“Hard Thing About Hard Things” Take Aways

  • “no shortcuts to knowledge, especially that from personal experience. Relying on short cuts can be worse than knowing nothing at all”
  • Collin Powell - leadership is the ability to get someone to follow you even if only out of curiosity
  • you need two kinds of friends. One who will be more excited for your good times than if they happened to them. And one who will help no matter how bad the news is.
  • what are people motivated by and how do they evaluate value or success in those terms? Motivation by money means you evaluating price per share. That dips you lose people. I’m motivated by death threats and law suits so if we’re not pissing people off I lose motivation. But a leader can choose the priorities and values by what is measured and fantasized about. Fantasize about a stock price and you lose people to the higher payer.
  • war time vs peace time CEO. I still can’t figure out the cross over point when you operate solo. I guess it’s when you have less time to live than the time to educate and include everyone into the full picture
  • “If we didn’t treat the people who were leaving fairly, the people staying would never have trusted me again” — how is this even a realization wow. Let people know where they stand in periods of transition. Show the transformation of old world to new world and give people plans to help
  • If anyone is stuck on anything for any reason it couldn’t last more than 24 hours
  • EDS decision is super interesting. Delivering the value they expect (and knowing it’s going to fail) and with that time finding value they don’t expect (and can deliver on). The work on what is expected is viewed in an entirely different light when the unexpected is shown
  • all decisions up until the first line of code is written are objective. Afterwards they’re emotional
  • markets aren’t efficient at making the write conclusions, they’re efficient at converging on a conclusion
  • the one invaluable skill is focusing and making the best move when there are no good moves
  • in bushido, a warrior always keeps death in mind. Its guides and makes all actions the proper ones
  • general executives vs functional executives. How do you hire for someone when you don’t know the skill. Be it. Act it and learn. Don’t depend on interviews for learning because you’ll subconsciously over-weight look and feel
  • QA doesn’t give you a great product but it tells you when you have a bad one. HR doesn’t give you great management, but it tells you when it’s failing
  • one type of corrosive politics is one where behavior for advancement isn’t from merit or contribution
  • ad hoc policy for compensation leads to political exacerbation. Strict process leads to fairness
  • ambition for the org above oneself is incredibly important. If individuals optimize for themselves in a position that’s outwards facing you’ll start to have fraud. They’ll enlarge themselves.
  • in an interview, the focus is on an organizations weakness and strengths. Wants the game plan. Focused on process and the changes of past experiences that worked. Not interested in some number adjustment. Expects management and compensation to be on merit.
  • Cult like culture means that there are extremes of norms that cause behavioral change
  • Amazon baked frugality into the culture with door desks. It’s not something that has to be re membered or managed down. It’s symbolically represented
  • Andressen respecting time via $10 minute late fee for entrepreneurs
  • Facebook move fast and break things. Gives allowance for innovation
  • Process should scale up and down depending on the communication challenge
  • Believing someone isn’t capable of being an executive with retard their development because you won’t point out deficiencies or encourage learning in the interim
  • There is only a great executive at specific companies at specific points of time
  • Dont prejudge ability to scale. Judge if they can do the job at the current scale
  • Focus on what you need to get right
  • Hardest skill is to Manage your own mind
  • The mean on the test of being CEO is 22/100. No one tells you that
  • It’s a bad idea if you’ve asked yourself something 3000 times
  • To survive, don’t become married to the positive or negative narrative
  • “Hamlets” experience debating whether to sell the company and conflicts with the board because of the social influence matrix and the information gap between the CEO and the rest of the group. He had info to realize size of market. Board initially reacted to his ambivalence not the market or company data that made an alternative case.
  • high frequency feedback encourage two things. Critique won’t be personal. People will be comfortable discussing bad news. High quality culture has bad info spread fast and good news spread slow
  • No CEO thinks they can do it
  • Past performance is no indicator of future success
  • One rule. There are no rules.