Reid Hoffman (@reidhoffman) is a cofounder of LinkedIn, investor at Greylock Partners, host of the podcast Masters of Scale, and coauthor of Blitzscaling: The Lightning-Fast Path to Building Massively Valuable Companies and The Start-Up of You: Adapt to the Future, Invest in Yourself, and Transform Your Career. This is part one of a two-part episode. Check out part two here!
What We Discuss with Reid Hoffman:
- Why creating the best products and services on the market won’t mean squat if you don’t have the network to get the word out about them.
- Reid’s flexible planning framework that adjusts navigation to suit the unexpected path rather than the imagined destination.
- How to know when you’re informing your intuition with the best available data or just procrastinating to avoid making important decisions.
- Why “never give up” is terrible advice, and how to separate your winning instincts from your losing ideas.
- Why an honest partner is almost always your best source of ideas — and a reminder of where the road paved with the best intentions usually leads.
- And much more…
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This isn’t your typical episode of The Jordan Harbinger Show, but then again, Reid Hoffman isn’t our typical guest. He’s a cofounder of LinkedIn, investor at Greylock Partners, and coauthor of Blitzscaling: The Lightning-Fast Path to Building Massively Valuable Companies and The Start-Up of You: Adapt to the Future, Invest in Yourself, and Transform Your Career. He’s also the host of the Masters of Scale podcast, which explores how the world’s most successful entrepreneurs take their companies from startup level to becoming household names.
On this episode we’ll peer into how Spotify’s Daniel Ek got his start, what informs the intuition of Lumi Labs’ Marissa Mayer, how Zynga’s Mark Pincus separates winning instincts from losing ideas, and what Kevin Systrom understands about the importance of an honest partner. This is part one of a two-part episode, so make sure to get caught up on part two here to experience the whole shebang!
Please Scroll Down for Featured Resources and Transcript!
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Disgraceland is a true crime podcast about musicians getting away with murder. If you love true crime and you love music, get ready to love Disgraceland here!
More About This Show
Here on the show, we stress that knowing how to network will change your life — personally and professionally — for the better in every possible way. You’ll gain and maintain high-quality friendships. Promotions and higher income are more likely to come your way. Your kids will do better in school. Freezer-burned vanilla ice cream will taste like the finest Italian gelato — you name it! Which is why we offer the Six-Minute Networking course for free — you help us by listening to this show, and we want to return the favor. TLDR: Networking is crucial for success on any level.
As a cofounder of professional meet-and-greet platform LinkedIn, Reid Hoffman also knows a thing or two about the importance of networking — and the excuses people use to avoid it entirely.
“We live in a network age, so I think everyone needs a network,” says Reid. “And whether or not you’re a high school student or a massively successful CEO, the whole range, you need it. It affects what you learn because what should you be paying attention to? What should your considerations be about how the world’s changing? About what kind of opportunities and threats and possibilities all look like? The best place that comes from is your network. Yes, you can Google search and yes, you can read a lot and that’s nice to do, too, but the network helps you learn.”
And if you’re an entrepreneur, it doesn’t matter how good the products and services you have to offer are if you don’t have a network to spread the word about them.
“That’s the problem on the entrepreneurship side,” says Reid. “The same parallel is true for individuals. You may have done all this great work, but [what are] other people saying about it? What’s the way that you present it? What’s the way that people can understand it and get to know it — because, by the way, it’s a huge world. It’s eight billion people! How do you stand out against eight billion people?”
On his Masters of Scale podcast, Reid explores how the world’s most successful entrepreneurs take their companies from startup level to becoming household names — in a world of eight billion people. And if you listen to this episode in its entirety, you’ll learn how Spotify’s Daniel Ek got his start, what informs the intuition of Lumi Labs’ Marissa Mayer, how Zynga’s Mark Pincus separates winning instincts from losing ideas, what Kevin Systrom understands about the importance of an honest partner, and much more. Keep your eyes on this space for part two — with even more insights from Reid and his Masters of Scale guests coming later this week!
THANKS, REID HOFFMAN!
If you enjoyed this session with Reid Hoffman, let him know by clicking on the link below and sending him a quick shout out at Twitter:
Click here to thank Reid Hoffman at Twitter!
Click here to let Jordan know about your number one takeaway from this episode!
And if you want us to answer your questions on one of our upcoming weekly Feedback Friday episodes, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Resources from This Episode:
- Blitzscaling: The Lightning-Fast Path to Building Massively Valuable Companies by Reid Hoffman and Chris Yeh
- The Start-Up of You: Adapt to the Future, Invest in Yourself, and Transform Your Career by Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha
- Masters of Scale
- Greylock Partners
- Reid Hoffman at LinkedIn
- Reid Hoffman at Twitter
- Australopithecus Afarensis, Smithsonian Museum of Natural History
- How to Build Trust Fast with Daniel Ek, Masters of Scale
- Commodore 64 Computer, Old Computers
- C++ Programming Language, Geeks for Geeks
- How to Create an ABZ Career Plan Mind Map, The Mind Mapping Software Blog
- Why You Don’t Have to Be Great at Anything to Build a Great Company by Mikael Cho, Inc.
