Note: This is the second post in a series reviewing The Start-Up of You: Adapt to the Future, Invest in Yourself, and Transform Your Career by Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha
This post focuses on the smart people and the thoughtful comments they share in the thriving Start-Up of You LinkedIn Discussion Group / Community. As of the publication of this post, the community boasts 1,200+ members.
Global members in this community come from all walks of life. Here are some charts summarizing the group's seniority and the different business functions represented (as of April 5, 2012):
Business Function Demographics Chart (as of 6 AM Central Time, April 5th)
Seniority Demographics Chart (as of 6 AM Central Time, April 5th)
What Differentiates The Start-Up of You LinkedIn Community?
* People Genuinely Do and Want to Help Each Other. This group epitomizes how "giving is better than receiving."
* No Blog Pimping. This unwritten code is enforced by the group and its managers. How? Those who've tried posting links to their posts without contributing something to the group INSTANTLY LOSE CREDIBILITY. Their submitted discussion posts are ignored and buried in the stream.
Start-Up of You Community Members are smart and discerning. They know and identify self-serving BS quickly.
* The Group Practices the IWe (I to the We) Principle (direct quotes from the book):
"The nuanced version of the story of success is that both the individual and team matter. "I" vs. "We" is a false choice. It's both. Your career success depends on both your individual capabilities and your network's ability to magnify them."
"Think of it as IWe. An individual's power is raised exponentially with the help of a team (a network). But just as zero to the one hundredth power is still zero, there's no team without the individual."
"This book is titled The Start-Up of You. Really, the "you" is at once singular and plural."
People To Follow and Learn From. I follow a number of people in this great community. I wish I could highlight them all (but there's only so much time to write).
Here are X people I closely follow within The Start-Up of You LinkedIn Community because they're smart, interesting, helpful, and generous. Every time one of these members submits a comment or discussion topic, I pay closer attention and focus a little harder.
Why? Because I know an opportunity to learn something new and insightful is approaching. And, I don't want to miss it.
Ben is the co-author of The Start-Up of You with Reid Hoffman. He's a successful entrepreneur, New York Times best-selling author, and world-traveler. He's also the owner of The Start-Up of You LinkedIn Discussion Group.
I look forward to his group contributions because of his intelligence and thoughtfulness. This is another way of saying whenever I read one of his comments, I'm always left thinking: "Wow, I wish I would have said that ..."
Here's one of my favorite Casnocha comments from Manish Shah's discussion thread titled: How do people prefer to develop skills that can help diversify their experience at work?
"To broaden the conversation a bit to how people can learn new skills generally: one model I'm intrigued by is the "coach" model. That is, hiring a coach to work with you intensely to develop a specific skill, like programming or public speaking. Atul Gawande wrote an interesting piece about this topic a few months ago in the New Yorker:http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2011/10/03/111003fa_fact_gawande
As he points out, elite athletes and singers have coaches. Tiger Woods is one of the best golfers in the world, yet he still has a swing coach.
Why don't more top-flight professionals have coaches to work with them on specific parts of their skill portfolio? Why don't all of us? How does coaching compare to other models of learning? What's the value of a hired coach vs. informal coaching done through your network? Ruminations..."
Here's a great video of Ben being interviewed about The Start-Up of You. During the interview, he shares personal lessons learned as a lifelong entrepreneur:
Ian is a Start-Up of You marketing team member. He recently hosted the live Q&A webcast with Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha. And, he did a phenomenal job in managing some of the technical problems that arose during the webcast.
In reading and following Ian's discussion group comments, I always think: "This guy is wise beyond his years." He's smart, a talented writer, and always makes me think.
Here's a great example from Brett Bolkowy's discussion thread "Design Chief Jony Ive on Apple's Design Process: Rapid Iteration and Prototyping Are Key." This quote demonstrates Ian's proactive thinking and iterative approach towards career management and personal development:
"One thought: if you have difficulty taking small steps toward a new opportunity, it's worth acknowledging this honestly rather than continuing to struggle toward a goal. I spent almost a year wanting to teach myself programming, struggling to make progress, until I discovered another subject that was easy for me to take small steps toward mastering — finance and trading. It's not to say that I couldn't have changed my approach to make learning programming more enjoyable, but my point is small steps aren't always easy but, perhaps, they should be."
Ian publishes a personal blog titled Essays & Notes (and it TOTALLY ROCKS). Read these two posts and you'll gain a sense of his thoughtfulness and genuineness: (1) Lust To Love and (2) Singles Awareness Day. Here's Ian Bennett Alas's Twitter Profile.
And, check out some of his creative videos. They're pretty cool!
