Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

Reid Hoffman’s New Business Book Tells Everyone to Act Like Entrepreneurs

Reid Hoffman is a nice-guy billionaire who founded LinkedIn, was an early backer of many of the most important Internet companies of the last decade and now also invests professionally as a Sand Hill Road venture capitalist.

Now, he wants to be a business book guru, too. Hoffman’s “The Start-Up of You,” which was released today, is an accessible how-to guide written for people looking to improve their careers.

Hoffman urges readers to treat themselves as entrepreneurs, rejecting the common advice about “finding your passion” for being too simple and dissociated from the current context.

Yes, your aspirations shape what you do. But your aspirations are themselves shaped by your actions and experiences. You remake yourself as you grow and the world changes. Your identity doesn’t get found. It emerges.

Hoffman and his co-author, Ben Casnocha — himself a young entrepreneur — advocate self-branding and networking, which they somehow (!) manage to do without being sleazy.

Throughout the book, they translate tech industry terms that usually apply to companies and products, like “pivots” and “beta versions,” to personal careers.

For instance, Hoffman and Casnocha advocate that readers inoculate themselves against big risks — like losing a job — by taking smaller risks all the time and learning how to deal with them.

Hoffman and Casnocha tell readers to have a “Plan A” while developing a “Plan B” in the background — basically, a day job and a passion project. They say to also have a “Plan Z,” which is described as a safety net such as life savings or moving back in with parents, to make fear of failure less acute.

This “ABZ Planning” is probably the book’s main gimmick. The rest is a collection of lessons about hustling and relationships, many told through stories about LinkedIn and companies Hoffman and others at Greylock Partners have invested in, with some recurring characters like Mark Pincus, Sheryl Sandberg and George Clooney.


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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik