Author: Reid Hoffman

How to Authentically Manage Your Personal Brand

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Your personal brand at work is not just what you say about yourself. It’s also what your network says about you.

While this isn’t something you can fully control, there are ways to better understand and shape it. 

On the seventh episode of the Startup of You Podcast, Ben Casnocha and I discuss how to more effectively build and leverage your personal brand at work and across your career. 

Tune in to hear about the three components of your personal brand in professional contexts, as well as specific tactics that you can use to manage it:

How to Take Smart Risks When Making Career Moves

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One of the riskiest things you can do in your career is to try to eliminate risk entirely. 

In fact, it’s impossible—and unadvisable—to avoid risk. For example, if you’re not aware of the risk involved in a potential career move, it’s probably not a breakout opportunity.   

The world changes—as do our jobs, companies, and industries. Risk is omnipresent. An essential skill is to know how to navigate it. 

On the sixth episode of the Startup of You Podcast, Ben Casnocha and I discuss how to conceptualize, navigate, and endure risk.

Listen here:

Don’t Make Decisions Alone

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After a wave of early customer feedback, LinkedIn shifted its primary product development focus from individual to corporate subscriptions. 

One problem: I had never built a corporate product. 

I didn’t know who could best advise us when I called David Sze at Greylock. He introduced us to Workday CEO Aneel Bhusri, who connected us to Mike Stankey on his team. Mike had the exact skills and knowledge to help us. 

My network helped me pinpoint what I needed, and guided me to an expert better than I could have managed alone. 

There will be many times when you won’t have the answer or the expertise, but your network might. Network intelligence is not only the collective know-how of your network, but also how you access and integrate its wisdom into your decision-making process.  

On the fifth episode of the Startup of You Podcast, Ben Casnocha and I cover:   

  • Why you should see—and map—your network as a sensor network
  • What network literacy is, why it’s important, and how to develop it
  • How to conduct better reference checks—and with whom

Listen here: 

If you like what you hear, please subscribe and let us know your thoughts and questions in the comments below. 

Uniquity: DALL-E, NFTs, and the emergence of limited-edition abundance

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When you use DALL-E, a new AI system that generates images from natural language descriptions, words become your pencils, paints, brushes, cameras, lenses, chisels, and more.

In the DALL-E universe, though, there’s never just one way to translate written language into graphic language. Inverting the old proverb on its head, a single word – or more accurately, a single phrase or premise – can be the starting point for a thousand pictures. 

Each time you enter a text prompt, DALL-E generates four different images in a matter of seconds. Here, for example, is the initial set of images that DALL-E generated when I entered “A subway train on Mars”:

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If you don’t see anything you like, you can just hit the GENERATE button again, and DALL-E will produce four new images:

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You can also modify DALL-E’s output by modifying your text prompt. Here’s what DALL-E produced when I entered “A 3D render of a subway train on Mars”:

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Here’s the results for “A panoramic 3D render of a bullet train speeding through the Mars desert as spaceships circle overhead”:

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With DALL-E, you can literally produce hundreds of unique images within minutes. As I experienced this amazing generativity first-hand, I quickly began to think in terms of multiples and scale. What kinds of books or other projects, I wondered, where you might need dozens, or hundreds, or thousands of images, could you use DALL-E for?

One of the first ideas my team and I hit upon was the idea of an (Read more...)

The Art of the Hustle

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In my first startup, I was told “no” by almost every VC I pitched. 

True story. 

How did I get beyond that? How do you become relentlessly resourceful in your career? How can you master the art of the hustle without being perceived as a “hustler”?

On the fourth episode of the Startup of You Podcast, Ben Casnocha and I share lessons from Airbnb, Chris Sacca, and other companies to show how to be stubbornly persistent, how to get creative when necessary, and how to cultivate serendipity.

If you like what you hear, please subscribe and let us know your thoughts and questions in the comments below. 

Blitzscaling Creativity with DALL-E

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  • DALL-E amplifies human creativity and increases the impact and value of visual professionals across a huge range of industries.
  • From Leonardo Da Vinci to Andy Warhol, great artists have always utilized apprentices and assistants to help fulfill their creative visions. DALL-E is a highly accessible AI assistant that makes it easy for everyone to tap their inner Leonardos. 
  • Visual expression can’t exist without technology. Great artists have always been great  innovators. If groundbreaking artists like Da Vinci, Pablo Picasso, Georgia O’Keefe, and Frida Kahlo were alive today, I’m sure they’d be experimenting with DALL-E.

From the very first cave painting, image-creation has had an exponential impact on humanity’s capacity to communicate knowledge; express feelings, values, and aspirations; and work collaboratively. That’s why we say a picture is worth a thousand words. 

But image creation can also be slow work. Leonardo Da Vinci filled thousands of notebook pages with his sketches, drawings, and writings, but fewer than 20 surviving paintings are, in the words of the Encyclopedia Britannica, “definitively attributed to him.” 

