No, everyone won't be as successful as LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman, whose companies and investments (including an early investment in Facebook) have made him, as of 2011, a billionaire. But Hoffman believes everyone can have more success–no matter what you do or where you do it.
"The key thing is for everyone to think very seriously about how they invest in themselves." No matter what your aspirations may be, Hoffman said in an I.D.E.A. interview with CNN's Erin Burnett, "invest in yourself. Take the notion that you are a business, you're the CEO of your own life, the entrepreneur of your own life very seriously."
Hoffman–who admitted he'd put his tech career above almost everything else in life, even his own health, over the last few years–says LinkedIn filled a perfect niche in the world of social media. As he told The Wall Street Journal last year:
Social networks do best when they tap into one of the seven deadly sins. Facebook is ego. Zynga is sloth [laughter]. LinkedIn is greed. With Facebook, it's vanity, and how people choose to present themselves to their friends. It's the feeling of being connected. I like to emphasize the importance of the deep universal, psychological structure in people's minds. Zynga is about fun. Fun is important. Fun is good. And to have the ability to do something fun for 10 or 15 minutes that's right at your fingertips and involves your friends, well, that's better than television in terms of social connectivity. With LinkedIn it's taking control of your economic destiny and improving how you operate as a professional and how you can develop a competitive advantage. These are fundamentals for having a fulfilling quality of life.
Hoffman's just written a book, The Start-Up of You, which the publisher describes as "a blueprint for thriving in your job and building a career by applying the lessons of Silicon Valley's most innovative entrepreneurs."
"Everyone can invest in themselves," Hoffman told Burnett. "Everyone can make themselves somewhat better."
But simply having a dream isn't enough. "You have to invest in it."
Hoffman says he included in the new book a message he found on a billboard: A million people could do your job. What makes you special? "It's a very good question to ask, and then say, how do I develop that competitive differentiation such that I'm the right person for this and this job."