Notes & Quotes: The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz

The following are my favorite quotes from Ben Horowitz's The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers.
  1. There are no shortcuts to knowledge, especially knowledge gained from personal experience.
  2. Former Secretary of State Colin Powell says that leadership is the ability to get someone to follow you even if only out of curiosity.
  3. Some things are much easier to see in others than in yourself.
  4. Innovation requires a combination of knowledge, skill, and courage.
  5. It matters not whether your chances are nine in ten or one in a thousand; your task is the same.
  6. In any human interaction, the required amount of communication is inversely proportional to the level of trust.
  7. The good of the individual must be sacrificed for the good of the whole.
  8. All mental energy you use to elaborate your misery would be far better used trying to find the one seemingly impossible way out of your current mess. Spend zero time on what you could have done, and devote all of your time on what you might do. Because in the end, nobody cares.
  9. You must recognize that anything you measure automatically creates a set of employee behaviors. Once you determine the result you want, you need to test the description of the result against the employee behaviors that the description will likely create. Otherwise, the side-effect behaviors may be worse than the situation you were trying to fix.
  10. Sometimes an organization doesn't need a solution; it just needs clarity.
  11. At a macro level, a company will be the most successful if the senior managers optimize for the company's success (think of this as a global optimization) as opposed to their own personal success (local optimization).
  12. People who use the "me" prism find it natural and obvious to speak in terms of "building out my resume" while people use the "team" prism find such phrases to be somewhat uncomfortable and awkward, because they clearly indicate an individual goal that is separate from the team goal.
  13. The Law of Crappy People states: For any title level in a large organization, the talent on that level will eventually converge to the crappiest person with this title.
  14. [Marc] Andreessen argues that people ask for many things from a company: salary, bonus, stock options, span of control, and titles. Of those, title is by far the cheapest, so it makes sense to give the highest titles possible. The hierarchy should have Presidents, Chiefs, and Senior Executive Vice Presidents. If it makes people feel better, let them feel better. Titles cost nothing.
  15. A company is a team effort and, no matter how high an employee’s potential, you cannot get value from him unless he does his work in a manner in which he can be relied upon.
  16. The proper reason to hire a senior person is to acquire knowledge and experience in a specific area.
  17. Some questions that I’ve found to be very effective in one-on-ones:   If we could improve in any way, how would we do it?   What’s the number-one problem with our organization? Why?   What’s not fun about working here?   Who is really kicking ass in the company? Whom do you admire?   If you were me, what changes would you make?   What don’t you like about the product?   What’s the biggest opportunity that we’re missing out on?   What are we not doing that we should be doing?   Are you happy working here?
  18. The primary thing that any technology startup must do is build a product that’s at least ten times better at doing something than the current prevailing way of doing that thing. Two or three times better will not be good enough to get people to switch to the new thing fast enough or in large enough volume to matter. The second thing that any technology startup must do is to take the market. If it’s possible to do something ten times better, it’s also possible that you won’t be the only company to figure that out. Therefore, you must take the market before somebody else does.
  19. Design a way of working that will: Distinguish you from competitors. Ensure that critical operating values persist such as delighting customers or making beautiful products. Help you identify employees who fit with your mission.
  20. All desks at Amazon.com for all time would be built by buying cheap doors from Home Depot and nailing legs to them. These door desks are not great ergonomically, nor do they fit with Amazon.com’s $150 billion–plus market capitalization, but when a shocked new employee asks why she must work on a makeshift desk constructed out of random Home Depot parts, the answer comes back with withering consistency: “We look for every opportunity to save money so that we can deliver the best products for the lowest cost.”
  21. Perks are good, but they are not culture.
  22. Basic steps to organizational design:
