People always ask me, “What’s the secret to being a successful CEO?” Sadly, there is no secret, but if there is one skill that stands out, it’s the ability to focus and make the best move when there are no good moves.
most important lesson in entrepreneurship: Embrace the struggle.
. 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;
My father turned to me and said, “Son, do you know what’s cheap?”
Since I had absolutely no idea what he was talking about, I replied, “No, what?”
“Flowers. Flowers are really cheap. But do you know what’s expensive?” he asked.
Again, I replied, “No, what?”
He said, “Divorce.”
If you investigate companies that have failed, you will find that many employees knew about the fatal issues long before those issues killed the company. If the employees knew about the deadly problems, why didn’t they say something? Too often the answer is that the company culture discouraged the spread of bad news, so the knowledge lay dormant until it was too late to act.
A healthy company culture encourages people to share bad news. A company that discusses its problems freely and openly can quickly solve them. A company that covers up its problems frustrates everyone involved. The resulting action item for CEOs: Build a culture that rewards—not punishes—people for getting problems into the open where they can be solved.
It’s a lonely job, but somebody has to do it.
Over the past ten years, technological advances have dramatically lowered the financial bar for starting a new company, but the courage bar for building a great company remains as high as it has ever been.
Being a good company doesn’t matter when things go well, but it can be the difference between life and death when things go wrong.
The block was a collection of hippies, crazy people, lower-class people working hard to move up, and upper-class people taking enough drugs to move down.
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.
Being a good company doesn’t matter when things go well, but it can be the difference between life and death when things go wrong.
Netflix’s CEO, Reed Hastings, put great effort into designing a system that enables employees to be maximally effective. His presentation of this design is called Reference Guide on Our Freedom and Responsibility Culture.
In life, everybody faces choices between doing what’s popular, easy, and wrong versus doing what’s lonely, difficult, and right.
Tip to aspiring entrepreneurs: If you don’t like choosing between horrible and cataclysmic, don’t become CEO.
Organizational design, process design, metrics, hiring, and firing were all relatively straightforward skills to master compared with keeping my mind in check.
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.
As CEO, you must consider the systemic incentives that result from your words and actions. While it may feel good in the moment to be open, responsive, and action oriented, be careful not to encourage all the wrong things.
I knew that the genius was still in him and I wanted us to find it. We never did. It turned out that Arthur was bipolar and had two significant drug problems: (1) He did not like taking his bipolar medication and (2) he was addicted to cocaine.
It’s important to me that the people who spend twelve to sixteen hours a day here, which is most of their waking life, have a good life. It’s why I come to work.
Bad product managers define good products that can’t be executed or let engineering build whatever they want (that is, solve the hardest problem).
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