By Ben Horowitz
This book has 32 recommendations
Dennis Yang (CEO/Udemy)
I read this book at a time when Udemy was rapidly growing—over the 18 months where we went from 30 to 200 people. It was helpful to read about Horowitz's challenges, worries, and triumphs when addressing the same types of issues at a similar stage of growth. There are so many big decisions you need to make where there's just no clear-cut, right or wrong answer. There are a lot of gray areas. You gather information from your team, but the hard decisions rest with you. This book helped me realize that while I needed to carefully and objectively consider feedback, I was responsible for making a decision in the end—even when it was an unpopular one.
Bogdan Iordache (Co-Founder/How to Web)
There are quite a few good business books on technology, and I'll list below some I find to be a good starting point. Personally, I like biographies a lot and I mostly read biographies of dead people, because those are the most honest ones. So because the computer age is still very young, there won't be a lot of biographies in my list.
Deepak Chhugani (Founder/The Lobby)
I got a ton of value out of reading The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz. I was wasting a lot of time making decisions, ranging from picking our company name and logo to deciding whether to raise money or try and make our company profitable. I read this book over the course of two weekends and I came away with two main conclusions: 1) It’s almost as important to be decisive as it is to make good decisions (speed in decision making is very important with startups) and 2) The only way for me to keep sane with our startup’s journey is to embrace the chaos and uncertainty that comes with not knowing what’s going to happen next, just that we’re doing the best we can to make good decisions with the information at hand. I made 3 or 4 important decisions almost immediately after finishing the book which helped us keep moving forward!
Michael Dell (CEO/Dell)
Ben, an influential venture capitalist (of Andreessen Horowitz) and entrepreneur, candidly talks about the very real thrills and perils of starting a business. This book is loaded with great lessons and advice from a successful leader and innovator.
Mark Roberge (CRO/Hubspot)
The Hard Thing About Hard Things is something that I really enjoyed recently. It's been out there for a while, but I think for an entrepreneur is fantastic.
Mark Zuckerberg (Founder/Facebook)
Ben's experience and expertise make him one of the most important leaders not just in Silicon Valley but also in the global knowledge economy. For anyone interested in building, growing or leading a great company, this book is an incredibly valuable resource - and a funny and insightful read.
Larry Page (Co-Founder/Google)
Ben's book is a great read - with uncomfortable truths about entrepreneurship and how to lead to a company. It's also an inspiring story of a business rebirth through sheer willpower.
Peter Thiel (Entrepreneur, Investor)
Every management guide presumes that all great companies follow a formula. But successful startups don't imitate; they build innovations that can't be copied. Ben Horowitz knows no recipe guarantees success. He has written the first true guide for protecting a startup from self-sabotage.
Michael Herrmann (Founder/Terminerinnerung)
Very deep insights into what it's like to run a VC-funded startup. Not just interesting for such startup founders, but also to people who want to know what it's like.
Andrea Loubier (CEO/MailBird)
The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horrowitz because it’s real, and empowers you to think big and prepares you for the worst when pursuing entrepreneurship.
Leah Lizarondo (Co-Founder/412 Food Rescue)
I am also reading The Hard Thing About Hard Things - Ben Horowitz. As 412 Food Rescue grows and I have more and more people on the team, it really becomes clear who will become successful at this organization. I think managing people is the hardest part about organizations and being honest with yourself and your staff about what it will take to be part of something is important. Striking a balance between being unapologetic about this and being sensitive is key. There are a lot of "hard things" about starting and growing something--I have so much respect for entrepreneurs, it truly takes something different to opt for this life.
Sanja Zepan (Co-Founder/Homey)
I also liked Hard Thing about Hard Things, by Ben Horowitz, that talks about startup management.
Darren Chua (Co-Founder & CEO/Markedshot)
Ben Horowitz is brutally honest and the lessons are very much applicable to my current startup.
Vasil Azarov (CEO/Growth Marketing Conference)
I usually do audio books all the time, because I'm always on the move, so audio, I listen to Ben Horowitz' Hard Things About Hard Things. Usually when I'm on the crossroads, when I'm riding my own company, this is the book that's kind of always on the back of my mind right now, because it helps you as founder and CEO of the company to relate to some other very challenging, extremely challenging situations that a more experienced founder was facing. So I love that book.
Zack Onisko (CEO/Dribbble)
I think my favorite over the last couple years has been Ben Horowitz, The Hard Thing About Hard Things. That's one that sticks out.
