Book: The Hard Thing About Hard Things

If you haven’t yet bought Ben Horowitz’s book The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers, go get it right now. It’s one of the best books you’ll ever read on entrepreneurship and being a CEO.

If you are a CEO, read this book.

If you aspire to be a CEO read this book.

If you are on a management team and want to understand what a CEO goes through, read this book.

If you are interested in entrepreneurship and want to understand it better, read this book.

On Friday, I spent the entire day with about 50 of the CEOs of companies we are investors in. Rand Fishkin of Moz put together a full day Foundry Group CEO Summit. It used a format Rand has used before. We broke up into five different groups and has sessions on about ten total topics throughout the day. The groups were fluid – people were organized by category (alpha and beta) but then went to the topic they were interested in. There was a moderator for each session – the first five minutes was each CEO putting up one “top of mind” issue in the topic, and the then balance of the session (75 minutes) was the entire group spending between 5 and 15 minutes on each topic.

It was awesome. We finished with a fun dinner at Pizzeria Locale. I drove home with my mind buzzing and arrived around 8pm to see Amy laying on the couch reading a book. So I grabbed my iPad and looked to see what was new on it.

I’d pre-ordered Ben’s book so it was in slot number one. It felt fitting to start reading it.

At 10:30 I was finished with it. The Hard Thing About Hard Things was the perfect way to cap off a day with the CEOs of the companies we invest in.

Trust me on this one. Go buy The Hard Thing About Hard Things right now.

Ben – thanks for writing this and putting 100% of your heart into it.

  • Thank you for your recommendation…I will read it…

  • davidthomas8779

    I’m interested in what 10 topics that the group thought were important enough to make the cut.

    • The topics were crowdsourced in advance of the meeting.

      Organization Development
      Company Culture
      Bottom of Funnel Acquisition
      Top of Funnel Acquisition
      People Development
      Liquidity Events
      Customer Retention
      Recruiting & Hiring
      Pricing Strategy
      Metrics, Measurement, & Reporting

      • I love that list. It covers it all.
        Interesting that “Product” isn’t there. Is it because the companies are in a mature stage where the product is already figured out; and go-to-market and scaling/growth are more critical for them?

        • I don’t know why Product wasn’t there – I didn’t filter the original crowdsourced list (Rand did). My guess is that it came up but when he looked across all the topics he decided to take it out.

  • Wow, do you read fast! That’s over 100 pages an hour!

    • Yes – I’m a fast reader. I’m typically around 100 pages / hour for non-fiction and sometimes up to 150 pages / hour for non-fiction.

      • suyogmody

        whats the secret to fast reading? i would love to pick up new books but don’t (or haven’t) done it for about a year for fear of not finishing it. and feeling guilty.

        • I learned how to read quickly when I was in first grade. I’ve been practicing ever since.

  • I’ve had this book on pre-order for a long time, but for some reason it isn’t published in the UK until 24th April.

    I have no idea why there is a delay, but it is frustrating, as I’m really looking forward to reading it.

  • Thanks for the nudge, it was on my wishlist and I just ordered the hard copy (on sale!) – will share with our team here. I’m curious, do you literally read that fast, or are you skimming and then reading parts that interest you?

    • I literally read that fast. About 100 pages / hour – up to 150 pages / hour.

      • Have you always been able to do that or was it something learned? I always thought I was a fast reader, but you are blowing me away! If I read faster than 50 pages/hour (non-fiction), I don’t consume the info and I find I have to re-read large chunks. I also find that after an hour my rate slows down, I need to take a break.

        • I learned how to read fast when I was in elementary school. Interesting, the methodology used was similar to Spritz – That was about 40 years ago.

          • So funny, people ask me the same thing, I took the same course. Brought back memories of Green SVAA Basketball uniforms.

            That and typing that I had to take in high school really have helped me save so much time. I still remember sitting next to Jeanie Vasalo and thinking if I finished typing quickly I could sit and enjoy the view.

          • Hah! My typing teacher was Mrs. Fry. I just remember being terrified she was going to slap my hand with a ruler.

  • Gary Schroeder

    Agree 100%. Only one of a few books I’ve ever pre-ordered and read it in one sitting (not quite as fast as you though). One of my favorite quotes was on company culture, “There are two kinds of cultures in this world: cultures where what you do matters and cultures where all that matters is who you are. You can be the former or you can suck.”

    • Great line. And – in the world of a massive amount of suckage, it’s often good enough just to “suck less”.

  • Dave Linhardt

    Holy shit. That is a good fucking book.

    • Your use of shit and fucking in the review is right on the money.

  • Thanks for the strong recommendation / endorsement. I’ve bought it and will start it as soon as I’m done two of your books that are next on my list. I’ve noticed from your updated thumbnail that you can find the time to play music too — awesome! I just did an album myself in the middle of everything else. Found the experience mentally refreshing on many a level, although somewhat strenuous due to time constraints coupled with an obsession with details.

  • David DuPont

    I blame you for a couple of hours of lost sleep last night, Brad. I got the book yesterday, started reading it late and could not put it down. It is real, super relevant, motivational and hilarious. I woke my wife up several times LOL. Fabulous recommendation.

  • I just finished reading this book…I love it!