# The Hard Thing About Hard Things ![rw-book-cover](https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51ZuUYAopiL._SL200_.jpg) ## Metadata - Author: [[Ben Horowitz]] - Full Title: The Hard Thing About Hard Things - Category: #books ## Highlights - Marc: “Do you know the best thing about startups?” Ben: “What?” Marc: “You only ever experience two emotions: euphoria and terror. And I find that lack of sleep enhances them both.” ([Location 418](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B00DQ845EA&location=418)) - high schools should get rid of calculus and replace it with statistics, which is really important and actually useful. ([Location 976](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B00DQ845EA&location=976)) - When a company starts to lose its major battles, the truth often becomes the first casualty. CEOs and employees work tirelessly to develop creative narratives that help them avoid dealing with the obvious facts. Despite their intense creativity, many companies often end up with the same false explanations. ([Location 1360](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B00DQ845EA&location=1360)) - There may be nothing scarier in business than facing an existential threat. So scary that many in the organization will do anything to avoid facing it. They will look for any alternative, any way out, any excuse not to live or die in a single battle. ([Location 1427](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B00DQ845EA&location=1427)) - In good organizations, people can focus on their work and have confidence that if they get their work done, good things will happen for both the company and them personally. It is a true pleasure to work in an organization such as this. Every person can wake up knowing that the work they do will be efficient, effective, and make a difference for the organization and themselves. These things make their jobs both motivating and fulfilling. ([Location 1593](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B00DQ845EA&location=1593)) - In bad companies, when the economics disappear, so do the employees. In technology companies, when the employees disappear, the spiral begins: The company declines in value, the best employees leave, the company declines in value, the best employees leave. Spirals are extremely difficult to reverse. ([Location 1630](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B00DQ845EA&location=1630)) - People at McDonald’s get trained for their positions, but people with far more complicated jobs don’t. It makes no sense. Would you want to stand on the line of the untrained person at McDonald’s? ([Location 1647](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B00DQ845EA&location=1647)) - A lot of companies think their employees are so smart that they require no training. That’s silly. ([Location 1649](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B00DQ845EA&location=1649)) - being too busy to train is the moral equivalent of being too hungry to eat. ([Location 1730](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B00DQ845EA&location=1730)) ^c4e428 - Tags: [[favorite]] - Consensus decisions about executives almost always sway the process away from strength and toward lack of weakness. It’s a lonely job, but somebody has to do it. ([Location 1987](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B00DQ845EA&location=1987)) - At a basic level, metrics are incentives. By measuring quality, features, and schedule and discussing them at every staff meeting, my people focused intensely on those metrics to the exclusion of other goals. ([Location 2018](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B00DQ845EA&location=2018)) - The metrics did not describe the real goals and I distracted the team as a result. ([Location 2019](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B00DQ845EA&location=2019)) - Management purely by numbers is sort of like painting by numbers—it’s strictly for amateurs. ([Location 2030](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B00DQ845EA&location=2030)) - To get things right, you must recognize that anything you measure automatically creates a set of employee behaviors. ([Location 2043](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B00DQ845EA&location=2043)) - What do I mean by politics? I mean people advancing their careers or agendas by means other than merit and contribution. There may be other types of politics, but politics of this form seem to be the ones that really bother people. ([Location 2236](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B00DQ845EA&location=2236)) - This may sound innocent, but you have just created a strong incentive for political behavior. Specifically, you will be rewarding behavior that has nothing to do with advancing your business. ([Location 2243](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B00DQ845EA&location=2243)) - the Law of Crappy People. The Law of Crappy People states: For any title level in a large organization, the talent on that level will eventually converge to the crappiest person with the title. ([Location 2426](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B00DQ845EA&location=2426)) - World-class PR people can turn chicken shit into chicken salad. Turning chicken shit into chicken salad requires long-term, trusted relationships, deep know-how, and the confidence to make use of both appropriately. PR kids don’t have any of the three. ([Location 2601](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B00DQ845EA&location=2601)) - Some questions that I’ve found to be very effective in one-on-ones: ([Location 2648](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B00DQ845EA&location=2648)) - The primary thing that any technology startup must do is build a product that’s at least ten times better at doing something than the current prevailing way of doing that thing. ([Location 2668](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B00DQ845EA&location=2668)) - In his bestselling book Built to Last, Jim Collins wrote that one of the things that long-lasting companies he studied have in common is a “cult-like culture.” ([Location 2694](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B00DQ845EA&location=2694)) - Ideally, a cultural design point will be trivial to implement but have far-reaching behavioral consequences. Key to this kind of mechanism is shock value. If you put something into your culture that is so disturbing that it always creates a conversation, it will change behavior. ([Location 2700](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B00DQ845EA&location=2700)) - The first rule of organizational design is that all organizational designs are bad. With any design, you will optimize communication among some parts of the organization at the expense of other parts. ([Location 2790](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B00DQ845EA&location=2790)) - You want to optimize the organization for the people—for the people doing the work—not for the managers. ([Location 2816](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B00DQ845EA&location=2816)) - The purpose of process is communication. If there are five people in your company, you don’t need process, because you can just talk to each other. ([Location 2828](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B00DQ845EA&location=2828)) - Tip to aspiring entrepreneurs: If you don’t like choosing between horrible and cataclysmic, don’t become CEO. ([Location 3034](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B00DQ845EA&location=3034)) - it’s so common that there is an acronym for it, WFIO, which stands for “We’re Fucked, It’s Over” (it’s pronounced “whiff-ee-yo”). As he describes it, every company goes through at least two and up to five of these episodes ([Location 3041](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B00DQ845EA&location=3041)) - In providing this kind of direction, it’s important to point out to the executive that when the company doubles in size, she has a new job. This means that doing things that made her successful in her old job will not necessarily translate to success in the new job. In fact, the number-one way that executives fail is by continuing to do their old job rather than moving on to their new job. ([Location 3754](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B00DQ845EA&location=3754))