What do you and Silicon Valley entrepreneurs have in common? A lot says Reid Hoffman, the co-founder and chairman of LinkedIn.
In Hoffman’s new book “The Start-Up of You,” he and co-author (and fellow entrepreneur) Ben Casnocha make parallels between start-up companies and working professionals, arguing that individuals can become successful if they glean certain lessons from Silicon Valley, the part of California nicknamed after the hundreds of tech companies that have flourished and floundered there over the years.
This is not your traditional career help book, the authors assert right at the beginning. This book, designed for individuals at every level in their career and at various industries, promises to teach you how Silicon Valley insiders think and more importantly, why individuals should change how they perceive and manage their professional lives.
Hoffman joined The Daily Ticker’s Henry Blodget on set at Yahoo!’s New York studio and explained why he was motivated to write the book. He says individuals need to proactively invest in their career and take “intelligent risks” to move up the corporate ladder.
“Be the CEO of your career,” Hoffman says. “Who else is going to be the CEO of your career? If you abdicate that responsibility, who will do it?”
Hoffman said this mentality helped him become as successful as he is today. When LinkedIn went public last May, his stake in the professional social networking site totaled $1.7 billion. He has invested in many prosperous and thriving tech companies over the years, including Facebook, and aside from his chairmanship duties at LinkedIn, he searches for promising, young businesses as a partner at Greylock, a leading Silicon Valley venture capital firm.
Hoffman says his first job was at Apple, where he was hired to work in the product development division. A few months later, Hoffman knew it wasn’t the right fit and wanted to make the move to product management. The problem? He did not have the required five to seven years of experience needed for a product management position. Undeterred, Hoffman approached James Isaacs, Apple’s director of product management, and asked to learn about the field, offering his time and energy to work on projects in his free time. Isaacs acquiesced and although Hoffman ended up accepting a new job at another company, he was able to break into product management with a strong recommendation from Isaacs.
Hoffman brings up this example to show how important pursuing what you want professionally may require additional hours at the office or volunteering to take on more work. He says in a world that’s moving at a very fast rate, everyone must be adaptable and constantly reinvest and reexamine one’s professional progress. It’s essential to put yourself out there to expand your professional network and to learn new skills.
Bottom line: you are a start-up entrepreneur and must approach your career with an entrepreneurial mindset, constantly finding and creating new opportunities for yourself.
If you follow these guidelines, Hoffman says, then “you can take more control over your career and economic destiny.”
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