The Hard Thing About Hard Things Summary & Analysis

Author: Ben Horowitz

The Hard Thing About Hard Things (2014) is a raw, honest, and poignant collection of business insights that is the definitive book on startup leadership by Ben Horowitz, cofounder of Andreessen Horowitz and one of the most respected and experienced investors, shares the insights and lessons he’s learned from building and running a startup. No topic is off-limits: not hiring friends, firing people, when to hire a CEO, how to tell your board what to do—even the dark side of success.
the hard thing about hard things summary

Detailed Summary of The Hard Thing About Hard Things

What does it mean to be a world-class leader? What are the obstacles every founder and CEO faces? How do you face your doubts? How do you hire great people and motivate them to work for you? And what is the one thing that all companies have in common, regardless of their industry or stage of growth?

The investors who backed their ideas propelled many CEOs into their roles. But what happens when those investors want you out? When you’re faced with a choice to give up—or figure out how to get your company back on track despite a never-ending onslaught of boardroom battles, workplace politics, other CEOs, and gloomy industry forecasts.

It’s easy to be thrown off course when marketing, engineering, HR, and acquiring talent whose skills don’t align with the company’s needs—or worse, your own.

The Hard Thing About Hard Things summary can help you overcome obstacles and will teach new CEOs that they must be willing to sacrifice almost everything from their old lives. It was written by Ben Horowitz, an American entrepreneur and venture capitalist who has founded several companies.

The Hard Thing About Hard Things Summary Key Points

Are you having a tough time managing employees, maintaining a relationship among employees, and doing your best as a CEO? The following key points will explain to you how to work effectively as a Leader by focusing and making great moves when things fall apart.

You might also like to read The War of Art Summary.

Be honest with Yourself and your Team while Dealing with a Crisis

We all know honesty is the best policy, especially when dealing with a crisis. If you’re the first one to shout, you can rally everyone together while solving the problem honestly and effectively. This can easily be applied to any company facing a crisis. After all, your employees will feel even more secure if they know everything is just peachy at their workplace.

You can lay out exactly what went wrong and where the problem is. You can tell them how big the problem is. Share all the gory details. You can invite people to share their opinions or ask questions. You can even post the meeting minutes from when you convened to discuss the problem.

When people see how transparent you are about this sort of thing, they are more likely to come up with a solution because they know that you’re not keeping anything from them, and you trust that they’ll all do their best to help.

This strategy can be traced back to the beginning of mankind. During the early days, survival was the most important thing for our species. For us to survive, we had to work together and work hard. This is why unity and working hard do not go unnoticed by employees.

They will feel more inclined to help keep the company afloat with you, as everyone knows it might be late before anyone else hears about it.

Be a Strategic as well as Practical CEO for the Betterment of a Company

When you meet an experienced CEO, you can easily spot them by asking them the following question: So, you’ve been in this industry for a while; how did you come up with the idea for your product?

Chances are, they’ll stop and think about it as they’ll be trying to deduce what went through their mind at that moment. They’ll then explain to you the process by which they thought of having their product.

The CEO is the captain of the ship. If you want to build a successful company, you need a strong captain at the helm. But there’s a problem: most of us don’t know who or what kind of CEO we are.

Of the two types of CEOs, the first is the strategic CEO. Strategic CEOs think about where they want their company to go in the future and how they will get there. They set the product vision and decide what features will be on their product.

They know their customers well enough to understand what their customers want and need. Who isn’t afraid to make strategic decisions and recognizes the strengths of being a practical CEO. Don’t see it as your job; only think about where your product is going in the future or how you can improve it. Rather, it is your job to implement strategic decisions as well as direct the team. Thinking about the future is just part of your job.

On the other hand, there is also another type of CEO. The Practical CEO. This type of CEO loves implementing, directing a team, and getting things done. The Practical CEO is a valuable type of CEO because they’re able to execute their vision.

We’re very specific about how we want things done. You may have hired many people and managers to execute your wishes, and it is also the fact that they are humans too. And as humans have their personalities and preferences on how they want things to be done. This can cause tension between our vision and their execution of it.

The ability to be Comfortable with being Uncomfortable makes the Best CEO

The key is to embrace it. The best CEOs I’ve known over the years are the most comfortable with being uncomfortable. It doesn’t faze them. They jump in with both feet and figure it out. Their ability to thrive in the uncomfortable makes them great CEOs.

As much as I think being CEO is an enjoyable job with lots of perks and free Chef Boyardee, it’s far from it. Being uncomfortable is the one thing that’s constant throughout your career. You’ll always be worried about something from the moment you wake up until the time you hit the sack. No matter how much you prepare yourself for these moments, they still catch up with you at some point.

But I started thinking about what makes a great CEO, and I figured that a strong mental attitude is something that every CEO needs to have. That’s because, as a CEO, you will have to deal with many situations that make you feel uncomfortable. It may come in the form of a bad product outcome or a verbal argument with an employee. Either way, the best CEOs welcome these situations and know it’s all part of the game.

The Hard Thing About Hard Things Summary Quotes

“Note to self: It’s a good idea to ask, “What am I not doing?” Ben Horowitz

“Until you make the effort to get to know someone or something, you don’t know anything.” Ben Horowitz

The Hard Thing About Hard Things Summary Review

If you want to know the best ways to be the great CEO of a company, there is no better book than The Hard Thing About Hard Things, as it teaches you how to win every battle you will ever face. I would surely recommend the book as there are a lot of things I also learned while reading the book and writing The Hard Thing About Hard Things summary.

To whom would I recommend The Hard Thing About Hard Things summary?

  • Anyone wants to go into some business.
  • Any CEO of the company wants to boost his skills.
  • Anyone wants to learn to deal in a better way.