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The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers | [Ben Horowitz]

The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers

Ben Horowitz offers essential advice on building and running a startup - practical wisdom for managing the toughest problems business school doesn’t cover, based on his popular ben’s blog. While many people talk about how great it is to start a business, very few are honest about how difficult it is to run one. The Hard Thing About Hard Things is invaluable for veteran entrepreneurs as well as those aspiring to their own new ventures, drawing from Horowitz’s personal and often humbling experiences.
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Publisher's Summary

Ben Horowitz, cofounder of Andreessen Horowitz and one of Silicon Valley’s most respected and experienced entrepreneurs, offers essential advice on building and running a startup - practical wisdom for managing the toughest problems business school doesn’t cover, based on his popular ben’s blog.

While many people talk about how great it is to start a business, very few are honest about how difficult it is to run one. Ben Horowitz analyzes the problems that confront leaders every day, sharing the insights he’s gained developing, managing, selling, buying, investing in, and supervising technology companies. A lifelong rap fanatic, he amplifies business lessons with lyrics from his favorite songs, telling it straight about everything from firing friends to poaching competitors, cultivating and sustaining a CEO mentality to knowing the right time to cash in.

Filled with his trademark humor and straight talk, The Hard Thing About Hard Things is invaluable for veteran entrepreneurs as well as those aspiring to their own new ventures, drawing from Horowitz’s personal and often humbling experiences.

©2014 Ben Horowitz (P)2014 HarperCollins Publishers

What Members Say

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  •  
    bigdatamark MI 09-03-14
    bigdatamark MI 09-03-14 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Exciting and insightful view of a "wartime CEO""
    Any additional comments?

    First of all, I have to warn you that the author, Ben Horowitz, apparently likes gangster rap, and there are quotes at the beginning of chapters and sections that are relevant, yet have foul language and try to be offensive. Ben Horowitz interestingly, uses swear words, but only for great impact.

    Second, Kevin Kenerly, the narrator, has a great style. It's hard to explain, but it's like he's speaking directly to you, and only to you. Some people might be annoyed by it, but I thought it was very appropriate for this book.

    Third, there was a lot of really interesting and dramatic insight into how Horowitz handled an almost impossible to believe string of disasters by seeking good advice from his mentors, from experts, and by making hard decisions. Although I don't agree with some of the ways he treated people, his methods did get results.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Thomas Boulder, CO, United States 03-18-14
    Thomas Boulder, CO, United States 03-18-14 Member Since 2006
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    "For large company managers, not startups"

    Horowitz's formula for "building a business" is to get hundreds of millions of dollars from venture capitalists, then take your the company public and get hundreds of millions more dollars. Then buy companies that have products you need. The author has lots of advice about laying off employees, firing executives, and giving bad news to investors. There's a good chapter about the importance of training your employees.

    This book is not for startups. "The Lean Startup," by Eric Ries, is a better book for entrepreneurs. Horowitz's book is for executives managing large companies.

    37 of 43 people found this review helpful
  •  
    m.a. 06-16-14
    m.a. 06-16-14

    Say something about yourself!

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    "Great book - surprised by all the vitriol"
    Any additional comments?

    Those who focus their review on the fact that there's hip hop references or the fact that the author is so raw in his language are clearly missing the f*cking point (since the book is full of expletives). This book explained the agony and euphoria I saw on many of my own CEOs, going from tiny companies to being acquired for millions of dollars. Of course, a good counter part to this book is Lean Start Up by Eric Ries (and that book is dry, boring, methodical, lean on interest yet good since it's the strategy to being a lean, agile start up). Horowitz doesn't mince his words and speaks sincerely about the realities of tech start ups. As Mitch Joel says so eloquently in CTRL-ALT-DELETE - the business world is in a state of purgatory. I'll add that technology is the extreme game of survival of the fittest. A must read for anyone working in tech. And leave your pearls at home. Business is cutthroat, it won't say please and thank you.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gregory 05-14-14
    Gregory 05-14-14 Member Since 2012
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    "Couldn't take listening to narrator"
    What would have made The Hard Thing About Hard Things better?

    I couldn't take listening to the narrator. I thought it was an awful choice for this book. Crazy how much the narrator's voice can influence whether I like a book...but it does.


    9 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jimmy Powell, OH, United States 07-28-14
    Jimmy Powell, OH, United States 07-28-14 Member Since 2014

    I am a young-executive with a voracious appetite for great stories. I read and listen constantly, and am very proud of my book collection.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Based in Reality--Not New Age Hocus Pocus:"

    Mr. Horowitz masterfully delivers the truth and insight of those long and sleepless nights of trying to think your way through the chaos of a startup.

