Venture capitalist Ben Horowitz’s The Hard Thing About Hard Things (2014) is one of the best business books I’ve read in a long time. Here’s what he says about how he and Marc Andreessen have worked effectively in partnership across three companies over two decades:
Most business relationships either become too tense to tolerate or not tense enough to be productive after a while. Either people challenge each other to the point where they don’t like each other or they become complacent about each other’s feedback and no longer benefit from the relationship. With Marc and me, even after eighteen years, he upsets me almost every day by finding something wrong in my thinking, and I do the same for him. It works.
Close relationships—at work or home—are tough. Nothing in life prepares you for them. But the intellectual and emotional rewards of close relationships are stimuli enough for navigating these choppy waters.
Disagreement is inevitable, but it is at the heart of creative thinking and problem-solving. An unassuming disagreement—even a misunderstanding—can cause tensions to rise. Differences of opinion can turn into disputes and arguments can cascade into fights, putting a relationship at risk.
The healthiest relationships are built on a strong foundation of mutual respect. A reciprocally beneficial connection entails accepting the others, knowing their goals, supporting them to become the best version of themselves, and wanting to work through difficulties and disagreements.