February 17th, 2012
03:14 PM ET

Invest in yourself by asking the question 'what makes you special?'

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."

Filed under: I.D.E.A.
soundoff (29 Responses)
  1. George Knight

    I revive emails form business associates I know that LinkedIn has said asked me to join. When i contact these individuals they say this this is not true. LinkedIn is a disreputable site that is basically a ponzi scheme to create the impression that if you fail to enroll will hurt your career.

    April 5, 2012 at 10:33 am | Reply
  2. justasquirreltryingtogetanut

    Why are these trolls talking about gas prices? Let gas prices go up. There will be less traffic.

    April 5, 2012 at 2:59 am | Reply
  3. John BP

    I think you guys are wrong for blaming Iran why gas price spikes suddenly. Why not retracks our records. If you notice/remember same time, same month and, dates of the year and on before important holiday celebrations gas price always spikes without control that even our government cannot do nothing about it. Spiking gas prices are pre-programmed by big Oil Companies. Incahut or whatever Oil Industries CEOs' set target amount of money to get in any given (post season) e.g. a month before a big holiday occasion. Consumers don't no choice but to buy gas and the Oil Industries will get their money. Then before the end of the holidays they slacks the gas prices pretending or seems giving us break. Hypocrisy!.Oil Industries actually has nothing to do with this problems but the people running them –Iall they have in mind is greed for money. Don't me wrong for Democracy but when it comes to this point

    The oil of Iran has nothing to do with the spiking gas prices. Don't we noticed/remember it happen every year. Oil Industries CEOs' incahut or not have already their pre-programmed plan how much money they would scoop each post-season they have chosen. Obviously,gas price spikes before summer or holiday seasons. Then before the holiday seasons ends they give consumers a little break. No more importance for them because they got their money ahead of time until the next one.

    February 20, 2012 at 8:53 pm | Reply
    • Lmao

      Gas prices have gone up because Obama has tripled the money supply since he has been President. It is the same reasoning for food and other products. Our money has been greatly devalued. Wall Street has nothing to do with it. As you have speculators pushing it up, you have the same pushing it down. It is because the dollar being the sole currency pegged to a bbl of oil that allows us to print money like it was growing on trees.

      April 3, 2012 at 12:06 pm | Reply
      • Daniel

        George Bush spent a windfall on two wars america didn't need and you blame the president because gas cost more. White people need to get a grip and try to unite instead of divide the counrty.

        April 4, 2012 at 3:30 pm | Reply
        • dan d

          O.K." Danny boy" , Us " White People " will all unite behind you and Barack. He can then divide all the money up, give you your share for being such a well intentioned supporter,and your life will then be great, That is until you spend it all,and are looking for the next handout. Peace Man

          April 5, 2012 at 7:18 am | Reply
  4. Marco

    now if only 'ego' was one of the deadly sins

    well, story comes first, I suppose

    February 18, 2012 at 1:22 pm | Reply
  5. Dave Fassbender

    Linked In – like Facebook and the rest of em – is a load.

    February 18, 2012 at 9:36 am | Reply
  6. Curt

    Very optimistic.
    I'm still going to say the federal reserve is scam on the sheeple (because they don't even understand they are taxed for every dollar that they earn, which then goes into the "National Debt" which is just a scam job by the federal reserve.

    I'm also going to go ahead and say GMO foods are terrible for humans and animals and the scientists and FDA have no idea about the repercussions the planet and there future family members will face.

    I'm also going to say the stock market is a scam since for example the people that own CNN can create a story's to make the market value fluctuate while they trade stocks accordingly.

    Too many problems to be so optimistic.

    February 18, 2012 at 9:20 am | Reply
  7. troy

    Man is it getting so disheartening to hear from another bozo entrepreneur who has somehow been coronated by our troubled culture as 'successful'. Does it get more obviously off track than this guy–a terribly unhealthy obese person who uses the seven deadly sins as his guiding light for business. PEOPLE, PLEASE DON't FALL PREY to this pathetic thinking. Making money is not the end game. Do something meaningful (not sure social networking even counts) and do it for the right reasons, minding your own well-being (physical/emotional/spiritual) along the way while also considering others. It's really simple but we get it wrong so regularly. This guy has just gotten it really wrong, but with all kinds of false praise. Ugh.