Jessie is a Product Marketing Manager at Get Satisfaction. She's also cited in The Acknowledgements Section of The Start-Up of You by Ben Casnocha. She is a bright individual as evidenced by this thoughtful response to Alexandros Mathopoulous in his discussion thread: What advice would you offer a high schooler, who is very interested in entrepreneurship, in choosing a college or not going to college?
"Let me start by saying that I am probably not the best person to be answering this question because I never second-guessed my choice to go to college nor do I have ambitions to start a business.
What I do know is that it's important to get many different perspectives on a question like this and always keep in mind who is giving the advice. I, for example, would probably say that college is a good choice, but I always liked school and didn't have to take on debt to attend a private college. My parents would definitely recommend it, because they are old school and don't realize that these days many of the most sought after skills (eg: programming) aren't even taught in college. Someone who didn't go to college might advise you not to go without even considering how he or she is different from you.
Out of all of this, you'll need to abstract the "objective" benefits and drawbacks of going to college.
Objectively, or at least as objectively as I can, I would say that there is a huge networking benefit to go to college - it's a chance to meet a lot of smart people. But, at the same time, you could go to dozens of conferences a year for less than tuition. Still, it's a built-in network and 4 years provides plenty of time to build lasting relationships.
Those are my somewhat jumbled thoughts. Hope it's helpful!"
She's also inspired me in how to creatively use a personal website showcasing a personal and professional story. Jessie's website is a great example of personal branding to exhibit one's strengths, creativity, and technical prowess. The story she tells is the playbook / model I will follow when I build my personal website.
You can also check out Jessie's tweets on her Twitter Profile.
Brett is also a Start-Up of You Marketing Team Member. Reid Hoffman cites Brett in The Acknowledgments Section of The Start-Up of You for his contributions in research, content refinement, and organizational support.
Here's a great example of this guy's smarts from Pamela J. Stubbart's discussion thread: "The Information Diet: A Case for Conscious Consumption."
"To Ian's first point from the Quora thread, I might recommend a publication that comes out weekly as opposed to daily - like The Economist - which offers analysis as well as the history of what's happened in the previous week.
Another interesting idea I read about in Steven Johnson's Where Good Ideas Come From is "deep dive reading vacations," which is something that Bill Gates plans once a year - he goes off the grid and surrounds himself with all the information he can on one topic."
Here's Brett Bolkowy's Twitter Profile. He's also an amateur photographer. Check out these cool photos from Brett Bolkowy's personal website:
When I discovered The Start-Up of You LinkedIn Discussion Group, I published this discussion thread titled: 4 Reasons Why Soft Assets Like a Personal Blog / Public Portfolio Should Be Part of Your Personal and Portable Start-Up of You Toolkit.
Matt was the first person to contribute to this discussion. His responses demonstrated his smarts, creativity, and technology savvy. If you read his many contributions to other discussion threads, I think you'd conclude (like I do) he's a great guy. He's the type of genuinely good person you'd enjoy talking with over a couple of beers.
He runs his own business, HipSoft Logic Ltd., a website development firm. Matt also publishes a personal blog: And Then Some -- Thoughts That Are Important to Me. If you'd like to follow him on Twitter, here's Matt Hippely's Twitter Profile.
Here are some of Matt's thoughts in the aforementioned LinkedIn discussion thread:
"I am building out a series of marketing pieces for myself. I am thinking of it like this: If I had my own marketing department, I would feed them the data and they would make this collateral for me.
I would describe the piece I am working on right now as a high level mailer that gets its own webpage instead of snail mail. Think of it as one of those glossy, multipage advertisements for a new credit card but online with a bit of interactivity.
@Travis - I have been looking at it from the other direction. Up until now my blog has been a place for posting updates and media for my daughters grand parental units. Except for the occasional coding tip or emacs command that I want to remember I haven't put much professional thought out there for public. I have put things there but they are not polished enough that I want to put those, professionally related thoughts out there. If I polish them up and put them out there I can tweak the tags or categories so that it can serve both my personal and professional interests. But it takes time to polish and organize thoughts that bridge the personal and professional divide so I haven't done it.
I have a feeling that the value in soft assets like a blog are a reflection of the amount invested into it. Much like I first noticed that Apple was different - even in the way the packaged the first computer I bought from them (A still running PPC G5 :-), I notice personal site that the author has either put a lot of time into personalizing. I wonder if it is the process of personalizing your site/content/message that is equivalent to submitting a cover letter printed on red paber except that the red cover letter only gets seen by a few people at best and your digital footprint is always there."
There are a number great folks who contribute great content to The Start-Up of You LinkedIn Community. I wish I had more time to mention them.
Join The Community. The people in this LinkedIn Group share great content, advice, and opinions. Their insightful discussions force me to think differently and open my mind to different solutions and possibilities.
Isn't that what learning is all about?
The people in this community add tremendous value by sharing how they're applying and learning from the book's lessons.
Please Join Us.