Talking with friends and subscribers, I often find myself referencing books that I read and how that's influenced my thinking. In an attempt to consolidate and drive more value specifically for startup investors, I'll be test driving a new format called "The Bookish Investor" (working title.) This type of content is very popular, as you'll see at the bottom, and I will outsource much of my work to those sites. The specific value add here is to deliver a recommendation as well as specific takeaways for the startup investor. I will only write these posts for books I've actually read/listened to completion. As always, feedback welcome, feel free to comment on this post or write me at—thanks!



Horowitz authoritatively introduces surprising structure to a popular and often "soft" concept that startups pursue (a strong "culture".) Horowitz, one half of Andreessen Horowitz, is also one of the gold-standard venture capitalists in the Valley today. Book might be useful more useful to startup founders/operators.


  • To remember who you are, remember who your heroes are.
  • Accidental behaviors of leaders cause accidental precedent.
  • Ethics is about hard choices.
  • A16z's rules for treating founders: "Show on time, respond timely, give useful feedback, don't insult a founder in public, and tell the truth even if hard."
  • Many Muslim prison gangs in Michigan during Shaka Senghor's time.
  • Another way to drill home culture is constant contact.
  • Culture and strategy have to support each other, one does not eat the other.
  • Scarcity vs Abundance CEO
  • Different companies delivering different strengths will have different cultures they can pull off, there is no one size fits all (Amazon can't be Apple and vice versa.)


  • Case studies of four startling strong culture builders: Toussaint Louverture, the Samurai, Shaka Senghor, Genghis Khan
  • Maggie Frontier "Listening" tour
  • Clinton's laxness about email security causing Podesta's email leak
  • Kalahnick actually built a hyper intentional culture... but the competitive nature he built eventually became the dominant feature
  • Okta built integrity into their culture because their a cybersecurity company... this is pivotal.


  • To improve diversity on real diversity, and not tokenism, write job descriptions and have people with different backgrounds evaluate your job descriptions.
  • Tell thorough rules but also vivid stories to demonstrate points
  • Oprah's rule for interviewing "What is your intention?" "I will help you, but you have to trust me."

Bonus Resources

Book Notes: What you do is who you are (Horowitz) - WorkRemote
Andy’s notes on Ben Horowitz’s book, What you do is who you are. Enjoy this great summary, read the book and share your thoughts!
  • Shocking rules – so surprising that people ask why it’s here – will reinforce key cultural elements
  • virtues:  justice, courage, honor, loyalty, benevolence, politeness, self control, voracity/sincerity
What You Do Is Who You Are by Ben Horowitz [Book Summary] | Good Book Summaries [Daily Updated]
All business owners and CEO understand the significance of workplace culture, even if they might find it hard to explain it. Establishing the appropriate setting…
  • Good deep dives into each of the case studies