5 Things A Billionaire Can Teach You About Job Hunting

Reid Hoffman PayPal LinkedInBy John Sumser

Life is good if you are Reid Hoffman. The self-made billionaire was a part of the founding team at PayPal. He took his winnings from that expedition and went on to found LinkedIn. Hoffman knows what success is.

I'd like to tell you that I've been chumming around with him; that in his jet somewhere over the Pacific on the way to his private island, we bonded. I'd also like to tell you that he gave me a fistful of stock tips and a couple of hundred thousand LinkedIn options. I want you to believe that time spent with Reid turned my life into a dreamscape.

Instead, I have to report that I never met the fellow. I did, however, read his recent book, "The Start-up of You." The book, which is co-written by Ben Casnocha, is pretty inspiring and motivational. I believe that 'co-written' means that Ben got to do the bonding, jet riding and investment advice receiving for me. I think of it as outsourcing.

The Hoffman-Casnocha team does a really good job at delivering the scary truth. The days of stable employment, long term company relationships and fixed professions are over. Your future involves taking a series of jobs that disappear while you have them. The best you can hope for is a temporary reprieve.

10 kajillion faceless people in countries you've never heard of are waiting to take your job as soon as you get good at it.

Are you scared yet? In some ways, the book is like going on a camping trip with Uncle Reid while he tells scary stories around the campfire. In this case, it's the set up for a view of the world where being an entrepreneur is the only choice you have. Old school advice about getting ahead is simply outdated.

As scary as it is, he's probably right. And, after the scary stuff, he gives some good advice. Here are the things I took away:

Anyone can be an entrepreneur.

Actually, the point is more forceful. You don't have a choice; your future involves being an entrepreneur. Rather than a fixed destination and a once in a lifetime occupation, you are headed for a series of opportunities. The question is not whether you take them but how well.

It's always day one.

He stole this from Jeff Bezos. At Amazon, they always say it's Day 1. That means that Amazon is in a state of perpetual beta; that every day is the beginning of the company; that the trappings of success are the roots of failure. Keep yourself and your work fresh through constant reexamination and redefinition.

A million people can do your job. What makes you so special?

This one comes from a long standing billboard on Silicon Valley's Highway 101. Hoffman insists that you have to regularly (weekly or monthly) review the value you deliver and make sure that it is better than your competition, seen or unseen.

Beware of success. It breeds arrogance. Arrogance precedes massive failure.

Hoffman knows this terrain well. Not content to sit back and count his billions, he launched LinkedIn with serious personal and financial involvement. Thinking that you know it all because you've had a little success is the single biggest predictor of the next fall. Be paranoid about your history and question what you've learned.

Take risks when others take refuge.

When the economy goes south, the company folds or the world ends, hunt for the lemons and make lemonade. Anyone can whine and complain about how bad it is. Economic improvement depends on being able to evaluate the circumstances and discover the opportunities.

Weak links are critical.

You'd expect that Hoffman would talk at least a bit about networking. His view is that the weak links, people you don't know very well, are the most important parts of your network. They are the gateways to things you don't know about already.

You may have noticed that I gave you six items when I promised five, The final lesson in Hoffman's book is a time honored approach to building a career: under promise and over deliver. Always try to delight your customers and colleagues. Always.

Next: How To Get A Job: Work For Free

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Would you rather be a fat billionare or not?

April 12 2012 at 4:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Drew's comment
Aaron McCormick

LOL. Oh c'mon, man. You can do better than this reply.

April 16 2012 at 5:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

A pretty good article on 5 career fields for the future.

April 02 2012 at 5:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Yeah and I STILL hate PayPal and what it has done to Ebay

March 27 2012 at 11:17 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

guess wat anthony ur a ****** too just because of 130320 exective order so dnt flex ur messed up too rich or not.................

March 27 2012 at 4:42 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

nothing but how to stay broke cus they were never given this fate of bad shift in this economy.also if someone like like me had the greatest proven social and independent experiment finished(AND I REALLY DO TOOK ME 10yrs) they still would nt let me make any money being scare i would make them broke in one day????......now take that to ur invisible bank billionares

March 27 2012 at 4:38 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
James Letourneux

Great, the world is becoming even further geared towards extroverts. Well, have fun with your boisterous cacophony of a society. I wonder if anyone will be able to hear themselves think... let alone listen to one another.

March 25 2012 at 5:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Heard all this before. Nothing new here. What I would say is for people to learn not to accept all generalisations and think for themselves. Not every point applies to evey situation or point in your life. There are many successful professionals out there not everybody gets the right breaks. He clearly had some kind of traing to start with otherwise how would Paypal come about, even if it was not formal college/university training. You still need a skill set, so be careful how you interpret some of this stuff

March 24 2012 at 4:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Cheat, steal, lie...what were the other two?

March 20 2012 at 4:55 AM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to blindskeeter's comment

you only wih you knew the formula for getting rich like he has learned....u just gotta be a libturd outd of work nad on frood stamps,,,,,your a weak one..and u r jealous

March 24 2012 at 10:05 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to towerguy102's comment
Miz Fit

And you must be a product of the public school system.

March 25 2012 at 2:50 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down

Learn to spell before you talk trash, towerguy. You end up looking like the idiot, otherwise.

April 23 2012 at 1:21 AM Report abuse rate up rate down

Very Good. I am reading Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill for the third time. Seems like the more I read this book the more I learn. This book has help me and all I have recommended it to.

March 20 2012 at 4:51 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

does being a billionaire make you fat a puffy

March 19 2012 at 3:20 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

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