Ben Horowitz's favorite books

  • Skin in the Game

    Skin in the Game

    Skin in the Game

    Nassim Nicholas Taleb
    Business & Economics
    3.89 (18,649)

    #1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER * A bold work from the author of The Black Swan that challenges many of our long-held beliefs about risk and reward, politics and religion, finance and personal responsibility In his most provocative and practical book yet, one of the foremost thinkers of our time redefines what it means to understand the world, succeed in a profession, contribute to a fair and just society, detect nonsense, and influence others. Citing examples ranging from Hammurabi to Seneca, Antaeus the Giant to Donald Trump, Nassim Nicholas Taleb shows how the willingness to accept one's own risks is an essential attribute of heroes, saints, and flourishing people in all walks of life. As always both accessible and iconoclastic, Taleb challenges long-held beliefs about the values of those who spearhead military interventions, make financial investments, and propagate religious faiths. Among his insights: * For social justice, focus on symmetry and risk sharing. You cannot make profits and transfer the risks to others, as bankers and large corporations do. You cannot get rich without owning your own risk and paying for your own losses. Forcing skin in the game corrects this asymmetry better than thousands of laws and regulations. * Ethical rules aren't universal. You're part of a group larger than you, but it's still smaller than humanity in general. * Minorities, not majorities, run the world. The world is not run by consensus but by stubborn minorities imposing their tastes and ethics on others. * You can be an intellectual yet still be an idiot. "Educated philistines" have been wrong on everything from Stalinism to Iraq to low-carb diets. * Beware of complicated solutions (that someone was paid to find). A simple barbell can build muscle better than expensive new machines. * True religion is commitment, not just faith. How much you believe in something is manifested only by what you're willing to risk for it. The phrase "skin in the game" is one we have often heard but rarely stopped to truly dissect. It is the backbone of risk management, but it's also an astonishingly rich worldview that, as Taleb shows in this book, applies to all aspects of our lives. As Taleb says, "The symmetry of skin in the game is a simple rule that's necessary for fairness and justice, and the ultimate BS-buster," and "Never trust anyone who doesn't have skin in the game. Without it, fools and crooks will benefit, and their mistakes will never come back to haunt them."

    Ben Horowitz

    Belongs to top 5 reading list.

    Apr 7, 2020 — Source

  • High Output Management

    High Output Management

    High Output Management

    Andrew S. Grove
    Business & Economics
    4.31 (13,802)

    In this legendary business book and Silicon Valley staple, the former chairman and CEO of Intel shares his perspective on how to build and run a company. A practical handbook for navigating real-life business scenarios and a powerful management manifesto with the ability to revolutionize the way we work. The essential skill of creating and maintaining new businesses—the art of the entrepreneur—can be summed up in a single word: managing. Born of Grove’s experiences at one of America’s leading technology companies (as CEO and employee number three at Intel), High Output Management is equally appropriate for sales managers, accountants, consultants, and teachers, as well as CEOs and startup founders. Grove covers techniques for creating highly productive teams, demonstrating methods of motivation that lead to peak performance. "Generous enough with advice and observations to be required reading." —The Wall Street Journal

    Ben Horowitz

    A true masterpiece, and there are at least three core aspects to its genius.

    Nov 13, 2015 — Source

  • The Black Jacobins
    Ben Horowitz

    my favorite leadership book ever and one of the great stories in human history

     — Source

  • Black Spartacus

    Black Spartacus

    Black Spartacus

    Sudhir Hazareesingh
    History
    3.94 (233)

    Winner of the 2021 Wolfson History Prize Shortlisted for the Baillie Gifford Prize | Finalist for the PEN / Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for Biography Named a best book of the year by the The Economist | Times Literary Supplement | New Statesman “Black Spartacus is a tour de force: by far the most complete, authoritative and persuasive biography of Toussaint that we are likely to have for a long time . . . An extraordinarily gripping read.” —David A. Bell, The Guardian A new interpretation of the life of the Haitian revolutionary Toussaint Louverture Among the defining figures of the Age of Revolution, Toussaint Louverture is the most enigmatic. Though the Haitian revolutionary’s image has multiplied across the globe—appearing on banknotes and in bronze, on T-shirts and in film—the only definitive portrait executed in his lifetime has been lost. Well versed in the work of everyone from Machiavelli to Rousseau, he was nonetheless dismissed by Thomas Jefferson as a “cannibal.” A Caribbean acolyte of the European Enlightenment, Toussaint nurtured a class of black Catholic clergymen who became one of the pillars of his rule, while his supporters also believed he communicated with vodou spirits. And for a leader who once summed up his modus operandi with the phrase “Say little but do as much as possible,” he was a prolific and indefatigable correspondent, famous for exhausting the five secretaries he maintained, simultaneously, at the height of his power in the 1790s. Employing groundbreaking archival research and a keen interpretive lens, Sudhir Hazareesingh restores Toussaint to his full complexity in Black Spartacus. At a time when his subject has, variously, been reduced to little more than a one-dimensional icon of liberation or criticized for his personal failings—his white mistresses, his early ownership of slaves, his authoritarianism —Hazareesingh proposes a new conception of Toussaint’s understanding of himself and his role in the Atlantic world of the late eighteenth century. Black Spartacus is a work of both biography and intellectual history, rich with insights into Toussaint’s fundamental hybridity—his ability to unite European, African, and Caribbean traditions in the service of his revolutionary aims. Hazareesingh offers a new and resonant interpretation of Toussaint’s racial politics, showing how he used Enlightenment ideas to argue for the equal dignity of all human beings while simultaneously insisting on his own world-historical importance and the universal pertinence of blackness—a message which chimed particularly powerfully among African Americans. Ultimately, Black Spartacus offers a vigorous argument in favor of “getting back to Toussaint”—a call to take Haiti’s founding father seriously on his own terms, and to honor his role in shaping the postcolonial world to come.