    1. Figure out what needs to be communicated. Start by listing the most important knowledge and who needs to have it. For example, knowledge of the product architecture must be understood by engineering, QA, product management, marketing, and sales.
    2. Figure out what needs to be decided. Consider the types of decisions that must get made on a frequent basis: feature selection, architectural decisions, how to resolve support issues. How can you design the organization to put the maximum number of decisions under the domain of a designated manager?
    3. Prioritize the most important communication and decision paths. Is it more important for product managers to understand the product architecture or the market? Is it more important for engineers to understand the customer or the architecture? Keep in mind that these priorities will be based on today’s situation. If the situation changes, then you can reorganize.
    4. Decide who’s going to run each group. Notice that this is the fourth step, not the first. You want to optimize the organization for the people—for the people doing the work—not for the managers. Most large mistakes in organizational design come from putting the individual ambitions of the people at the top of the organization ahead of the communication paths for the people at the bottom of the organization. Making this step four will upset your managers, but they will get over it.
    5.  Identify the paths that you did not optimize. As important as picking the communication paths that you will optimize is identifying the ones that you will not. Just because you deprioritized them doesn’t mean they are unimportant. If you ignore them entirely, they will surely come back to bite you.
    6. Build a plan for mitigating the issues identified in step five. Once you’ve identified the likely issues, you will know the processes you will need to build to patch the impending cross-organizational challenges.
  23. Evaluating people against the future needs of the company based on a theoretical view of how they will perform is counterproductive.
  24. The most important thing that I learned as an entrepreneur was to focus on what I needed to get right and stop worrying about all the things that I did wrong or might do wrong.
  25. The key to getting to the right outcome was to keep from getting married to either the positive or the dark narrative.
  26. Tip to aspiring entrepreneurs: If you don’t like choosing between horrible and cataclysmic, don’t become CEO.
  27. Focus on where you are going rather than on what you hope to avoid.
  28. In life, everybody faces choices between doing what’s popular, easy, and wrong versus doing what’s lonely, difficult, and right.
  29. Every time you make the hard, correct decision you become a bit more courageous and every time you make the easy, wrong decision you become a bit more cowardly.
  30. So what makes people want to follow a leader? We look for three key traits: The ability to articulate the vision. The right kind of ambition. The ability to achieve the vision.
  31. Truly great leaders create an environment where the employees feel that the CEO cares more about the employees than she cares about herself.
  32. Your goal should be for your feedback to open up rather than close down discussion.
  33. The CEO doesn’t have to be the creator of the vision. Nor does she have to be the creator of the story. But she must be the keeper of the vision and the story. As such, the CEO ensures that the company story is clear and compelling.
  34. I am telling this story today because just when you think there are things you can count on in business, you quickly find that the sky is purple. When this happens, it usually does no good to keep arguing that the sky is blue. You just have to get on and deal with the fact that it’s going to look like Barney for a while.
  35. The difference between being mediocre and magical is often the difference between letting people take creative risk and holding them too tightly accountable. Accountability is important, but it’s not the only thing that’s important.
  36. If I had a tattoo for every time I heard a CEO claim that she’d just hired “the best VP in the industry,” I’d be Lil Wayne.
  37. There are two kinds of cultures in this world: cultures where what you do matters and cultures where all that matters is who you are. You can be the former or you can suck.
  38. So, the judgment that you have to make is (a) is this market really much bigger (more than an order of magnitude) than has been exploited to date? and (b) are we going to be number one? If the answer to either (a) or (b) is no, then you should consider selling. If the answers to both are yes, then selling would mean selling yourself and your employees short.
If you enjoyed the quotes, read the book for yourself!
the ripening, notes, quotes, The Hard Thing About Hard Things, Ben Horowitz

