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8 Lessons from Ben Horowitz Hard Things

Posted on Jul 26, 2014 by in Leadership | 0 comments

8 Lessons from Ben Horowitz Hard Things!  I have now read the book two times, why, honestly it is that damn good.  (Insert Rap Verse).  I know, I know, who isn’t a fan of Ben Horowitz?  The guy has mad swag, loves rap music as much as I do, writes all the stuff no one else will say, and oh, he happens to be a named partner at one of the hottest Venture Capital firms in the world.

Ben H Boxing

I was recently in San Francisco and had the opportunity to meet Ben and hear him speak at GLIDE.  I left GLIDE not only inspired by Ben’s comments, but more importantly the work that is being done at GLIDE.  The entire experience was motivating on a deep level, to not just be an entrepreneur, but to strive to be a great leader.

So I went back to the book and read it again, and share the following 8 Lessons (why 8, no idea, I took 8 things from it, so you get 8, if you want 10, go read it):

1.  Being a CEO is no joke, in fact, it is hard as shit.

2.  Building a company serves up two emotions: euphoria and terror!

3.  There is always an OPTION and money buys time for an OPTION to show up.

4.  Don’t be “too positive” – tell it like it is.

5.  When a company starts to struggle – it begins to lie to itself.

6.  Silver bullets are BS, they don’t exist, lead bullets do.

7.  No one cares.

8.  You can always be a good company.

Of course as a huge boxing fan and practitioner myself, I had to use a pic of Ben with his hands wrapped and ready to go.  After reading his book and hearing him speak you really do get the feeling that he is part lover and part fighter.  He seems to deeply care about people and his community – enough to knock your ass out if you try to stop him.

So why these 8 Lessons?  I can relate to each of them.  I can attest that being a CEO is difficult, harder when you are truly committed to being a great leader.  I started laughing when I saw “euphoria and terror” those are food groups to me.  I have come to learn that there is always an option, what I appreciated most about Ben’s advice was the reminder that the longer the runway the more opportunity there is for an answer to show up.  Too positive, yes, I do that all the time – and every time I stop, and just tell it like it is, the team responds.  As a leader never forget, people’s BS meter is razor sharp so don’t waste time trying to fool the team you are leading.  I call it excuses, but yes, without question, teams will naturally begin to lie to themselves when things get hard, it is an auto response that you must manage away from.  Now, as far as silver bullets goes, I actually got pissed when I read that none existed, I’ve been looking for years (come on laugh a little).

So what’s the summary take aways.  For me, simple.  The final two lessons.  No one cares that you are struggling, that it is hard to build a business, that the plan isn’t working, and you haven’t slept, why should they?  No matter what happens, a company can always choose to be “good”.  Being a good company, the kind people are proud to work at (success or failure) is an end goal itself, and as a leader I can directly impact whether a company I am leading is a “good company”.

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