A must read for any manager, CEO, or founder. This book is a guide to the hard, messy problems in business, such as layoffs, losing deals, and failing companies, instead of the "happy path" in other books. It really makes you appreciate how hard it is to run a company, both strategically and emotionally.
Marc: “Do you know the best thing about startups?”
Marc: “You only ever experience two emotions: euphoria and terror. And I find that lack of sleep enhances them both.”
If you're going to eat shit, don't nibble.
One of the most important management lessons for a founder/CEO is totally unintuitive. My single biggest personal improvement as CEO occurred on the day when I stopped being too positive.
Parcells: “Al, I am just not sure how we can win without so many of our best players. What should I do?”
Davis: “Bill, nobody cares, just coach your team.”
That might be the best CEO advice ever. Because, you see, nobody cares. When things go wrong in your company, nobody cares. The media don’t care, your investors don’t care, your board doesn’t care, your employees don’t care, and even your mama doesn’t care.
And they are right not to care. A great reason for failing won’t preserve one dollar for your investors, won’t save one employee’s job, or get you one new customer. It especially won’t make you feel one bit better when you shut down your company and declare bankruptcy.
Some things that you want to encourage will be quantifiable, and some will not. If you report on the quantitative goals and ignore the qualitative ones, you won’t get the qualitative goals, which may be the most important ones. Management purely by numbers is sort of like painting by numbers—it’s strictly for amateurs.
As a technology startup, from the day you start until your last breath, you will be in a furious race against time. No technology startup has a long shelf life. Even the best ideas become terrible ideas after a certain age. How would Facebook go if Zuckerberg started it last week?
The first rule of organizational design is that all organizational designs are bad. With any design, you will optimize communication among some parts of the organization at the expense of other parts.
The purpose of process is communication. If there are five people in your company, you don’t need process, because you can just talk to each other. You can hand off tasks with a perfect understanding of what’s expected, you pass important information from one person to another, and you can maintain high-quality transactions with no bureaucratic overhead. With four thousand people, communication becomes more difficult. Ad hoc, point-to-point communication no longer works. You need something more robust—a communication bus or, to use the conventional term for human communication buses, a process.
Tip to aspiring entrepreneurs: If you don’t like choosing between horrible and cataclysmic, don’t become CEO.