“1,000,000 people overseas can do your job. What makes you so special?”
That sobering message ran on a Bay Area billboard in 2009. And that’s how chapter two of The Start-up of You: Adapt to the Future, Invest in Yourself, and Transform Your Career opens.
Authors Reid Hoffman (LinkedIn co-founder) and Ben Casnocha (entrepreneur and author) might have a few readers looking for a tall building with a slippery ledge with that statement, but they don’t leave them there for long.
The Startup of You explains the cold hard fact that the business world is changing, and so must careers. To be successful in this new marketplace, the authors say you need to adapt the way you approach your career. To be successful today, your primary job must be to train and invest in yourself.
Do As I Do
They suggest that you do that by copying the strategies of successful entrepreneurs; start approaching your career like a startup business.
“With the death of traditional career paths, so goes the kind of traditional professional development previous generations enjoyed.”
Their thesis is solid. The obstacles we face in our careers are similar to the hurdles faced by startups; fierce competition, limited resources, limited information.
And, they suggest, the keys to a successful career today are just a similar; building on assets, taking the right risks, constantly improving (which they call staying in “Beta mode”).
But the over arching theme is simple – if you fail to adapt, you will fail, period. True for startups, true for your career.
Of course there’s emphasis on networking (would you expect anything less from the founder of the largest online networking vehicle?), but most of the book offers unique tips on how you can stay current, and get marketable.
Here are two of my favorites tips:
1. Accentuate the Positive
Successful startups understand their competitive advantage. For careers, this is different than knowing your skill set. This means understanding your personal unique selling proposition.
Example – Zappos. What did they sell that made the shoe website a phenomenon? Not shoes. They sold customer service. And along with it, enough shoes to warrant a company buyout price of almost a billion dollars. But first and foremost, they sold a customer experience.
The Startup of You walks you through ways to assess your competitive advantage by evaluating your assets, aspirations and values.
2. Court Serendipity
Successful startups, like successful careers, don’t follow the traditional path. “Most successful companies and careers, in fact go through many adaptations and iterations,” the book says. “They never really arrive at a fixed destination; it’s an endless journey.”
The book challenges the reader to seek out the unusual opportunities. This involves a lot of putting yourself out there, and hustling, and taking risks. Which may sound a bit zen-guru-ish at first. But it’s wrapped in great examples and ultimately is quite motivating.
Or, Don’t Do As I Do
In true entrepreneurial fashion, Hoffman and Casnocha end their book suggesting that you might want to break all the guidelines they’ve just outlined. Suggesting you “drive over the guiderails” and forge your own path. Because that’s what successful entrepreneurs do.
Another thing successful entrepreneurs do, is fully understand the framework of the box before they draw outside of it. When it comes to your career, The Startup of You wants to help you with that.
I’m giving away two copies of the book to be chosen by this random drawing generator. Winners will be drawn on April 1st.
To enter just:
- Tweet this post (be sure to add hashtag #WonkaSwag)
- Sign up below
- Leave a comment
Each one will get you one entry. Do all three – you’ve got three chances to win. In case you needed help with that math
UPDATE: DRAWING IS CLOSED. Winners have been notified.