Understanding the Startup of You

Are you still doing the things you thought were going to be hard when you envisioned your role? Can you imagine someone else doing that job and explaining how it works to them? Are you learning new things and meeting new people?

Because you really need to be working yourself out of your current job (not in a bad way – don’t take the implication that you should sit around all day not doing things that people ask you to do while eating bonbons – but rather in a creatively destructive way, like what happens in a forest after a cleansing fire clears the undergrowth.) The current responsibility that you do is becoming more familiar every day, and unless you relentlessly chase newness (both in terms of the information you take in and in the way that you do it) you run the risk of becoming stuck.

What are some ways of creating your next opportunity within your current role (or adjacent to it?) Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha have some great ideas in their book The Startup of You that might point you in some interesting directions.Reed and Ben advocate expanding your current interests and making an aggressive effort to meet new people; trying new things that have potentially high value and low(er) risk; and understanding your true risk tolerance so that you can decide whether to make a new role out of a current one or create a new one overall.

One of the best ways to reinvigorate your existing role and to “level up” for the next phase of this opportunity is to challenge yourself by making a practice of meeting successful people. You might choose to seek out people in your own field; find someone in a different field entirely, or to build new bridges to new fields by meeting new people. Begin by offering, “how can I help?” and really listen to the answer. You may find that you can help the other person directly, or that you may know of someone else in your network who may be able to help them.

This is also a great opportunity to run a personal a/b test of your unique abilities. You have something to offer – your thoughts, experiences, and perspective, and meeting someone new is also a great way to practice your pitch and to see whether the ideas you think you’re sharing are the one’s you actually are sharing. Then, ask a single question of your new acquaintance: “what’s one thing that I could be doing to improve this idea?” and really listen to the answer. Keep doing this at least a few times a month and you will improve your ability to communicate (and learn important insights about your pitch or idea at the same time.)

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One thought on “Understanding the Startup of You

  1. Greg,

    Some GREAT thinking here…in chapter 10 of my book, I suggest we “practice on the small things” so we’re ready for the big ones. You’ve just reminded me “why” I practice; soon, very soon, I’m going to have the opportunity to meet someone important.

    Oh, the other thing I’d love to read more from you about is just that…

    Who are the “important” people?

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