Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Life as a start up

A fairly new book about the "networking economy" is getting some press -- "The Start Up of You", essentially encouraging college-educated professionals to treat their careers like a startup... which includes using a lot of professional networking to find new opportunities. Appropriately, it is written by the founder of LinkedIn. Based on the reviews at Amazon, it seems to be a little bit stuck in the Silicon Valley experience, and is probably targeted at white-collar corporate workers.

One commenter recommended "My Start Up Life" as a more "real" alternative.

Of course, the problem with reading a book by a big-shot Silicon Valley CEO is that not all of us want that type of life, and even for those of us who want that life, we won't be able to achieve it. One of the ideas that really bothers me (based on a superficial exposure to the book) is the notion that we need to work harder and take more risks. That works fine for some people, but most of us have obligations and lives outside of our professional activities.

My other concern is that this will be another sort of "Who Moved My Cheese"-type book -- encouraging workers to take control of their jobs, even though there are a lot of very real obstacles to doing so. Kevin Carson has expounded on these issues before.

Finally, this also brings to mind what I read in Jack Welch's book "Winning" -- that workers are completely dependent upon their employer for good recommendations. Since your boss may be a jerk, it is a good strategy to cultivate several "employment" relationships and build a network that can substitute for that reference letter from your old boss. Relying on one person (or company) may appear to be the route to economic stability, but such small, narrowly focused groups can often fail in the blink of an eye.

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