Are You Network Literate?

It was fun being back on public radio’s Marketplace this week, with a commentary on network literacy.

Here’s the opening:

Bill Gates once wrote that “The most meaningful way to… put distance between you and the crowd is to do an outstanding job with information. How you gather, manage, and use information,” Gates wrote, “will determine whether you win or lose.”

What’s hard is that the information modern professionals need is always changing. Simply stockpiling facts and knowledge won’t get you anywhere. Rather, you need to know how to access the information you need, when you need it.

You can listen to the audio on the page or embedded below.

Start-Up of You: Odds and Ends

A few odds and ends:

— We were pleased to see a favorable review of the book in The Economist. Check it out:

“IF YOU start me up. If you start me up I’ll never stop”. Mick Jagger and Keith Richards probably did not have career advice in mind when they wrote these lyrics. But thinking like a start-up seems to be an excellent way for workers to prosper in a world in which the notion of a job for life has been consigned to the scrapheap. By being on the lookout for new opportunities all the time, changing course if markets shift and tapping professional contacts for advice and leads, people can avoid ending up on the slush pile themselves.

— A particularly rewarding outcome of the project for us has been the thousands of people who have shared their stories about what they now do differently in their career. We’ve featured some of the Reader Stories on the book site. Read the stories and get inspired to enact change in your own career…

— I’ll be speaking in Milan next week (and elsewhere in Italy) and Toronto the week after. You can buy a ticket to the Toronto gig here; email me for info on Italy.

— The Start-Up of You LinkedIn Group has been vibrant, and there are several interesting threads. You can join the community for free. Here are a few recent threads:

— The trailer for the book has over 710,000 views. Reid also recorded about a dozen short video clips about investing in yourself that you can watch as a playlist at YouTube.

Sentence of the Day

The most highlighted sentence from the Kindle version of The Start-Up of You is:

The fastest way to change yourself is to hang out with people who are already the way you want to be.

I did have a feeling that sentence was a winner when we wrote the book, but in the electronic age it’s interesting to be able to see data around it.

I should note that there is a rich-get-richer effect with highlights on the Kindle. Unless you turn it off, as a reader you begin to automatically see flags on the sentences that other readers have most underlined. This no doubt influences you to highlight the same.

Steve Jobs Focused on Network Intelligence

I read Adam Lashinky’s new book Inside Apple: How America’s Most Admired–And Secretive–Company Really Works on my flight to Doha, and I picked up a bunch of nuggets. Here’s one section that jumped out:

An unsung attribute of Steve Jobs that Apple also will miss is his role as a masterful networker and gatherer of information…He furiously worked the phones, calling up people he’d heard were worthy and requesting a meeting. No one turned down the chance to meet with Jobs, of course, and he used the opportunity to soak up information. His uncanny insight into trends in business and technology weren’t a fluke. Jobs worked hard for his market intelligence.

It follows with a story of Jobs hearing that Lytro was a cool company, calling the company’s CEO and inviting the Lytro CEO over to his house to discuss cameras and product design. According to the Forbes cover piece on Dropbox, Jobs did something similar with the founders of Dropbox. And surely countless other entrepreneurs.

Some of these conversations are of course driven with M&A in mind, but I follow Lashinsky’s point that much of this is Jobs’s instinct to always be pulling intelligence from his network about what’s happening in the world in order to be a more effective and informed professional.

Jobs took advantage of the density of Silicon Valley. He could summon the best young entrepreneurs, like Drew Houston, to his office on a day’s notice. He went on walks with Mark Zuckerberg. This is probably one reason he evangelized the region so much–increased density equals increased network intelligence for those living in the density.

Jobs was tapping networks inside Silicon Valley but outside of Apple corporate–and this was crucial. Lashinsky writes, “The rest of the crew at Apple is either too busy to schmooze or was always discouraged by Jobs from doing it, lest they get too big for their britches or too distracted from their Apple work.” Jobs once said he didn’t want to let exec Scott Forstall “out of the office” — which is great if someone needs to just put their head down and execute, but tunnel vision is not super helpful for fresh ideation.

Lashinksy asks who at Apple will be gathering this outside-the-company network intel with Jobs gone. It’s a good question. Meanwhile, we can all be asking ourselves a similar question in our careers: How are we pulling network intelligence from diverse sources in order to be better at the job we already have or to find a new opportunity? That’s a key theme of The Start-up of You.

Free Webcast Thursday Night

This Thursday March 29th at 6:30 PM pacific time — join Reid Hoffman and me for a live, free webcast to discuss the Start-Up of You and hear us answer your questions related to careers and the future of work. You should join the webcast if you’ve read the book or are thinking about reading it.

There’s a limited number of spots, so be sure to click here and then click “Register” to claim your spot. (If you’ve already submitted contact info on a Wufoo form via another blog, no need to do anything more.)

Look forward to talking to you on Thursday evening.

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At SXSW the other week, an artist drew an illustration of our presentation as we were talking. I’ve pasted it below. Click to enlarge. I’m amazed it was done in real time.