Book review: The Hard Things About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz

TL;DR War stories and pieces of advice from the high tech industry veteran.

I read this book following recomendations by Reem Sherman, the host of the excellent (!!!) podcast Geekonomy (in Hebrew).

Ben Horowitz is a veteran manager and entrepreneur who found the company Opsware, which Hewlett-Packard acquired in 2007. This book describes Horotwitz’s journey in Opsware from the foundation to the sale. Book’s second part is a collection of advice to working and aspiring CEOs. The last part is, actually, an advertisement for Horowitz’s new project — a VC company.

Things that I liked

The behind the scenes stories are interesting and inspiring.
Ben Horowitz devoted the second part of the book to share his experience as a CEO with other actual or aspiring CEOs. I don’t work as a CEO, nor do I see myself in that position in the future. However, this part is valuable for people like me because it provides insights into how CEOs think. Moreover, “The Hard Things” is a popular book, and many managers learn from it.

Things that I didn’t like.

Ben Horowitz was a manager during the early days of the high-tech industry. As such, parts of his attitude are outdated. The most prominent example for this problem is a story that Horowitz tells, in which he asked the entire company to work 12+ hours a day, seven days a week for several months. He was very proud about this, but IMO, employees will not accept such a request in today’s climate.

The bottom line: 4/5

The difference between statistically meaningful and practically meaningful. An interview with me

Recently, I gave an interview to the Techie Leadership site. Andrei Crudu, the interviewer, made a helpful outline of the conversation. I marked the most important parts in bold.

  • Academic views on leadership;
  • Managing people isn’t for everyone;
  • Lessons from a practical approach;
  • Data Science is predominantly about data cleaning;
  • The difference between statistically meaningful and practically meaningful;
  • How sometimes companies tweak results to match expectations;
  • Bad managers make you appreciate the good managers;
  • Giving credit, being decent and not cheating;
  • All good teamwork starts with effective communication;
  • You don’t know that the stuff that you know is unknown to others;

Overall, I enjoyed chatting with Andrei, and I hope you’ll enjoy listening to the interview. If you have any comments, feel free sharing them here or on the Techie Leadership size