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TOP 50 REVIEWERon February 20, 2012
The basic premise of thesis book is the following: the entrepreneurial mindset and attitude are essential for anyone's career in today's economy. Thinking like an entrepreneur is not any more reserved just for the ultra-ambitious, well-funded Silicon Valley types; in order to succeed in today's job market everyone has to adopt many of the practices that successful entrepreneurs have been employing for decades. This, in and of itself, seems like a great piece of advice. Unfortunately, this book falls far short of delivering on how to implement such an approach in most ordinarily career paths.

I have for years in fact been adopting the kind of attitude that this book promotes: I've networked like crazy, created substantial online presence, tried to be in tune with the latest technological and professional trends, etc. However, in order to have a career, or even get a job, a lot more is required. It is these other much more crucial steps that I was hoping to learn more about from reading this book. Its authors, Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha, seemed to have exactly the kinds of credentials that would lend itself to revealing interesting and fact-based insights that are otherwise hard to find. My expectations were particularly high since Hoffman is one of the cofounders of LinkedIn. I was hoping that we'd find out some interesting data culled from millions of LinkedIn job searches and professional connections. Unfortunately, all my expectations have fallen way short, and "The Start-up of You" is just another indistinguishable, fluffy career "advice" book, of which there are already way too many on the market.

The book is filled with motivational-speak, with an incessant deluge of phrases that sound meaningful and profound (at least to some people), but are in fact quite vacuous ("Once you catch curiosity, it is (luckily) hard to shake." "Everyone is looking for an opportunity, even if they don't know it."). It is hard to figure out how these pieces of "advice" can in fact contribute to advancing anyone's career. Granted, the book is written with the greatest possible audience in mind, but even so it could have used a lot more concrete actionable advice.

The only examples that are used in this book are those of people who have been very successful entrepreneurs. These kinds of examples are good motivational stories, but are almost useless to the millions of job seekers out there hoping to get their own career off the ground. In the entire book there are virtually no attempts to show how the insights from the career paths of top-dog entrepreneurs translate into the concrete, actionable advice for the rest of us.

Furthermore, almost all of the examples and insights in this book are in one way or another linked with Silicon Valley. That is indeed a wonderful and exciting place, and I have been fortunate enough that I had spent many years working and studying over there. However, Silicon Valley is exceptional in many ways, and the insights gained there do not translate well to the rest of the country, and you are even worse off if you live overseas. Silicon Valley's entrepreneurial spirit has tricked down to the lower professional and social circles. This, however, has not been the case with the rest of the world, and it's unlikely that it will happen any time soon. I still think that the entrepreneurial attitude is worthwhile having; just don't expect any dramatic impact on your career any time soon.

If you are in a tight situation right now when it comes to your career, then reading this book will be a near total waste of time. As already mentioned, it contains almost no concrete, actionable information. If you are relatively secure in your job and just want to gain a better perspective on managing your career, then this book might hold some overall value. Even under such circumstances, though, the information you get will almost certainly be very abstract and not readily applicable to your career path.
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on July 22, 2013
“Whether you want to learn a new skill or simply be better at the job you were hired to do, it’s now your job to train and invest in yourself.“ (p.6)

This book, written by the cofounder & CEO of LinkedIn (Hoffmann) and an award-winning entrepreneur/author (Casnocha), helps the reader to see that everyone — whether they know/admit it or not — is an entrepreneur. Even if you’re not starting a business, you are still needing to invest in you, and in the career path you are going to take.

One of the key points in this book is that things are always changing. There is no one game plan or right fit. Because the world is not static (unchanging), you will constantly have to be adapting to things as you go along.

I found this book to be extremely helpful, especially as I am in the process of starting a business. There were questions and action steps at the end of each chapter that help you take what you learned and put it into practice. I found a lot of these questions to be really thought-provoking and believe they are going to be extremely useful as I write up my business plan.

I also loved that, while you can tell Mr. Hoffmann is a skilled businessman, his writing is also very accessible and down-to-earth. Mind you, there were a few words he used that I was confused by, or didn’t know the meaning of (had to get out my dictionary!). But overall, the book was still highly readable.

Another thing that was really appealing is the fact that the author seems to be a “Renaissance Soul” (see book by Margaret Lobenstine) like me… preferring variety and change over choosing one thing and sticking with it. I like that he occasionally says to challenge the status quo… that entrepreneurs frequently make their own rules. ;)

Many real-life examples were given of what works and doesn’t work. The stories about the Detroit auto-industry, and about author Sheryl Sandberg were really interesting!

