero self advertisements.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Athan Tolis

    This very personal book is a detailed manual on how to be the CEO of a technology company with 300 employees. It is unashamedly based on the author’s experiences and it’s “straight from the heart,” as they say. I once owned and ran a tech startup that never got to more than 35, so I’m poorly qualified to comment on the quality of most of the advice. • I never had to demote a loyal friend. I tried to give my loyal friend Tassos fewer shares than my co-founder Marko, but he did not accept and I bac This very personal book is a detailed manual on how to be the CEO of a technology company with 300 employees. It is unashamedly based on the author’s experiences and it’s “straight from the heart,” as they say. I once owned and ran a tech startup that never got to more than 35, so I’m poorly qualified to comment on the quality of most of the advice. • I never had to demote a loyal friend. I tried to give my loyal friend Tassos fewer shares than my co-founder Marko, but he did not accept and I backed off and I’m very pleased I backed off. • I did not lay people off except at the very start and the very end, neither of which really counts. • In the total absence of silver bullets I had no choice other than to fire “lead bullets” (though mine were probably more like plastic bullets) • book2eat.com (my company) never hired a big-company executive and had unbelievable luck with the small-company executive, Martin, we got on board • The 360 review I instituted was a disaster, as all employees thought Orange (our investor) had requested it. I did it, and Orange never found out. Oh, and I got some very harsh reviews. Signed, and all. • We never got around to giving people titles. • Yes, we had politics, but none of them were caused by the de facto managers. I basically made a mistake when I had one floor full of men and one full of women. I should have mixed things up. By the time I put Misha among the girls it was already too late. • I never had to work on a succession plan: to get around a quirk of UK law, I fired Phil, Phil fired Dave and Dave fired me. This (sadly) does not predate Reservoir Dogs, we cannot claim the credit. • We did not have a recruitment process. We hired each other. Diomidis is the preeminent computer scientist in Greece, and he's a friend. Susana was Sara’s friend. Eva used to sell clothes to Susana at Joseph’s. Sam was Tassos’ girlfriend. Katerina was his sister. Our web designer Tunde was Katerina’s classmate in arts school. Carryn used to work at Ove Arup with Sam. Diomidis recommended Ellie. Nadia worked in Ellie’s local Blockbuster. Damiano worked at Blockbuster illegally after falsifying his age (and went on to manage the Clapham Grand, probably before he got to vote for the first time). Tassos’ friend Misha used to tend bar at Quaglino’s. Ziad used to run the counter at Tassos’ local Maroush. Our customer Alex told us we’re hiring his nephew Ahmad. Who hired Toby? Michael? I never found out. Phil used to run Arbitrage Support when I was at Salomon. Andreas used to sell bonds there. Maria-Lisa and I went to summer school together when we were kids. Jackie’s married to Serkan, my friend Dimitris’ former boss at Booz Allen. Davey boy used to do analyst work for my friend Inma at BNP. Thomas and I met Circuit Le Luc in the south of France, at the AGS driving school. Vicky explained to me she’s joining. My mom explained to me Marilisa is joining. Everybody turned out awesome. Seriously. AWESOME. I could not have wished for better. Pretty much everybody is now either immensely successful or very happy or both, much as I stole a couple years from everyone’s life… Come to think of it, there’s Alex. We actually got him through a proper recruitment process. Small confession, everybody: Alex was on 30k. Just him. It’s what you had to pay for a developer of his experience, Phil and Elias would not settle for less. Oh, and Tunde! He sat me down and blackmailed me one day. And, of course, I backed off and gave him the raise; he’s such a creative genius. So the book did not really bring me any flashbacks and did not really point out any of the (surely tons of) things I did wrong. And I don’t think I’ll ever get to use the advice in the future, much as I’m running a startup again. If this stuff does not all come naturally to you, I think you’re hosed. If people doubt your honesty, you’re hosed. If people don’t realize you’ll always put the company first, they’re hosed. The references to “terror” did resonate with me, actually. Mine manifested itself via cataclysmic weight loss, from which I was thankfully delivered by the discovery of Wagamama on Lexington St, though the salesforce did peel apple for me and laid it on my desk on a daily basis, just to make sure. And I got these very clearly psychosomatic pains around my diaphragm. But I think it was the shame I felt toward my loyal investors that caused me the terror, rather than the actual fear we might fail. Who knows? He’s totally right about the terror bit, at any rate. Haven’t had any pains before or since and you would not call me thin if you saw me now. I’d give the book a 5 regardless, but I must dock it a point for doing an Alt-Edit-Find-Replace that ticked me off: 99% of all CEOs and all managers who are referred to in this book by their name are male. All their counterparts who are referred to in the abstract, on the other hand are referred to as “she.” So go ahead, be a cynic / a hypocrite / a panderer / a wuss, but if you’re going to do it, do it right! Page 254 I found myself reading the following lines: “Every CEO sets out to hire the very best person in the world and then recruits aggressively to get HIM. If HE says yes, she inevitably thinks she’s hit the jackpot.” (the capitals are mine) Dunno, maybe it’s deliberate. Perhaps after 250 pages of “she” this and “she” that the author does feel compelled to concede that the very best person in the world is male, after all. And there you have it. Finally, if you want my one piece of advice for when you run a company (and I don’t have the success of Ben Horowitz to back me up, but I’ll say it anyway) I’ll sum it up in one word: delegate.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Sergei_kalinin

