“Embrace the suck”
– Saying in US Navy Special Warfare
Why should one listen to someone who thinks meetings are good, advises you not to listen to your friends, or not promote employees who perform well?
For one, he is Ben Horowitz, the famed tech-entrepreneur and co-founder of venture capital firm Andreesen Horowitz. The other and more important reason is a combination of profound thinking and hard-earned experience behind those suggestions. Or, as they say: “If you really want to know about war, you ask someone who has been to war”.
Horowitz purposely demystifies and pulls the rug under any romantic notion of being an entrepreneur or startup CEO. And he thinks pursuing your passion is a bad idea. As if he did not already bless us with enough counter-intuitive advice.
Based on years of hard-earned experience and numerous ups and downs in Silicon Valley, he concludes that, as a CEO, or a startup entrepreneur, for that matter, there is simply no formula for success. One cannot get around making tough and painful decisions, which take a formidable emotional toll on any normal human being. A challenge exacerbated by the fact that most of those decisions make one feel even more lonely than one already felt before.
Please let us know what you think of this selection, and keep your recommendations coming.
The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers
The Economist noted about this book that “there is more than enough substance in Mr. Horowitz’s impressive tome to turn it into a leadership classic.” It does so not based on a set of more or less entertaining rants and war stories but because of its efficient approach to providing insights about which priorities to set.
This brings us back to some of the earlier advice. As much as we all agree to hate meetings these days, Horowitz thinks they, conducted regularly, are a critical opportunity to align people on a shared vision. He also advises people to accept that ground-breaking ideas will rarely initially resonate with their friends or colleagues. And he explains why rewarding someone for good work by promoting them risks pushing them out of their comfort zone and ultimately out of their competence and productivity.
This review would not be complete without reverting to Horowitz’s idea of not pursuing your passions. As anyone who ever watched “American Idol” or “Deutschland sucht den Superstar” will attest: most are not particularly good at the activity they are most passionate about. Instead, Horowitz suggests following your contribution, i.e. what you feel you can add to a venture.
These are only a few of the myriad practical ideas one can draw from this book. We highly suggest you buy it. Keep it near your desk or on your bedstand. So you don’t have to go and fetch it constantly. You will want to consult it regularly.