"The Start-up of You" - Book thoughts and summary

A few weeks ago I mentioned I was reading Reid Hoffman's "The Start-up of You."  I just finished the book, and wanted to jot down and share a few of my impressions and lessons learned. 

If you can't tell from my earlier post, I'm a huge fan of the book. It gave me the push to create this site, and to be more active in networking (I started looking more into those networking apps like Glassbreakers and Weave). I'm going to highlight a few of the important points in the book that really stuck with me.


Don't be like Detroit

Towards the beginning of the book, Reid writes about Detroit and the once powerful automotive industry. He describes how Detroit used to be like the old version of  Silicon Valley in the mid 20th century with the rise of local start-ups like Ford, General Motors and Chrysler. The city was once known for it's entrepreneurship, innovation and technology, attracting people all over the nation to move there. But down the line, those automotive companies became stagnant, as they "clung stubbornly to their decades-old practice" (p.15) and started losing to the competition. They didn't invest in lean manufacturing, didn't create more fuel efficient vehicles, and weren't able to keep competitive with international Japanese companies. Fast forward a couple decades - we all know what happened to Detroit: the government had to bail out GM, and the city now has one of the highest crime rates in the nation. 

The moment you being to take success for granted is the moment a competitor lunges for your jugular.
— page 15

After reading this story, it really gave me that push because we are all at risk of becoming the next Detroit (or getting phased out / passed over by a more qualified, accomplished candidate).  So, in order to prevent something like that from happening to your career, Reid makes suggestions like ABZ Planning, creating a personal brand, and strengthening your network. 

Plan A, Plan B, and Plan Z

This is the idea is that wherever we are in our professional journey, we should always have a Plan A, Plan B, and Plan Z (or ABZ Planning). What we are currently doing is our plan A. Where we want to be is our Plan B. Our Plan Z is our "safety net"  - something that we should always feel comfortable falling back on incase the other 2 plans fall through. In our careers, we should always be adapting, evolving and growing (permanent beta, as he calls it), so ABZ Planning is crucial. 

While you’ll always be tinkering and adjusting your Plan A, should you decide you need to make a bigger change, that’s when you pivot to Plan B. Pivoting isn’t throwing a dart on the map and then going there. It’s changing direction or changing your path to get somewhere based on what you’ve learned along the way. Once you’ve pivoted and are on a new track, that becomes your new Plan A.
— page 68

Build and maintain a professional network

We all know the importance of networking, and the book will drill this into your head of why we should (or need to) network.  This goes beyond just expanding your first-degree networks; Reid highlights that we should be leveraging our network's network (2nd and 3rd degree contacts), because that opens our exposure to exponentially more people, opportunities and varying perspectives (or what he calls network intelligence and network literacy). Basically, you can't always do it on your own - you need the help, guidance, and knowledge of others. We should continue to invest and maintain these relationships over time (he gave suggestions on how to keep in touch and gave the reader networking homework). 


I could probably keep writing (and make this an actual book report), but I'll leave it at that. My suggestion is to read the book - it's a super easy read and will really light that fire. Enjoy!