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The Hard Thing About Hard Things Audiobook

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

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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

Average Customer Rating

4.5 (5515 )
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  •  
    bigdatamark MI 09-03-14
    bigdatamark MI 09-03-14
    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.

    28 of 29 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Thomas Boulder, CO, United States 03-18-14
    Thomas Boulder, CO, United States 03-18-14
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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.

    127 of 138 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Scott Wozniak 03-03-15 Member Since 2017
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    "Strong, insightful, and a bit vulgar"

    Ben Horowitz has been there and done that--that being starting a tech firm and leading it through chaos and surprise and heartbreak to success. He isn't sharing leadership theory, he's sharing his life lessons.

    As such, he offers specific examples and actual numbers for each of his principles. And his principles are insightful and practical. A few are powerful, like the idea of management debt: you can delay making a hard decision but you incur "debt". The problem didn't go away, you will have to pay it later--with interest. So pay now and reduce the cost. Also, don't hire a stereotypical executive, hire the one that fits the exact situation of your company. For example, there's a big difference between running a large company and building a large company. The first is more about managing lots of pressure--reacting well. The second is about creating growth through aggressive action--without anyone pressuring you to do it.

    I give 4 rather than 5 stars to this strong leadership book because of the large amount of foul language. Not only is there a section where he decided as CEO to allow a tech culture norm of expletives (that was strategic at least), but he cusses every couple of pages. I guess he's being authentic but it is distracting.

    9 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    L Phoenix, AZ, United States 08-17-15
    L Phoenix, AZ, United States 08-17-15
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    "Once you learn to deal with Horowitz narcissism, it finally gets to the meat"

    The voice was miserable. It might have been a low soothing voice, ideal for radio, but the person didn't keep it interesting in inflection. Like a lazy professor a couple years after being tenured.

    Horowitz takes a while to get to the real information of his book. When he does get there it great. Before that it is too slow.

    8 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    gm050 08-18-15
    gm050 08-18-15 Member Since 2014
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    "Sound advice, amateur writing and narration"

    The narrator enunciates so aggressively and with such over-animation it made me flinch. And the excessive use of rap lyrics and other extensive references to pop culture gave the book and story a very amateurish feel. The excessive use of the pronoun "she" when referring to hypothetical CEOs also presented an odd juxtaposition with the fact that every single reference to living CEOs was to male ones (Jobs, Bezos, Schmidt, Campbell, Gates...)

    However, when the actual advice of the book came out (not until the last half or maybe even quarter) it was clear, concise and to the point. Definitely got me thinking. Wish the whole book had been as such.

    20 of 24 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.

    13 of 16 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Hal 09-10-16
    Hal 09-10-16 Member Since 2016
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    "Hard truths no fluff, a gut check for founding CEO"

    If you need to know how paranoid you needed to be before considering being the CEO of a startup, then this is a must read. Not too long, great insight into the dread, critical, life altering decisions that you must make as a forms prime leader.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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    CARLOS PALMDALE, CA, United States 02-12-15
    CARLOS PALMDALE, CA, United States 02-12-15 Member Since 2012
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    "Just another book that have some info on CEOs"

    Ok to read it or listen but didnt get much important info or relevant info, probably if you are a CEO or manage a multibillion $ company that you are planing to sell!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    G 02-11-15
    G 02-11-15
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    "High level advice for CEOs"

    Not great for startups meant for big company CEOs. Some good actionable ideas and insights. Interesting history of Netscape and loudcloud.

    1 of 1 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.

    7 of 10 people found this review helpful
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  • Simon
    11/1/16
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    "best management book I've ever read"

    great book with real world advice and anecdotes from someone who has lived through the hard stuff. Much better than the over simplicity of most management texts. a must read for all managers our business owners.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • FahimS
    11/16/16
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    "Must-read"

    One of the best business books I've ever read. It talks about taboos, the struggle that you rarely hear or read in biographies.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • kev
    10/4/16
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    "Kevin made Ben's story come alive"

    Ben has a wealth of honest real life sharings of struggles and strategies that make sense for any senior role. I see the CEO role as any senior leader that is accountable for P&L as well as people.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Mark
    7/20/15
    Overall
    Performance
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    "Pretty dull read, almost obnoxious self-promotion"
    Would you try another book written by Ben Horowitz or narrated by Kevin Kenerly?

    Was interesting and definitely written differently from most of these kinda books (lots of swearing, hip-hop references, unambiguous opinions and sometimes almost obnoxious self-promotion) which gave it some character. A few interesting lessons in there particularly on the difficulties of moving from Founder - CEO but on the whole, fairly dull. I'd give it 2 stars


    What was most disappointing about Ben Horowitz’s story?

    It was a story more than a tool


    Would you be willing to try another one of Kevin Kenerly’s performances?

    Maybe


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from The Hard Thing About Hard Things?

    Cut it at least in half


    Any additional comments?

    nope

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • ShopMyStyle
    London
    6/17/17
    Overall
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    "a great listen"

    I know what it's like to be alone with these decisions. great to hear that this is normal.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Omar
    6/12/17
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    "Feels like they didn't edited the book for audio"

    The book is at best average.
    There are some good tipps, but it's more like a biography.

    Also the narrator are literally reading conversation protocols, or emails. (including header, cc,...)

    Maybe it's a good read as a book, but not the best buy as an audio book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Marc
    5/25/17
    Overall
    "Great stories from real life"

    I love how everything is related back to real life experience. A good book with examples you can use even if you don't have your own company. I probably would have given it 5 stars if I was a company owner however.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Christoffer Odin
    5/24/17
    Overall
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    "Must listen for entrepreneurs"

    beginning was quite focused on Ben's background which at the time was a bit much. however, I think it was necessary to build the rest of the narrative. overall a great listen which will be re-listened to later.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • mahmud
    5/8/17
    Overall
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    "Brilliant book by a master businessman "

    I really loved the honesty that Ben Horowitz seems to exude. The stories he tells are not long winded or self praising. They are telling of the nature of business and the balls of steel that you need to stand it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Mr. Harry C. Sharman
    Manchester, UK
    5/3/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Illuminating and terrifying"

    A very brilliant book. Not on the fancy things about running a business (private jets, huge houses, TED conferences) but on what to do when you are days away from running out of money.

    Makes me both inspired and terrified to become a CEO.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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