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“Hard Things” gives an insider’s perspective on what it’s like to lead and scale a startup.

The Hard Thing About Hard Things

The Hard Thing About Hard Things

by Ben Horowitz


18.2K reads

First Hand Knowledge

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.

Learn to separate facts from perception. Especially when the “facts” seem to dictate ...

Running a startup, you only ever experience two emotions: euphoria and terror.

You need two kinds of friends in your life:

  • One you can call when something good happens, and they’ll be excited for you.
  • One you can call when things go horribly wrong.

Treat t...

Sometimes the only way to survive is to purposely go out and fall on your face, so you can learn fast and know what is needed. Whenever a large organization attempts to do anything, it always comes down to a single person who can delay the entire project.

Figuring out the right pr...

When you are building a company, you must believe there is an answer, and you cannot pay attention to the 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; the task is the same.

The ability to focus and make the best move when there seems to be no good moves is crucial. When things get unbearably difficult, and the struggle begins.

  • Do not put it all on only your shoulders.
  • CEOs Should Tell It Like It Is and ensure informal informati...

It is crucial to create a good work environment. It’s important that the people who spend most of their waking life at work have a good environment to exist in while there. Being a good company doesn’t matter when things go well, but it can be the difference between life and death when things go ...

  • Hire for strength rather than lack of weakness.
  • Have clear expectations of who you are hiring with a realization that there is something seriously wrong with every employee in your company (including you). Nobody is perfect.
  • Involve multiple people in brainstorming but mak...

Being a big company executive is very different from being a small company executive

Big company executives are driven by interruptions, while startup executives know that nothing happens unless they make it happen. 

A big company executive has an incredible number ...

  • Hire people with the right kind of ambition; otherwise, your company would turn into the political equivalent of the U.S Senate. 
  • Maintain strict policies and processes on organizational design, performance evaluations, promotions, and compensation
  • Promote experienced employe...

A startup should focus on what needs to be right rather than worrying about what is wrong. One of the most difficult challenges is keeping your mind in check. You need to be able to move aggressively and decisively without acting insane. To calm your nerves, find someone you can talk to who under...

There are no rules in business. Things may seem to be going well, but they can change in an instant. You need accountability and creativity to succeed in business. Accountability is the key for effort, promises and results.

The hard things will always be hard; courage and grit are t...

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