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Book Review: The Start-up of You

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The reality of the professional world is that unemployment is at an all-time high, career competition is brutal as an increased amount of experience professionals struggle to get interviews, and job stability is becoming a thing of the past. "The career esclator is jammed at every level." A changed financial career world has made adaptation to the future an urgent necessity, both for survival and advancement. Today's career advice is often riddled with sample cover letters and catchy words to use in resumes. Until now.

The Start-up of You: Adapt to the Future, Invest in Yourself, and Transform Your Career offers a systematic path to improving your career. Reid Hoffman, cofounder and chairman of Linkedin, and author Ben Casnocha suggest applying entreprenueral strategies to your career outlook. Hoffman is more than equipped to provide this type of advice, as his resume includes being a pre-IPO investor in Facebook and Zygna, working for Apple (where he learned the importance of product strategy), and working in product management at Fujitzu. In 1997, he cofounded Socialnet.com, an online dating service, and soon became involved in PayPal, where he became executive vice president. In 2003, he cofounded Linkedin. Currently he is also a partner at Greylock, a venture capital firm.

The prospect of treating your career like entreprenuers treat start ups may sound risky, but that is sort of the point. As the authors describe, entreprenuers "invest in themselves" and "take intelligent risks." His core theme is "every individual is a small business."

Whether they realize it or not, many of those in financial services already think this way. But a lot of job searchers do not. Much of the business takes place in an institutional setting. The annual bonus is the focus. In this context, Wall Street careers are entrpreneurial. Each person is a profit center, a seperate business. This results in both high potential compensation, and high job volatility. Those at the top are both corporate managers and entrepreneurs. To get employed, job candidates should communicate both career skills.

To combat the massive competition job seekers will undoubtedly face, Hoffman offers an efficient approach of adaptation, personal development, effective networking, and conclusions on "How to Find and Generate Career Opportunities." While many will cling to the notion of job stability, Hoffman notes, "Without frequent, contained risk taking, you are setting yourself up for a major dislocation at some point in the future."

Readers of The Start-up of You may not have the skills and success of Reid Hoffman, but they will be rewarded this personal journey with one who has grasped the realities of today's world, adapted to them, and come out a winner. He is a true guide for all of us.

–Bill Hayes

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