Early on in The Start-up of You, Reid Hoffman takes on the sacred cow of career advice books, making it clear that the timeworn exhortations of What Color is Your Parachute?won’t fly in this economy.
“That’s the wrong question,” Hoffman, the co-founder and chairman of LinkedIn writes (with the help of coauthor Ben Casnocha). “What you should be asking yourself is whether your parachute can keep you aloft in changing conditions.”
Hence the central conceit of the book. Just as Detroit’s dinosaurs fell victim to hubris and an inability to adapt, so will you, dear career seeker, if you don’t mimic the nimble startups of Silicon Valley. Though Hoffman and Casnocha see the struggle through the eyes of one percenters (they don’t seem to know anyone who didn’t go to a good college), there’s lots of good advice that you can apply to your own career. We’ve distilled that advice into eight solid tips that you can apply to your job search today.
1. “A Company Hires Me Over Other Professionals Because…”
To answer this question, Hoffman uses the example of Zappos, which focuses on mainstream shoes and clothes. While it might be tempting to adapt the company’s “over-the-top customer service” to other categories as well, that would make Zappos’s unique selling proposition less apparent. “If you try to be the best at everything and better than everyone (that is, if you believe success means ascending one global, mega leaderboard), you’ll be the best at nothing and better than no one,” Hoffman writes. “In other words, don’t try to be the greatest marketing executive in the world; try to be the greatest marketing executive of small-to-midsize companies that compete in the health care industry.”
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