The Hard Thing about Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers – by Ben Horowitz
How strongly I recommend it: 7/10
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Go to the Amazon page for details.
The book is written from a CEO’s perspective. So if it’s not in your plans to manage a company, you can skip it. Nevertheless, if you plan to launch a project or run a company, the book is totally worth the time.
Until you make the effort to get to know someone or something, you don’t know anything. 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.
Leadership is the ability to get someone to follow you even if only out of curiosity.
Most business relationships either become too tense to tolerate or not tense enough to be productive after a while. Either people challenge each other to the point where they don’t like each other or they become complacent about each other’s feedback and no longer benefit from the relationship.
Whenever a large organization attempts to do anything, it always comes down to a single person who can delay the entire project. An engineer might get stuck waiting for a decision or a manager may think she doesn’t have authority to make a critical purchase. These small, seemingly minor hesitations can cause fatal delays.
It turns out that is exactly what product strategy is all about—figuring out the right product is the innovator’s job, not the customer’s job. The customer only knows what she thinks she wants based on her experience with the current product. The innovator can take into account everything that’s possible, but often must go against what she knows to be true. As a result, innovation requires a combination of knowledge, skill, and courage. Sometimes only the founder has the courage to ignore the data.
Play long enough and you might get lucky. In the technology game, tomorrow looks nothing like today. If you survive long enough to see tomorrow, it may bring you the answer that seems so impossible today.
A healthy company culture encourages people to share bad news. A company that discusses its problems freely and openly can quickly solve them.
Nothing motivates a great employee more than a mission that’s so important that it supersedes everyone’s personal ambition.
People who view the world purely through the team prism will very seldom use the words I or me even when answering questions about their accomplishments.
The primary thing that any technology startup must do is build a product that’s at least ten times better at doing something than the current prevailing way of doing that thing. Two or three times better will not be good enough to get people to switch to the new thing fast enough or in large enough volume to matter.
The second thing that any technology startup must do is to take the market. If it’s possible to do something ten times better, it’s also possible that you won’t be the only company to figure that out. Therefore, you must take the market before somebody else does. Very few products are ten times better than the competition’s, so unseating the new incumbent is much more difficult than unseating the old one.