Notes & Quotes - The Motivation Manifesto by Brendon Burchard

The following are my favorite quotes from Brendon Burchard's The Motivation Manifesto: 9 Declarations to Claim Your Personal Power.
  1. We must ask why we participate so humbly in society's frantic race, allowing ourselves into its mazes of mediocrity and settling for scraps of reward when nature has offered unlimited freedom, power, and abundance to the bold, the determined, the creative, the independent -- to each of us.
  2. Randomness and mediocrity too often ruled the day, and the loud and the needy dictated who we were and what we should do -- our lives becomes subject to the tyranny of fools.
  3. Permission to move forward with boldness is never given by the fearful masses.
  4. Well-being has been cast aside for wealth; success favored over sanity.
  5. Hurt has nothing to do with love, and love is unaffiliated with and unaffected by pain. Ego was hurt, no love. Love is diving; it is everywhere, ever present and abundant and free.
  6. Too often we don't call out a wrong or expect ourselves or others to act with routine integrity, excellence, or love.
  7. Humankind's motivation is to seek and experience Personal Freedom.
  8. Personal Freedom is liberty from the restrictions of social oppression and the tragic self-oppression that is fear.
  9. When freedom is gone, suffering sets in for all.
  10. The entitled are perhaps the most caged of all, slave to a grand fiction that the world owes them anything at all.
  11. It is only in active self-expression and pursuit of our own aims that we can become free.
  12. Our most difficult task is to defeat social oppression, the caging of our spirit and the stifling of our potential by others.
  13. Chasing the prizes that society tells us we must want can also drive us from our true self.
  14. The more we are true to ourselves, the more we can connect with and contribute to the world.
  15. None of us wants to be the cause of our own failure in life -- yet most often we are.  It is our own inept thinking, our own bad habits that rip the vibrancy from life. We are the ultimate oppressors of our own happiness.
  16. Personal power is directly tied to personal responsibility.
  17. Freedom requires responsibility to choose who we are above and beyond our immediate impulses, needs, and social pressures, so that we can genuinely express the type of person we want to be, live the life we truly we want to live, leave the legacy we desire.
  18. In life we seek Freedom, in death we are released into its vastness.
  19. Unless we are being chased by a deadly animal or deranged human, or face imminent physical harm like falling to our death, fear is just bad management of our mind.
  20. If we are not free, if we are not genuinely expressing our full personality and pursuing our true desires, it is because we are choosing to act from aversion rather than ascension.
  21. We must not worry what could go wrong but rather wonder what magnificence could enter our lives when we are consistently expressing our genuine selves and pursuing our true passions.
  22. If we are conscious to the existence of rude, ignorant, cruel people, then we can control our reaction when they emerge from the darkness and attempt to steal our light.
  23. A society so afflicted by ease and conformity always flinches at the arrival of those boldly seeking Personal Freedom.
  24. Most of the fear we feel in life is simply anxiety arising from our anticipation of two kinds of pain that change might bring: the pain associated with loss or hardship.
  25. The tools to manage the difficulties of life are within.
  26. Fear wins or Freedom wins, and I choose Freedom.
  27. Success and fulfillment in life rests on the unflagging ability to get up, to be ourselves, to chase our dreams with fire each day, to keep willing ourselves to the next level of presence and performance and potential.
  28. If we fail to master our motivation at an individual level, we cannot be happy; if we fail to maintain our motives for goodness at a societal level, all would be lost.
  29. Enlightenment comes when we realize happiness is a choice, sadness is a choice, anger is a choice, love is a choice. Every state, emotion, and mood available to Man can be generated at will in our mind.
  30. They appear, in the eyes of the mindless masses, to be the lucky ones, the chosen. In fact, they decided to choose.
  31. If we want more motivation in our lives, we must make clearer choices and more deeply commit to them.
  32. What grand pursuit or act of service will be satisfying to me and get me out of bed each morning?
  33. By deeply contemplating higher aims, we energize ourselves to pursue them.
  34. Desire without belief in self in ultimately deflating.
  35. Do not hope for motivation; choose an ambition to become motivated for.
  36. The real downfall for many people isn't that they are "unmotivated" people, but that they are simply distracted, too absentminded to sustain motivation.
  37. We often forget that it is sweat and toil toward meaningful pursuits that makes us truly alive.
  38. Greatness belongs to those who have mastered the ability to focus relentlessly on their ambitions and act decisively toward them.
  39. Two choices will amplify our motivation to another level: attitude and environment.
  40. Keeping one's attitude positive, especially when the world conspires to make us mad, is one of the greatest accomplishments of life.
  41. For motivation's sake, we must be vigilant and surround ourselves with genuine and positive people who seek positive aims with positive attitudes.
  42. We should love the spaces we spend our time in, and if we do not, we should make immediate changes.
