Ben Horowitz, cofounder of Andreessen Horowitz and one of Silicon Valley's most respected and experienced entrepreneurs, offers essential advice on building and running a startup - practical wisdom for managing the toughest problems business school doesn't cover, based on his popular ben's blog.
While many people talk about how great it is to start a business, very few are honest about how difficult it is to run one. Ben Horowitz analyzes the problems that confront leaders every day, sharing the insights he's gained developing, managing, selling, buying, investing in, and supervising technology companies. A lifelong rap fanatic, he amplifies business lessons with lyrics from his favorite songs, telling it straight about everything from firing friends to poaching competitors, cultivating and sustaining a CEO mentality to knowing the right time to cash in.
Filled with his trademark humor and straight talk, The Hard Thing About Hard Things is invaluable for veteran entrepreneurs as well as those aspiring to their own new ventures, drawing from Horowitz's personal and often humbling experiences.
©2014 Ben Horowitz (P)2014 HarperCollins Publishers
great book with real world advice and anecdotes from someone who has lived through the hard stuff. Much better than the over simplicity of most management texts. a must read for all managers our business owners.
Ben has a wealth of honest real life sharings of struggles and strategies that make sense for any senior role. I see the CEO role as any senior leader that is accountable for P&L as well as people.
Was interesting and definitely written differently from most of these kinda books (lots of swearing, hip-hop references, unambiguous opinions and sometimes almost obnoxious self-promotion) which gave it some character. A few interesting lessons in there particularly on the difficulties of moving from Founder - CEO but on the whole, fairly dull. I'd give it 2 stars
It was a story more than a tool
Cut it at least in half
So much fantastic content in here! I will give it a few weeks for the lessons to digest their way through my brain, before I go straight back to the beginning and read it again...!
If you're not a middle class American privileged enough to go to an ivy league school and working in corporate America, this book has zero relevance to you. Even if you fit that description it still probably bears no relevance to you other than some light reading of anecdotal wars stories and subjective viewpoints on dealing with multi-million dollar sales and acquisitions of companies. It contains very little information of use to your average business or startup and should probably have the tagline "navigating a corporate snake pit when there are no easy answers"!
This book is great because it's a book about reality. Sometimes it's totally ridiculous what you have to go through as the CEO of a large or small company. But this book makes you realise you're not alone. You're not the only one who doesn't know what your doing :)
great insight, will recommend it it to the CTOs, CEOs and startup founders I know. up there with zero to one and lean startup.
"Exciting and insightful view of a "wartime CEO""
First of all, I have to warn you that the author, Ben Horowitz, apparently likes gangster rap, and there are quotes at the beginning of chapters and sections that are relevant, yet have foul language and try to be offensive. Ben Horowitz interestingly, uses swear words, but only for great impact.
Second, Kevin Kenerly, the narrator, has a great style. It's hard to explain, but it's like he's speaking directly to you, and only to you. Some people might be annoyed by it, but I thought it was very appropriate for this book.
Third, there was a lot of really interesting and dramatic insight into how Horowitz handled an almost impossible to believe string of disasters by seeking good advice from his mentors, from experts, and by making hard decisions. Although I don't agree with some of the ways he treated people, his methods did get results.
"For large company managers, not startups"
Horowitz's formula for "building a business" is to get hundreds of millions of dollars from venture capitalists, then take your the company public and get hundreds of millions more dollars. Then buy companies that have products you need. The author has lots of advice about laying off employees, firing executives, and giving bad news to investors. There's a good chapter about the importance of training your employees.
This book is not for startups. "The Lean Startup," by Eric Ries, is a better book for entrepreneurs. Horowitz's book is for executives managing large companies.
"Once you learn to deal with Horowitz narcissism, it finally gets to the meat"
The voice was miserable. It might have been a low soothing voice, ideal for radio, but the person didn't keep it interesting in inflection. Like a lazy professor a couple years after being tenured.
Horowitz takes a while to get to the real information of his book. When he does get there it great. Before that it is too slow.
"Strong, insightful, and a bit vulgar"
Ben Horowitz has been there and done that--that being starting a tech firm and leading it through chaos and surprise and heartbreak to success. He isn't sharing leadership theory, he's sharing his life lessons.
As such, he offers specific examples and actual numbers for each of his principles. And his principles are insightful and practical. A few are powerful, like the idea of management debt: you can delay making a hard decision but you incur "debt". The problem didn't go away, you will have to pay it later--with interest. So pay now and reduce the cost. Also, don't hire a stereotypical executive, hire the one that fits the exact situation of your company. For example, there's a big difference between running a large company and building a large company. The first is more about managing lots of pressure--reacting well. The second is about creating growth through aggressive action--without anyone pressuring you to do it.
I give 4 rather than 5 stars to this strong leadership book because of the large amount of foul language. Not only is there a section where he decided as CEO to allow a tech culture norm of expletives (that was strategic at least), but he cusses every couple of pages. I guess he's being authentic but it is distracting.
"Sound advice, amateur writing and narration"
The narrator enunciates so aggressively and with such over-animation it made me flinch. And the excessive use of rap lyrics and other extensive references to pop culture gave the book and story a very amateurish feel. The excessive use of the pronoun "she" when referring to hypothetical CEOs also presented an odd juxtaposition with the fact that every single reference to living CEOs was to male ones (Jobs, Bezos, Schmidt, Campbell, Gates...)
However, when the actual advice of the book came out (not until the last half or maybe even quarter) it was clear, concise and to the point. Definitely got me thinking. Wish the whole book had been as such.
"Great book - surprised by all the vitriol"
Those who focus their review on the fact that there's hip hop references or the fact that the author is so raw in his language are clearly missing the f*cking point (since the book is full of expletives). This book explained the agony and euphoria I saw on many of my own CEOs, going from tiny companies to being acquired for millions of dollars. Of course, a good counter part to this book is Lean Start Up by Eric Ries (and that book is dry, boring, methodical, lean on interest yet good since it's the strategy to being a lean, agile start up). Horowitz doesn't mince his words and speaks sincerely about the realities of tech start ups. As Mitch Joel says so eloquently in CTRL-ALT-DELETE - the business world is in a state of purgatory. I'll add that technology is the extreme game of survival of the fittest. A must read for anyone working in tech. And leave your pearls at home. Business is cutthroat, it won't say please and thank you.
"Hard truths no fluff, a gut check for founding CEO"
If you need to know how paranoid you needed to be before considering being the CEO of a startup, then this is a must read. Not too long, great insight into the dread, critical, life altering decisions that you must make as a forms prime leader.
"Just another book that have some info on CEOs"
Ok to read it or listen but didnt get much important info or relevant info, probably if you are a CEO or manage a multibillion $ company that you are planing to sell!
"High level advice for CEOs"
Not great for startups meant for big company CEOs. Some good actionable ideas and insights. Interesting history of Netscape and loudcloud.
"Based in Reality--Not New Age Hocus Pocus:"
Mr. Horowitz masterfully delivers the truth and insight of those long and sleepless nights of trying to think your way through the chaos of a startup.
This book is not the work of a man gloating of his success and using the lens of hindsight to casually relay a few helpful hints. Rather this is an in depth and insightful guide to successfully navigating the major "fork in the road" types decisions that have the potential to define your outcomes.
This is money well spent! It does matter if you are a running the world's largest startup right now or just opened a one person carwash this book will help you. It is lively and entertaining, yet full of helpful information all clearly learned by Mr. Horowitz at the height of entrepreneurial battle.
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