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Lessons learned from Reid Hoffman

I recently read this excellent essay by Ben Casnocha: 10,000 Hours with Reid Hoffman: What I Learned.

It's long, but well worth the read. Here are the insights I took away from the essay:

  1. Appreciate the spectrum of strengths and weaknesses of a particular person.
    • We tend to hone in on the bad traits. Find a middle ground where you can appreciate both the positive and negative traits.
  2. When soliciting a powerful person, help them by offering information they may not have prior to asking them for something.
  3. Make decisions quickly.
    • When faced with several options, pick one based on known information. Note what information you need to collect to disprove your selection, and go find it.
  4. Keep things simple.
    • When faced with several options, group them by level of intensity: easy, medium, and hard. Decide on the level of intensity you want to pursue and execute.
    • Simplicity translate into focus. Focus on getting phase 1 right before you start thinking years out.
  5. If you are trying to come up with a list of reasons to justify doing something, don't do it. Aim to have one clear reason.
  6. If you are immersed in executing the strategy, you should be thinking of ways to improve it.
    • Don't wait for your manager/CEO to tell you how to modify the strategy.
    • Be aware, be proactive.
  7. Most strengths have a corresponding weakness.
    • If you try to mitigate a certain weakness, you may impact it's corresponding strength.
  8. Use your weakness and transform it into a strength.
  9. PayPal cultural trait: let the best idea win.
  10. Extend praise without expecting anything in return.
  11. Planning a project, breakdown what happens to your product/team/company if your project is:
    • Very successful
    • Moderately successful
    • Not successful
  12. Be aware of areas of misalignment when working with a co-worker/partner/etc.
    • What are their incentives? How do they conflict with yours?
  13. Be the opposite of impulsive during moments of conflict.
    • To quote Ben, "show restraint in the face of volatility"
  14. Trust trumps competence (assuming the competence isn't too far down)
    • In early days of startup, need to move fast, trust allows you to do so.
    • Fast-learners can compensate for lower competence.
  15. Have the courage to deliver honest feedback to a powerful person.
  16. Notice those in a powerful person's "entourage"
    • If you meet a powerful person, acknowledge the individuals around them, don't hone all your energy on the powerful person.
    • Ben calls this showing respect to the "shadow power" (spouse, agent, assistant, etc.).
  17. Give people due to credit, because when they are publically invested in a project, they will work harder and feel more committed.