  43. Choose an ambition and, with full force, expect that it is possible and that you can make it happen. Give constant attention and committed effort to your dreams, and your motivation will perpetuate itself. Demonstrate a positive attitude as you strive for great things and take care to create a supportive environment around you that amplifies your motivation.
  44. Each day there are a million divine wonders, acts of human kindness, and beautiful sights. Yet we are too checked out or busy thinking about yesterday or tomorrow to even sense the magic.
  45. Unless recounting its joys or looking for its lessons that may help us Now, it is best to release the past entirely.
  46. There is nothing wrong with journeying into the future if it brings joy or instruction. But that journey must be brief and never come at the expense of owning the hour.
  47. Playing the director of our own movie gives us the ability to choose our entire character and life's arc.
  48. Be conscious of the information entering our minds.
  49. The sunshine of enlightenment spreads to those who understand that the moments must not go unnoticed and unlived.
  50. Freedom and greatness belong to those who master their day.
  51. Dedicating time in that first golden hour to planning our out schedule. That precious first hour must not be squandered, for our evening's dreams can easily be forgotten in daylight.
  52. No great person ever made history without having guilt thrown at them or suffering some backlash from those who didn't like or appreciate their independence, discipline, or single-mindedness.
  53. Our thoughts, more so than our circumstances, sabotage our freedom and success.
  54. Greatness belongs to those who have mastered their internal world.
  55. Heroism is taking action to do important things even when we are afraid. Cowardice is acting in accordance to our fears when our heart wishes to see us behave more nobly and courageously.
  56. We now know Defiance and its three serpent heads: Doubt questions our worth and course of action. Delay breeds indolence. Division closes the mind and heart.
  57. Great men and women don't give a damn if anyone approves.
  58. Let us remember this sad but sure truth: the only permission ever granted by society is permission to follow its norms and traditions.
  59. All the resources needed to win are within.
  60. Believing, in any form, that all those who have success and power are wicked, untrustworthy, hated -- and that we ourselves would become bad if we had the same success and power -- is desperate, ignorant, and dangerous.
  61. "First say to yourself what you would be; and then do what you have to do." Epictetus
  62. Today's thoughts and actions become our legacy.
  63. The Six Practices of Integrity
    1. Think before we act.
    2. Never commit to anything where we lack passion.
    3. Keep our word.
    4. Always treat others with respect.
    5. Tell the truth.
    6. Always favor action.
  64. We should all know that we can easily lose integrity when we are feeling or reacting to any of these things: impatience, disappointment, desperation, aggression, hurt, loyalty, and power.
  65. Love was never absent from our life. We simply allowed our awareness of it to diminish.
  66. To sense and amplify love, we do not need to love ourselves -- though let that be our goal as well. This popular fantasy that we must first love ourselves before loving others serves no one, for it merely gives us permission to await a good day to love others.
  67. Good people often fail to become great people because they avoid looking honestly at personal lives.
  68. A society that lacks good people willing to speak against evil or low standards can only devolve into darkness and mediocrity.
  69. When people do something wrong, they need to be told they are doing something wrong.
  70. We must learn to shape and confront others' beliefs and behaviors so that everyone is moving forward to a meaningful goal.
  71. The Nine Virtues of Greatness
    1. Let us demand honesty.
    2. Let us demand responsibility.
    3. Let us demand intelligence.
    4. Let us demand excellence.
    5. Let us demand courage.
    6. Let us demand respect for others.
    7. Let us demand vigilance.
    8. Let us demand service.
    9. Let us demand unity.
  72. The more senses we bring to the moment, the more time slows, the more a catalog of joyful vivid memories grows in our minds, the more life is filled with gratitude, and the more nourished our soul.
  73. THE 9 DECLARATIONS
    1. Meet life with full presence and power.
    2. Reclaim your agenda.
    3. Defeat your demons.
    4. Advance with abandon.
    5. Practice joy and gratitude.
    6. Do not break integrity.
    7. Amplify love.
    8. Inspire greatness.
    9. Slow time.
If you enjoyed the quotes, read the book.
the ripening, notes, quotes, The Motivation Manifesto, Brendon Burchard

Goals 16/17 - Introduction

This year I've decided to change things up.  Goals will be daily.  I will be able to respond with a simple yes or no.  I'm going to break things up into quarters and grade myself as if i were in college.  

I will also have 3 "layers" of goals.  The first is to "pass" or get a 2.0 GPA at the end of the year.  The next goal would be a 3.0.  Finally, a 4.0.  

A 2.0 represents that, cumulatively, i've completed at least 70% of my goals.

Here are my daily objectives:

  • Wake up by 7a (even on the weekends)
  • Drink one gallon of water per day
  • Meditate for ten minutes
  • Exercise for at least one minute (all-out)
  • Consume or create knowledge each day (read, write, listen to a podcast, etc)
I've already begun, and the year will end on the last day of my 31st year.