The Startup of You – by Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha

‘Adapt to the Future, Invest in Yourself, and Transform Your Career’

Reid Hoffman, the cofounder of LinkedIn, offers career advice in a way that views your career trajectory as a business or startup that you need to take control of. Concepts like ‘ABZ planning’, ‘Almost Ready, Aim, Fire, Aim, Fire’, ‘Pivot as you learn’, ‘Assessing and Managing Risk’ and ‘Network Intelligence’ were tools usually restricted to entrepreneurs and startups, but Reid shows us how we could (and should) apply these to accelerating our career progression.

Do you hate our songs? Tell us at

Grab a copy of the book here:


Here is a dot point summary of the book!


Adapt to the future, invest in yourself and transform your career


Ch1 – All humans are entrepreneurs


‘When we were in the caves we were all self employed.. Finding our food, feeding ourselves. That’s where humanity began. As civilization came we supressed it. We became ‘labour’ because they stamped us, your labour. We forgot that we are entrepreneurs’


  • They were founders of their own lives




  • For the last 60 years ago, after graduating from college you could go to GE or Godman Sachs, being groomed and mentored, training and professional development from your employer
  • As you whisked up the hierarchy you made way for new graduates, as long as you played nice and well
  • This brought you more prestige power income and job security
  • Eventually around 65 you stepped off the escalator into retirement
  • Here you cash in on comfortable retirement financed by company pension


New and actual

  • Government safety looks like Swiss cheese
  • Men and woman are working in their 60-70s
  • Today it is hard for the young to get on the escalator, hard for the middle age to ascend and hard for the old guy to get off
  • With the death of traditional career paths, so goes the death of professional development we use to counter on
  • It is now your job to train yourself
  • If technology doesn’t eliminate or change the skills you need in many industries, it will at least enable more to do it for cheaper, offshore
  • Ready aim fire has changed to aim fire aim fire aim fire



  • To harness new opportunities you need to see yourself as a startup



  • Every city is heading down the path of Detroit
  • GM and Chrysler were the manufacturing giants who didn’t change and perished


Startup of you mindset: permanent beta

Amazon – “Though we are optimistic, we must remain vigilant and maintain a sense of urgency”


In other words amazon is never finished

  • Finished ought to be an F word for all of us.
  • We are all works in progress
  • Acknowledge you have bugs and each day presents an opportunity to learn more and do more and grow more in our lives and careers
  • Permanent beta is essentially a lifelong commitment to continuous personal growth


Chapter 2 – Develop a competitive advantage

  • You are selling your brainpower, skills and your energy
  • Hiring managers are quickly overcome by sameness, thousands of employees are the same it’s a blur
  • How are you faster better or cheaper than others who do what you do
  • What are you offering that is rare and valuable?


3 Puzzle Pieces


  1. Assets
  • Are what you have right now
  • Best ideas are the ones that build on the existing assets
  • Learning Ruby programming is building an asset
  • You strengthen assets by investing in yourself – that is what the books all about


  1. Aspirations and values
  • For a startup, a compelling vision that acts as a north store is a meaningful piece of a companies competitive advantage
  • Aspirations and values or important pieces for your career
  • Aspirations are shaped by your actions
  • You remake yourself as you grow and the world changes
  • Your identity doesn’t get found, it emerges


  1. Market Realities
  • There are always industries with momentum. Put yourself in a position to ride these waves
  • Fit the pieces together


Invest in yourself, page 44



Ch 3 – Plan to adapt

  • 7 Habits says begin with the end in mind
  • Produce a mission statement and put your goals in focus, with your funeral in mind


Reid says

  • Important to have worthy aspirations
  • But this has huge problems with career planning. It presumes a static world and the career landscape isn’t what it used to be
  • It works going from A to B in a calm lake on a sunny day, but it’s not like that anymore
  • Should you follow a plan or stay flexible? He says, Both


Story of Sheryl Sandberg

  • Started working in India as far as one could be from Silicon Valley
  • Ended up in Bill Clintons office, working
  • She met Eric Schmidt (google and asked for career advice), he said
  • “No, get out of the weeds. Go where there is fast growth, because fast growth creates all opportunities”
  • Work in a market with natural momentum. Ride the big waves


  • In reality most companies don’t execute a master plan
  • They go through stops and starts, a couple of near death experiences and a great deal of adaptation
  • Most people don’t find their calling at an early age
  • “Instead of locking yourself into a single path, evaluate new opportunities as they present themselves, take into consideration your ever growing set of intellectual and experiential assets, pivoting to the new professional tracks without losing track of what matters”

ABZ Planning


Plan A

  • Make minor adjustments as you learn
  • A good plan A offers flexibility to pivot to a range of possible plan Bs



Plan B

  • What you pivot to as you learn, you iterate regularly
  • What you learn from your job positions you for your next pivot
  • If you really find the grass is greener somewhere else, go there
  • Proactively prepare for the unknown, build soft skill assets and wait for the inflection point to occur
  • Reid’s plan A was to be an academic, Sheryl’s was to help the underprivileged, Flickr’s was an online multiplayer game
  • Keep one foot on the ground whilst the other pivots to an adjacent niche


