a16z Podcast

Companies & Culture: What You Do Is Who You Are

Ben Horowitz and Sonal Chokshi

Posted March 9, 2021

This podcast — which was recorded at the Computer History Museum in a live event, before the pandemic (first published in December 2019) is all about how companies create culture: A lot’s changed… and a lot hasn’t.

a16z editor in chief Sonal Chokshi interviews a16z co-founder Ben Horowitz — author of the book What You Do Is Who You Are — on whether companies and people can change; how the very thing that is your strength can also be your weakness; how startups evolve from pirates to the navy; actions vs words and values; and more. The discussion also covers common tropes that often come up in Silicon Valley folklore — whether it’s “fake it til you make it” and the “reality distortion fields” of visionaries… vs. liars.

Drawing on historical themes and examples from a thousand years ago to today — spanning empires, wars, revolutions, hip-hop, and prisons — the discussion covers key themes and nuances, as well as practical advice, on creating company culture. Please note — especially if you’re listening on smart speakers at home with children or with kids in a car — that the discussion that follows includes various mentions of violence.  100% of the proceeds of the book go to anti-recidivism as well as towards helping Haiti.