Ben Horowitz

12 Things I Learned from Ben Horowitz about Management, Investing, and Business

  1. “You read these management books that say ‘these are the hard things about running a company’. But those aren’t really the hard things.”
  2. “Management turns out to be really dynamic and situational and personal and emotional. So it’s pretty hard to write a formula or instruction book on it.”
  3. “In reality companies are what they are and nobody has ever worked anywhere where everything is perfect. And so pretending that things are perfect isn’t actually very effective.”
  4. “When a company goes astray, you talk to employees and they say, ‘We have no strategy. We don’t know where we’re going.’ The strategy is the story. They’re not different. The strategy is the story you tell. It’s the why. If you can’t tell that in a massively compelling way, who’s going to follow you? That’s what makes people get up in the morning and do stuff.”
  5. “Thinking for yourself …the distinguishing characteristic of the great entrepreneurs.”
  6. “People say that the CEO should be ‘the best salesman at the company’ or the ‘product visionary’ or all these things. No. The CEO is the CEO. They’ve got to deliver very quality decisions at a very high rate of speed. And if they don’t make a decision, the company freezes up.  In order to do that, you need to be talking to everybody. You need to figure out what’s going on with your finance people, and your engineering people. Because by the time this s–t comes to you, you won’t have time to do that. You won’t have time to make your decision.”
  7. “Sometimes an organization doesn’t need a solution; it just needs clarity.” 
  8. “The primary thing that any technology startup must do is build a product that’s at least ten times better at doing something than the current prevailing way of doing that thing. Two or three times better will not be good enough to get people to switch to the new thing fast enough or in large enough volume to matter.”
  9. “Figuring out the right product is the innovator’s job, not the customer’s job. The customer only knows what she thinks she wants based on her experience with the current product. The innovator can take into account everything that’s possible, often going against what she knows to be true. This requires a combination of knowledge, skill, and courage.”
  10. “There are only two priorities for a start-up: Winning the market and not running out of cash. Running lean is not an end.”
  11. “What do you get when you cross a herd of sheep with a herd of lemmings? A herd of venture capitalists.”
  12. “All the returns in venture capital go to a tiny number of firms and the same firms every year… this is not true in mutual funds or hedge funds or anything else. You don’t have persistent returns across decades.”



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