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The Startup of You: Are You Ready?

This is the inaugural post from noted electronics-industry career consultant Ruth Glover, who will offer insight and information about how you can engineer your career.

I might not have read The Start-Up of YOU, if I hadn't attended a “by invitation only” LinkedIn presentation in Dallas recently. With 100+ degree temperatures, I trudged into the session with little enthusiasm, as I use LinkedIn daily and actually provide basic LinkedIn training to candidates. Would this be just a sales presentation? Would I learn anything new?

My spirits improved when I saw recruiter friends I hadn't seen in years. LinkedIn arranged the meeting for established agency recruiters in Dallas. Seeing former colleagues was not all that happened. LinkedIn IPO'd last year and has spent money to improve their products for both paying and non-paying participants. Their presentation was first class.

Each attendee was given a copy of Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha's book, titled The Start-Up of YOU . I might not have purchased the book thinking, “…just another business book.” Much to my surprise, the book is as good as or better than the presentation. I want this synopsis to encourage you to read and heed the information in the book.

Cheery thought:  We are all born as entrepreneurs and  must manage our careers with that in mind.

Cheery thought: We are all born as entrepreneurs and
must manage our careers with that in mind.

The book: The Start-Up of YOU
Reid Hoffman is the co-founder and chairman of LinkedIn, the social networking Internet phenomenon of the business world. LinkedIn is the best way to connect with people you used to know, currently know, or want to know. Reid, investor and thought guru, started LinkedIn in 2003. He met Ben, the co-author, about the same time when Ben was in transition. Ben loved to write but his interest in travel and technology companies left him stranded, pondering his next step. While building a friendship, they realized, we are all born as entrepreneurs and must manage our lives as if we are self-employed with urgency and doubt along the way. The birth of the book started to grow.

Most career books suggest you determine what you want to do and then passionately attack the plan. I happen to agree with the authors, who state we more often evolve, rather than making a conscious decision on what comes next. I loved the premise they call “permanent beta.”

Career planning
The authors suggest fitting three pieces together, much like a puzzle where all pieces must interact with each other. They include:

  • Assets — strengths, experience, skills
  • Aspirations — helping others, creating music, building new companies, going green
  • Market realities — the economy, local community, and the world

Once you determine these three aspects, be ready to adapt, as you need both Plan A and Plan B, plus they suggest Plan Z. Plan A is your current status. Plan B is what you'd like to become, and Plan Z is how to support yourself in the process. You may work at Starbucks or do home repair for a friend, which could actually lead you to a new Plan A!

Plans often take many years to achieve where you want and need to be. The book suggests we take advantage of surprises, such as layoffs, to become more productive by “pivoting.”

A critical aspect of growth is who we know; the authors discuss the power of “we.” We are the social network that LinkedIn helps us develop. We need coaches, mentors, relatives, and friends to help and encourage us along the path.

Career success stories
Examples of long climbs to success are rampant in the book. George Clooney arrived in Hollywood 12 years before his acting career jettisoned to success. Tim Westergren pitched his business idea for music on Pandora 300 times before he was given $9 million to expand his company. His passion and his team supported him through the feast and famine.

Risk is a factor no matter what we plan. Whenever we implement Plan A, we need to start Plan B, and as they suggest, use Plan Z, as the unexpected happens daily. Seek advice and listen carefully as opportunity may knock loudly when you least expect it.

My favorite quote from the book is, “To move forward in your career, you have to commit to specific opportunities as part of the iterative plan, despite doubt and despite inconvenience.”

Calculated career risk
Since I'm self-employed, I relate to that statement, more than I care to recall. My business started as a training company, evolved into recruiting, and now provides career management for individuals. Every time I create a new business model, risk looms like a big cloud. But for your “startup” to survive, change is inevitable.

What can you do today to further your Plan B? Who is on your board of directors who will give you honest feedback to help you achieve that next step? Are you adding new, worthwhile connections to your social network? Our global economy is and will continue to be chaotic. Our old economy is gone and we live in a global, electronic age. You must be ready, willing, and able to adapt with the help of people who know and love you. Truly we are all in startup mode, regardless of our age or status in life. Networking need not be a chore, but simply a way of moving our lives forward with the knowledge that we are not there yet!

Who is part of your “we?” What action will you take today to further your career? Let the “new you” begin!

5 comments on “The Startup of You: Are You Ready?

  1. Brian Fuller
    February 28, 2013

    Ruth welcome to the EBN community and thanks for a great post!

    I came across something this morning that complements your excellent insights: A post from a DesignCon attendee who speaks directly to how attending events can help build your brand  and nurture your career. 

  2. Mr. Roques
    February 28, 2013

    So plan Z is what you plan to do between where you are and where you want to be? I think this is the hardest part. I want to have an airplane company, I work at Starbucks now… How am I going to do it?

  3. _hm
    February 28, 2013

    Great post! Imagination and dreaming is integral part of flying high in one's life.

  4. Ruth Glover
    March 1, 2013

    Passion or illusion?  Have you begun reading books about career change?  Do you know the steps to career change?  Have you attended any career siminars or webinars?  Have you considered talking with a career coach?

    Career testa are available, both free and expensive.  You could assess your akills, abilitites, background and resources.  The planning is important, but opportunity may be standing in front of you when you engage one of your latte drinkers in a crucial conversation.

    You mentioned wanting an airplane company.  Why are you selling coffee instead of hanging out with pilots and people in aviation careers?

    Perhaps you jest.  Would you really want to be CEO of American Airlines?

  5. Mr. Roques
    March 24, 2013

    hahaha, well AA might be in deep issues but I rather be the CEO of a failing company than the janitor of a very profitable one. 

    Regarding my example, sometimes life gives you something and you don't have a choice… its easy to say go hang out with pilots, but thats not going to pay the rent. Its risks you take but there has to be something more. 

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