What can you learn from startup entrepreneurs that can help you be successful in your career? That is one of the questions answered in the New York Times best selling career book The Startup of You by Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha. Reid Hoffman is the co-founder of the social media giant LinkedIn and Ben Casnocha was named “one of America’s best young entrepreneurs” by BusinessWeek. Whatever your career goals are, this book will provide you with ideas and actionable tactics to help you get there. I’ve summarized some of the key takeaways here.

The Career Escalator is Jammed, A New Approach is Needed

In previous decades there was a career escalator that almost guaranteed promotion and job security at large companies as long as you worked hard and did a good job. Today, with many baby boomers unable to retire due to the Great Recession, the escalator is jammed at many companies. Additionally, with the increase of outsourcing and layoffs, there are few guaranteed jobs today. Those who can build a strong professional network of allies will thrive in the new career minefield. To save money, many companies are hiring freelancers or contractors to save money and gain access to workers on demand. This means that professionals in today’s work environment are more like their own business and need a different approach to achieve career success.

Start An Important People Fund

Meeting up with your contacts is extremely important in building and maintaining relationships. However we often don’t make time to do the things we know we should be doing. Creating a budget to be spent on flights, lunches, and conferences and blocking out time in your schedule can really help you make sure you are growing and strengthening your personal network each month. I would suggest setting up an account that automatically donates any left over funds at the end of the month to a politician that you dislike to motivate yourself to spend the allocated funds on personal development.

Give Small Gifts

When you are trying to develop a stronger relationship with someone, a great tactic can be to give them small gifts. Typically this doesn’t cost you anything except time and effort. When Kevin Rose made a product demonstration video for the startup Square, Jack Dorsey was so impressed that he let Rose invest in his company even though the funding round was closed.


An example of hustle in an entrepreneurial context is Airbnb, a broke startup that created and sold Obama O’s and Cap’n McCain cereal for $40 a box before the 2008 election. The sales provided them with much needed cash to keep their company going while also providing them with free publicity from the mainstream media. Hustle involves using resourcefulness and effort to get something done and it can be a key ingredient to getting your ideal job or moving ahead in your career.

Take People Out to Lunch

A great observation the authors make in the book is that a single lunch with a personal contact is worth dozens of emails. With the explosion of the Internet for personal communications, people often forget about face to face meetings but these are often the most powerful ways to build personal relationships.

The Startup of You is one of the best career books that professionals can read to thrive in their careers and reach their goals in the new economy. As a bonus, the book’s website has a lot of useful free resources that compliment the book including video interviews and articles.

Charles Sipe is Managing Editor for Teacher Certification Degrees, a career site for prospective teachers with information on how to become a teacher in each state and career interviews with current teachers and educators.


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