Book Club Pub Crawl: Your 21st Century Career Strategy – The Start Up of You

by Ronnie Nurss on March 15, 2012

This month’s book will be The Start Up of You.  You can get it here.

Professional success in today’s world will belong to those who adapt entrepreneurial strategies. Authors Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha state that we live in an interconnected, fast-moving, and competitive economy where constant change and uncertainty makes traditional career strategy totally ineffective.

Here are a few reasons why you’ll need to treat your own career like a start up:

Death of traditional career paths

The Start Up of You uses the metaphor of the escalator when it comes to the old, traditional career path. Just following the steps has been ingrained into the youth and the “American Dream” for the last 60 years. Go to college and get a degree. Land an entry-level job at the bottom of the company escalator. Get trained and mentored though professional development. Get raises. Get promotions. Every 5 years or decade, more job security, higher pay and power. Work hard til 65 and retire with a pension and retirement savings. Clear way for the next generation. Repeat.

Now, the authors argue, that career escalator has jammed at every level. Young people can’t even find those entry level positions. Older people can’t afford to retire or are rejoining the workforce. Everyone in the middle is in constant limbo and fear.

Other arguments that can be plugged into here is the rising costs college education despite its consistent loss in value. Too much bureaucracy and wasteful spending within public and private sectors are another.

Macro-Force #1: Technology

Technology has automated thousands, even millions of traditional jobs that required people with special knowledge and skills.

Sure, technology has also created tons of new jobs and even careers. But those jobs and careers are not stable nor guaranteed for 40 years like a traditional careers used to be.

We are just now learning how to properly use technology’s powerful tools as assets (positive influence on our life and career) and not a liability (negative influence, like distractions.)

Macro-Force #2: Globalization

Technology has paved the way for globalization. Companies now move jobs from the states to overseas where they can get jobs done at a much lower cost. American professionals are not just competing with other Americans for work, but also with entire countries of workers who speak English and are just as qualified to perform.

And of course, there can be many benefits of globalization to person who approaches his career as a start up. Globalization, like technology, can be used as a tool or an asset with the right mindset.

The New World of Work

“Information is limited. Resources are tight. Competition is fierce. The world is constantly changing.”  A new world of work requires new strategy and skill sets to succeed.  It will be very difficult to thrive in this new world of work with the approach and mindset previous generations used in their traditional careers.

Author Reid Hoffman sums it up perfectly in an interview he did: The New York Times: The Start Up of You.  The following are excerpts that highlight what we’ll be discussing at this month’s book club:

Hoffman argues that professionals need an entirely new mind-set and skill set to compete. “The old paradigm of climb up a stable career ladder is dead and gone,” he said to me. “No career is a sure thing anymore. The uncertain, rapidly changing conditions in which entrepreneurs start companies is what it’s now like for all of us fashioning a career. Therefore you should approach career strategy the same way an entrepreneur approaches starting a business.”

It also means using your network to pull in information and intelligence about where the growth opportunities are — and then investing in yourself to build skills that will allow you to take advantage of those opportunities. Hoffman adds: “You can’t just say, ‘I have a college degree, I have a right to a job, now someone else should figure out how to hire and train me.’ ” You have to know which industries are working and what is happening inside them and then “find a way to add value in a way no one else can. For entrepreneurs it’s differentiate or die — that now goes for all of us.”

Finally, we were all born entrepreneurs

The book starts with the following quote:

“All human beings are entrepreneurs. When we were in the caves, we were all self-employed…finding our food, feeding ourselves.  That’s where human history began. As civilization came, we suppressed it. We became ‘labor’ because they stamped us in, ‘You are labor.’  We forgot that we are entrepreneurs.”
-Muhammad Yunnus, Nobel Peace Price winner and micro-finance pioneer

Let’s stop acting like labor. Let’s stop making excuses about how tough this economy is or blame easy targets for our lack of success. Let’s instead take the responsibilities upon ourselves. Let’s start together to build the Start Up of You.

Over the next couple a weeks be we’ll cover the following:

-The important concept of “Permanent Beta” and how it affects the Start Up of You
-The concept “Hustle” and what it actually is and how we do it
-The power of the Iwe mindset and harnessing the power of Network Intelligence
-Also, building your own “Board of Directors” for you as a start up
-Who you know is what you know: Sharing information with your network
-Pursuing breakout opportunities that you are passionate about with people you want to work with
-Much, much more…

Check out some additional resources that are highly valuable and informative:


Courtesy of Sacha Chua

Stay tuned. ThinkHouse Collective will be hosting the Book Club Pub Crawl on the last Thursday of this month, on March 29th at 7pm.

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