Billionaire Founder of LinkedIn Says This is The ONE Most Important Thing Professionals Should Be Doing

Reid Hoffman, the founder of LinkedIn, was asked:

“What’s the most important thing people can do daily for their careers?”

His response was that the most important thing a person can do every day is to invest in yourself. In particular, how are you better at the end of the day than you are at the beginning of the day?

What if you were an athlete who didn’t train? If you went and played, you would lose to the people who did train.

To do this, figure out what you need to know, and how do you make yourself better? What are the things you need to know in order to be a better professional everyday.

He said, “That’s the thing to think about everyday.”

So how do you actually identify the skills you need?

What does the road ahead look like?

Once you see that road, how do you start to learn those skills?

And once you start learning those skills, how do you balance the rest of your life – which is already jam packed – with trying to get ahead?

It can seem extremely frustrating to figure out.

But that’s not the only roadblock. Top performers in particular fall prey to another trap.

Discover where your intellectual arrogance is causing disabling ignorance and overcome it. Far too many people – especially people with great expertise in one area – are contemptuous of knowledge of other areas or believe that being bright is a substitute for knowledge. First-rate engineers, for instance, tend to take pride in not knowing anything about people. Human beings, they believe, are much too disorderly for the good engineering mind. Human resources professionals, by contrast, often pride themselves on their ignorance of elementary accounting or of quantitative methods altogether. But taking pride in such ignorance is self-defeating. Go to work on acquiring the skills and knowledge you need to fully realize your strengths. –Peter Drucker (Managing Oneself)

Part of what makes it tough is that these skills you need to get ahead are often soft skills. It can be things like your mindset, skills, connections, and experiences.

Soft assets are things you can’t trade directly for money. They’re the intangible contributors to career success: the knowledge and information in your brain; professional connections and the trust you’ve built up with them; skills you’ve mastered; your reputation and personal brand; your strengths (things that come easily to you). Hard assets are what you’d typically list on a balance sheet: the cash in your wallet; the stocks you own; physical possessions like your desk and laptop. These matter because when you have an economic cushion, you can more aggressively make moves that entail downside financial risk. For example, you could take six months off to learn the Ruby programming language with no pay— i.e., pick up a new skill. Or you could shift to a lower-paying but more stimulating job opportunity. During a career transition, someone who can go six to twelve months without earning money has different options— indeed, a significant advantage— over someone who can’t go more than a month or two without a paycheck. Soft assets are more difficult to tally than cash in a bank account, but assuming your basic economic needs are taken care of, soft assets are ultimately more important. Dominating a professional project at work has little to do with how much dough you’ve socked away in a savings account; what matters are skills, connections, experiences. Because soft assets may be abstract, there’s a tendency for people to underestimate them when pondering career strategy. –Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha (Startup Of You)

It’s with this premise in mind that I’m excited to tell you about a new course we are launching – Level Up.

Let’s go back to that example of an athlete that Hoffman gave. An athlete trains, practices, and adds something new to their game every offseason. They’re particular about what they feed their body, and have to make sure they are always at peak physical performance.

Why don’t we treat our minds the same way? Our minds should be in training mode, adding new skills, and operating at peak performance. This is why we have combined both personal growth and productivity in the Level Up course for professionals. This course is designed to help you get unstuck, operate at peak performance, and maximize your potential so you become indispensable. It gives you the exact blueprint you need to master these skills to get ahead.

Comments 1

  1. The blog, “Billionaire Founder of LinkedIn Says This is The ONE Most Important Thing Professionals Should Be Doing” is such an interesting read and gives me a whole new perspective on how to go about making myself better. I would like to go through and answer several of your questions that you stowed upon ourselves by referring back to the brilliant book The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni. Hopefully I can add a bit of a different outlook on these questions and what they mean to me.
    The first question I’m going to answer is on how you identify the skills that you need? I think Reid Hoffman offers some great answers to that question and I do partially agree with him. You always need to take a look in the mirror and tell yourself what you need to improve upon and how you can go about that. Discovering your intellectual arrogance is a great way and especially for a lot of people who maybe no one has ever been honest with. I think one of the main things you need to do is start by surrounding yourself by people who help make you better, not just by improving your work skills, but also as a person.
    Unfortunately, by acquiring these people around you in your ever day activities, you need to be able to do the one thing that can be really tough sometimes. You must be able to trust others. Trusting someone in the workplace can be extremely hard. You more than likely don’t know that person very well and they most likely don’t know you, but trust can be very important. “Trust is knowing that when a team member does push you, they’re doing it because they care about the team” (Kathryn). I’m aware that The Five Dysfunctions of a Team won’t apply to every job, but as I mentioned earlier maybe it will apply to you as a person.
    Usually when someone pushes you in life, it’s because they care. Whether it’s training for sports and it may seem like a coach is picking on you or when your mother makes you sit down and complete your math homework. When you’re being pushed in life, it’ll help you succeed and keep improving. However you also need to be aware of when someone is being toxic in your life and or team. To give you a quick example, the character Mickey from the book, is someone who is very good at their job. She is basically the best of the best on the team and excels at just about everything around the workplace. However referring back to when Mr. Hoffman talked about discovering your own intellectual arrogance, Mickey from the book hasn’t discovered hers.
    She was completely oblivious on how she acted around others. She was rude and looked down on her fellow employees, and was very inconsiderate and untrustworthy at the team meetings. The boss Kathryn thought that the company would crash at first if she was to fire Mickey due to how successful she is at her work. However she quickly learned that her toxic attitude was affecting everyone else’s progress and outweighed her skills on the job. Soon after she let Mickey go, the team started bonding easier and making progress quickly. This is the perfect example of why you want to figure out your intellectual arrogance. Just because you’re good at your job, doesn’t mean that you’re actually better for the company itself.
    In order to have a great team around the workplace or at home with your loved ones, you also need to be honest with one another and don’t be afraid to stray away from conflict. “Great teams do not hold back with one another. They are unafraid to air their dirty laundry. They admit their mistakes, their weaknesses, and their concerns without fear of reprisal” (Kathryn). When it comes down to team building, Lencioni really does know it all. As I mentioned earlier you can use his book The Five Dysfunctions of a Team for more than just a workplace reference, but an everyday life source. Even if you’re experiencing discontent from children. Maybe there just not quite on board with whatever you’re trying to preach as a parent. You can’t be afraid to hold back in certain situations. It’s as simple as this. “When people don’t unload their opinions and feel like they’ve been listened to, they won’t really get on board” (Kathryn). As a bigger picture, you need to be able to express how you feel, let yourself be able to trust others, admit your mistakes, and understand what your skills are and what they aren’t. That’s basically the whole premise of The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. In life we get placed in teams whether we know it or not. Your family is a team and your coworkers are a team. You need to be able to work as a team and act like a team. There is no “I” in team. That’s how you will learn your skills and identify them.

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