The Hard Thing About Hard Things – Ben Horowitz

The Best Highlights From The Hard Thing About Hard Things


By Ben Horowitz


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.


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.


During this time I learned the most important rule of raising money privately: Look for a market of one. You only need one investor to say yes, so it’s best to ignore the other thirty who say “no.”


Former secretary of state Colin Powell says that leadership is the ability to get someone to follow you even if only out of curiosity.


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.


Perhaps the most important thing that I learned as an entrepreneur was to focus on what I needed to get right and stop worrying about all the things that I did wrong or might do wrong.


“Gentlemen, I’ve done many deals in my lifetime and through that process, I’ve developed a methodology, a way of doing things, a philosophy if you will. Within that philosophy, I have certain beliefs. I believe in artificial deadlines. I believe in playing one against the other. I believe in doing everything and anything short of illegal or immoral to get the damned deal done.”


Note to self: It’s a good idea to ask, “What am I not doing?”


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.


Being a good company doesn’t matter when things go well, but it can be the difference between life and death when things go wrong. Things always go wrong. Being a good company is an end in itself.


Don’t just read – absorb and apply! The key to learning is doing. But first, you need to remember the lesson.

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