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What You Do Is Who You Are: How to Create Your Business Culture

What You Do Is Who You Are: How to Create Your Business Culture

Written by Ben Horowitz

Narrated by Kevin Kenerly


What You Do Is Who You Are: How to Create Your Business Culture

Written by Ben Horowitz

Narrated by Kevin Kenerly

ratings:
4.5/5 (242 ratings)
Length:
6 hours
Publisher:
Released:
Oct 29, 2019
ISBN:
9780062967589
Format:
Audiobook

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Also available as ebookEbook

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Description

Ben Horowitz, a leading venture capitalist, modern management expert, and New York Times bestselling author, combines lessons both from history and from modern organizational practice with practical and often surprising advice to help executives build cultures that can weather both good and bad times.

Ben Horowitz has long been fascinated by history, and particularly by how people behave differently than you'd expect. The time and circumstances in which they were raised often shapes them—yet a few leaders have managed to shape their times. In What You Do Is Who You Are, he turns his attention to a question crucial to every organization: how do you create and sustain the culture you want?

To Horowitz, culture is how a company makes decisions. It is the set of assumptions employees use to resolve everyday problems: should I stay at the Red Roof Inn, or the Four Seasons? Should we discuss the color of this product for five minutes or thirty hours? If culture is not purposeful, it will be an accident or a mistake.

What You Do Is Who You Are explains how to make your culture purposeful by spotlighting four models of leadership and culture-building—the leader of the only successful slave revolt, Haiti's Toussaint Louverture; the Samurai, who ruled Japan for seven hundred years and shaped modern Japanese culture; Genghis Khan, who built the world's largest empire; and Shaka Senghor, a man convicted of murder who ran the most formidable prison gang in the yard and ultimately transformed prison culture.

Horowitz connects these leadership examples to modern case-studies, including how Louverture's cultural techniques were applied (or should have been) by Reed Hastings at Netflix, Travis Kalanick at Uber, and Hillary Clinton, and how Genghis Khan's vision of cultural inclusiveness has parallels in the work of Don Thompson, the first African-American CEO of McDonalds, and of Maggie Wilderotter, the CEO who led Frontier Communications. Horowitz then offers guidance to help any company understand its own strategy and build a successful culture.

What You Do Is Who You Are is a journey through culture, from ancient to modern. Along the way, it answers a question fundamental to any organization: who are we? How do people talk about us when we're not around? How do we treat our customers? Are we there for people in a pinch? Can we be trusted?

Who you are is not the values you list on the wall. It's not what you say in company-wide meeting. It's not your marketing campaign. It's not even what you believe. Who you are is what you do. This book aims to help you do the things you need to become the kind of leader you want to be—and others want to follow.

Publisher:
Released:
Oct 29, 2019
ISBN:
9780062967589
Format:
Audiobook

Also available as...

Also available as ebookEbook

About the author

Ben Horowitz is the cofounder and general partner of Andreessen Horowitz, a Silicon Valley–based venture capital firm that invests in entrepreneurs building the next generation of leading technology companies. The firm's investments include Airbnb, GitHub, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. Previously he was cofounder and CEO of Opsware, formerly Loudcloud, which was acquired by Hewlett-Packard for $1.6 billion in 2007. Horowitz writes about his experiences and insights from his career as a computer science student, software engineer, cofounder, CEO, and investor in a blog that is read by nearly ten million people. He has also been featured in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the New Yorker, Fortune, the Economist, and Bloomberg Businessweek, among others. Horowitz lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife, Felicia.


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Reviews

What people think about What You Do Is Who You Are

4.5
242 ratings / 15 Reviews
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Reader reviews

  • (5/5)
    Very skillful digging into historical leaders’ lives to draw principles applicable to business management
  • (5/5)
    The book gives great advice if you’re starting or relaunching a company.
  • (5/5)
    I love hip hop, I love great stories, and I love getting better as a person in business. Ben has combined all three of these masterfully, and has great insights at what is important when setting cultures.
  • (3/5)
    I think that Ben Horowitz has an important message to pass in this book - that culture matters and leaders of organizations need to intentionally shape it through their decisions and behavior. It's a pity that it is so hard to get it through the structure of this book.I liked Ben's take on culture - there is no silver bullet culture that can be replicated to guarantee the success, it's complimentary to strategy, it's evolving and leaders need to be aware of those small changes to respond to them. I enjoyed the most the last part of the book with tactical solutions, real-life examples, and suggestions coming straight from the author. Small bites, but very tasty. I wish the main course was as good as the dessert.Unfortunately, the main part of the book is hard to digest. First of all, it is repetitive - you'll read the same thing at least three times: in the context of a historical figure, a modern business leader, and in the summary. And I don't think that neither historical reference nor summary brings any additional value, just making the book longer and the message harder to pass.Secondly, stories of the past are presented very selectively to reinforce author's narrative about culture and remain silent about the facts that contradict it. Often you will also find confusing examples that make the whole "inspired by history" thing questionable. E.g. importance of integrity is called out many times throughout the book, but historical figures praised by the author break their own rules often while enforcing others to follow them.Lastly, Ben admits that culture is a very complex thing and it's hard to explain or see how it works... and then oversimplifies social and organizational mechanisms to create catchy sounding rules that are supposed to be verified by the success of a companies that use them. I feel like there is a number of factors contributing to their success and drawing a straight line from e.g. using doors as desks in Amazon to its multibillion revenues is too much of a stretch.Overall, there are many interesting thoughts, ideas, and examples in this book... that could be contained in a long blogpost or a few articles. Burring them deeply into the historical context of questionable leaders makes the book too long and its possible impact less powerful.
  • (5/5)
    Ben horowitz is truly the best author for entrepreneurs who are growing their companies. His experience outweights many of conventional writers on business growth. This author is able to combine real life study cases with theoric concepts in a clarifying way. It's really advisable to read his works.
  • (5/5)
    Easy to digest great samples great book you need to read it
  • (5/5)
    Another great book from the legendary Ben Horowitz that impacts me profoundly
  • (5/5)
    Found Ben Horowitz insights into culture and his examples from history extremely helpful. He brings examples from various non tech fields and tries to form suggestions on how they can be applied now.
  • (5/5)
    Even better than his first book, "The Hard Thing about Hard Things."
  • (5/5)

    1 person found this helpful

    Excellent explanation about organization culture with a good example. I loved the story of Toussaint Louverture leading the Haitian Revolution.

    1 person found this helpful

  • (5/5)

    4 people found this helpful

    I wasn't sure what to expect from the title, but I was pleasantly surprised by the direction the book took. As a leader at a small to mid-sized startup, culture is something we intentionally focus on with each move but defining what our culture should be is easier said than done.

    This book successfully delivered a framework on how to define a culture that aligns with your company's goals and the leader's DNA. It was a thought provoking experience that I'd recommend to any leader.

    4 people found this helpful

  • (3/5)
    The book is more about culture, could have been shorter
  • (5/5)

    2 people found this helpful

    Best book on organizational culture I’ve ever read, by far. Every entrepreneur and every leader should read things, and will gain insights and wisdom into human behavior and how to shape that at the organizational level.

    2 people found this helpful

  • (4/5)

    1 person found this helpful

    Really fascinating. Lots of great examples. Highly recommend you check it out. I especially liked the chapters about the heterodox McDonald’s CEO Don Thompson. The stuff on Genghis Khan is also great.

    1 person found this helpful

  • (5/5)

    1 person found this helpful

    This is my first read of the year and the decade. What a fabulous way to start! Ben Horowitz has put together a timeless work with this book. Makes me proud to be a fellow GenXer.

    1 person found this helpful