- Hardcover: 304 pages
- Publisher: HarperBusiness (March 4 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0062273205
- ISBN-13: 978-0547265452
- Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.6 x 22.9 cm
- Shipping Weight: 476 g
- Average Customer Review: 39 customer reviews
Amazon Bestsellers Rank:
#3,413 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- #6 in Books > Business & Investing > Small Business & Entrepreneurship > New Business Enterprises
- #27 in Books > Professional & Technical > Business Management > Management & Leadership > Decision-Making & Problem Solving
- #27 in Books > Business & Investing > Management & Leadership > Decision-Making & Problem Solving
The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers Hardcover – Mar 4 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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Easily the most honest and downtown earth portrait of what the business world is really like. No magic formulas or 12 step programs will fix things. Follow principles, values, and your gut sometimes you win sometimes you lose but don't give up...best advice on business I've read yet. So good I immediately read it a second time after I finished and I've never done that...I read 50 to 100 books annually and this on has moved into my top 5 list.
Oh I kid- this is a book written by rich people for rich people. As such, it probably has some great advice than someone with capital and money could put to good use. But it is not for a brand new entrepreneur. It was a recommendation from an Angel Investor in India. I can only assume he misunderstood his audience. Anyway, read it if you are rich and you want to get richer. Find something else if you are poor and want to get richer.
But, for what it is, it is a good read- well written, solid advice if you can afford to take it. Even though reading it was a complete waste of my time I am sure that the crowd with capital out there might find it rewarding. I give it five stars, because for what it is, it is very good.
* * *
Three major works were published in 1859: Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, Karl Marx's A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy, and Richard Wagner's Tristan and Isolde. I was reminded of that fact as I worked my way through The Hard Thing About Hard Things for the first time and began to correlate themes in these classic works with several that Ben Horowitz develops in his lively and thought-provoking memoir/narrative.
For example, his discussion of "the struggle" is clearly derived from Marx's assertion, "Life is struggle." Of course, that claim is predated several centuries by the Buddhist maxim, "Life is suffering." Horowitz affirms great value in courage, especially when those who launch start-ups proceed through a process of natural selection. According to Darwin, "In the struggle for survival, the fittest win out at the expense of their rivals because they succeed in adapting themselves best to their environment." That is certainly what Horowitz had to do several times while CEO of Loudcloud and then Opsware when each was near-death. Despite all manner of struggle and suffering, he must have been sustained by his self-confidence and competitive nature when facing daunting challenges.
Jack Dempsey once observed, "Champions get up when they can't." Obviously, he is referring to more than physical courage and his comment calls to mind that Dante reserved the last and worst ring in hell for those who, in a moral crisis, preserve their neutrality. My own opinion is that hard times do not develop a leader's character, they reveal it...or a lack of it ...and this is especially true of entrepreneurs. As for Wagner's opera, it also examines (as does Horowitz) themes of aspiration, determination, and personal sacrifice as well the perils of defying conventional wisdom.
These are among the dozens of business subjects and issues of special interest and value to me, also listed to indicate the scope of Horowitz's coverage.
o The Marc Andreesen Relationship: The first 18 years (Pages 9-16)
o Euphoria and Terror (20-28)
o Sixty Days to Live (41-47)
o Survival of the Fittest (47-52)
o The Ultimate Decision (52-56)
o About the Struggle, and, Some Stuff That May or May Not Help (61-63)
o Why It's Imperative to Tell It Like It Is (66-67)
o The Right Way to Lay People Off (68-72)
o Why You Should Train Your People (106-108)
o Good Product Manager/Bad Product Manager (111-113)
o If You've Never Done the Job, How do You Hire Somebody Good? (124-129)
o How to Minimize Politics, and, The Technique to Do So (149-154)
o Creating a Company Culture (180-183
o Organizational Design (188-192)
o When Making the Right Choice Requires Intelligence and Courage (210-212)
o How to Lead: Three Essential Abilities (220-222)
o The First Rule of Entrepreneurship: There Are No Rules (243-247)
o Staying Great: The Standard (255-256)
I really enjoyed reading this book because, throughout, I had the feeling that Horowitz was speaking directly to me, that he had written this book for me. I think many (if not most) other readers will feel the same way. Here he is, warts and all (lots of warts), sharing so much of what he has learned, most of it from hard times, setbacks, crises of various kinds, and - yes -a few ill-advised decisions that he duly acknowledges.
His passion and candor are refreshing, to be sure, but I appreciate much more his insights and counsel that suggest he possesses what Hemingway once characterized as "a built-in, shock-proof crap detector." He also exemplifies that person whom Theodore Roosevelt once characterized as "the man in the arena."
There are indeed "hard things" for which an MBA degree cannot possibly prepare a person, nor can a business book. If nothing else, however, Ben Horowitz shares his thoughts and feelings as well as his experiences so that those who read this book will at least be better prepared to make those decisions that all of us dread.
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