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The Start-up of You:  Adapt to the Future, Invest in Yourself, and Transform Your Career

Author: Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha, 2012

Imagine that start-up companies and highly successful individuals share similar strategies on the path to success--what could those strategies be?  They include staying nimble and flexible, keying into opportunities and using their professional networks to be successful.  This means a mind-set of thinking of yourself as a start-up in permanent “beta” and therefore a work in progress.  What a liberating mind-set!

This a wonderfully helpful book for people of any age in any job/school/career who want to jump-start their career and put themselves in the driver’s seat.  The book is also valuable for any professional who wants to enhance their current success and leverage their professional networks for more influence and impact as a leader.  There are many illuminating and helpful strategies and a checklist of actions at the end of every chapter.

One of my favorites is the value of ABZ planning.  Given today’s economic realities, you should have three plans for your career:  Plan A—based on your competitive advantages from a clear-eyed assessment and combination of your assets (skills, capabilities), aspirations and market realities.  Then there is Plan B and this where things get exciting.  Plan B means you iterate and adapt your plan, pivot when opportunities arise and things change. The practical advice for Plan B:  start Plan B on the side by learning new skills and meeting new people that ignite your curiosity and passion. And last but not least is Plan Z—the fallback position (your lifeboat!).  The bottom-line for ABZ planning, and the name of this chapter, is “Plan to Adapt.”  It’s all about pivoting, being curious, continual learning, investing in yourself and not getting stuck in a linear career planning point of view.

But the heart and soul of the book is the value, mindset and methods of professional networking—not surprising since one of the co-authors (Reid) was a co-founder of LinkedIn.  The authors provide practical ideas on how to network starting with the refreshing advice of thinking of networking as building relationships and not about transactional exchanges.  It’s about giving and helping others and not just about getting. For the authors it’s “what’s in it for us.”  And with this mindset follows a whole array of practical do’s and don’t’s to building and maintaining your professional network that not only serves you but serves others as well.