The Hard Thing About Hard Things

I am at an interesting point in my life. I am transitioning from being in a consulting role to becoming CTO of a Payments/Bitcoin startup. This prospect is both extremely exciting and a bit terrifying at the same time.

I have also been working on making myself more of a well-rounded individual. Since my rising interest in Bitcoin, I have become increasingly interested in the world of finance, entrepreneurship, and dare I say…politics (gross). I was recommended a book written by Ben Horowitz, the ex CEO and a very successful VC and entrepreneur. After googling the first chapter and reading it, I decided to buy the book.

There were many things in Ben’s early life that I could personally relate to so the book was an easy and entertaining read for me. For example, we both come from very humble beginnings. My family and I are refugees from Bosnia that had to start from scratch after moving to the states. My parents were 40 years old at the time and I don’t know about you, but I can’t imagine moving somewhere at 40 with only what you could pack into a suitcase and starting over – never mind being successful (all with young children and not speaking a lick of English). Ben mentions his parents being card-carrying communists which was particularly interesting to me since I was born in communist Yugoslavia and I always noticed how my parents were affected having grown up in that form of government. When I was growing up in Kentucky my father would always ask me if I had my “documents” every time I ventured outdoors to play with my friends. There were many other similarities that I won’t go into but the one thing I believe is that when you don’t come up in a privileged environment, you have to grow up fast and be able to adapt very quickly. This definitely seems to be a theme throughout Ben’s book.

The book goes through Ben’s version of the crazy roller coaster ride that is the venture capital lifestyle that’s so prevalent in Silicon Valley. What really keeps you on the edge of your seat is the insane number of choices a CEO has to make regularly that could mean the life or death of the company. The book also highlights how the leadership position is a very lonely place. The CEO often makes decisions and they are never popular with everyone. The book goes into many of the tougher decisions that a leader has to make whether it’s firing a close friend or a manager that has significant influence at the company. What I really liked about this book is that there weren’t any chapters that I read and thought the content was common sense. Ben did a great job of cutting out the bullshit and providing the reader with content that really matters.

Overall I think the book is a great read no matter who you are. I’ve seen multiple reviews that criticize the book by saying that it’s geared toward CEO’s and other top level executives. I whole-heartedly disagree because to me the book has great advice on how to be a leader and how to take responsibility when being put in a position where your decisions affect those around you. My only criticism is that I would have liked to read more examples of failures that Ben and others in the industry have had and how they have successfully recovered from them.

I would definitely recommend the read.

Amazon Link to Book
Annotated First Chapter on Genius.com
Ben’s Twitter

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