What You Do Is Who You Are: How to Create Your Business Culture

What You Do Is Who You Are: How to Create Your Business Culture Details

Ben Horowitz, a leading venture capitalist, modern management expert, and New York Times bestselling 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 thirty 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 seven hundred 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 book aims to help you do the things you need to become the kind of leader you want to be—and others want to follow.

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    What You Do Is Who You Are: How to Create Your Business Culture Reviews

  • Julia Gaffield

    Lessons in Leadership ConservatismIn What You Do Is Who You Are, venture-capitalist and NYT best-selling author, Ben Horowitz, turns to history to teach CEOs and business leaders how they can shape an...

  • Frank Chen

    I've worked in Ben Horowitz designed cultures for decades (Netscape, Loudcloud, Opsware, Andreessen Horowitz). So it was fun & fascinating to go behind-the-scenes to understand his detailed thinking b...

  • Kair Ksper

    After The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers, this book was a disappointment. Here’s a few reasons:First - a large portion of this book could have been ...

  • Carl Rannaberg

    It was not as good as a book as Hard Things About Hard Things. But it reminded about many principles of how to create a culture in an organization. For example, your culture is what you tolerate. When...

  • Philip Joubert

    I've read dozens of management books and Ben Horowitz's latest book is unique among them. He writes in a real, no-bullshit way about the messy real-life situations that nobody else talks about. As an ...

  • Greg Bae

    In short summary: What you say means far less than what you do. Culture begins with deciding what you value most. Then you must help everyone in your organization to get there. Creating culture is bei...

  • Jacek Bartczak

    "I don't how people behave in this company" - if you have ever said that it means that book is for you. I've never had a pleasure to meet such tangible content about the company's culture. I guess the...

  • Lori

    What a mess. What a waste of time. He berated Hillary Clinton for taking responsibility for things that weren’t enticing her control and lauds Mary Barra, who spent 38 years in multiple departments ...

  • Faye Zheng

    (Read for book club at work)Trade-offs: On the one hand, Horowitz is not a historian and the way he chose to structure the book was bizarre. On the other, there were enough good nuggets of food for th...

  • Sebastian Gebski

    I respect BH as a very smart person with incredible experience. Even people who have so much to share don't have to be great in sharing - fortunately BH is. I don't like his interviews, I find some of...