Melody McCloskey (CEO/StyleSeat)
I really like Ben Horowitz's book "The Hard Thing about Hard Things." 'Cause he goes real dark and he's very honest about how gnarly it can get and throughout the book you're like "Stop. What are you doing? You're crazy. Hang up those spurs." 'Call it a loss. And he's just like, then we kept going. And I think that tenacity, because tenacity and resiliency are the two, in my opinion, most important factors to be a founder. I think he talks about that a lot and I respect him for that.
Rodrigo Fuentes (CEO/ListenLoop)
Must-read, I think everyone's already read it though, so I don't know if that's going to be very useful. I think everyone absolutely needs to read "The Hard Thing About Hard Things" by Ben Harowitz. I mean that book is just a treasure of advice and future wisdom that I'm sure I have not used all the wisdom that's in there yet, but it's in there. It's like a field book for the trench warfare that startup founders find themselves in.
Matthew Barby (Global Head of Growth and SEO/HubSpot)
One that I've really, really enjoyed, and has personally helped me figure out a bunch of problems recently has been The Hard Thing about Hard Things, by Ben Horowitz. Really great book on figuring out incredibly tough management decision, and how to be able to help, nurture, and grow, highly motivated and talented people within organizations. And also how to deal with when the shit hits the fan.
Marvin Liao (Partner/500 Startups)
The other book I recommend is "The Hard Things About Hard Things" by VC & ex-Operator extraordinaire. It reflects the real reality of startup founder life & gives very excellent advice. A must read for all founders.
Damien Mulley (Owner/Mulley Communications)
The first half could easily be made into a movie or TV series. The second half is just blog posts and is boring but I guess padding was needed. The first half is the story of how Opsware was sold and you get the backstory and the backstory of the backstory and it's gripping and full on honest which is very different to most of the books from millionaire business people that retcon their success. There's an anecdote in there on how to keep the company going they needed to keep one guy in a client company happy. So it ended up with them buying a company for $10M in order to get him their software for free. Ballsy move nobody else would think of. And it saved them for a while. So that they were able to continue and eventually sell for over 1.4billion.
Chris Oliver (Founder/GoRails)
The Hard Thing About Hard Things was fantastic. Since I'm in startups, there are a lot of very tough decisions to make and you have to have a lot of courage to make them.
Theresa Evanoff (Founder/Gift-it-Forward)
Here are some of my favourites around purpose, positive habits, positive thinking, and business goals. I’m a firm believer that subject expertise can be learned, but character-building traits, like perseverance and purposefulness, must be honed.
- “Purpose Driven Life”, Rick Warren
- “Start with Why” by Simon Sinek
- “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, Stephen Covey
- "The Magic of Thinking Big", David J. Schwartz
- "The Power of Positive Thinking" by Norman Vincent Peale
- "The Hard Thing About Hard Things" by Ben Horowitz
- “Good to Great”, Jim Collins
- “Doing Good Well”, Willie Cheng
Audrey Russo (President & CEO/Pittsburgh Technology Council)
Question: What books would you recommend to young people interested in your career path?
- Anything by Peter Senge.
- The Hard Thing About Hard Things – Ben Horowitz
- Once you are Lucky, Twice you are good – Sara Lacey
- Revolutionary Wealth – Alvin Toffler
- Black Swan – Taleb
- Reset: My Fight for Inclusion and Lasting Change, by Ellen Pao.
- Creative Class – Richard Florida
- Creativity Inc. by Ed Catmull & Amy Wallace
- Liar’s Poker by Michael Lewis
- American Government 101: From the Continental Congress to the Iowa Caucus, Everything You Need to Know About US Politics – Kathleen Spears
- The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff.
- Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy.
- Any book by Herman Hesse
- The Art of War by Sun Tzu.
John Doherty (Founder/Credo)
I was traveling quite a bit for work at the time and remember sitting in an airport (I can't remember which one) ordering food and reading. I literally could not put the book down and during that sitting I felt an overwhelming sense of relief that every entrepreneur deals with make-it-or-break-it moments many times, and that it is indeed possible to push through and come out the other side stronger as a person and as a business.
Matthieu David-Experton (CEO & Founder/Daxue Consulting)
The Hard Thing About Hard Things has made me be aware that very admired entrepreneurs or people who are seen as very successful could have gone through very similar questions, courses of actions and troubles as young and small business owners.