    Ben Horowitz

    A surprising and complex story of ex-slave Toussaint Louverture, who led Haitis slave uprising

    Aug 27, 2020 — Source

  • The Innovator's Dilemma

    The Innovator's Dilemma

    The Innovator's Dilemma

    Clayton M. Christensen
    Business & Economics
    4.03 (44,530)

    Named one of 100 Leadership & Success Books to Read in a Lifetime by Amazon Editors A Wall Street Journal and Businessweek bestseller. Named by Fast Company as one of the most influential leadership books in its Leadership Hall of Fame. An innovation classic. From Steve Jobs to Jeff Bezos, Clay Christensen’s work continues to underpin today’s most innovative leaders and organizations. The bestselling classic on disruptive innovation, by renowned author Clayton M. Christensen. His work is cited by the world’s best-known thought leaders, from Steve Jobs to Malcolm Gladwell. In this classic bestseller—one of the most influential business books of all time—innovation expert Clayton Christensen shows how even the most outstanding companies can do everything right—yet still lose market leadership. Christensen explains why most companies miss out on new waves of innovation. No matter the industry, he says, a successful company with established products will get pushed aside unless managers know how and when to abandon traditional business practices. Offering both successes and failures from leading companies as a guide, The Innovator’s Dilemma gives you a set of rules for capitalizing on the phenomenon of disruptive innovation. Sharp, cogent, and provocative—and consistently noted as one of the most valuable business ideas of all time—The Innovator’s Dilemma is the book no manager, leader, or entrepreneur should be without.

    Ben Horowitz

    a great book on strategy.

     — Source

  • The Lean Startup

    The Lean Startup

    The Lean Startup

    Eric Ries
    Business & Economics
    4.10 (257,583)

    Outlines a revisionist approach to management while arguing against common perceptions about the inevitability of startup failures, explaining the importance of providing genuinely needed products and services as well as organizing a business that can adapt to continuous customer feedback.

    Ben Horowitz

    I think if it’s a little company, Eric Ries’s book is great, The Lean Startup.

    Oct 24, 2019 — Source

  • Only the Paranoid Survive

    Only the Paranoid Survive

    Only the Paranoid Survive

    Andrew S. Grove
    American fiction
    Business & Economics
    3.98 (7,729)

    Andy Grove, founder and former CEO of Intel shares his strategy for success as he takes the reader deep inside the workings of a major company in Only the Paranoid Survive. Under Andy Grove's leadership, Intel became the world's largest chip maker and one of the most admired companies in the world. In Only the Paranoid Survive, Grove reveals his strategy for measuring the nightmare moment every leader dreads--when massive change occurs and a company must, virtually overnight, adapt or fall by the wayside--in a new way. Grove calls such a moment a Strategic Inflection Point, which can be set off by almost anything: mega-competition, a change in regulations, or a seemingly modest change in technology. When a Strategic Inflection Point hits, the ordinary rules of business go out the window. Yet, managed right, a Strategic Inflection Point can be an opportunity to win in the marketplace and emerge stronger than ever. Grove underscores his message by examining his own record of success and failure, including how he navigated the events of the Pentium flaw, which threatened Intel's reputation in 1994, and how he has dealt with the explosions in growth of the Internet. The work of a lifetime, Only the Paranoid Survive is a classic of managerial and leadership skills.

    Ben Horowitz

    a great book on strategy

     — Source

  • Lenin
    Ben Horowitz

    A thrilling biography that provides great insight into how Communism works in practice.

    Apr 7, 2020 — Source

  • Focus

    Focus

    Focus

    Al Ries
    Business & Economics
    4.05 (579)

    What's the secret to a company's continued growth and prosperity? Internationally known marketing expert Al Ries has the answer: focus. His commonsense approach to business management is founded on the premise that long-lasting success depends on focusing on core products and eschewing the temptation to diversify into unrelated enterprises. Using real-world examples, Ries shows that in industry after industry, it is the companies that resist diversification, and focus instead on owning a category in consumers' minds, that dominate their markets. He offers solid guidance on how to get focused and how to stay focused, laying out a workable blueprint for any company's evolution that will increase market share and shareholder value while ensuring future success.

    Ben Horowitz

    excellent on branding, naming, and marketing.

     — Source

  • Writing My Wrongs

    Writing My Wrongs

    Writing My Wrongs

    Shaka Senghor
    Biography & Autobiography
    4.23 (3,525)

    In life, it's not how you start that matters. It's how you finish. In the 1980s Shaka Senghor was an honor roll student and dreamed of becoming a doctor. In 1991 he was sent to prison for second-degree murder. During his 19-year incarceration, seven of which were spent in solitary confinement, Senghor discovered literature, meditation, and self-examination. He used these tools to confront the demons of his past, forgive the people who hurt him, and begin atoning for the wrongs he had committed. At his release at age 38 he became an activist and mentor to young men and women facing circumstances like his.

    Ben Horowitz

    The memoir of a man who went to prison for 19 years, then became an author and MIT fellow.

    Apr 7, 2020 — Source

  • My American Journey
    Ben Horowitz

    Very, very interesting on leadership.

    Oct 24, 2019 — Source