The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz

THE HARD THING ABOUT HARD THINGS

        
Ben Horowitz

  Startup, Leadership, Innovation, Startup

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2 types of CEOs

Ben Horowitz presents 2 distinctions, he calls them Ones and Twos.
Ones are the strategic CEOs, the visionaries, those who are excellent at finding a path the organisation can follow. They prefer making strategic decisions and aren’t hesitant to pivot the business when required to.

Twos favour execution and management over analysing and trying to make decisions. They are the practical CEOs, who love to implement, manage a team and achieve targets.

For a business to take off, you need to have enough of both qualities. Horowitz describes these as functional Ones, which are essential to have as executives also.
Make sure you teach yourself the part you don’t do as well, and if not, at least invite the right people for the job.

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Insights on what tough decisions CEOs must face

Tell it like it is - Don’t project a too positive picture. Should NOT be the only one worrying about the company, product, business. Builds trust. Gets more brains to work on the problem. Bad news travels fast in a good culture

Laying off the right way - get your head straight, don’t delay, be clear in your own mind why you are laying off people, train your managers, address the entire company, be visible be present

Everyone goes through The Struggle.

Calculus vs statistics - if there is just one option you have to pursue it with the same rigour inspite of the odds

No silver bullets. Just lead bullets. Fight/knuckle your way out of the situation. Fight it out.

Hire for strengths rather than lack of weaknesses. Especially in your leadership/executive team

Take care of people, product and profits - in that order. Meet 1:1 regularly

Training is the boss job. Andy Grove

Good product manager vs bad product manager - manifesto by Ben pg111

Hire for the right kind of ambition- more focused on company than self.

Peter Principle - in a hierarchy members are promoted so long as they work competently. Sooner or later they are promoted to a level that they are incompetent for

Law of crappy people - for any title level in a jig org, the talent on that level will eventually converge to the crappiest person with the title.

Culture - drive desired behavior. Eg desks from doors at Amazon. Ten dollar per min fine for late for entrepreneur meetings at VC firm

Organisation design : purpose of process is to drive communications. Steps to build an org design: 1. What needs to be communicated 2. What needs to be decided 3. Prioritise the most important comms and decisions 4. Decide who’s running each group 5.identify paths you didn’t optimise 6. Build a plan to mitigate risks in step 5

Basics of production- focus on th output first, figure out how you will know if you are getting what you want at each step, build accountability into the system

Focus on the road not the wall. Tip to manage a crisis or tough decision. Focus on where you are going rather than on what you hope to avoid.

Decoding leadership - ability to articulate a vision, right kind of ambition, ability to achieve the vision.

Peacetime and wartime CEO

Giving feedback - be authentic, come from the right place, don’t get personal, don’t clown people in front of others, feedback is not one size fits all, be direct not mean- watered down feedback is not effective

Give frequent feedback. People will get used to getting feedback and not read too much meaning into it. They will become comfortable discussing bad news.

Bad news travel fast and good news travel slow - Datta networking routing protocol

Strategy and the story - the Why of the co. the CEO is the keeper of the story. Rallies every stakeholder around the story.

CEO produces decisions- speed and quality of decisions. Needs intelligence, courage and logic

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