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The Hard Thing About Hard Things, by Ben Horowitz

Stashed in: 106 Miles, CEOs, Startup Lessons, @bhorowitz, Business Advice, @a16z

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Leena Rao writes:

Where Horowitz separates himself is in his advice around how to control your own psychology and demons as a CEO and founder. These are real problems that every CEO and leader faces, as sometimes they are their own worst enemy. As Horowitz writes in one passage:

By far the most difficult skill I learned as a CEO was the ability to manage my own psychology. Organizational design, process design, metrics, hiring and firing were all relatively straightforward skills to master compared with keeping my mind in check. I thought I was tough going into it, but I wasn’t tough. I was soft. Over the years I’ve spoken to hundreds of CEOs, all with the same experience. Nonetheless, very few people talk about it and I have never read anything on the topic. It’s like the fight club of management: the first rule of the CEO psychological meltdown is don’t talk about the psychological meltdown. At risk of violating the sacred rule, I will attempt to describe the condition and prescribe some techniques that helped me. In the end, this is the most personal and important battle that any CEO will face.

One of the chapters of the book is titled “The Struggle,” and offers founders a level of empathy that is almost too real (this was part of a post he wrote on TechCrunch in 2012). He deliberately doesn’t sugar coat anything, because he knows better than most that the world of a founder, is paved with hardship and can be very bitter.

It is an excellent book. Because it is honest about how difficult Startups are. 

Founder is the toughest job in the world:

Leena: It sounds like you are pretty hard on yourself, too.

Ben Horowitz: You beat yourself up. Well, because you do — and if you are a husband, you don’t know how to be a CEO, like you just don’t know how to do it, there is no way you can walk into that job and know how to do it. And so as a result you screw up an incredible number of things.

Read the whole interview:

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