Thursday, April 10, 2014

Book Review: The Start-Up of YOU

By Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha

In January, General Assembly began a book club and I joined.

I had never been part of a book club before and did not really like the idea of them.  With a good book comes good conversation, but the idea of having to read something within a specific time frame and then contribute to the conversation seemed stress inducing.  Also, the idea of book clubs conjures up an image of a bunch of housewives sitting around reading The Red Tent.  Seeing as for the past few months I have yet to find a novel that piques my interest, (not to mention being less than gung-ho about being "forced" to read one,) the traditional Book Club did not appeal to me.  But I do read.  In fact, I have read a number of non-fiction books recently and have loved them. Most notably, was the Steve Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson.  I was enthralled from page to page.

Although I had such negative connotations with Book Clubs, I assumed that GA's would be different.  A community of business-minded, tech savvy, entrepreneurial cool people would probably not start hacking (pun intended) away at Oprah's list of Must Reads.  The first book that was chosen was The Start-Up of You.  The book was briefly described to me as a self-development/career search manual and manifesto.  Sounded good to me!

I procrastinated in opening the book and really diving into the content, but once I did I became inspired and satisfied.  I was driven to take action.  I've decided to give the book a brief "review" highlighting some of the key takeaways and lessons that I learned while reading.  The great thing about this book is at the end of each chapter there is an Action Plan.  These are tasks to be completed that week, that month, and in the upcoming months.  The book makes all the advice extremely digestable and gives the reader strong tools for executing on the ideas.

So here we go....

  • Search for a job even when you're not looking for a job.  This really connects with some other points that I will make below involving developing a skill set and building a network.
  • Distinguish yourself in the marketplace.  What is your competitive advantage?
  • Be flexible.  Be persistent.  Yes, these go together.
  • Learn.  Keep on learning.  Find learning opportunities and take them.
  • Plan A, Plan B, and in case all else fails....Plan Z.
  • Learn a skill during the nights/weekends.  (Sidenote: I just started to learn how to code!  Get ready to see a Blocho's Tacos redesign)
  • The PayPal Mafia and Networking - How can you help the other individual?
    • This is why LinkedIn exists.
  • Take risks.  You are over estimating the "negative" consequences.  Leaving your options open often leads to failure.  
    • "But the biggest and best opportunities frequently are the ones with the most question marks.  Don't let uncertainty lull you into overestimating the risk" (page 182).
  • A great summary of the book that comes on page 19: "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."
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