The below are some of things that resonated with me from the excellent book “The Start Up of You” by Reid Hoffman (Founder of LinkedIn). Click here to buy his book.
The Start Up of You Summary: Adopt a Start-Up Mentality to Progress Your Career
In the past people would join an organisation and rise up through the ranks with time. People in this type of career might have 20 years of experience but that experience may just consist of doing the same thing over and over again.
The job market is so competitive these days, the way to succeed is to start thinking like an entrepreneur. Why? Entrepreneurs take intelligent risks, are adabtable and are always on the lookout for new opportunities. These qualities are just what you need to get ahead in your career.
The Start Up of You Summary: Find your Competitive Advantage in the Intersection of your Assets, your Aspirations and What the Market is Looking For
Your assets can be hard i.e. cash, or soft i.e. skills, knowledge or education. You should focus on areas where they shine brighter than the competition.
Your aspirations are what you value or are passionate about. If you feel strongly about something you will inevitably work harder in this area than someone who does not.
Finally there needs to be a market for your competitive advantage. If you care passionately about something that nobody else does then it’s not much use to you.
Not only are the three factors above hard to figure out, they are constantly changing. Few of us know what we are really passionate about. The best you can do is to hypotesise about them and use trial and error to find out more as you go along.
The Start Up of You Summary: Make Plans A, B and Z so you can Adapt as You and Your Surroundings Change.
Before Sheryl Sandberg got her job at Facebook, she worked at The World Bank, The US Treasury Department, and even Google. For many notable professionals and start ups this type of zig zagging is common.
Making plans in line with your competitive advantage is important however the world around you will change and so will your understanding of your interests and passions.
Plan A is what you are doing now and should reflect what you currently believe your competitive advantage is. A good plan A is flexible and should allow for many different plan B’s.
Plan B is something that you can pivot too if it looks more attractive. It is somehow related to Plan A which means you don’t have to step completely out of your comfort zone.
Plan Z is what you fall back on if all else fails. It could be moving back in with your parents. It’s purpose is to give you the confidence to pivot to Plan B knowing you have a fall back plan.
The Start Up of You Summary: Take Breakout Opportunities When They Come Along
Sometimes life hands you breakout opportunities which provide for rapid career development. They are rare, may be difficult to pursue and might not fit into your schedule.
You’ll want to give them up and let them pass. However they may not present themselves again. Too many golden chances are wasted because people want to keep their options open.
The Start Up of You Summary: Engage with Many People to Ensure Things Happen for You
The golden opportunity will often be a case of being in the right place at the right time. However you can improve your odds of things happening for you. As one entrepreneur said
“The best way to ensure that things happen is to ensure that a lot of things happen”
Joining or even founding small networks of people is a great way to make new opportunities happen for you. Such groups work best when they are made up of like minded and driven individuals who have common interests.
For more book summaries check out the below:
The Start Up of You Summary: Gain an Advantage by Taking Intelligent Risks
All opportunities worth pursuing will contain an element of risk. Most people overestimate the riskiness of opportunities due to negativity bias i.e. they focus more on the potential downsides than the upsides.
Many people are unwilling to take a chance on what they see as risky opportunities. You can gain an advantage if you take intelligent risks which are undervalued because others see them as risky.
When evaluating risk, you should ask yourself what is the worst that can happen? Opportunities that allow for small reversible bets are always more attractive than ones where you risk everything.
The Start Up of You Summary: Build High Quality Relationships with a Small Group of Trusted Allies, and Have Many Weaker Ties with a Wider Network
A good way to start to build your network is to find a way to help the other person. Useful advice or a valuable introduction to another person is a perfect way to strengthen a new relationship.