    Если характеризовать книгу двумя словами: "учебник прикладного менеджмента". Два важных уточнения: 1) именно "прикладного", а не теоретического; 2) по сути это такая "настольная книга CEO", включающая в себя рекомендации и по оперативному, и по стратегическому управлению. Книга - это один большой кейс; где в роли кейса выступает карьера самого автора. Бен Хоровиц начинал как рядовой программист в компании SGI, потом работал в Netscape, потом в AOL и далее ещё в десятке-другом известнейших IT-ком Если характеризовать книгу двумя словами: "учебник прикладного менеджмента". Два важных уточнения: 1) именно "прикладного", а не теоретического; 2) по сути это такая "настольная книга CEO", включающая в себя рекомендации и по оперативному, и по стратегическому управлению. Книга - это один большой кейс; где в роли кейса выступает карьера самого автора. Бен Хоровиц начинал как рядовой программист в компании SGI, потом работал в Netscape, потом в AOL и далее ещё в десятке-другом известнейших IT-компаний. При этом он прошёл путь от рядового сотрудника до управляющего (CEO) и учредителя; а в настоящее время управляет инвестиционным фондом. А это означает, что современный IT-бизнес он знает вдоль и поперек, и сверху донизу. Пока я читал эту книгу, у меня в голове постоянно возникали параллели с ещё двумя книгами. Первое сравнение: по стилю подачи материала; по общей идеологии (подходу к управленческой работе); и даже не уровне конкретных рекомендаций, книга очень похожа на "Исполнение. Система достижения целей" (Ларри Боссиди, Рэм Чаран). Видимо, методы и идеи крутых руководителей закономерно сходятся :). Второе сравнение, увы, негативное... Книга "Легко не будет" - как бы "про стартапы". Но стартап стартапу - рознь. Мне кажется, что для России более актуальны руководства про небольшие и малобюджетные стартапы "от 100 долларов" (в стиле Криса Гильбо ;)). Я понимаю, что вопрос это спорный, но по моему мнению, в России пока ещё не сформировалась определенная стартап-культура; что у нас даже небольших успешных IT-стартапов лишь десяток-полтора наберётся :( Книга "Легко не будет" посвящена "большим" стартапам. Она о том, как выращивать компании-лидеры IT-рынка, выводить их на IPO, и за 2-3 года наращивать их капитализацию до миллиардов долларов. Много ли в России таких компаний?! :( Ну разве что "Яндекс"... И вот второе сравнение этой книги, постоянно возникавшее в моей голове, было с "Яндекс.Книгой" (Дм. Соколов-Митрич). Понятно, что тут немного разная подача материала: "Легко не будет" писал менеджер, "Яндекс.Книгу" писал журналист; менеджер хотел поделиться секретами мастерства с менеджерами, журналист просто рассказывал историю компании. Но... Если внимательно вчитываться в оба текста, то понимаешь, насколько сильно отличается образ (и масштаб) мышления западных CEO от наших :((. Мда, ребята, пахать нам ещё и пахать... Ещё два слова о книге... Самое ценное в ней - опыт и советы по оперативному управлению. Это успешный (!) опыт практического руководителя в самой передовой (!!) и самой стремительно развивающейся отрасли на самом динамичном мировом рынке (!!!). Т.е. в современной IT-сфере на уровне "большой игры" выживают не просто компании с хорошим менеджментом - управление должно быть супер-эффективным! Именно поэтому книга - must read для управленца ЛЮБОГО уровня (особенно в России :)). Мне лично (т.е. то, с чем я работаю) очень понравились советы по управлению персоналом (подбору сотрудников, формированию команды, сплочению коллектива в кризисные времена и т.п.); по постановке системы оперативного управления (отличная 6 глава "О концепции непрерывной деятельности"). Очень классно автор пишет о том, как директору (CEO) не "сгореть" на работе; как реагировать на постоянные стрессы и кризисы; как разруливать конфликты в коллективе и противоречия в отношениях с партнерами; как принимать трудные управленческие решения в казалось бы безвыходных ситуациях... /Возможно, кто-то из продвинутых менеджеров задаст закономерный вопрос: "А можно ли всему этому научиться по книге?". Научиться по книге м.б. и нельзя... Но если у вас есть похожий управленческий опыт, то книга воспринимается как диалог с мудрым и опытным наставником, который точно "в теме". М.б. и не все советы этого наставника напрямую подойдут для вас, но множество интересных и полезных идей "для проверки на собственной шкуре" вы там точно найдёте ;) /.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Ahmad Moshrif

