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What You Do Is Who You Are

How to Create Your Business Culture
Written by: Ben Horowitz
Narrated by: Kevin Kenerly
Length: 6 hrs and 12 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (33 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Ben Horowitz, a leading venture capitalist, modern management expert, and New York Times best-selling 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 30 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 700 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 audiobook aims to help you do the things you need to become the kind of leader you want to be - and others want to follow.

©2019 Ben Horowitz (P)2019 HarperAudio
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Great stories and very thought provoking.

Loved the different stories and examples he used through out the whole book. Really helps to simplify the ideas and makes them easier to resonate with.

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The best book on culture I've ever read

This was a pointed, well researched and organized thesis on corporate culture from someone with the experience to back up with battle scars.

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Great Read

Ben Horowitz has got to be my favourite author. Another amazing book, you will not be disappointed.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 2019-10-30

Life changing book!

Ben's references span from Daj Loaf (rapper) to the Haitain Revolution. The candid tone of the book makes it an entertaining and easy listen because the word choice is colorful and creative, Ben Horowitz Style .

And to the grand point:

You set the tone by how you conduct yourself and what you accept from the people around you. The culture starts with you. You're either building your culture or destroying it.

I love Ben, who he is, what he does and his family. I love this book and will look forward to the next one.

Peace

8 people found this helpful

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  • Gordon Ebanks
  • 2019-10-31

Culture eats strategy for breakfast

Peter Drucker said, 'culture eats strategy for breakfast'. I'm not sure we are supposed to 'breakfast like a king' or even eat breakfast anymore but I digress. If you believe the quote, you should read the book. Twelve chapters of about 30 minutes that each might condense 500 years of history, or maybe the last 10 years, into a construct that you could use to evaluate or build a 'business' culture. It sometimes feels like fiction (it isn't) which helps to absorb the underlying messages. Highly recommended.

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  • Rohan S. Cole
  • 2019-12-27

great read

I listened to " The hard things about the hard things" earlier this year and thoroughly enjoyed not only how Ben broke things down but also the delivery by the reader. when I saw this one I had to get it and was not disappointed.
Business becomes its own ecosystem over time and it is good to see the experiences of others not only in a business sense but also in real life difficult situations and how they overcame and prospered. Not that we would want to become a gangster or a Khan but how to build the business on strong cultural principles so the operation can thrive without its founder. As I said before, great read/listen.

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  • R.
  • 2019-11-07

Another winner from Ben Horowitz

If you liked his previous work The Hard Things about Hard Things, then this is an automatic listen. This work is very practical and immediately useful info on shepherding the culture of organizations of all sizes, with non obvious examples and sources.

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  • bdizzle
  • 2019-11-04

Required Reading / Engineering & Business Leaders

Compelling set of historical examples of organizational culture building that are as illuminating as they are sometimes shocking. Ben does not trivialize the herculean effort required to change existing cultures as he provides a blueprint to build new ones. This should be required reading/listening for modern day leaders, across business, engineering and marketing functions (and honestly any organizational leader).

Strong audio performance drives home the message. Highly recommend.

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  • Ren Zar
  • 2020-02-20

Terrible narrator

The narrator is not experienced, he narrates every sentence as if there's a question mark in the middle of the sentence. this is extremely annoying to listen to regardless of what the content is.

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  • Paul
  • 2020-02-02

Not as good as "The Hard Thing About Hard Things"

I'm a fan of Ben Horowitz. His first book, "The Hard Thing About Hard Things" was an excellent read (or listen). I was excited when I heard about this book because I'm a big Simon Sinek fan and read a lot of books on organization and team culture. However, this book felt rushed. The historical stories are good, but incomplete, and only provided in the context to make a point. That's a common tactic, but doesn't reveal the whole truth. The book also didn't flow as nicely. I'll continue to read Ben's books, but I wish he took a little more time to piece this one together more completely.

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  • kivi kiran
  • 2019-12-24

By far the best read for the year!!

For everybody who is leading an organization / group that needs to set its culture..

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  • Anonymous User
  • 2019-12-19

Insightful

This is the second book from be horowitz that I've read and I again have found it candid and enlightening. He goes into great depth to unpack the concept and power of culture that I previously didn't consider. I found some great tips and information in this book.

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  • Roy
  • 2019-12-14

Big picture - global view - culture mastery

Amazing book that takes you around the world and back to find the culture that is right for your company!

1 person found this helpful