This was one of those books that is just so full of excellent advice and information that I couldn’t wait to get back to it, every time I had to set it aside to go do something else (eat, sleep…). I would most definitely recommend it.
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on February 2, 2013
This book is probably the most influential book, given it is the best advise to all of us who question our careers and where it will take us. No one will help you in your career but yourself and each and everyone us has the power to hook up and network with those that will guide and bring real meaning to the work we do. I recommend this book to every generation including the baby boomers who still have much to offer to the business community and can contribute to any organization even the world of technology.
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on November 26, 2014
If I have to describe this book in one word, I'll use "Enlightening".

Reid and Ben take you to a fantastic journey in how professional careers are working nowadays. Don't kid yourself that this is they future of professional careers, it already is. Although there is no silver bullet or formula to progress your careers, the Start-Up of You provides with a variety of tools, methods and techniques that are simple but effective. I'll recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a change.
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on November 3, 2015
Basically what Reid Hoffman is saying is we are natural entrepreneurs. Its in us so we should use this inherent character to improve ourselves and career. One of my favorite section in the book is the advice on building and using a network. This book provides and interesting twist on how to get ahead in your career and with life goals.
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on October 28, 2015
Must read and must have for any business savvy reader. Hands down entry to any all-time top 25 entrepreneurship books list.
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The basic premise in Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha's book is that the same mind-sets and skill-sets that can help to ensure the success of a start-up company's performance can also (with appropriate modification) help to ensure the success of an individual's career. In fact, all companies should always be viewed - and managed - as a start-up. This what Jack Welch had in mind years ago when, during a GE annual meeting, he explained why he admired entrepreneurial companies:

"For one, they communicate better. Without the din and prattle of bureaucracy, people listen as well as talk; and since there are fewer of them they generally know and understand each other. Second, small companies move faster. They know the penalties for hesitation in the marketplace. Third, in small companies, with fewer layers and less camouflage, the leaders show up very clearly on the screen. Their performance and its impact are clear to everyone. And, finally, smaller companies waste less. They spend less time in endless reviews and approvals and politics and paper drills. They have fewer people; therefore they can only do the important things. Their people are free to direct their energy and attention toward the marketplace rather than fighting bureaucracy."

Hoffman and Casnocha assert, "To succeed professionally in today's world, you need to adopt entrepreneurial strategies...In the same way, you need to stay young and agile; you need to forever be a [begin italics] start-up [end italics]." Speaking for both of them (as he does throughout the book), Hoffman adds, "The business strategies employed by highly successful [begin italics] start-ups [end italics] and the career strategies employed by highly successful [begin italics] individuals [end italics] are strikingly similar." Readers are introduced to several "strategic frameworks" within which valuable (usually counterintuitive) insights are revealed by exemplary entrepreneurs such as Hoffman and Casnocha (of course) as well as Marc Andreesen, Jeff Bezos, Benjamin Franklin, Reed Hastings, Steve Jobs, Mary Sue Milliken, Marc Pinkus, Joseph Priestley, and Sheryl Sandberg, with insights anchored in their real-world experience.

Although Hoffman and Casnocha carefully identify the "what" of what organizational and individual success requires, they focus most of their attention on how (and how not to) achieve it. For example:

o How to develop a YOUR COMPANY/YOU Mind-Set
o How to develop a YOUR COMPANY/YOU Skill-Set
o How to develop and then sustain a competitive advantage
o How to anticipate and prepare for contingencies with agility and resiliency
o How to bounce back from adversity
o How to establish and then strengthen a network of genuine and appropriate relationships
o How to identify and then pursue breakout opportunities
o How to identify and evaluate "intelligent" risks
o How to navigate professional challenges with network intelligence
o How to synthesize information into actionable intelligence

Each of the Fortune 500 companies was originally a start-up and each of their CEOs was once a career-entry employee. My guess (only a guess) is that the most successful companies and their leaders understand, appreciate, and affirm the power and value of the start-up mind-sets and skill-sets that Hoffman and Casnocha examine in this book. For them, for all of us, "life is a permanent beta [and] the trick is never stop starting."
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on September 15, 2014
Through this book I learned that Reid is terribly networked in silicon valley, and I'm not.
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on January 16, 2016
Excellent guide!!
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on February 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.
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