    Briefly, this is the best business book that I've read in 2014 so far. Thinkg seriously to read it again. باختصار ... أفضل كتاب قرأته هذا العام في عالم المال والأعمال. عنذما يتكلم بين هوروتيز، بالتأكيد يجب على كل قيادي وشاب أعمال أن يسمع ماذا سيقول. نقلاته الناجحة (بشكل مفجع) في عالم الأعمال تستحق التوثيق بكل شكل وهذا ما نجح به فعلاً من خلال هذا الكتاب، وأجمل ما في الكتاب تطرقه بشكل كبير على التفاصيل الصغيرة التي تهم القارئ (رجل الأعمال/القيادي). يعلمك بين كيف توظف وكيف تفصل، كيف تتحدث مع المستثمري Briefly, this is the best business book that I've read in 2014 so far. Thinkg seriously to read it again. باختصار ... أفضل كتاب قرأته هذا العام في عالم المال والأعمال. عنذما يتكلم بين هوروتيز، بالتأكيد يجب على كل قيادي وشاب أعمال أن يسمع ماذا سيقول. نقلاته الناجحة (بشكل مفجع) في عالم الأعمال تستحق التوثيق بكل شكل وهذا ما نجح به فعلاً من خلال هذا الكتاب، وأجمل ما في الكتاب تطرقه بشكل كبير على التفاصيل الصغيرة التي تهم القارئ (رجل الأعمال/القيادي). يعلمك بين كيف توظف وكيف تفصل، كيف تتحدث مع المستثمرين والزبان، وكيف تخوض في أهم التفاصيل في يومك العملي. لا توجد أي إجابات سهلة في بناء ورئاسة أي شركة كما يقول، وهنا يدعوا "بين" أن القرارات مصحوبة بقوة الشخصية دون البحث عن صورة واضحة هي مايجب عليك القيام به دائماً، ولا يرى أن هناك أي شرح وظيفي في هذا العالم لمنصب الرئيس التنفيذي والذي بدوره يتطلب التعود على الخوض في مئات القرارات والنقاشات اليومية دون توفر جميع الأجوبة التي تحتاجها. الجدير بالذكر ... أن "بين" يشارك في إدارة حاضنة أعمال تعنى بالإستثمار مع شباب الأعمال وتساعدهم بشكل كبير على إدارة مشاريعهم، ويختم كتابه بقوله:" لا اريد أن أعمل حساب اي شخص، أو افكر فيما سيقوله الآخرين وهو ما اقوم به الآن كحاضن أعمال، وذلك عكس وظيفة الرئيس التنفيذي التي كنت عليها من قبل". كتاب ضروري جداً لكل رجل أعمال، أو صاحب منصب قيادي، أنصح به بشدة.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Zora

