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5.0 out of 5 stars
Refreshing career book that's a must-read for anyone looking to advance their career, Feb. 25 2012
Reid Hoffman, who is less well known than other Silicon Valley icons like Zuckerberg or Jobs, has been called "*the* role model for entrepreneurs" by tech publications, and for very good reason. He's a hugely successful investor who not only has had a hand in some of the most successful tech companies around today (including Zuckerberg's Facebook) but is also a hugely successful entrepreneur and founder - an incredibly rare achievement in today's tech world. He's currently chairman and co-founder of the professional networking site LinkedIn and was an executive at PayPal.
Ben Casnocha is an intensely curious young author. Anyone familiar with his extensive online writing and earlier book, My Start-Up Life, knows the quality of insight he provides. That voice certainly shines through in this book. Not only is he a true intellectual, he also has the business experience as a founder of his own software company to be able to write authoritatively on a topic like this.
Speaking of that topic, careers and career development is one of the most broad topics one can imagine, and considering the breadth of topics and points these two cover, the book is remarkably coherent and engaging. References to LinkedIn and how to use it effectively are tactfully sprinkled throughout the book and do not dominate the bulk of the discussion.
Two of the key threads:
- Relationships are the most important aspect of one's career.
The authors use a brilliant analogy for thinking about one's relationships: I-to-the-We. Your individual strengths matter, but when surrounded by the right individuals, your ability to effect change is raised exponentially by the power of your network.
A refreshing change from typical business books, the authors show how to build genuine relationships that benefit both individuals. They stress helping first and not keeping score.
This idea is epitomized by the little-known story that Hoffman actually introduced Mark Zuckerberg to Facebook's first outside investor and himself (Hoffman) invested in the very first round of financing. Facebook, for now, has the greater market cap and the larger member base. Their respective companies are often pitted against each other in the media, and Hoffman's willingness to help a young Zuckerberg building a competing social network shows Hoffman's commitment to follow his own advice.
- Have a bias towards action.
Straight out of the Silicon Valley playbook, this seems incredibly obvious once you hear the rationale, but is certainly not standard practice for folks in their careers today. As the pace of change accelerates all around you, if you're not moving forward, then you are in essence moving backwards.
Simply doing things, when you're guided by your best instincts, generates opportunities, new connections and most of all, helps you learn about yourself. Instead of thinking about whether you want to make a move to another industry, get out there and talk to the folks in that industry or take a small and reversible step in that direction by working in that industry on the side, testing your "strong hypothesis, weakly held" to see if it is in fact right for you.
To further this focus on action and to help the reader in his or her own career journey, the authors end each chapter with a section titled Invest In Yourself. It provides many eminently useful "action items" that the reader should take to implement the ideas in the book. Many business and self-help books falter when it comes time to turn ideas into action but these sections are a cut above the tired and obvious action items present in many books.
Overall, this is a hugely refreshing and remarkably coherent career book. Thoroughly researched and backed up by real-world examples, this is a must-read for anyone interested in advancing their career in today's working world.