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  • Writer's pictureAnderson Petergeorge

The Hard Things About Hard Things - Ben Horowitz


Overview

Ben Horowitz (Co-founder of Andreessen Horowitz) draws from his own experiences as a startup CEO to give a real-world guide on managing a business. He confronts the tough issues like layoffs, firing executives, demoting friends, and navigating corporate politics, which are often glossed over in other business books. Horowitz stresses the importance of transparency, advocating for leaders to maintain clear communication, prioritize employee welfare, and establish fair company practices to foster trust and minimize politics as a company grows. The book is a candid navigation through the high-stakes environment of running a startup and the complex decisions leaders must face​


Notes

Leadership attributes

  • Ability to articulate the vision

  • Right kind of ambition 

  • Ability to achieve the vision 

 

“Until you make the effort to get to know someone or something, you don’t know anything.”

 

“TAKE CARE OF THE PEOPLE, THE PRODUCTS, AND THE PROFITS—IN THAT ORDER”

 

“Sometimes an organization doesn’t need a solution; it just needs clarity.”

 

“Spend zero time on what you could have done, and devote all of your time on what you might do.”

 

"Don’t hire your friend's employees they’ll never forget and you will lose that friend "

 

“Marc: “Do you know the best thing about startups?” Ben: “What?” Marc: “You only ever experience two emotions: euphoria and terror. And I find that lack of sleep enhances them both.”

 

“People always ask me, “What’s the secret to being a successful CEO?” Sadly, there is no secret, but if there is one skill that stands out, it’s the ability to focus and make the best move when there are no good moves.”

 

"Swapping roles is a great way to show employees the constraints of other groups and jobs. "

 

“Startup CEOs should not play the odds. When you are building a company, you must believe there is an answer and you cannot pay attention to your odds of finding it. You just have to find it. It matters not whether your chances are nine in ten or one in a thousand; your task is the same.”

 

“The Struggle is when you wonder why you started the company in the first place. The Struggle is when people ask you why you don’t quit and you don’t know the answer. The Struggle is when your employees think you are lying and you think they may be right. The Struggle is when food loses its taste.”

 

“People at McDonald’s get trained for their positions, but people with far more complicated jobs don’t. It makes no sense. Would you want to stand on the line of the untrained person at McDonald’s? Would you want to use the software written by the engineer who was never told how the rest of the code worked? A lot of companies think their employees are so smart that they require no training. That’s silly."

 

“In any human interaction, the required amount of communication is inversely proportional to the level of trust.”

 

"“In any human interaction, the required amount of communication is inversely proportional to the level of trust.”"

 

"A healthy company culture encourages people to share bad news. A company that discusses its problems freely and openly can quickly solve them. A company that covers up its problems frustrates everyone involved."

 

"It’s the moments where you feel most like hiding or dying that you can make the biggest difference as a CEO."

 

"Perks are good, but they are not culture."

 

"Leadership is the ability to get someone to follow you even if only out of curiosity."

 

"Watered-down feedback can be worse than no feedback at all because it’s deceptive and confusing to the recipient."

 

"If you are going to eat shit, don’t nibble."

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