The Startup of You


  Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha lay out a game plan to help you be happier and more successful in your career by taking a "startup" approach to your career - being flexible, investing in yourself, network, take intelligent risks and make volatility work in your favor. If you'd prefer to listen to this article, use the player below. You can also find more of my articles in audio version at Listle

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Key Takeaways

  1. Every person is an entrepreneur in the sense that creating and building is part of our DNA
  2. Book will give you tips and examples on startup mind sets, how to grow your network, and land better opportunities
  3. Need to take the mindset that you, your career, is a startup - set up your life to be in "perpetual beta" - always iterating, evolving and adapting. Lifelong commitment to continuous improvement 
  4. Develop your competitive advantage, take your skills and iterate to market needs, continually grow your network, take on intelligent risk as new opportunities present themselves
  5. Competitive advantage - must be first, better, faster or cheaper than competition. "A company hires me over others because X..."
  6. Determine the local niche where you can develop your competitive advantage. Convergence of 3 traits - assets, aspirations and market realities
  7. Determine your passion and then possible roles that satisfy that. Not the other way around
  8. Trying to have an end or a long term plan in today's world is difficult and can hold you back. Be flexible and ready to adapt to market needs and your always evolving passions
  9. Prioritize learning! - build soft assets over hard. Journey will be more fulfilling and in the long run more profitable. Learn by doing
  10. Make small, reversible bets
  11. If looking to get experience, do something for free on the side and ask for feedback from experts in this given field
  12. Fastest way you change yourself is by surrounding yourself with people who are already how/where you want to be
  13. Think of networking more as genuine relationship building than simply adding people to your LinkedIn profile. Empathize with others and try to figure out how to help them instead of always taking
  14. Having an ally is immensely powerful - somebody you can trust, who's opinion you trust and has your back. Sometimes might compete with them but know they have your back
  15. Want opportunities where you would feel over your head and challenged often. Must be continually and unendingly curious - keep asking why, why something is the way it is, why something doesn't exist, why a company is run the way it is
  16. Invest in yourself - education, industry events, networking events/dinners, etc.
  17. Set up a trusted and smart group of people that you meet with regularly to bounce ideas off of and to keep in touch with (pair with Isaacson's biography of Ben Franklin and Spier's The Education of a Value Investor)
  18. Short term risk increases long term stability - black swan events more devastating in low volatility situations (pair with Taleb's Antifragile)

  What I got out of it  

  1. A valuable book that helps you think about your career and decisions in a different light. I think the most valuable insight I gained out of it was to continue making small, reversible bets in your career that can help you gain experience and exposure but if it doesn't work out it won't set you back terribly. Great and quick read.
  • Loyalty has shifted from your boss, vertically, to your network, horizontally.
  • Now network all the time instead of only when unhappy at work
  • Entrepreneurship is a global, life idea and not strictly limited to business
  • Detroit was once the most entrepreneurial city in the world and now it lays in ruins. Do not let the forces of change topple your career like it did Detroit
  • LinkedIn profile should summarize your competitive advantage
  • A, B, Z planning - what you're doing right now (iterate), what you pivot to if find a better opportunity or don't like plan A, and plan Z is your plan if everything falls apart
    • Pivot from Plan A to B when something isn't working or you find a better opportunity
    • When looking at Plan B, try to do it with "one foot on the ground" - keep your day job and do plan b for free and to gain feedback
  • Get ahead of trends and continuously look out for inflection points that can disrupt your situation (for better or worse)
  • Team and network you build around you is just as important as the company (your skills). Establish a diverse team of allies you can count on for advice and support
  • Weaker social ties lead to work opportunities more often than your close friends since more likely they are exposed to jobs or opportunities outside your normal circle of friends
  • Cannot have a limitless number of relationships but much broader than before as can leverage second and third degree friends who you only keep up with a handful of times per year. Anything beyond third degree is not very helpful
  • Aim to make at least one introduction per week to expand and strengthen your network
  • Every person you meet, consider how you can help them and try to give them an introduction, advice or some small gift that is unique to you, your experience and/or your skill set
  • Be diligent and proactive in keeping up with your network - a simple email or social network message saying, "Hi, it's been too long, how are you?" Is all it takes
  • Be open and proactive with chance encounters and serendipity. Know when to take action and network with seemingly random connections to expand and strengthen your network which increases your chances of hearing of great opportunities
  • Must be judicious about how you manage risk - there must be enough upside to warrant you accepting a certain level of risk. People tend to overrate risk, determine what the worst case scenario is and if it's tolerable, can you change or reverse your decision if needed, there will always be uncertainty - do not equate uncertainty with risk
    • Consider age and career stage when determining risks
  • Can ask pointed and specific questions to a couple people in your network or best out a general question to everyone

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