The Start-Up of You by Reid Hoffman

Lately I’ve been reading The Start-Up of You by Reid Hoffman in small spurts during my downtime here in Tanzania. It’s a really insightful book with tips that will not only help you think about your career, but also give you a better way of looking at opportunities in general. Overall, the book’s main message is that all of us–whether we are students, seasoned professionals, or just looking to make a change–are in “permanent beta.”

In other words, we are perpetually changing products with no shelf-life.

From Reid Hoffman’s point of view, this is something to be celebrated because it means that we should never turn “off” our radar for that new opportunity or career change that might drastically improve the quality of our personal and professional lives and leave us feeling more fulfilled. If you get a chance, I would definitely pick up a copy!

If you don’t feel so inclined or just want a preview, here is the reader’s digest version of some of the LinkedIn CEO’s top tips here:

1) Invest in your network and stay connected. Like a potted plant, your network needs to be nurtured and cared for. Don’t forget the people whom you care about–those you work with, go to for advice, or whose opinion you value. Its not difficult to email a contact an interesting article or drop by the office with a small gift. This “drip, drip, drip” of small communications over time can really work wonders, but don’t forget  that one in-person meeting is worth about a dozen emails.

2) The value of reciprocity. If you want to maintain a relationship or spark a new one, one of the best ways to do so is to give or offer something to the other person. Remember to think about how you add value to the relationship.

3) The “Interesting People Fund.” This is one tip that I found particularly interesting. Reid Hoffman tells the story of Steve Garrity and how at one point in his career he decided to leave California and travel to Seattle to take a job at Microsoft. But he didn’t want to lose his friends or network in Silicon Valley because he knew that he would go back one day to start a business there. So, he set aside $7,000 for flight money and other expenses for traveling back to CA. Over the next few months, whenever a friend called and invited him for dinner or set up a meeting, he just booked a flight and went. His plan worked because he made a commitment and acted on it.

4) Some relationships will naturally fade, and that’s okay. Unlike romantic relationships, the connections that you have with friends and coworkers are usually not difficult to rekindle should you want to later.

5) Be competitive and good at what you do, but build friendships with both those who are above and below you on the “status totem pole.” This will help ensure that you don’t step on any toes or burn bridges that might otherwise have been valuable partnerships.

We all have relationships in our lives, but it is the give and take between people that keeps them alive. You never know when that high school classmate or previous employer will have valuable advice or an opportunity that could make a difference in your career. And hopefully you will do the same and pass on similar gifts to  those around you.

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