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My recommendation: 10/10

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Summary of notes and ideas

I have yet to read a book that has been as clear cut, spot-on and helpful in regard to the how to start and run a company.

As I listened to the audio book, I have don’t notes available. Please refer to the ones I have copied from here.

Chapter 1: From Communist to Venture Capitalist

  • There’s no recipe for really complicated, dynamic situations. That’s the hard thing about hard things – there is no formula for dealing with them. Nonetheless, there are many bits of advice and experience that can help with the hard things.
  • Circumstances may differ, but deeper patterns and the lessons keep resonating.
  • Horowitz shares his experiences in the hope of providing clues and inspiration for others who find themselves in the struggle to build something out of nothing.
  • There are no shortcuts to knowledge, especially knowledge gained from personal experience. Following conventional wisdom and relying on shortcuts can be worse than knowing nothing at all.
  • Former secretary of state Colin Powell says that leadership is the ability to get someone to follow you even if only out of curiosity.
  • Looking at the world through different prisms helped Horowitz separate facts from perception. This ability would serve him incredibly well later when he became an entrepreneur and CEO.
  • In particularly dire circumstances when the “facts” seemed to dictate a certain outcome, he learned to look for alternative narratives and explanations coming from radically different perspectives to inform his outlook. The simple existence of an alternate plausible scenario was often all he needed to keep hope alive among a worried workforce.
  • When looking to raise money, look for a market of one. You only need one investor to say yes, so it’s best to ignore the other thirty who say “no”.

Chapter 2: “I Will Survive”

  • No matter who you are, you need two kinds of friends in your life. The first kind is one you can call when something good happens, and you need someone who will be excited for you. Someone who will be more excited for you than he would be if it had happened to him. The second kind of friend is somebody you can call when things go horrible wrong – when your life is on the line and you have only one phone call.
  • Advice from Michael Ovitz of CAA – “Gentlemen, I’ve done many deals in my lifetime and through that process, I’ve developed a methodology, a way of doing things, a philosophy if you will. Within that philosophy, I have certain beliefs. I believe in artificial deadlines. I believe in playing one against the other. I believe in doing everything and anything short of illegal or immoral to get the damned deal done.”

Chapter 3: This time With Feeling

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