The cover of Ben Horowitzâ€™s book, â€œThe Hard Thing About Hard Things."
I realized that there are no shortcuts to knowledge, and the majority of knowledge is acquired through personal experience combined with the ability to â€œseparate facts from perception.â€ As a result, it becomes critical to seek out counter-narratives and explanations from radically different perspectives. These diametrically opposed perspectives have the potential to revitalize you or your team.
Further, there are â€œtwo types of friendsâ€ that one seeks, one who you can call when something good happens, and they will rejoice with you. And one you can contact if something goes wrong. The key to retaining these friends is to treat them well and, even more importantly, treat them well after they leave. This is critical, or else those who remain will never trust you again.
Sometimes, the only way to survive is to go out and intentionally fall on your face. As Ben puts it, learn through failure so that you can learn quickly and understand what it takes to succeed. This could be expanded to a larger scale and implemented throughout your organization.
Separately, a CEOâ€™s decision-making abilities can make or break a startup. Therefore, â€œCEOs should not play the odds.â€ Instead, when you establish a business, you must believe there is a solution.
Not only that, but Ben also notes that there are times when a leader must don a different hat in order to keep their organization afloat; thus, there is a Peacetime CEO and a Wartime CEO. During â€œpeacetime,â€ a business can concentrate on expansion, giving it a significant advantage over the competition. But, on the other hand, in â€œwartime,â€ a business must ward off an imminent threat.
Moreover, â€œWe take care of the people, products, and profitsâ€”in that order,â€ since taking care of people demonstrates that your business is a pleasant workplace. The logic is that if you invest significant time, energy, and money in developing the right people for your business and then treat them responsibly and respectfully, they are more likely to create great products that generate substantial profits.
Lastly, despite Benâ€™s advice on getting your head straight by focusing on the companyâ€™s future rather than its past and normalizing the fact that you will eventually have to lay people off, my opinion on this part diverged from his. I would have done it differently because it conveys a sense of disloyalty, especially given his emphasis in earlier chapters on trust, respect, and transparency. And I would supplement the layoffs by providing management with alternative solutions rather than simply imposing the golden rule, â€œManagers must lay off their own people.â€