Book Review: The Start Up of You - Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha

The Start Up of YouLike most established bloggers I receive a seemingly endless stream of untargeted press releases, requests to take guest posts and evermore surreal suggestions for affiliate deals. I was therefore delighted to finally get something targeted and appropriate when a preview copy of LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman's new book "The Start Up of You" metaphorically landed on the mat (I actually have a post box). So for once I thought I'd break my own rules about doing this kind of thing and attempt a book review! What is it about?

Written by Reid Hoffman and Ben Casonocha "The Start Up of You" attempts to show people how to "apply the strategies of successful entrepreneurship to your career" The blurb on the back also contains the bold claim, "Just as LinkedIn is the one online community that no professional can afford not to belong to, this book is the book that no professional can afford to be without"......quite some build up!

What I liked

The book covers quite a lot of ground but there are two stand out areas for me:

Firstly I'm very passionate in my belief that careers advice (via whatever channel it comes) needs to evolve significantly to match the present and future reality rather than preparing people for what work was like 15 years ago. I love the fact this book really challenges conventional wisdom on careers and specifically illustrates how some the entrenched thinking established by iconic books such as 'What Colour is Your Parachute" is way out of date. The world is crying out for books that address the new work realities and I think Hoffman and Casonocha do that very well here

Secondly it should be no surprise that I read this book because of my interest in LinkedIn and keenness to get some insight into the philosophy behind the site and here the book really delivers. There is some excellent content on network theory as well as some excellent insight into the power of engagement over unsolicited spamming (recruitment industry please take careful note!)

What I didn't like

As I said the book covers a lot of ground and this is actually one of its key failings. I was unsure whether it was trying to be an annotated history of Silicon Valley, Reid Hoffman's autobiography or a genuine self help book. Very often the practical tips it does include are there in a list format that feels like it was added as an editorial afterthought. This may not bother some readers but I suspect it might be slightly frustrating for those looking for a genuine career self help book


In summary the book is very readable with lots of interesting content. In my quest to make sense of the future world of work I must read 20-30 books like this a year so I'm very conscious that my criticisms could be the result of reading it through slightly jaded eyes! If you are coming at it with a somewhat fresher outlook you'll probably like it a lot. Perhaps most relevantly for this blog though, if you are a recruiter trying to get your head round what LinkedIn is really about and what works, there is some great content woven in throughout the book which will help you a lot

The Start Up of You is published on Thursday 16th February and you can order it here *

*Just to clarify I wasn't paid to write this review and that link isn't part of an affiliate deal!