Abhaga's Reviews > The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers

The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz
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really liked it

In the over-advised world of startups, Ben manages to address some things no one else would address. And those things that come only from someone who has been in the trenches. Your key customer disappearing in a snap, right before you are about to make a big move, finding cracks in your accounting right before a deal, have the external world explode just when things were beginning to look good. If you stick around long enough, the question is not if these things will happen. Question is when.

I do not agree with everything he says, all the choices he made. But there are things that I have picked up and hope to put in practice. For example, a CEO needs to tell like it is. Spreading too much positivity, pretending everything is hunky dory ends up isolating you from your team and also reduces your credibility. Or what is the right way of letting people go, something that a lot of people in Indian startup ecosystem can do well to read. The chapters in the section "How to lead when you don't even know where are you going" all had some take away. Why startups should train their people? How to balance between accountability and creativity when judging the performance of an employee?

It goes without saying that lessons need to be contextualized for your own circumstances. There are many differences between a startup employee in SV (equity in the company, many examples of equity providing meaningful wealth, no obvious orders of magnitude better options, the great american dream) vs India (equity is rare among non-executive employees, equity doesn't hold that much potential value - although it is changing now, option to work for US companies, megafunded unicorns at unheard of salaries, the lack of a safety net for many). How you lead and connect has to adjust accordingly.

I would suggest every startup founder to read this. This is not a template on how to run your startup and you do not have to make the same choices but it will give you a taste of battles that lie ahead or remind you of those that you have yourself fought.
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Reading Progress

October 8, 2019 – Started Reading
October 14, 2019 – Finished Reading
October 20, 2019 – Shelved

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