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The Hard Thing About Hard Things

Ben Horowitz

There’s no formula for success or playbook for winning CEOs. Take it from a seasoned entrepreneur: It takes an ability to focus and make the best decision in bad times and a willingness to “embrace the struggle.”



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The Bottom Line

There’s no formula for success or playbook for winning CEOs. Take it from a seasoned entrepreneur: It takes an ability to focus and make the best decision in bad times and a willingness to “embrace the struggle.”

I. Introduction

Ben Horowitz started his career in tech in 1990 as an engineer in Silicon Valley, working for Netscape and AOL. In 1999, he took what he learned and ventured out on his own, launching the infrastructure and application hosting service provider Loudcloud with Netscape co-founder Marc Andreessen.

Three years later, Horowitz and Andreessen sold Loudcloud to EDS for $63.5 million. The partners retained the software Loudcloud ran on and spun it off into a new company called Opsware. Five years later they sold Opsware to HP for $1.6 billion.

High dollar exits sound glamorous, but Horowitiz’s journey wasn’t exactly smooth. The Hard Thing About Hard Things is his warts-and-all description of what went wrong — and right — and a no-holds-barred look at the volatile world of tech startups.

“The only thing that prepares you for running a company is running a company,” he writes.

While other management books focus on leadership tasks, such as structuring an organizational chart or putting strategies in place, Horowitz says CEOs must be prepared to do a lot more, and a lot worse.

“The hard thing isn’t dreaming big,” he writes. “The hard thing is waking up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat when the dream turns into a nightmare.”

II. The Essential CEO Skill

III. The Hardest Thing You’ll Have to Do

IV. Set Your Priorities

V. Get Ahead of Politics

VI. Prepare to Be a Wartime CEO

VII. Expect the Unexpected

The Takeaway

COMPLETE INSIGHT

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