No matter what you do, think of yourself as an entrepreneur. Be willing to take risks. Accept failure and learn from it. Keep trying, and you'll succeed.
If this all sounds familiar, then you'll be as disappointed as I was by The Start-Up of You, a generic career advice book churned out by two tech elites who could have done better. Rather than drawing directly on their experiences as founders and venture capitalists, Hoffman and Casnocha make a rote journey through modern Silicon Valley-themed business book territory. When they tell the stories of successes like Apple, Amazon, Netflix, PayPal, and Zappos, it feels like they're going through a checklist. There's far less original substance than in Casnocha's My Start-Up Life
, which benefited enormously from his being a teenager who knew little beyond his own experiences. He could tell it like it is, rather than drawing on played-out archetypes. The older Casnocha has tailored his book to the broadest possible audience, with all the mediocrity that entails.
Simply put, I'm tired of hearing "They told him he was crazy..." stories. You know the type:
1. They [potential investors] told him [the entrepreneur] he was crazy.
2. He kept going. For years, he poured his heart and soul into his dream.
3. Today, [company he started] is valued at $x billion.
The problem with these stories is that there's only so much you can learn from them. The moral isn't "If they tell you that you're crazy, you're probably on to something"--to the contrary, if they tell you that you're crazy, you're probably crazy. "They" are often smart people like Hoffman and Casnocha. The moral is in the second part of the story: You're not going to succeed unless you put your time and effort where your mouth is. Hopefully, you already knew that.
Still, "The Start-Up of You" gets the essentials right: The US economy is no longer adapted to reward loyalty with job security. There are no more risk-free, high-reward options on the table. You can't just work your way up within a static hierarchy. You have to be constantly prepared for change. In short, every worker is now an independent contractor to some degree. You have to make sure that you're always supplying something that's in demand--just as startups do. That's a lesson worth learning. You just don't need this book to do it.