Hot to Pivot

  • Start it on the side
  • Start experimenting on side projects, make it a personal career policy
  • If you have a skill, aspiration or relationship you want to form, start it as a side project
  • It is a great way to explore potential plan Bs without making irreversible commitment


Plan Z

  • Fallback position
  • Reason many don’t embrace this is because these strategies introduce real uncertainty
  • Z is the worst case scenario, moving back with parents, cashing in on 401K or working at maccas


  • Prioritize learning
  • Learn by doing with every career move


Make reversible small bets

  • Minimize the cost of failure
  • Don’t bet the farm, iterate bit by bit


Maintain identity separate from employers

  • Throwing everything at something is great, but when any one thing is all you stand for your vulnerable for identity crisis when you go to plan B
  • Be personal brand focused, not for your company. You can carry this brand to other jobs. You own yourself


  • A common catch 22, jobs require prior experience you don’t have
  • Solution – do the job for free on the side
  • Make a small reversible small bet


Hot to Pivot

  • Start it on the side


Chapter 4 – It takes a network

  • No matter how brilliant your strategy, if your playing a solo game, you will lose out to a team
  • If you want to accelerate your career, simply you need the help and support of others
  • Establish a diverse set of allies




Empathize and help first

  • When you come in contact with a successful person you think how can they help me>


  • Inauthentic people are obsessed with authenticity
  • Don’t think what’s in it for me, think what’s in it for us
  • Proactively share and collaborate on opportunities
  • Talk up your allies and friends, defend them and promote their brand
  • Ask your network for introductions with people
  • Find ways to add value and don’t ask for anything in return
  • One lunch is worth a dozen emails


Set up an interesting people fund

  • For coffees and dinner etc


Robert Greene

  • Wrote the book 48 laws of power, he failed to navigate the status dynamics around him, failed to account for the insecurities , status anxieties and egos of everyone else


Everyone is equal

  • No one is more human than the next, if you breathe, you deserve basic dignity. Period
  • But in other ways people are not equal. We do not live in an egalitarian society. People make different choices and good luck falls on some more than others
  • Treat the higher status person a little differently. The meeting should be on their terms


When to let go

  • Friendships depend on shared passions and values
  • At same time your attitudes and interests evolve
  • One of the best things about adulthood is you meet people with shared interests
  • Sometimes you end up with a situation where your school or childhood friends are an important part of your emotional history, but some of them do not seem as interesting as newer friends you are meeting. What to do?
  • Certainly do something, because you won’t have the time or energy to cultivate new friendships if you relentlessly hold onto old ones
  • It’s not a hard drive where you hit delete. You let them fade. It is a natural evolution of some relationships
  • It is possible to reactivate later in life when values are more aligned



  • If you were fired today, who are the 10 people you would contact. Contact them today
  • Create an interesting people fund


Chapter 5 – Pursue breakout opportunities

  • Careers like startups are punctuated with breakouts
  • It is breakout projects, connections, specific experiences and strokes of luck that lead to unusually rapid career growth
  • George Clooney auditioned for 12 years on B list television shows
  • In 1994 he caught wind of an opportunity with a script that excited him
  • He called the executive producer and said he was going to get the role
  • Now he is where he is today


  • A career move that makes you feel over your head stretches you in new dimensions and usually contains significant upside
  • You can develop behaviour and thinking that can put you in the right place at the right time
  • One mindset to always be on with electric power, curiosity


How to generate career opportunities

  • Raise the likelihood that you will stumble upon something valuable, namely courting good randomness and seeing the opportunities that reveal themselves
  • Opportunities will still not fall into your lap, almost every case of serendipity and opportunity involves doing something
  • You don’t stumble upon these opportunities when you are lying in bed, you do when you do something
  • Bo peobody says “best way to ensure that lucky things happen is to make sure a lot of things happen”
  • Great opportunities never fit your schedule, and addition to being inconvenient, that opportunity will be shrouded in ambiguity and uncertainty


Chapter 6 – take intelligent risks

  • Strategically pursue only those opportunities with enough upside to justify the possible downside
  • It is one of the key skills that make entrepreneurs successful
  • Freelancing on the side comes with risk that your job will suffer
  • Inaction is especially risky in a changing world



Extra Study?

  • Precommiting to 4 years of your life is riskier than career choices that allow you to pivot to plan B if you decide something is not going well


Without risk

  • Without frequent contained risk taking your setting yourself up for major dislocation at some point in the future
  • It is like injecting a small bit of flu into your body in form of vaccination
  • Introducing volatility into your career, you make surprise survivable


Ch7 – Who you know is what you know

  • How you gather, manage and use information will determine whether you win or lose
  • Pushing information to your networks increases serendipitous intelligence. Post an article and small gifts to your network



2200 words




Related Posts :

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *