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How to Castrate a Bull: Unexpected Lessons on Risk, Growth, and Success in Business Hardcover – January 20, 2009

4.6 out of 5 stars 32 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Silicon Valley success story Hitz, co-founder of tech consulting company NetApp, takes readers through the three stages of a developing business in this "memoir of a company and of a man," with lessons. Hitz's well-organized chronology outlines the net start-up's 1990s childhood, dot-bust adolescence and triumphant adulthood, centered around three easy-to-grasp themes: risk, growth and success, consecutively. Breezy and entertaining throughout, Hitz's text is also graced with efficient sidebars and a succinct, well-considered time-out capping each chapter. Chapters on his team's struggle to raise funds, find the right CEO for the job and go public are complemented by lessons from ancient Egyptians on data storage and NetApp president Tom Mendoza on public speaking. Though there aren't any lessons here that can't be found in other books, Hitz's personal and professional story encompasses solid business values, common mistakes, a bit of insider lore and some decent outta-left-field jokes (says the engineer to the frog princess: "Who has time for a girlfriend? But a talking frog: that's really cool").
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

NetApp Awarded #1 Best Company to Work For 2009 by Fortune

A San Francisco Chronicle Nonfiction Best-Seller, January 30, 2009

"Readers will gain insight into management styles, different ways to make decisions, alternative approaches to managing people, and the value of dissent within a company. They also will learn why it is better to castrate a bull with a dull knife than a sharp knife. And they may get a few chuckles along the way."—ByteandSwitch.com, January 27, 2009

"Hitz spends much of the book discussing what happened after he moved to move Silicon Valley in 1986 and began working at a series of start-ups, and the various business problems he faced and how he approached them. Hitz describes in detail the evolution of NetApp and, of course, does not omit the vendor's sales pitch. But at various points in the 200-page book Hitz takes a break from talking business to focus on some of the humorous passages referenced in Chapter Zero."  —NetworkWorld.com, January 21, 2009

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Jossey-Bass; 1 edition (January 20, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470345233
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470345238
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 0.8 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #809,329 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Management books, even those written (or mostly written) by industry luminaries, can offer informative looks into the exclusive world of the corporate executive. But they also tend to be very, very dry.

This book, of the other hand, is a funny and enlightening romp through the early days of a Silicon Valley startup written by one of the founders, but written in a light and clear fashion that even my parents would understand. In fact, I bought a copy for them too.

The book covers both the creation and evolution of a technology company as well as a brief outline of the author's life and influences that contributed to his development and growth as an entrepreneur and manager.

It is full of insightful and humorous tales of success and failure, both personal and professional, of the author and the company he founded. It is worth the price just to learn how his company got to be so successful, but the extras (including the funny sidebars and Interludes) make it worth so much more. I highly recommend this book to anyone who has always wished someone would make a management book fun to read. This is it!
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Format: Kindle Edition
This is a really fantastic book! It's such a fun and easy read! Dave Hitz really simplified big ideas into very valuable, understandable lessons. I think that anyone on any level, can apply some of these golden nuggets to their job, no matter where you are on the org chart.

As a 4 year NetAppee, it's also been fun to learn the history and trivia and backtrack to how we got to where we are today. When I got to NetApp, we had 3,000 employees and hundreds of millions in revenue, and the largest company I had ever worked for before was 300 and in the red, so it's always been a mystery to me what happens between start-up and a mature company. This book helped make sense of that process.

Some of the advice that I especially found valuable:

* Always start with the conclusion
* The first lesson on hypergrowth is "everything is always broken" - is a good thing.
* The greatest magic is not one human mind, it is multiple minds working together.
* The importance of culture and the struggle to map it and apply it
* The definition of consensus and how to make it work

The book is peppered with lots of cool anecdotes and stories that are both entertaining and to which we can all relate, no matter which organization you're part of. Dave has a talent for distilling ideas that took years to learn into easy-to-grasp simple take-aways.

Read Enjoy Learn

~Marian
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I have worked at NetApp for several years and lived through the beginning of one of the "eras" described in this book. I find it amazing how NetApp came together. If you are at all interested in that, I highly recommend the book.

Aside from NetApp, there are several keen insights in this book on business, leadership and management. I would be giving it away by posting a quote. If you're the type interested in leadership or what separates good leaders from mediocre ones, you really need to read this book.

I also want to point out that the writing style is clear and overall a fun read. This is a man wide awake. Something that stands out to me are his "Thought Experiments." I adore thought experiments and breaking traditional thinking. Questions have power. They develop insight.

I wish there were more books like this. It's a rare one.
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Format: Hardcover
This book, by NetApp's founder, Dave Hitz, provides direct, honest, thoughtful business advice, applicable to business founders and leaders throughout the growth cycle of a business. He puts special emphasis on hard choices and decision-making processes, with an understanding that comes from a life-time of risk taking. If you are a first time entrepreneur, read this book. If you are entering a growth phase for your company, read this book. If you failed at your first venture and want to understand why, read this book. And if you want a few good laughs, read this book.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Part corporate history of NetApp, part business strategy, and part personal biography. Not an easy mix to pull off, but Dave Hitz hit the mark - easy and educational read with great practical lessons for just about everyone.

The book provides the early history of the startup: the failed VC pitches, the hiring and firing woes, missteps and strategy course corrections. In other words, all the stuff you should expect in a healthy startup - fail fast and iterate. Through all this, NetApp grew to a billion+ company throughout the dotcom craze, except unlike most of the rest, NetApp was actually profitable - they were selling shovels, and made their profits, instead of speculating on the gold. From there, the dotcom bust and the ensuing recovery (layoffs, restructuring, and so forth). Finally, back on their feet, NetApp changed their strategy to cater to the enterprise (and did rather well, by all accounts and measures).

Dave provides an insider look into each stage of the above evolution, both at the level of the company, as well as his personal evolution as a leader: mistakes made, business lessons learned, and personal revelations along the way. All combined, lots of great and practical advice - if you're an entrepreneur, this is definitely a good investment.
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