The Start-Up of You Summary

1-Sentence-Summary: The Start-Up of You explains why you need manage your career as if you were running a start-up to get ahead in today’s ultra-competitive and ever-changing business world.

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The Start-up of You Summary

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Career success used to be a fairly straightforward process. Generations past showed up for work every day, worked their way up the corporate ladder, and retired at 65. Today, getting a job is more cut-throat than ever, thanks to globalization and technology. Globalization allows for the job market to be more competitive. With an almost unlimited pool of qualified applicants and technology, a job you have today can be automated tomorrow. 

The key to surviving in an ever-changing world is to start thinking like an entrepreneur

Why? Entrepreneurs take intelligent risks, are adaptable, they understand the importance of networking, and they’re always looking for breakout opportunities. These qualities are exactly what everyone needs to employ in their own careers to get ahead in today’s world.

The Start-Up of You: Adapt to the Future, Invest in Yourself, and Transform Your Career is your guide on how to hustle like an entrepreneur in whatever you do. Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn, and Ben Casanocha, a Silicon Valley author and blogger, give us all of the skills we need to treat our careers as a startup. The book will not only help you survive today’s tumultuous times but will also help you achieve even your boldest ambitions. 

Here are 3 great takeaways from this one:

  1. Find your competitive advantage by crossing your assets, your passions, and the realities of today’s market.
  2. Make plans of A, B, and then Z so you can adapt as you learn.
  3. Taking intelligent risks will give you a leg up on the competition.

Are you ready to become the CEO of your career and be in charge of your future? Let’s get going!

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Lesson 1: Examine the intersection between your assets, values, and passions to find your competitive advantage in today’s market.

For anything worth having, there is usually competition. Whether it’s jobs, dating, or waiting in line to get those Broadway tickets before they sell out, we all have to contend for what we want. When things get cut-throat, our best bet is to find where we have the upper hand.

Start-ups are forced to find their competitive edge to survive. To get that awesome new job, a shiny new promotion, or pay raise, you have to find your upper hand, too. This leverage is a cross between three things: your assets, your passions, and the realities of the current market. 

First, your personal assets give you an advantage over everyone else. They can also be your skills, experiences, or strengths. Whatever unique capabilities you have, they are always relative to the assets of the competition. Because of this, you need to seek out where your assets shine compared to your competitors.

Second, your values give you an edge over others. They can also be called your passions. Being passionate about what you are doing is crucial to success. Those who are excited about what they are doing will always excel and beat out those who aren’t. 

Third, the realities of today’s market are important because there needs to be a demand for your specific advantage over the competition. A competitive edge isn’t useful unless someone is interested in it.

Lesson 2: Adapting as the workplace changes is as simple as planning from A to B, then Z.

When it comes to planning our careers, we need to be “flexibly persistent.” It’s best to do lots of serious planning and to strategize, just not to set firm plans, as things change. Our guide to doing this is called ABZ planning. 

Plan A is what you are doing at the moment. It’s your current job that should reflect what you now believe your competitive advantage is. It’s stable but flexible. A good plan A will lead to many possible plan B’s.

Plan B is something related to plan A that you turn to if it shows more potential. It’s best that plan B is different than the first plan but related enough that you can take the lessons you learned from the first plan and apply them. 

Plan Z is your lifeboat. It’s not where you want to end up, but knowing it’s there will give you the confidence to switch to plan B because you know what you will do if plan B fails. This can be something like living at your parents’ house.

Plan Z gives you the confidence to take the financial risks necessary to start your business because you know if it fails you won’t be homeless.

Lesson 3: Make smart, calculated risks, and you will have the advantage over your competition.

The word “risk” seems to make a lot of people want to back away when they hear it. But if you think about it, most opportunities in life that are worthwhile involve at least some danger. Like driving a car, it has some uncertainty, but the benefits from being able to drive yourself around far outweigh the risks. 

Risks are an unavoidable part of life, and being willing to take them is integral to success. If you can learn to take risks, you will have an edge over the competition. When competing for that breakout opportunity, taking risks gives you the advantage because it gives you the ability to take on opportunities others overlook as “too risky.”

But it’s also important to remember to take smart risks. To evaluate whether or not the risk is worth it, ask yourself if you are okay with living with the worst-case scenario. So if the worst-case scenario comes down to you living in a dumpster, it’s probably not worth it. 

Another question to ask when evaluating the risk is how easy is it to turn back to plan B. A risk that is smaller, and more reversible if needs be, is better than one where you give up all your resources irreversibly.

The Start-Up of You Review

The Start-up of You is a great read for anyone wanting to accelerate their career or figure out what they want to do. It gives valuable advice on how to have flexibility, take smart risks, and network like a pro. Instead of letting fate determine where you are going to be in your career, this book will give you the tools you need to take control and be who you want to be.

Who would I recommend The Start-Up of You summary to?

The 24-year-old who is looking to start a career but doesn’t know what exactly they want to do yet, the 33-year-old who realizes they don’t like where their job is going and are ready for a change, anyone who wants to kick start their career and get ahead.

Last Updated on August 18, 2022

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Luke Rowley

With over 450 summaries that he contributed to Four Minute Books, first as a part-time writer, then as our full-time Managing Editor until late 2021, Luke is our second-most prolific writer. He's also a professional, licensed engineer, working in the solar industry. Next to his day job, he also runs Goal Engineering, a website dedicated to achieving your goals with a unique, 4-4-4 system. Luke is also a husband, father, 75 Hard finisher, and lover of the outdoors. He lives in Utah with his wife and 3 kids.