- Napster Turns 20: How It Changed the Music Industry by Stephen Dowling, BBC
- How to Make the Star Employees You Need with Marissa Mayer, Masters of Scale
- The Success Journey: Marissa Mayer’s Pre-Yahoo Resume by Yasmin Tezdjan, Enhancv
- How to Kill Your Bad Ideas with Mark Pincus, Masters of Scale
- Tribe, Wikipedia
- Bar Shuffleboard: Beer, Yes; Sticks, No by Adam W. Kepler, The New York Times
- How to Keep It Simple While Scaling Big with Kevin Systrom, Masters of Scale
- Instagram Was First Called ‘Burbn’ by Megan Garber, The Atlantic
Transcript for Reid Hoffman | Mastering Your Scale for the Unexpected Part One (Episode 207)
Jordan Harbinger: [00:00:03] Welcome to the show. I'm Jordan Harbinger. As always, I'm here with producer Jason DeFillippo. Today, we're doing something different here on The Jordan Harbinger Show. I originally wanted to interview Reid Hoffman, founder of LinkedIn, investor at Greylock, and host of the podcast, Masters of Scale. People refer to Reid as the oracle of Silicon Valley. He's a unicorn spotter, someone who can seemingly see the future in terms of the companies and ideas that will change and shape the world. It's made him very successful and his advice is highly sought after and deeply respected. As we get into the show, you'll see why.
[00:00:36] When we first connected what was to be an interview or a profile similar to what we usually do here on the show quickly turned into a collaboration between our podcasts. We developed a commencement episode of sorts for Reid's podcast Masters of Scale. This special episode brings together all the best life lessons from the last season of Masters of Scale that might be useful for a grad or anyone navigating big decisions. It'll also be useful for entrepreneurs and business owners of course.
[00:01:02] Let me back up just a minute to tell you about the Masters of Scale in case you don't listen. In each episode, read sets out to prove a theory about how businesses grow from zero to a gazillion. Things like why you should let fires burn or why imperfect is perfect and he does this by talking to famous founders about their lives. It's a business show but it doesn't sound like a business show. So what you'll hear today is both my interview with Reid Hoffman along with segments from Masters of Scale where Reid interviews some truly amazing founders such as Daniel Ek - founder of Spotify, Marissa Mayer -former CEO of Yahoo, and Kevin Systrom - founder of Instagram, and a whole lot of other amazing folks as well. And some of these clips never aired in full on Masters of Scale. So we have some little secret exclusive bits here and there, which is fun. Also, our core Six-Minute Networking -- Reid is heavily into networking -- warm introductions -- the value of creating a network. I mean he invented LinkedIn and we're teaching you how to make the best of your network for personal and professional reasons. That's at jordanharbinger.com/course and that's all free, jordanharbinger.com/course. By the way, most of the guests on the show actually subscribe to the course and the newsletter so come join us. All right, enjoy this episode, this commencement episode here with Reid Hoffman.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:02:18] Your personal brand is important for recruiting tech entrepreneurs for Greylock and among other ventures. Do you worry about having to perform all the time? I mean like right now, for example, be on.
Reid Hoffman: [00:02:30] Well, I don't so much think about it from my a brand management perspective is that I try to respect people's time and so forth. So what I care about is can I say something compact him interesting quickly. So I do switch on but it's not a switch on and from that defensive point of view as much -- like if you think sports offense-defense, it's not so much from a defense point of view as much as it is from an offense point of view. Like, "Let's make it interesting. Let's have something really good happen." As opposed to the, "Well you know, brand is one of those important things you have to do sometimes."
Jordan Harbinger: [00:03:03] Yeah, that makes sense. I just wondered because around here, this is as you know in Silicon Valley, people will go, "I saw Mark Zuckerberg eating his sandwich here once. We should go there." And I'm like, "He's not going to be there again. Also, that was 10 years ago. He can't eat a sandwich here without 17 bodyguards since ’05. Like, come on." So I just thought like, "Oh if people are walking up to you and Michelle like, "Hey Reid lovely dinner," whatever people do as fanning in Silicon Valley.
Reid Hoffman: [00:03:32] Even last night I was having dinner with a friend of mine at the Rosewood and someone walked over and said, "Are you Reid Hoffman?" And I used to say, "No," because I was trying to preserve privacy. Now, I would say, "Yes." And then, he’s like, "I really love your podcast Masters of Scale." "Oh great. Thank you. Nice to meet you." Because for them, it's an expression of shared joy and you should respect that. And so I've now kind of gone to, "Okay that's what happens."
Jordan Harbinger: [00:03:55] That's fair. I've given up on privacy and more, "Hey, I created something that people enjoy. I shouldn't shun that."
