The Hard Thing About Hard Things

12 June 2016 | Start reading this book “The Hard Thing About Hard Things” by Ben Horowitz right after SoGal Vietnam Summit 2016. At the very beginning the author says “One hundred percent of my portion of the proceeds of this book will go to help women in developing countries gain basic civil rights via the American Jewish.”


Chapter 1: From Communist to Venture Capitalist

Chapter 2: “I Will Survive”

Chapter 3: This Time with Feeling

Chapter 4: When Things Fall Apart
– The Struggle
– CEOs Should Tell It Like It Is
– The Right Way to Lay People Off
– Preparing to Fire an Executive
– Demoting a Loyal Friend
– Lies That Losers Tell
– Lead Bullets
– Nobody Cares

Chapter 5: Take Care of the People, the Products, and the Profits—in That Order
– A Good Place to Work
– Why Startups Should Train Their People
– Is It Okay to Hire People from Your Friend’s Company?
– Why It’s Hard to Bring Big Company Execs into Little Companies
– Hiring Executives: If You’ve Never Done the Job, How Do You Hire Somebody Good?
– When Employees Misinterpret Managers
– Management Debt
– Management Quality Assurance

Chapter 6: Concerning the Going Concern
– How to Minimize Politics in Your Company
– The Right Kind of Ambition
– Titles and Promotions
– When Smart People Are Bad Employees
– Old People
– One-on-One
– Programming Your Culture
– Taking the Mystery Out of Scaling a Company
– The Scale Anticipation Fallacy

Chapter 7: How to Lead Even When You Don’t Know Where You Are Going
– The Most Difficult CEO Skill
– The Fine Line Between Fear and Courage
– Ones and Twos
– Follow the Leader
– Peacetime CEO/Wartime CEO
– Making Yourself a CEO
– How to Evaluate CEOs

Chapter 8: First Rule of Entrepreneurship: There Are No Rules
– Solving the Accountability vs. Creativity Paradox
– The Freaky Friday Management Technique
– Staying Great
– Should You Sell Your Company? C

Chapter 9: The End of the Beginning

Appendix: Questions for Head of Enterprise Sales Force


  1. BEN HOROWITZ is the cofounder and general partner of Andreessen Horowitz, a Silicon Valley–based venture capital firm that invests in entrepreneurs building the next generation of leading technology companies. The firm’s investments include Airbnb, GitHub, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. Previously he was cofounder and CEO of Opsware, formerly Loudcloud, which was acquired by Hewlett-Packard for $1.6 billion in 2007. Horowitz writes about his experiences and insights from his career as a computer science student, software engineer, cofounder, CEO, and investor in a blog that is read by nearly ten million people. He has also been featured in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the New Yorker, Fortune, the Economist, and Bloomberg Businessweek, among others. Horowitz lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife, Felicia.


  2. Of the more than eight hundred venture capital firms of the day, only about six had delivered great returns for their investors. As we dug deeper, we uncovered an excellent reason for this: The best entrepreneurs will only work with the best venture capital firms.


  3. Thought: Meet and tell your mentors your problems then remember that you will have to make YOUR DECISION LONELY.

    Mentors are willing to help but there is always assymetric information.


  4. Communication in corporations is as important as bus in city life.

    A process is a formal, well-structured communication vehicle. It can be a heavily engineered Six Sigma process or it can be a well-structured regular meeting. The size of the process should be scaled up or down to meet the needs of the communication challenge that it facilitates.


  5. The Law of Crappy People states: For any title level in a large organization, the talent on that level will eventually converge to the crappiest person with the title. The rationale behind the law is that the other employees in the company with lower titles will naturally benchmark themselves against the crappiest person at the next level. For example, if Jasper is the worst vice president in the company, then all of the directors will benchmark themselves against Jasper and demand promotions as soon as they reach his low level of competency.


  6. Three of the more popular ‘management debt’ among startups:
    1. Putting two [excellent people] in the box
    2. Overcompensating a key employee, because she gets another job offer
    3. No performance management or employee feedback process


  7. It’s important to supplement a great product vision with a strong discipline around the metrics, but if you substitute metrics for product vision, you will not get what you want.


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


  9. 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.


  10. Dedication

    “There’s no recipe for really complicated, dynamic situations. There’s no recipe for building a high-tech company; there’s no recipe for leading a group of people out of trouble; there’s no recipe for making a series of hit songs; there’s no recipe for playing NFL quarterback; there’s no recipe for running for president; and there’s no recipe for motivating teams when your business has turned to crap. That’s the hard thing about hard things—there is no formula for dealing with them.”


  11. There are no shortcuts to knowledge, especially knowledge gained from personal experience.Following conventional wisdom and relying on shortcuts can be worse than knowing nothing at all.


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