What if he’d had an AI-enabled computer to assist him? What if millions of other people had access to this same tool?

“Press the button – we do the rest,” an early Kodak ad exclaimed. By 1900, the Kodak Brownie could be had for $1, a roll of film with six exposures cost a dime, and photography had shifted from a narrow domain of skilled professionals to a much broader one of amateurs spontaneously documenting the world as (Read more...)

Three Common Misconceptions About How Networks Function

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Many professionals are turned off by the idea of “networking.” They think it’s about slimy glad-handing and using others to get ahead. But when pursued with an eye toward leveraging your skills and experiences to help other people succeed, building a professional network becomes something else entirely – a chance at authentic human connection that can enrich relationships and create opportunities over decades.

On the first episode of our new Startup of You Podcast, Ben and I break down three common misconceptions about how professional networks function, while also deep-diving on two types of relationships that are essential for success: “Allies” (close collaborators) and “Friendlies” (acquaintances).

Thanks so much for listening & let us know what you think!


How to Think About Risk

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How to think about risk

Risk tends to get a bad rap. We associate it with things like losing money in the stock market, or riding a motorcycle without a helmet. But risk isn’t the enemy—it’s a permanent, pervasive, unavoidable part of life.

Risk is the flip side of every opportunity, every career move. When George Clooney aggressively auditioned and sold himself for ER, it was a risk: The show could have been a high-profile flop, dragging his career down with it. There is literally no career opportunity in the world that’s worth talking about that is risk-free.

The thing is, we are not all equally skilled at how we deal with risk. Some people think they’ll achieve career stability by minimizing risk. We’ve all heard a million variants of “I’m going to stay at my job because at least it’s stable and a steady paycheck.” Ironically, though, in a changing and increasingly unpredictable world, succumbing to complacency is one of the riskiest things you can do. Inaction is often much riskier than action.

Others reveal their ignorance about risk by acting as though it’s a sign of weakness to acknowledge the possible downsides in a plan. “Failure is not an option!” may make for a good movie line, but it’s no way to formulate a career strategy. Of course failure is possible; failure is always possible, and in fact it’s even more likely if you pretend risk doesn’t exist.

Risk is everywhere. And that’s okay. You just need to learn to work with (Read more...)

Your network is bigger than you think

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Your network is bigger than you think

Interconnectedness feels good emotionally, but professionally it is limiting because the same information recycles through your local network of like-minded friends. If a close friend or ally knows about a job opportunity, you probably already do too. That’s why the breadth and reach of your network is valuable.

When thinking about how to expand your connections, remember the times you’ve met someone and discovered you know people in common. The clerk at the local hardware store once hiked through Yosemite with your brother-in-law. Your new girlfriend went to grad school with your boss’s wife. A new client’s kid goes to the same school as yours. “It’s a small world,” we say after such realizations.

But is the world actually that small?

In 1967, Psychologist Stanley Milgram and his student Jeffrey Travers conducted a famous study in which they asked a couple hundred people in Nebraska to mail a letter to someone they knew personally who might in turn know a target stockbroker in Massachusetts. On average, it took six different stops before it showed up at the stockbroker’s home or office in Massachusetts. It’s this study that birthed the six degrees of separation theory, the idea that every human being on the planet is connected to every other via no more than about six intermediary acquaintances. Subsequent studies in the digital age have borne out Milgram’s finding, also landing on the figure of six degrees.

The practical implications for the startup of you are significant. Suppose you want to become (Read more...)

Tap Network Intelligence. Develop Network Literacy.

This post is by Reid Hoffman from Reid Hoffman

Tap Network Intelligence. Develop Network Literacy.

Navigate Professional Challenges with Network Intelligence

Our educational system trains us to memorize facts stored in textbooks and then regurgitate them on an exam. Better schools will “teach you how to learn,” but it’s still not learning by doing, and it’s still not a particularly social undertaking. You study for a test and you take the test alone. But entrepreneurs don’t think and learn this way, and neither should you. School is single-player mode. The real world is multiplayer mode.

Entrepreneurs navigate the day-to-day issues of running a company in an ever-changing world by getting out in the world and gathering intelligence: actionable, timely information on all facets of their business. You need similarly good intelligence to run the startup of you. Stockpiling facts won’t get you anywhere. What will get you somewhere is being able to access the information you need, when you need it—which usually is very soon.

Both entrepreneurs and ambitious professionals gather accurate and actionable information from one main source: people in their network. It’s people who help you understand your assets, your aspirations, and the market realities; it’s people who help you vet and gain introductions to possible allies and trust connections; it’s people who help you track the risk attached to a given opportunity.

What you get when you connect to other people’s brains is called network intelligence.

Your network is an indispensable source of intelligence because:

  • People sometimes offer private observations and impressions that would never appear in a public source. Only (Read more...)