I recently finished reading The Start-up of You by Reid Hoffman. The book provides an interesting framework to think about your career. Here are some nuggets from the book.

  • When you start a company, you make decisions in an information-poor, time-compressed resource-constrained environment. There are no guarantees or safety nets, so you take on a certain amount of risk.

  • You’re selling your brainpower, your skills, and your energy, and you face massive competition as well. Possible employers, partners, investors all choose between you and someone who looks like you. So one should be able to answer A company hires me over others because … This doesn’t mean you need to be cheaper or faster than everyone as in life there are multiple gold medals. You can’t be best at everything so determine your local niche in which you can develop a competitive advantage.

Though we are optimistic, we must remain vigilant and maintain a sense of urgency - Jeff Bezos

  • Your competitive advantage is formed by three different forces: your assets, your aspirations and the market realities. The best direction has you pursuing worthy aspirations, using your assets while navigating the market realities.

  • The environment will change, you’ll change, your allies and competitors will change. So it is unwise at any point in your life to pinpoint a single dream around which your existence revolves.

  • Prioritize offers that provide you the most learning potential. Practical knowledge is best developed by doing, launching and learning from the users. Make small bets and think two steps ahead about where will this current action take you.

The fastest way to change yourself is to hang out with people who are already the way you want to be.

  • Making a decision may reduce opportunities in the short run, but increases opportunities in the long run.

  • The long-term answer to risk is to build resilience: if you don’t find risk; risk will find you.

  • You achieve big success when you’re both contrarian and right.

  • How you gather, manage and use information will determine whether you win or lose.

It is people who help you understand your assets, aspirations, and the market realities; it’s people who help you vet and get introduced to possible allies and trust connections; it’s people who help you track the risk attached to a given opportunity.

  • When asking for career advice go in the following order: domain experts, people who know you well and then just really smart people.

  • When making a decision ask wide questions to figure out the criteria you should be using; ask narrow questions to figure out which weight you should give to each.