THE HARD THING ABOUT HARD THINGS

During ‘Growth Mindset Podcast’ podcast recordings, whenever the question of the best book arises, I have to particularly stress upon recommendation on some book other than ‘the Hard Things about Hard Things ’ as this book is like the most often cited as the best read by entrepreneurs.

What makes this book so awesome? It is simple really. While most business content is often dedicated to making the right decisions, Ben, the author of the Hard Thing about Hard things has a different approach. He encourages the truth about having a business; screw-up’s are unavoidable and will always happen. This happens no matter how many hours you put into planning the perfect business. Ben highlights all the major issues that have took place during his time as the owner of billion dollar corporations. He also talks about how his team made various decision, which led, to either improvements, or further screw-ups.

It is a common concept that entrepreneurship is all about highs and lows and Ben outlines some of the hardest decision he had to make and the awful situations he faced. This book paints the ugly truth without any sugarcoating of what life can be like during low levels. What makes the book a masterpiece is that it portrays what one might face as an entrepreneur.

CEO Lessons

CEO’s  of Peacetime vs. Wartime.

Here, peacetime bosses are those who are goal oriented people and plan long-term.

For example: culture builders, goal setters, having backup plans and keeping conflict to a minimum.

On the other hand, Wartime bosses are those who do not care about anyone else ad only give importance to their immediate needs.

For example: Violating all protocol, has zero dedication towards reading books about setting goals, does not bother having a backup plan and creates unnecessary conflict.

·         No Silver Bullets To Solve Problems or Recipes to Success.

No one has a recipe book for running a company successfully. Fully based on trial and error, the only thing that can be done is motivating team members when things fall apart.

·         Embrace The Struggle – Keep A Clear Head

The biggest change comes into motion only when you think life is a constant struggle. The moments where you wish to hide away is when your role as the owner is most important. The chances of success are 1 in 10,000; make use of this number and start formulating a plan.

Live life like a warrior. Make every decision and take every chance as if it may be your last day on Earth. Live everyday as if it is your last.

·         Tell It As It Is.

The biggest challenge is resisting the urge to be over-optimistic during difficult times. Learn to stand up and face difficult moments and tell the truth as it is. A healthy business consists of a culture of trust where the discussion of bad news takes freely.

·         Rearticulate The Worst-Case Situation.

Continuously coming up with the worst scenario is not helpful and neither is it healthy. Thinking of worst-case scenarios such as losing your house, disappoint clients and watch your reputation fall will not prevent them from happening.

Instead, question your thoughts, ‘What would I do if we were to go bankrupt?’ This is a much better approach to dealing with negative thoughts. It may even help you come up with an effective solution.

In the case of the author, the answer to the question was to start a new software company by using a self-made internal product.

·         It takes one person to slow down an entire organization

When  a huge business works on a big project, it takes only one person to slow down the entire process. A manager may feel that he or she does not have enough power to make a decision or an engineer might find himself wedged in a situation. All of these can cause delays, which may prove to be fatal. It is important to predetermine all blockages and get rid of them as soon as possible.

Watch out for Your People, Products and Profits (in that order)

It is of grave importance to always put your customer’s first. If you fail to do so, then the other two objects do not matter.

·         Relishing the work

Keeping work enjoyable and pleasurable for workers has numerous benefits. When the work environment is good, workers feel and become more efficient in the work they deliver. A good company is not one where hardships do not exist; instead, it is one where things always go wrong. What matters is how one overcomes these hardships.

·         Face the tough decisions Upfront

Instead of beating about the bush, it is necessary to face difficult decisions head on. A good CEO can acknowledge organizational issues before they lead to falling into debt. An example of this is choosing between leaving a popular project that is not part of the long-term or keeping it for future purposes. A good CEO makes the hard, yet beneficial decision of letting the project go.

·         Appointments

A thing to remember is that no human can be perfect. This means that there can never be a perfect employee. When hiring employees, it is better to hire them for their willingness to tackle and overcome their weaknesses.

When things go well, there are many reasons to stay at a company —

·         Careers grow as the business grows. Attractive jobs naturally open up when this happens

Working efficiently means a higher chance of helping the company you are working for to grow. This is a win-win situation, as you will automatically open doors to better opportunities.

In addition to this, you also build a much stronger resume and – well, you become rich.

 

All of these benefits seem fine. However, they are not enough to keep a person from leaving when things get hard. The only thing that can keep an employee from not fleeing when things get hard is if he or she genuinely likes working for company.

Therefore, to make sure that you choose the right people to extend your team, the book provides the following advice:

·         Hire for strength rather than lack of weakness

Have a clear mindset and never expect the perfect employee. In the real world, there is no such thing as ‘perfect.’

When making the final decision, do not involve a group of people. Decisions made in groups often take it

Minimize Politics

Often at times, the people holding higher positions get all the credit for hard work. This can lead to a lack of joy in the workplace and reduce employee efficiency.

Important principles for managing:

          Always hire the right kind of ambition: such employees always keep the success of the company in mind rather than their own success.

          Set strict policies on evaluation of employee performance, promotions and compensations. Never give an employee an overcompensation.

          Give promotions to employees based on innovation, management skills and their cooperative abilities.

          Keep regular meetings for manager to employee communication and feedback. These meetings can be valuable for employees to express their ideas, issues and frustrations.

Peter Principle

The promotion of members of a hierarchy takes place while they work efficiently. They get promoted to a new position where their level of incompetency is high. This puts them in a black hole of never earning another promotion and being stuck in a role they do not do well in.

It is best not to follow the ‘Peter Principle.’ Keeping the advice mentioned above in mind can help one avoid this principle.

Summary

The Hard Thing about Hard Things narrates the story of the author as it happened. This gives the readers a sense of realism on how to solve their problems. It is a well-known phrase that success is defined by how many difficult conversations you are willing to have, and this book is the key to understanding this concept. It provides you with the necessary tools required to deal with situations where standing up becomes necessary.

Only reading an overview is not the same as reading the entire book. If you wish to have these lessons imbedded in your memory, then reading the book may be beneficial. Read the book and let the struggle to succeed push you to do better.