The Start-up of You: Adapt to the Future, Invest in Yourself, and Transform Your Career by
There are a lot of books about starting your own business and becoming an entrepreneur. And now, thanks to Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha, there’s finally a great book for those who want to remain employed, but on their terms.
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The Start-up of You is written by two very successful people. Reid Hoffman is the co-founder of LinkedIn and former vice president of PayPal. Ben Casnocha is a successful public speaker and one of Business Week‘s “best young entrepreneurs”.
BOLD / THE START-UP OF YOU
“Every individual is a small business.”
The Start-up of You is essential reading for those who want to have an entrepreneurial mindset when it comes to the way they perceive their career paths. It’s also for those who want to create an independent personal brand, so they can easily adapt to new events. The book has 7 chapters that guide you towards building the career of your dreams with concrete actions. What’s particularly useful is that each chapter ends with advice about how you can make significant changes in your professional life.
The way we relate to our jobs has changed significantly in the last few decades. If our parents were likely to find a cozy job in their early twenties, climb the career ladder and retire after 35 years of hard work, today things are nothing like that. In their early twenties, people change a lot of jobs.
They refuse to settle for boring or conventional jobs and keep searching until they find one that suits them. Employers are also different. Since they now have access to a wide range of people from all over the world, they’re pickier and search for more sophisticated aptitudes. Also, they’re reluctant to invest so much in you because they’re not sure how long you will stay:
“Companies don’t want to invest in you, in part because you’re not likely to commit years and years of your life to working there— you will have many different jobs in your lifetime.”
Another thing that has changed is the way we perceive our career. Before, people would only consider finding a new job if they were laid off or really wanted a change. Nowadays young people are always connected, always learning about new opportunities, always keeping an eye out for something better.
The amount of time you spend at any job is shrinking. That’s why you always need to be aware of other options, and sometimes take risks, even when it seems your current job has it all. Companies don’t work like they used to; they merge, transform, and replace people much faster than before. And they have access to cheap labor from all over the world. Your basic skills no longer guarantee that you’ll stay with the same company until you retire.
So what should you do in order to build a strong career in this fast-changing and volatile environment? The answer is both simple and complex: you need to think like an entrepreneur and consider your career as your start-up. This means having a different approach from the other job candidates out there.
Building niche skills, adding tons of passion to everything you do, and staying connected are only a few ingredients on the recipe. But we all need to realize that the rules of the game have changed and that, for every great interview you’ll have, 50 others will show up with maybe better skills and lower salary expectations. The traditional way of building you career is no longer a safe option.
Instead, young people these days build networks. They nurture relationships with people that are valuable to them professionally because they know that, at some point, they’ll need to seek opportunities in that direction. Also, people nowadays don’t limit themselves to one 9-to-5 job. They like to find a field or connecting fields that they are passionate about, and explore different types of activities in that area.
This is very good for designing your individual path and building an identity that’s different from the company you work for. If you work in marketing and are really interested in the field, you could also write a blog, create your own podcast, do public speaking gigs, or become a certified trainer in that subject. This way you will not only always have a wide range of career options at your disposal, but people will also get to know you because of the brand you created for yourself. It’s like a safety net that you build:
“Take intelligent and bold risks to accomplish something great. Build a network of alliances to help you with intelligence, resources, and collective action. Pivot to a breakout opportunity.”
In order to stay relevant you need to always evaluate and develop your skills, and be ready to adapt. Having a 5 or 3-year long-term plan is no longer a viable solution. You may need to shift your focus and re-think your career faster than you think.
Technology is transforming our world faster than ever, and in a few years some jobs may become obsolete. This is why you need a strong network of people from different fields who can keep you up-to-date with the progress and show you what opportunities are out there.
The interesting thing about opportunities is that they never come at a perfectly-timed moment. You seldom find out about a great new job when you’re desperately searching for one. It usually happens when you’re feeling pretty cozy at your current job. So what do you do? Do you take a risk? Or do you keep your current position, because it’s a safer option?
Risks are becoming an integrated part of our lives. In order to succeed at the start-up of you, there are a lot of risks to be taken.
“Uncertainty is an ingredient of risk. And the more compelling and complex the opportunity, the more uncertainty tends to surround it.”
In order to stay ahead of the game, you need to take chances that others perceive as risks. How will you manage to differentiate them? One simple answer is to invest in yourself: take classes; go to seminars; develop skills like critical thinking, decision-making under pressure, and risk management.
Also, surround yourself with the people that you’d like to become like. Find inspiration in others that have the career you dream about, take them to lunch and pick their brains about what opportunities are out there. We are social beings, and the people we know and have good relationships with can help us. It’s not a company that hires you, it’s a person. You can make yourself the most qualified candidate for the job.
If you lack people skills, your chances diminish a lot. It’s no longer just about diplomas and qualifications. You need interpersonal skills, emotional intelligence, and other soft skills in order to build a strong career.
You can develop the start-up of you by applying entrepreneurial skills to everything you do. Make every decision in life based on these skills and you’ll develop an entrepreneurial mind-set that will help you in the long run.
And one of the most important things you need to remember is that you should always be focused. Be aware of the changes that are happening around you and seize the great opportunities that come your way.
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