10,000 Hours with Reid Hoffman: Part I

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The Gist

Ben Casnocha has spent over 4 years working closely with Reid Hoffman as his co-author and LinkedIn’s Chief of Staff. In this episode he shares 5 timeless lessons he learned from the King of Tech:

1. People are complicated and flawed. Root for their better angels.
2. The best way to get a busy person’s attention: Help them.
3. Keep it simple and move fast when conceiving strategies and making decisions.
4. Every weakness has a corresponding strength.
5. The values that actually shape a culture have both upside and downside.

Based on: 10,000 Hours with Reid Hoffman: What I Learned

Notable quotes

One of Reid’s underrated gifts is that he maintains very complicated portraits of the people he knows. He appreciates the full spectrum of strengths and weaknesses of a particular person. Flaws that cause others to completely disengage are, for Reid, navigable en route to their better side.
When faced with a set of options, he frequently will make a provisional decision instinctually based on the current information. Then he will note what additional information he would need to disprove his provisional decision and go get that. What many do instead is encounter a situation in which they have limited information, punt on the decision until they gather more information, and endure an information-gathering process that takes longer than expected. Meanwhile, the world changes.
When there’s a complex list of pros and cons driving a potentially expensive action, Reid seeks a single decisive reason to go for it—not a blended reason. If you come up with a list of many reasons to do something, Nassim Taleb once wrote, you are trying to convince yourself—if there isn’t one clear reason, don’t do it.
He once told me about a frustrating conversation he had with someone at a startup who mapped a multi-phase vision for a project that stretched out a couple years. He didn’t get it, Reid told me, If you don’t get Phase 1 right, you’re dead. Nothing else matters. Nothing else matters. He should be completely focused on nailing Phase 1.
Most strengths have corresponding weaknesses. If you try to manage or mitigate a given weakness, you might also eliminate the corresponding strength.

The Author

photo of ben casnocha

Ben discovered entrepreneurship at the age of 12 and has since founded several online publishing ventures and an e-government software firm. In 2012 he teamed up with LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman to write The Startup of You, a New York Times bestseller on building a future-proof career. This collaboration led to a 2-year gig as a kind of strategic confidante to Hoffman, helping to extend the impact of his numerous professional, investment and social projects.