Monday, July 09, 2012

"The Startup of You" by Reid Hoffman & Ben Casnocha

Following on the heels of recent good books with career guidance I've seen, LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman co-wrote with Ben Casnocha The Startup of You. It's a solid read with quite a bit around people being solely responsible for their career... regardless of whether they're entrepreneurs or an employee.

There's a lot that could be gleamed from the book with the principle ideas I took away from each chapter noted below...

Chapter 1: All humans are entrepreneurs
To the idea behind the chapter title, point is made in the book that the business strategies of successful startup companies often mirror strategies employed by successful people in a career.

Chapter 2: Develop a competitive advantage
Hoffman and Casnocha write about how one's career strategy should be a combination of (A) their assets, (B) aspirations and (C) market realities. Additionally, they cover the importance of someone developing a competitive career advantage (and being able to describe it)... with it oftentimes best to have that advantage or focus area as narrow as possible (an idea I've seen written about previously).

Chapter 3 - Plan to adapt
An idea put forth in the book is people should start to do the things they find interesting and see where it goes, but do so within a framework. To this point, Hoffman & Casnocha describe "ABZ planning"... with A as what someone is doing now, B what they pivot to, and Z their fallback career option. Its also noted that this Z planning can mean the worst case scenario to a career move often isn't that terrible (another idea I've previously noted others writing on).

Chapter 4 - It takes a network
Casnocha and of course Hoffman believe in the idea of LinkedIn as a facilitation tool towards a larger principle of network building and usage... with a focus on genuine networks built around helping rather than simply a focus on what can be gained from a relationship. They note that this network strengthening can come from simply putting oneself out there through regular sharing on social networks. In terms of benefit that might eventually result from this network building and helping others, the authors note how its often not first, but second or third level connections (as shown on LinkedIn) that get people jobs.

Chapter 5 - Pursue breakout opportunities
Two ideas out of this chapter are to look for networks of interesting people and to budget time for personal improvement... or network/relationship development.

Chapter 6 - Take intelligent risks
Interesting concept from this chapter was around developing a strategy of small risk taking to help prevent big risks from occurring or feeling so large... i.e. small fires prevent the large burn.

Chapter 7 - Who you know is what you know
Last chapter before the Conclusion contains the idea that it's the management of information that really counts (with LinkedIn Signal as a tool to use). Additionally noted is the value of being a go to person in a particular area... which brings to mind the aforementioned idea of going narrow in focus / competitive advantage development.

Overall it was an excellent read and the website Startup of You has an additional resources section which includes an executive summary of the book as well as PDF of LinkedIn usage tips.