    6 stars. Even 10 stars. This is the best business book I've ever read. Hands down. Just like building a company, its gritty. It's a book about the hard things. I think part of the reason I loved this book so much is because it struck an emotional cord. I've been through those sleepless nights, lived through months of those pit in the gut, sick, 'I think I might vomit' feelings. During certain chapters I got chills. For a moment, the hair on my back and arms raised. I felt that humbling, pit in m 6 stars. Even 10 stars. This is the best business book I've ever read. Hands down. Just like building a company, its gritty. It's a book about the hard things. I think part of the reason I loved this book so much is because it struck an emotional cord. I've been through those sleepless nights, lived through months of those pit in the gut, sick, 'I think I might vomit' feelings. During certain chapters I got chills. For a moment, the hair on my back and arms raised. I felt that humbling, pit in my stomach feeling creep in. I've never before read a business book like this one. This book is refreshing because it's real. It's not like the typical "build your business... effective leadership... 7 steps to..." books that help you build your company when it's still yet a dream, or in the very beginning stage of its life. Anyone who has built a company or runs a company (or companies) knows that it's HARD. This book is about those hard things. Absolutely brilliant.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Ostap Andrusiv

    Мені подобається, як ця книжка починається. Відразу ріже по живому: - не складно придумати ГУЧНУ ціль, складно звільняти людей, якщо її не досяг - … складно, якщо люди починають вимагати неможливого - … складно заставити людей комунікувати у щойно стовреній компанії - і ще багато отаких "складно". Це книжка, розділи якої я інколи перечитую як підручник. Резюме: нема формули для складних речей. І для вирішення всіх поблем теж формули нема. Кожна ситуація інша, і її потрібно вирішувати найкращим для неї Мені подобається, як ця книжка починається. Відразу ріже по живому: - не складно придумати ГУЧНУ ціль, складно звільняти людей, якщо її не досяг - … складно, якщо люди починають вимагати неможливого - … складно заставити людей комунікувати у щойно стовреній компанії - і ще багато отаких "складно". Це книжка, розділи якої я інколи перечитую як підручник. Резюме: нема формули для складних речей. І для вирішення всіх поблем теж формули нема. Кожна ситуація інша, і її потрібно вирішувати найкращим для неї чином. Висновок: 5. Горовіц шикарну книжку написав. Цікаво, що вони разом з Марком напишуть через кілька років про a16z.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Robert

    Horowitz has assembled a great collection of hard fought knowledge for future founding CEOs. I took away a lot from this book, despite neither being a CEO nor planning to be one. Anyone who intends to take a leadership role in a company, especially in high tech, should read it. The advice on hiring and firing is clear, succinct and valuable. I also got a lot of great insights on what to look for in product managers. While not entirely discouraging to would be entrepreneurs, Horowitz's vividly re Horowitz has assembled a great collection of hard fought knowledge for future founding CEOs. I took away a lot from this book, despite neither being a CEO nor planning to be one. Anyone who intends to take a leadership role in a company, especially in high tech, should read it. The advice on hiring and firing is clear, succinct and valuable. I also got a lot of great insights on what to look for in product managers. While not entirely discouraging to would be entrepreneurs, Horowitz's vividly retold experiences make it clear that running a startup consists a lot more of stomach churning decisions and shit sandwiches than unicorns and ponies.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Ashley

