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The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers Hardcover – 24 Apr 2014
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“More than any other business book released this year, “Hard Things” gives an insider’s perspective on what it’s like to lead and scale a startup.” (--Business Insider's Best Business Books of 2014)
“This is easily one of the essential books every business leader should read if they’re looking for proven and honest management advice.” (--Entrepreneur's 25 Amazing Business Books from 2014)
“The most valuable book on startup management hands down” (PandoDaily)
“There is more than enough substance in Mr. Horowitz’s impressive tome to turn it into a leadership classic.” (The Economist)
From the Back Cover
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.See all Product description
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1 - Almost all the advice provided here is for C-Suite, or perhaps exclusively CEO. Corporate boardroom, shareholders, directors bonuses, right person for the right job... I found it fascinating to read about things like the personality qualities the author looks for or assumes in a CEO fit, but I feel for a lot of people this information will simply not be applicable to their day to day. Certainly there wasn't much I could draw into my day to day.
2- The books referred to throughout by the author, by the likes of Andy Grove and Peter Thiel, are in my opinion far more useful - more game-changing insights
Maybe it's just because I'm not a C-suite director or a business founder that I can't appreciate the value of the advice... certainly I appreciate the honesty of the author and their willingness to call out what they see as corporate BS, but I found myself putting it down at 50%, 70%, 80%, picking up later, forging on, and still not feeling I was getting much from the read.
The first half of the book mainly covers Horowitz's back story and it takes a while for anything of real value to be mentioned. By the halfway mark though the book offers plenty of bookmark-worthy snippets of advice which should be relevant to anyone who is looking to develop a career in leadership.
It's very likely I will be referring to this book again in the future.
Q: How many Vietnam (or your era’s conflict of attrition) vets does it take to change a lightbulb ?
A: YOU DON'T KNOW! YOU WEREN'T THERE, MAN!! YOU'LL NEVER KNOW!!!
The engaging back story provides rich context and the apparently honest analysis has helped me better understand some of the bizarre leadership behaviours I have observed, and my own mistakes.
”there’s no recipe for motivating teams when your business has turned to crap.”
This book should help you empathise with and support a leader, or better manage your own issues. Whilst the focus is on start-up to scale-up, much of it is relevant to corporate environments.
This personal account, describing a succession of challenges, failures, the lessons learned, and the application of those lessons to drive eventual wild success is both engaging and substantive.
A very odd business book - a can’t-put-it-down page-turner.
For content, I personally 100% love the first part about his entrepreneurial history and the challenges he has experienced as CEO of his various companies.
Then the second part, although full of common sense and very interesting, less touch me because it is addressed to the managers or CEO of large companies. Being a small business director, these chapters were less interesting.
But for a manager or CEO of a startup or larger company, this book will be useful to every page.