By Ben Horowitz
To whoever think their words affect me is too stupid
And if you can do it better than me, then you do it
—Kanye West, “Cold”
One obvious yet under-appreciated law of business physics is:
For any given company, the larger the company becomes, the more opportunities emerge to screw it up.
Another obvious but not well-understood law:
The more screwed up your company, the more people will complain about it and blame you.
If we take these two together, it is easy to see that without intervention, the larger your company becomes, the more people will complain and blame you.
This seems simple enough, but CEOs often fail to understand the logic, become overwhelmed by the criticism, lose confidence in themselves, and decide that they are no longer capable of running their own companies. This can be tragic as I explained in “Why We Prefer Founding CEOs.”
If you are a logical and open-minded person, it is difficult not to take a 10X increase in criticism seriously. More importantly, it’s difficult not to take a 10X increase in criticism personally. So how can a CEO keep from getting grounded into sawdust by complaints from her own people? The answer comes from a simple CEO aphorism: You either apply pressure or you feel pressure…….