Another Book Review
By Arnold Kling
This one I actually plan to finish. It’s The Start-up of You, a self-help business book by Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha. Hoffman is famous as the founder of Linked-In, although in my circles Casnocha is better known. They write,
Opportunities do not float like clouds. They are firmly attached to individuals. If you’re looking for an opportunity, you’re really looking for people. If you’re evaluating an opportunity, you’re really evaluating people…A company doesn’t offer you a job, people do.
The theme of the book is that you should approach career development with the mindset of an entrepreneur. One thing that I found as an entrepreneur was that the most promising way to change my luck was to develop new relationships. I read the authors as saying that this is also the most promising way to change your luck in your career.
The book is not a commercial for Linked-in. Nowhere does it say, “Join Linked-in, and get connected to as many people as possible.” On the contrary, they suggest only carefully circumscribed uses for weak ties. They make a stronger case for deeper relationships.
One of the interesting tips in the book is to set up an “interesting people fund.” By that, they mean that you allocate money to use to spend time with interesting people. This “pre-commitment” strategy will ensure that you do not stay stuck in a rut. I agree that the best way to have an interesting life is to become involved with interesting people. It is one of those things that is obvious but easy to lose sight of.
Another concept in the book is that of plans A, B, and Z. Plan A is what you are basically doing. Plan B is something you might “pivot to” if it looks better. Plan Z is what you might fall back on if all else fails. When I started my Web business in 1994, my plan B was to pivot into consulting, using my Internet experience. My plan Z was to go back to Freddie Mac. When things went badly at first, I actually went to plan Z for a while, thinking that plan B was not to my taste. But my wife talked me into keeping the Web business going by taking care of it evenings and weekends. Soon the Web tsunami took off, and something resembling plan A came back into play.
I am about 3/4 of the way through this book. My test for it was whether I would recommend it to my daughter who is just graduating or to others her age. Definitely yes.