    This was possibly the most useful management book I have ever read. Ben's personal stories along with key lessons and advice on how to handle those difficult decisions was amazing. I'm not sure it would be of value to anyone who's not a founder CEO. However I think it's a must read for all founder CEOs who are in the process of building a big company, or trying to. I should also throw in that's its a bit scary. Sometimes while in the grind you hold hope that someday everything will just get easie This was possibly the most useful management book I have ever read. Ben's personal stories along with key lessons and advice on how to handle those difficult decisions was amazing. I'm not sure it would be of value to anyone who's not a founder CEO. However I think it's a must read for all founder CEOs who are in the process of building a big company, or trying to. I should also throw in that's its a bit scary. Sometimes while in the grind you hold hope that someday everything will just get easier. I know that's not the case but it's easy to hold onto. This is a splash of cold water. Ben's advice at the end is a deep truth we, founder CEOs must buy into: "embrace the struggle".

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jon Fish

    Most business books talk in the abstract: "empower your employees", "give good and frequent feedback", "don't sweat the small stuff". This is all well and good, but, as Ben Horowitz correctly points out, is more about the "What" than the "How". The hard part of building an A+ team is not realizing that you need to find people who have complementary strengths and can work together, but is rather that sometimes the right person doesn't look the part, works for a friend, or is not as smart as the u Most business books talk in the abstract: "empower your employees", "give good and frequent feedback", "don't sweat the small stuff". This is all well and good, but, as Ben Horowitz correctly points out, is more about the "What" than the "How". The hard part of building an A+ team is not realizing that you need to find people who have complementary strengths and can work together, but is rather that sometimes the right person doesn't look the part, works for a friend, or is not as smart as the unreliable genius. The Hard Thing About Hard Thing give pragmatic, to-the-point advice for CEOs and managers- the things you wish someone had told you.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Trung Thieu

    This book is 5☆ in the knowledge that we could get. the writing style would be less because the author talked and praised himself too much. however I think it's fair because it's about his personal experiences and how he got over the hard things. 1 observation is that at the beginning of the book, there are lots of highlights but it drops near the end. Probably readers feel less engaged gradually with the book. Will need to summarize the lesson-learnt and apply. Overall it's still a 5☆. Thanks Ben!

  26. 4 out of 5

    Михайло Мариняк

    Читається на одному подиху, а читати треба кілька разів. Книга наповнена порадами, які вимагають трохи рефлексії, бо люди роблять бізнес успішним. Пісні з епіграфів додав до свого списку улюблених пісень :)

  27. 4 out of 5

    Lech Kaniuk

    Every founding CEO should read this book!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jurgen Appelo

    Endless boring stories about how to handle situations when organizations are badly managed.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Sipho

    Entrepreneur turned venture capitalist Ben Horowitz wrote this book to teach entrepreneurs the truth about starting and running a business. This book comes highly recommended from many successful business people for its candour and insight. Key Takeaways There is no secret to being a world class CEO or leader: you just need the courage to make decisions when there are no easy answers. Hard things are hard because there is no template or formula to deal with them. Many business books tell you how Entrepreneur turned venture capitalist Ben Horowitz wrote this book to teach entrepreneurs the truth about starting and running a business. This book comes highly recommended from many successful business people for its candour and insight. Key Takeaways There is no secret to being a world class CEO or leader: you just need the courage to make decisions when there are no easy answers. Hard things are hard because there is no template or formula to deal with them. Many business books tell you how you should run a business to avoid making mistakes but none really teach you what to do when things go awry. Be honest with your employees or members of your team. While its unlikely anyone cares as much as you do, you do not have to carry it alone. Take care of people, product and profit. In that order. If you don't take care of your people, the product will suffer which will inevitably lower profits. There are no rules in entrepreneurship. Get used to adapting to change - sometimes you will need a peacetime leader, at other times you will need a wartime leader. Conclusion The Hard Thing About Hard Things was an honest and realistic read about the challenges of starting and running a business. Well worth reading for anyone who is thinking of starting something, who leads in any capacity or wants to understand what their boss is going through.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Ryan

    It's not as relevant for someone who isn't thinking starting a business. However, it provides enough insight for those working in one to understand why some processes are the way they are. When the book discusses individuals regarding CEO -> relationships, those guidelines are transferable to the other side. Helps you understand business decisions from a CEO point of view.

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