Ng Rong Xin (Co-Founder/Explorer Junior)
I often resort to reading for wisdom and emotional support. The recent episode was when I read Hard Things about Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers a couple of years back. There were so many personal stories that he shared (particularly the one he shared about how he had spent so much time on his business, he almost destroyed his family) that I could relate to as an entrepreneur. Reading it gave some kind of moral and emotional support - it’s kinda good to know that you are not the only one going through the same difficult journey!
Javed Khatri (Co-founder & Chief Everything Officer/Kustard)
Running a company is mostly about taking the right decisions at the right time. This book will teach you that.
Catrinel Hagivreta (Co-Founder & CEO/MEDIjobs)
As a startup entrepreneur, it is easy to get distracted by so many things: how to capture your first client, solving the bugs of the platform, writing an article or hiring your first employees. And all this chaos is affecting the company’s culture and its energy, especially when you have a small team. I remember I was together with my partner and brother George one day and we were concerned about the culture of our company.
How can we keep employees engaged and motivated when, sometimes, it’s difficult even for us to be so? We were considering team building events, bonuses and other things we could do to keep our colleagues happy when I read in this book something that turned out to be the answer to our question: Until you don’t have a product (or company) that works, don’t care about culture.
This is essential because it makes you understand how and whom to hire. You understand that you cannot compete with big companies when it comes to incentives, the looks of an office or financial rewards. On top of that, you will have good days, but most of the times you will have bad days at the beginning, when it looks like nothing is working or making progress.
So if you want a happy and engaged team, first develop a product which clients love and use and hire people who are extremely attached to the mission of the company.
Alex Circei (CEO & Founder/Waydev)
Question: What five books would you recommend to young people interested in your career path & why?
- Screw It, Let's Do It: Lessons In Life by Richard Branson
- Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell
- Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone To Take Action by Simon Sinek
- The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers by Ben Horowitz
- Rich Dad Poor Dad: What the Rich Teach Their Kids About Money That the Poor and Middle Class Do Not! by Robert T. Kiyosaki
Igor Debatur (CEO/UploadCare)
In addition to a ton of practical recommendations, it helped me to start overcoming the everyday burden of being a CEO. To read this book is like having a friend who pats you on a shoulder and tells “Hear hear, everything will be alright, it’s normal that you suffer, all of us suffer, it’s alright”. In addition to patting you on a shoulder, Ben added a lot of value: there are many practical recommendations and motivation that helps to concentrate on what really matters and move your business further.
Cody McLain (CEO/SupportNinja)
Based on your top book recommendations list, this one needs no introductions.
Anant Jain (Co-Founder/CommonLounge)The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz is on top of my list of must-read business books. It’s full of straight-to-the-point, hard-hitting advice coming from one of the most successful entrepreneurs and venture capitalists in Silicon Valley.
This book is part of our collection:
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.
See more books recommended by: Dennis Yang, Bogdan Iordache, Deepak Chhugani, Michael Dell, Mark Roberge, Mark Zuckerberg, Larry Page, Peter Thiel, Michael Herrmann, Andrea Loubier, Leah Lizarondo, Sanja Zepan, Darren Chua, Vasil Azarov, Zack Onisko, Melody McCloskey, Rodrigo Fuentes, Matthew Barby, Marvin Liao, Damien Mulley, Chris Oliver, Theresa Evanoff, Audrey Russo, John Doherty, Matthieu David-Experton, Ng Rong Xin, Javed Khatri, Catrinel Hagivreta, Alex Circei, Igor Debatur, Cody McLain, Anant Jain
See more books written by: Ben Horowitz
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- Damien Mulley, Owner of Mulley Communications, on the Importance of Reading Both Fact & Fiction
- Chris Oliver, Founder of GoRails, Gives Enthusiastic Insight on The Books that Helped Him Grow
- Theresa Evanoff, Founder of Gift-it-Forward, Confesses Being an Avid Reader Her Entire Life
- Audrey Russo, President & CEO of Pittsburgh Technology Council, Has an Active Reading List of 20 Books at a Time
- John Doherty, Founder of Credo, Shares Inspiring Moments that Were Born Because of Books
- Matthieu David-Experton, CEO & Founder of Daxue Consulting, Uses Books to Refresh His Mind
- Ng Rong Xin, Co-Founder of Explorer Junior, Turned to Books for Drive, Inspiration, Support
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- Catrinel Hagivreta, Co-Founder & CEO of MEDIjobs, Could Write a Book with All Her Reading Learnings
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- Igor Debatur, CEO of UploadCare, and the Books that Upgrade His ‘Erudition’
- Cody McLain, CEO of SupportNinja, Shares the Books that Provide the Right Business Framework
- Interview with Anant Jain