    This book is not the work of a man gloating of his success and using the lens of hindsight to casually relay a few helpful hints. Rather this is an in depth and insightful guide to successfully navigating the major "fork in the road" types decisions that have the potential to define your outcomes.

    This is money well spent! It does matter if you are a running the world's largest startup right now or just opened a one person carwash this book will help you. It is lively and entertaining, yet full of helpful information all clearly learned by Mr. Horowitz at the height of entrepreneurial battle.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sebastian Perez Saaibi 07-18-14
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    "Entrepreneurship is Hard, period."
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Sure. Anyone who is delusional about all the positive things about entrepreneurship should read, or better, listen to this book.


    What did you like best about this story?

    No bulls***. Facts and worries of a founder trying to grow a massive internet business.


    Have you listened to any of Kevin Kenerly’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    No


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    Not really. But it read it while walking to work; it made me ponder on many aspects of my own company


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cliff RED BANK, NJ, United States 04-21-14
    Cliff RED BANK, NJ, United States 04-21-14 Member Since 2012
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    "Tough to listen to, but interesting at times"

    The voice of the narrator in no way sounds like, or gives an impression of Horowitz. The constant us of "she" when referring to a universal or fictitious CEO or manager is odd, since when he mentions real people, they're all men, ie; Andy Grove, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs.

    The use of hip hop quotes was childish, and does not project an image of wisdom I need from a successful person. Why not quote Sponge Bob Square Pants while you're at it? I kept wondering how many rappers Horowitz was quoting while negotiating with HP.

    Once I got past the amateurish nature of the delivery of the book, there were some good stories and advice. The author did seem to brag a bit about how smart he was, perhaps listening to all that hip hop influenced his delivery.

    If you get the impression I'm not a big fan of hip hop, you'd be correct. But I'm not impressed by authors or speakers quoting any pop culture references like music or TV. It's lazy, and shows they don't read or revere serious thinkers or those who strive to advance or society. While some entertainers do contribute, they're not at the top of the list of those we can learn the most from.

    9 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mark Evanston, IL, USA 04-22-14
    Mark Evanston, IL, USA 04-22-14 Member Since 2013
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    "Not relevant to small businesses"
    What would have made The Hard Thing About Hard Things better?

    Too focused on running large companies and not relevant to small business owners


    What was most disappointing about Ben Horowitz’s story?


    Did the narration match the pace of the story?

    Yes


    What character would you cut from The Hard Thing About Hard Things?


    Any additional comments?

    4 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Garrett Petticrew 05-25-15 Member Since 2014
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    "Extremely insightful"

    I currently work in corporate America and will be starting my own company this year.

    This book gave me a lot to think about. I can see why I am looking forward to starting my own company and has even helped me with communication at my current job.

    Moreover, Ben recommends the best management books he's read to cover topics he could not do a better job of explaining. I liked this approach a lot.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Johan Duluc 05-22-15
    Johan Duluc 05-22-15 Member Since 2015
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    "Good read"

    Very insightful I had a good time reading and thinking of some things I hadn't considered.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-10 of 81 results PREVIOUS129NEXT
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  • C. Saba
    UK
    5/7/15
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    "Really interesting story..."

    The hard thing about The Hard Thing About the Hard Things is that the narrator didn't do it for me. The story is really interesting and honest but it sounds like there was fair bit of editing afterwards which wasn't done seamlessly. Worth a listen if you want to feel the pain of building a large tech company.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • C4NH4M
    ENGLAND
    4/28/15
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    "Very informative and very powerful"

    This book is great for listening to someone who has been there and done that

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Mr Niall McGinnity
    4/16/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Insightful"

    The narrative behind the writer's journey is detailed and insightful - you really feel part of the story's ups and downs. The advice provided is invaluable as its delivered from someone who has been there and done it.
    The audible version is perfectly narrated.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Mr. D. James
    London
    3/3/15
    Overall
    Performance
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    "Solid but ordinary business book"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    No. It's very basic. I think the fact that Ben Horowitz is a successful businessman makes this readable. Otherwise it's not particularly revelatory.


    If you’ve listened to books by Ben Horowitz before, how does this one compare?

    N/A


    Did Kevin Kenerly do a good job differentiating each of the characters? How?

    I think so - but didn't pay too much attention to that.


    Did The Hard Thing About Hard Things inspire you to do anything?

    It gave me some food for thought


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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