Take Care of the People, the Products, and the Profits

From The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz

This passage really resonated with me. There are a lot of crappy companies and a lot of disloyal employees. If a CEO cares about keeping a great team, he needs to make his company a great place to work. Things always go bad, and if your company is a crappy place to work, when things get hard, people will leave. Do yourself a favour and make your company a good place to work. Reward your employees, give promotions before they are asked for, and give visibility to people who have made huge achievements. Don’t let people get bored. And help them see the big picture that is how their  job at your company fits into their career.

In Ben’s words:

  • 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.
  • Things always go wrong.
  • Being a good company is an end in itself.

When things go well, the reasons to stay at the company are many:

  • Your career path is wide open because as the company grows lots of interesting jobs naturally open up.
  • Your friends and family think you are a genius for choosing to work at the “it” company before anyone else knew it was “it”.
  • Your résumé gets stronger by working at a blue-chip company in its heyday.
  • Oh and hey you’re getting rich.

Things Always Go Wrong

There has never been a company in the history of the world that had a monotonically increasing stock price. In bad companies, when the economics disappear, so do the employees, the spiral begins: The company declines in value, the best employees leave, the company declines in value, the best employees leave. Spirals are extremely difficult to reverse.

 

Outlier Economy

In Malcolm Gladwell’s novel “Outliers”, several examples are given for individuals who significantly outperformed their peers. Detailing all of the aligned elements in their lives from social economic factors, well in place before before their birth, to extremely well timed technological innovations, which all together gave the individuals an advantage for success which would only become apparent years later when every little margin of advantage added together turned into one extremely valuable constellation which would in turn enable them to achieve feats, and take advantage opportunities that are only available once in history.

The concept of outliers is not just a phenomenon of successful individuals. It applies to success in general in a society, and in the present labor economy which is more competitive than any other time in history.

As the factory model falls apart to a new technology of efficiency, we can’t just learn a skill to prosper. It is not enough to simply learn something valuable. It is just too easy to learn new skills. Anyone can learn the expertise of another from some Youtube videos in just a few lessons totaling less than a couple hours of learning and experimenting. The technology is not difficult to acquire, as technology becomes increasingly affordable, anyone can own the tools necessary to do the work of the pros.

In order to get the top 10% margin of benefits in this economy, you have to be your own outlier. Standing out beyond your peers in all ways possible. This includes all forms of minutiae in presentation, social etiquette, timing, experience, and specialty. You can’t just be good at learning, and motivated. You need to be sharper than the competition, have as much or more experience than the competition. Follow up better than the competition, keep a cooler head and speak with the vocabulary, make every moment perfect, and still somehow appear to be a killer deal as far as monetary commitment is concerned.