The Hard Thing About Hard Things cover image
My Rating: 5/5

The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz

High-Level Summary

Excellent collection of practical leadership advice gathered from the startup trenches.


“Every time I read a management or self-help book, I find myself saying, “That’s fine, but that wasn’t really the hard thing about the situation.” The hard thing isn’t setting a big, hairy, audacious goal. The hard thing is laying people off when you miss the big goal. The hard thing isn’t hiring great people. The hard thing is when those “great people” develop a sense of entitlement and start demanding unreasonable things. The hard thing isn’t setting up an organizational chart. The hard thing is getting people to communicate within the organization that you just designed. The hard thing isn’t dreaming big. The hard thing is waking up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat when the dream turns into a nightmare.”

“Take care of the people, the products, and the profits — in that order.”

“Sometimes an organization doesn’t need a solution; it just needs clarity.”

“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.”

“That’s the hard thing about hard things—there is no formula for dealing with them.”

“I don’t believe in statistics. I believe in calculus.”

“An early lesson I learned in my career was that whenever a large organization attempts to do anything, it always comes down to a single person who can delay the entire project.”

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