The Start-up of You: Adapt to the Future, Invest in Yourself, and Transform Your Career


no title has been provided for this book
Publisher: Crown Business
Published: 2/14/2012
A blueprint for thriving in your job and building a career by applying the lessons of Silicon Valley’s most innovative entrepreneurs. The career escalator is jammed at every level. Unemployment rates are sky-high. Creative disruption is shaking every industry. Global competition for jobs is fierce. The employer-employee pact is over and traditional job security is a thing of the past.

Start-Up Of You By. Reid Hoffman & Ben Casnocha

Key Insights

Climbing the career ladder is not the same as it was in the past.

Nowadays, a lot of people get stuck in entry-level positions, which takes job opportunities away from recent graduates.

“Society flourishes when people think entrepreneurially.”- Reid Hoffman & Ben Cosnocha

In “Start-Up of You” by Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha, you will learn the importance of adopting a start-up mind in this day in age.

Find out why it’s important to be flexible, adaptable, and learn new skills in order to succeed in the modern professional world.

Key Points

  • Find Your Advantage

With anything you do, there is competition. That’s why it’s important to find out what makes you stand out from the crowd, just like start-up companies do.

To find your competitive advantage, you need to look at the skills and assets you have at present. Note your education, background, and skill set.

You must also look at your goals and dreams. Passionate people are always noticed because they truly care about what they’re doing. So, finding something you love is key.

“The person passionate about what he or she is doing will outwork and outlast the guy motivated solely by making money.”- Reid Hoffman & Ben Casanocha

And finally, you should be looking at the market. What is the market demanding currently? If your competitive advantage is something no one is demanding, then it will not be successful.

These three areas are the key to finding your market advantage.

You must be adaptable as competitive advantages are always changing depending on you and the market around you.

  • Always Have A Plan

The market is always changing, so it’s important to have a Plan A, a Plan B, and a Plan Z to save you when things fall through.

For example, the photo-sharing app Flickr was once an online game that photos were shared through. The success of the photo-sharing combined with the CEO’s discovered passions throughout the years created the Flickr we know and love. Many start-ups begin one way and end up another because of new discoveries and pressure from the market.

“Get busy livin’, or get busy dyin’. If you’re not growing, you’re contracting. If you’re not moving forward, you’re moving backward.”- Reid Hoffman & Ben Casanocha

Plan A describes the path you are on now. It is stable, but you are welcome to make minor changes along the way. A good Plan A is flexible.

Plan B is the plan you go to if Plan A isn’t doing so hot and Plan B seems like it will be more of a success. It usually isn’t too far off from Plan A.

Plan Z is your savior. This is the plan that can keep the company going if Plan A and Plan B fail miserably.

  • All About Breakout Opportunities

It is important to take advantage of once-in-a-lifetime opportunities that will allow you to take huge strides in your career in a short amount of time.

A great example of this is actor George Clooney. Clooney, after acting for 12 years and getting practically nowhere begged the producers to let him audition for the new show “ER.” Landing the role made Clooney famous and led to more and more pivotal roles.

However, it is not always clear when a breakout opportunity knocks on your door. A lot of times, these are opportunities that totally shake-up your routine. But, if you do not take them you will not succeed easily.

Too many opportunities are missed by people taking too long to decide if something is “right.” You must seize opportunities when they come to you and forget about the risks you are taking in order to succeed.

“Everything in life has some risk, and what you have to actually learn to do is how to navigate it.”- Reid Hoffman & Ben Casanocha

You also must be persistent.

For example, the music streaming service Pandora was persistent for ten years dealing with copyright lawsuits before the company started really becoming successful.

  • Engage People For Success

Finding a breakout opportunity is all about being in the right place at the right time. And, you can’t always count on them coming to you. However, there are ways to improve your chances of being offered one of these opportunities.

It’s vital that you are always engaging with people. Networking is key. Always be open to meeting new, interesting, and different people.

It’s helpful if the people you are meeting are driven, like you, and have similar interests. People who also live near each other are good to have because the opportunity to meet often is greater.

  • Take Smart Risks

All breakthrough opportunities involve some sort of risk, whether it be high or low.

People tend to have different opinions about the idea of risk, with younger people being more willing and open to taking them.

However, people, in general, tend to focus on the negative in the decision, rather than the positive, which holds us back from taking positive lifechanging opportunities.

It’s important to take smart risks and be active in your search for outbreak opportunities. Some of these opportunities may seem risky to others, but by focusing on the positive you could gain yourself a chance-of-a-lifetime.

You must ask yourself if you could live with the worst-case scenario that the opportunity may bring. If you can’t, the opportunity is not worth it.

Then, you must ask yourself if the opportunity will allow you to go to Plan B. If it will, then it is less of a risk than an opportunity that is completely unfixable if it fails.

  • Build Relationships For Success

It’s important that you surround yourself with a strong, high-quality professional network.

But, instead of networking with emails, cold calls, and business cards, you should focus on creating and developing relationships. These relationships should be about helping each other. They should not be selfish in nature.

Helping another person is a great way to start the building of this professional relationship.

“Relationship builders, on the other hand, try to help other people first. They don’t keep score. They’re aware that many good deeds get reciprocated, but they’re not calculated about it. And they think about their relationships all the time, not just when they need something.”- Reid Hoffman & Ben Casanocha

Professional allies are people that you are loyal to, trust the opinions of, and consult with on a regular basis. These relationships take time, but they are worth it.

Another part of your network consists of weaker bonds. These are people who you have talked to a few times, went to school with you, or have mutual friends. Although these bonds seem weak and unimportant, a lot of breakthrough opportunities derive from these encounters.

The best and strongest professional networks have both allies and weak bonds.

  • Use Your Network To Your Advantage

Not enough people use their network for their advantage.

A solid network can allow a person or company to meet new people, hear about opportunities, and gain the knowledge they can not gain anywhere else.

A network is a great tool to have when considering a career change. For example if you wanted to try out a career in marketing, you could do a LinkedIn search to find people in your network that excel in that field.

“If you are not receiving or making at least one introduction a month, you are probably not fully engaging your extended professional network.”- Reid Hoffman & Ben Casanocha

Once you find someone, you could ask them to meet for lunch or have a phone call with you. By creating that relationship, they may refer you for a job at their company.

After being offered a breakout opportunity, you can talk it over with your network to see if the change is right for you.

After all that networking, it is easier to make an informed decision about your career.

The Main Take-Away

Taking lessons from start-up companies can help you to achieve your own personal career dreams. It’s important to be competitive, personable, persistent, and willing to take risks in order to succeed

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