Reid Hoffman: The Startup of You (Video)

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The world has changed. Through globalization and technology, the pace at which change is happening is only accelerating. So the big question becomes how do you adapt to this? Reid Hoffman shares his thoughts on living your life as an entrepreneur. Watch his interview from SMW12 below, and then see our recap with our projections for the future.


1. You must live your life with the same skill set as entrepreneurs run their businesses.
A networker is not someone who walks up to you and asks for your business card. A real networker builds authentic relationships and alliances. We must ally together in how we navigate through the world and be invested in building relationships. In the same approach of how we help our friends, work to help your professional alliances. To do this, you’ll need to spend time with that person and have real in-person communication. And you’ll need to make sure your requests have a mutual benefit. Don’t just take- give a little, too.

Now, living your life as an entrepreneur doesn’t mean create a startup. Everyone should be entrepreneurial, but not everyone should start a company. Build out a planning framework for your life and then maneuver and discover where you want to be in life. Plan for things from A to Z. There are things that could go wrong with multiple risk factors. This means you’ll need multiple Plan B’s. Work down. If you get to Plan Z, start over. If what you’re doing isn’t moving you forward, reset and do another Plan A. Be proactive and take risks. But keep in mind that being proactive doesn’t mean that you have to go 24/7/365. It does mean that you should be in permanent beta: always a work in progress. Invest in yourself to get business intelligence (find out what’s going on in the industry), take intelligent risks, establish competitive differentiation, and build new skills.

2. The next phase should focus on what new sets of tools will transform lives.
Ask what massive new sets of applications and platforms will transform our lives and from there, consider what should we be investing in. Many areas are still in need of innovation and creativity. For example, the notion of data curation from networks is in the beginning phases, with only around 1% of all data being captured and used. The question in this area is how do we make the use of this data sensible to people to improve their lives. And anytime you’re using someone else’s data, transparency is an important component. Always be transparent with what you’re doing. Involve a value proposition. Data powers how the site is operated, and how the data is used should involve that aspect. Boundaries of the users move intelligently then. Otherwise, governmental regulation may step in, and the government doesn’t have the skill set to navigate these issues and can do more harm than help. So, it’s best for the industry to self-regulate, with a move to a collaborative self-regulation to strike a balance between being good to the users but broad enough for innovation.

On a more broad level, there’s still plenty of room for new social networks. Don’t fabricate what’s already done. Anything new can’t be just a little twist on what already exists- it must be seriously distinct or transformative on one of the parameters that exists already.

3. Businesses need more disruption, and disruption is good for the entire ecosystem.
A basic view of disruption is that it takes $10 of revenue and replaces it with $1. The major benefit of this is that businesses have more money to invest in other things and build more value into their overall structure. The more efficient we can get in the ROI of any industry, like education, the more we can get out of it. One component of this is your technology strategy. Every company needs to have a technology strategy. This involves changing the way you operate and the products and services you deploy. On a personal level, ask yourself how am i navigating the changing world around me and what am i doing proactively to invest in that and what technologies can i use to do that?

So, where do we go from here? I think Hoffman’s point on more collaborative self-regulation will be the biggest emerging trend. The conversation will move from a casual one to a more formal committee overseeing social and digital platforms. I also think we’ll start seeing some major changes in businesses, with more disruptions coming from the entry of the new young workforce. These individuals have been interacting with digital and social for the majority of their youth, which means a different way of interacting and thinking about it’s uses and applications. These two aspects will greatly impact the development of new social tools, particularly in commerce and data curation. I’m personally excited to see where in particular this will go. Give me your thoughts!

Nicky Yates

Director of Communications, Social Media Week

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