brain, no matter how big, cannot solve a problem it doesn’t know about.”

„Marc Andreessen attempted to cheer me up with a not-so-funny-at-the-time joke: Marc: ‚Do you know the best thing about startups?‘ Ben: ‚What?‘ Marc: You only ever experience two emotions: euphoria and terror. And I find the lack of speed enhances them both.“ (p 21)

„‚What’s the worst thing that could happen?‘ The answer always came back the same: ‚We’ll go bankrupt. I’ll lose everybody’s money including my mother’s, I’ll have to lay off all the people who have been working so hard in a very bad economy, all of the customers who trusted me will be screwed, and my reputation will be ruined.‘ Funny, asking that question never made me feel better. Then one day I asked myself a different question: ‚What would I do if we went bankrupt?‘ The answer that I came up with surprised me: ‚I’d buy our software…out of bankruptcy and start a software company.‘… Then I asked myself another question: ‚Is there a way to do that without going bankrupt.‘“ (p 31)

„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. 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.“ (p 43)

„After the speech came the hard work of defining the product. The product plan was weighed down with hundreds of requirements from our existing customers. The product management team had an allergic reaction to prioritising potentially good features above features that might hypothetically beat BladeLogic (a competitor). They would say, ‚How can we walk away from requirements that we know to be true to pursue something that we think will help?‘ 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…“ (p 49-50)

„Early in my career as an engineer, I’d learned that all decisions were objective until the first line of code was written. After that, all decisions were emotional.“ (p 51)

„The more brains working on the hard problems, the better…In order to build a great technology company, you have to hire lots of incredibly smart people. It’s a total waste to have lots of big brains but not let them work on your biggest problems. A brain, no matter how big, cannot solve a problem it doesn’t know about. As the open-source community would explain it, ‚Given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow.‘“ (p 66)

„Spend zero time on what you could have done, and devote all your time on what you might do. Because in the end, nobody cares; just run your company.“ (p 92) 

„Once you have management training and functional training in place, there are other opportunities as well. One of the great things about building a tech company is the amazing people that you can hire. Take your best people and encourage them to share their most developed skills. Training in such topics as negotiating, interviewing, and finance will enhance your company’s competency in those areas as well as improve employee morale. Teaching can also become a badge of honour for employees who achieve an elite level of competence.“ (p 109)

„Ironically, the biggest obstacle to putting a training program in place is the perception that it will take too much time. Keep in mind that there is no investment that you can make that will do more to improve productivity in your company. Therefore, being too busy to train is the moral equivalent of being too hungry to eat.“ (p 110)

„Companies execute well when everybody is on the same page and everybody is constantly improving. In a vacuum of feedback, there is almost no chance that your company will perform optimally across either dimension. Directions with no corrections will seem fuzzy and obtuse. People rarely improve weakness they are unaware of. The ultimate price you will pay for not giving feedback: systematically crappy company performance.“ (p 137)

„The first rule of organizational design is that all organizational designs are bad.“ (p. 188) 

„The first problem is that everybody learns to be CEO by being a CEO. No training as a manager, general manager, or in any other job actually prepares your to run a company. The only thing that prepares you to run a company is running a company.“ (p 202) 

„Most people define leadership in the same way that Supreme Court justice Potter Stewart famously defined pornography when he said, ‚I know it when I see it.‘ Four our purposes, we can generalize this to be the measure of the quality of a leader: the quantity, quality, and diversity of people who want to follow her.“ (p 219)

„Being CEO also requires a broad set of more advanced skills, but the key to reaching the advanced level and feeling like you were born to be CEO is mastering the unnatural. If you are a founder CEO and you feel awkward or incompetent when doing some of these things and believe there is no way that you’ll be able to do it when your company is one hundred or one thousand people, welcome to the club. That’s exactly how I felt. So did every CEO I’ve ever met. This is the process. This is how you get made.“ (p 234)

„As I got further into it, I realized that embracing the unusual parts of my background would be the key to making it through. It would be those things that would give me unique perspectives and approaches to the business. The things that I would bring to the table that nobody else had… When I work with entrepreneurs today, this is the main thing that I try to convey. Embrace your weirdness, your backgrounds, your instinct. If the keys are not in there, they dot not exist.“ (p 275)

The Hard Thing About Hard Things – Building a business when there are no easy answers. Ben Horowitz, 2014, published by HarperCollins Publishers.

We provide our insights through quotes directly taken from books, articles, videos, info graphs and other media. We do not add, comment or reflect on the topics highlighted or represent the media in its intentions or as a whole. We hope to inspire you to dig deeper, discover and fall in love with your own eureka moments.

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