    February 18, 2012 at 9:01 am | Reply
  8. Se7en

    Looks like he tapped into gluttony and sloth too much.

    February 18, 2012 at 8:08 am | Reply
  9. Tom

    I invest in myself by not participating in annoying Multi-Level Spamming enterprises like linkedin.

    February 18, 2012 at 7:09 am | Reply
  10. trish b

    I joined Linked In in approx 2003....it has brought me several job interviews and a couple of job offers. I think it's great. Recruiters use it! (Even when you didn't know you were looking for a job)

    February 18, 2012 at 4:42 am | Reply
  11. Scott

    The difference between Linkedin and Facebook is you have "professionals" seeking self-importance to flatter themselves or promote their service/product. Facebook you have your average Joe seeking self-importance through their 300 fake friends. Social networking/media is a waste of time, however the media will keep it alive because it's basically free advertising for them when average Joe likes or shares an article to their 300 fake friends.

    February 18, 2012 at 4:10 am | Reply
  12. cha cha

    PFFT,who even uses Linkedin anymore? And while we are at it, regarding the average person here, who ever snagged a job from this? 80%of the world has no idea what Linkedin is even used for or what it does, all we know is spam comes from it and it must suck.

    February 18, 2012 at 3:47 am | Reply
  13. Chef Sun

    Well their stock is on the rise again so something must be going right. 93$ a share is pretty good.


    February 18, 2012 at 3:20 am | Reply
  14. Wow, that's profound

    "Everyone can make themselves somewhat better." ...I'll tell you what. That is down right INSPIRATIONAL!!! I want to be somewhat better! If only I could better tap into the seven deadly sins....

    February 18, 2012 at 12:45 am | Reply
  15. Peekingin

    LinkedIn provides nothing more than a professional network, and the hungry real-estate agents and snake-oil charmers are becoming bothersome with requests. The veil of who specifically looks you up, will cost you a premium and I'm tired of the notifications for premium membership. I'm sure that Hoff realizes that people will pay to find out with a big gold LinkedIn sticker on your account. Privacy sluutting is nothing new, beware nothing is free. He didn't get to be a billionaire with free. They sell your information from cookies. Hey, I know I can quit if I hate it but remember how he made a billionaire status..

    February 17, 2012 at 11:41 pm | Reply
  16. Concerned Citizen

    I recommend he invest in a gym membership.

    February 17, 2012 at 11:25 pm | Reply
  17. Tyler

    Because I'm a Railroad Baron, ya!!

    February 17, 2012 at 9:15 pm | Reply
  18. BrianKimball

    LinkedIn, Chewstroke, Facebook, Twitter....go away. Your not special.

    February 17, 2012 at 9:11 pm | Reply
  19. Tara Molitor

    I think I'll invest in Plaxo.

    February 17, 2012 at 9:05 pm | Reply
  20. Dan

    The only people I know on linkedIn are the ones who can't network sucessfully in the workplace.

    February 17, 2012 at 8:59 pm | Reply
  21. Special


    Still trying to find the right words to please the moderator. Pretty funny.

    I will try this one:

    1. In my technical field, there is no one better anywhere;
    2. I won't tell untruths for the company;
    3. I won't kiss anyone's gluteus maximus;
    4. I won't beg to get a job with your company.

    In my experience, if one doesn't do nos. 2-4, no. 1 doesn't matter. A big reason we (USA) are becoming a lesser nationy. We promote the mindless as long as they conform to whatever corporate idEALis fashionable. Dilbert is "correct."

    February 17, 2012 at 8:56 pm | Reply
  22. JeffinIL

    LinkedIn must not be doing a good job of promoting itself. I thought it was primarily used to establish business contacts in order to get a new or different job.

    February 17, 2012 at 8:36 pm | Reply
  23. Rags

    I always wondered who or what this "linkedin" was. I get lots of emails asking me to join and I spam them all. Who needs to 'belong' to everything someone else invented?

    February 17, 2012 at 7:28 pm | Reply

Post a comment


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.