Book Review: The Start-Up of You

The Start-Up of YouBusiness professionals will find many useful tips and strategies in THE START-UP OF YOU by Reid Hoffman, cofounder and chairman of LinkedIn, and Ben Casnocha.  The new economy — also known as the You Economy, the Gig Economy, and the Rise of the Creative Class — presents a wide array of challenges and opportunities for the modern business professional.  Hoffman and Casnocha drill down on both.   A few of my favorites insights:

In the world of work, every day is exam day—every day brings new, unpredictable challenges and decisions.  Stockpiling facts won’t get you anywhere.  What will get you somewhere is being able to access the information you need, when you need it.

Building relationships is the thrilling if delicate quest to at once understand another person and allow that person to understand you.

THE PROBLEM THIS BOOK ADDRESSES:  The employer-employee pact is over and traditional job security is a thing of the past.

PROPOSED SOLUTION:  Take control of your career and your future by implementing the same entrepreneurial strategies that start-ups use:  be nimble and prepare to adapt your career plans as you change, the people around you change, and industries changes; invest in yourself by developing a competitive advantage to win the best jobs and opportunities; strengthen your professional network by building powerful alliances and maintaining a diverse mix of relationships; tap your networks for information and intelligence that helps you make smarter decisions and take intelligent risks; and take advantage of uncertainty and volatility work to find the unique breakout opportunities that massively accelerate career growth.

WHAT I LIKED:  Although the analogy of treating your career like a start-up is rather tortured, it is also unnecessary.  The basic premise is sound:  “With the death of traditional career paths, so goes the kind of traditional professional development previous generations enjoyed.  You can no longer count on employer-sponsored training to enhance your communication skills or expand your technical know-how.”  The authors effectively make the case that we each need to create and nurture an identity separate from employers and to be responsible for our own professional development.

The power of IWe (i.e., I to the We) also resonates.  “Your career success depends on both your individual capabilities and your network’s ability to magnify them.  This of it as IWe.   An individual’s power is raised exponentially with the help of a team.”  I especially like the applicability of this concept to traditional commercial transactions – every commercial transaction is the formation of a business relationship.  As with the personal network, the value that each party gets from the transaction is magnified by the quality of the relationship.

RECOMMENDATION:  A solid addition to the business professionals library.