Book Sips #13— ‘What You Do Is Who You Are’ by Ben Horowitz

Alexander Hipp
May 1, 2020 · 2 min read

“If you see something below standard and do nothing, then you’ve set a new standard.” This sentence sums up this book nicely in my opinion. 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 shape 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 colour of this product for five minutes or thirty hours? If culture is not purposeful, it will be an accident or a mistake.

A sip:

“Culture is not like a mission statement; you can’t just set it up and have it last forever. There’s a saying in the military that if you see something below standard and do nothing, then you’ve set a new standard. This is also true of culture, if you see something off-culture and ignore it, you’ve created a new culture.”
― Ben Horowitz

What You Do Is Who You Are

How to Create Your Business Culture
by Ben Horowitz

Why read?

Ben takes incredible stories of turn around leaders and culture creators from across history and moves the business culture discussion from Uber, WeWork, Apple and Amazon to a time that the reader has no ability to justify. A Haitian slave — who defeated Europe’s superpowers and Shaka Senghor — a man convicted of murder who ran the most formidable prison gang in history and then transformed prison culture for the better. Read it and remember culture comes from the top and it’s not just what people say and do when you’re not there it most definitely is who you are.

288 pages, HarperBusiness 2019

Get this book (amazon.com, amazon.de)

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Alexander Hipp

Written by

Founder of Beyond, PM Library & Riptide, Ex-N26, Co-Organizer of Product Tank Hamburg & Barcelona

PM Library

With the PM Library, we help you explore new books and topics around tech, business and design because we believe reading is essential to building better products and growing in our careers. We are a team of dedicated product people based in Barcelona, London and Munich.

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