The start up of you

Networking has been replaced by intelligent network building.”
“Searching for a job only when you’re unemployed or unhappy at work has been replaced by always be generating opportunities.”

3 factors that form your competitive advantage:
1. Assets.
— Two types of assets: Hard assets (like cash, stocks, and physical possessions) and soft assets (like skills, experiences, connections, and knowledge).
2. Aspirations.
— Include your vision of the future, goals, deepest wishes, and core values (regardless of the market realities or your existing assets).
3. Market realities.
— What people will actually pay you for.

How do you fit the pieces together to create a competitive advantage?
– Pursue worthy aspirations, using your assets, while navigating the market realities.
– The three factors (assets, aspirations, market realities), when paired with a good plan, determine the course you should head in.

How do you improve your competitive advantage?
1. Strengthen and diversify your asset mix, e.g. learn new skills.
2. Pick a hill that has less competition.

ABZ planning
– An adaptive approach to planning that promotes trial and error.
– Plan A: What you’re doing now. Your current implementation of your competitive advantage which you constantly iterate on.
– Plan B: What you pivot to when plan A isn’t working or when you discover a better way toward your goal. Don’t write an elaborate plan B, but consider your parameters for pivoting. If you pivot to plan B and stick with it, that becomes your plan A.
– Plan Z: What you shift to when something goes seriously wrong. The lifeboat you can jump into if your plan fails and you need to reload before getting back in the game. The certainty of plan Z is what allows you to take on risk in your plan A and B.

5. Make reversible, small bets.
– A good plan A can be stopped or reversed or easily morphed into a plan B, minimizes the cost of failure, and is iterated bit by bit.
6. Plan two steps ahead.
– If you’re unsure what your first or second step should be, pick a first step that generates a large number of possible follow-on second steps.
7. Maintain an identity separate from specific employers.

Plan B questions:

When to pivot? (When do you switch to plan B?)
– To pursue upside or avoid downside.
– “In general, a lesson from the technology industry is that It’s better to be in front of a big change than to be behind it.”

Where to pivot? (What should your plan B be?)
– To an adjacent niche, something different but related to what you’re already doing.
– “Keep one foot planted while the other swings to the new territory.”

How to pivot? (How do you make the switch to plan B?)
– Start it on the side (unless you need to take immediate action).
– Tip: set aside one day a week or month or whatever to work on stuff towards a plan B, e.g. pursue a business idea, develop a skill, or build a relationship.

What’s the best way to engage new people?
– Via the people you already know (which means that you should start by taking stock of the relationships you already have).

What’s a good way to help people?
– Be a bridge: introduce them to new people and new experiences.
— To be a bridge, straddle different communities and social circles.

Why should you avoid “keeping your options open”?
– It’s often riskier than committing to a plan of action.
– “Making a decision reduces opportunities in the short run, but increases opportunities in the long run.”
– “To move forward in your career, you have to commit to specific opportunities as part of an iterative plan, despite doubt and despite inconvenience.”

How do you get serendipitous network intelligence?
1. Engage people.
– If you’re in touch and top of mind, people are more likely to spontaneously send you useful information.
2. Keep a few general questions in your back pocket.
– Example: “What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learned over the past few months?”
3. Push interesting information out to your network.

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