Reid Hoffman: [00:04:03] Yes, exactly.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:04:04] That's fair. I think there's a lot of people in similar positions to you that have pretty much said I can't have privacy. And it actually, that sort of mindset I think makes them a little bit annoyed and sad. So embracing it is probably a better strategy.
Reid Hoffman: [00:04:18] And realize that when someone's coming up to you to talk to you, they're doing so because they go, "I love this thing." And you're like, "Great, thank you." It's a gift from you.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:04:28] Yeah, that's true. I guess if you're an in the NBA and you just lose a big game, you're like, "What's this person want right now?" But you're in a nice sort of innocuous niche where somebody would really have to have a very specific problem with something you did in order to have privacy.
Reid Hoffman: [00:04:44] I have yet to have that.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:04:46] Knock wood, right?
Reid Hoffman: [00:04:46] Yes.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:04:47] Yeah. You do recommend people build their network early and I've heard and seen that a lot from you and it makes sense because you founded LinkedIn, you know, et cetera. But I hear people tell me all the time because I teach networking on the show and I even have a little mini-course about this that's free. And I'll say, "Look, it's free because networking will change your life. It'll change your business, it'll make you happier, you'll have friends. Your kids will be better, whatever." Every benefit that I've ever had that's big has come from reaching out and connecting with people. And people will say, "Well, I work at a school so I don't need this." Or, "Well I'm not going to leave my job. I worked for the government. I don't need networking." What do you think of that when people say things like that?
Reid Hoffman: [00:05:26] Well, so I think we live in a network age, so I actually think everyone needs a network. And whether or not you're a high school student or you're a massively successful CEO, the whole range you need it. It affects what you learn, right? Because what should you be paying attention to? What should your considerations be about how the world's changing about what kind of opportunities and threats and possibilities actually all look like? The best place that comes from is your network. Yes, you can Google search and yes, you can read a lot. And that's nice to do too but the network helps you learn. The clearest way you can say this is that most people when they go through the university experience and go through college experience, you learned a bunch from your classes, you learned a bunch from professors, but actually in fact for almost everyone, the most you learned was from your peers, from the students around you rather than -- and that continues through life and that's what your network is.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:06:19] Yeah, that's really true. I remember having smart roommates which was lucky. Certainly, it wasn't me going, "I need smart roommates." It was guys going, "Hey, you should live in our house." And it was a bunch of go-getter gunner guys. And I thought these guys taught me how to study. They taught me about world events. They taught me how to pay attention to the right kind of news. I didn't know things like some news sources are biased. I'm 19, you know, think about that stuff. But I do vaguely also remember skull shapes of Australopithecines. It's just been less useful in terms of my daily life. Other people -- and this is more up your alley -- people will say, "Well, my idea, my work is so good, I want it to speak for itself, so I don't need to make connections." When I go to a VC, they'll go, "Wow, this idea is amazing. I don't need to network."
Reid Hoffman: [00:07:03] So again, it's, people frequently have false dichotomies that it's great to have great work. It's great to have an amazing set of stuff that you've done. That's awesome. And yes, you should have that. But one of the pieces of advice I most often give entrepreneurs is don't just work on the product, work on your go-to-market because they, "Oh, I build this thing in a quarter. No one sees it and maybe the best thing ever, but no one sees it. So it's never used." That's the problem on the entrepreneurship side. The same parallels true for individuals, which is you may have done all this great work, but the fact that what’s awareness, like what's other people saying about it? What's the way that you present it? What's the way that people can understand it and get to know it? Because, by the way, it's a huge world. It's eight billion people. How do you stand out against eight billion people? Actually, in fact, that's kind of challenging.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:07:51] Yeah, that's a good point. Are we at eight already?
Reid Hoffman: [00:07:53] Yes.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:07:53] Oh my gosh. Yeah. I'm already feeling claustrophobic. Yeah, my gosh. All right. So as I mentioned in the introduction, we're doing the commencement episode of Masters of Scale combined with The Jordan Harbinger Show here. So we're going to play clips from Masters of Scale with the amazing entrepreneurs that you've interviewed and then we'll discuss/poke holes in the concepts in the clips.
[00:08:14] This first segment from masters of scale features Daniel Ek, founder of Spotify. In this clip, Reid is sharing a story from Daniel's childhood, one that shows his early passion for both music and computers.
Reid Hoffman: [00:08:29] It’s fair to say we have Sweden to thank for Daniel's lifelong love affair with music. It started with his family.
Daniel Ek: [00:08:35] It's one of those weird families, like in normal families who would get a college degree and that would be like the important thing, not really in our family. In fact, no one had a college degree, but having a music education was super important.
Reid Hoffman: [00:08:50] But his country made sure that no child left music behind.
Daniel Ek: [00:08:54] And in Sweden where I grew up, there's actually free music education which I think explains a lot about how music is so big in that country and why it's such a big export for us as well. You get taken to this place when you're about four or five years old and you walk around and you get to sample every instrument you can imagine. So I walked around and I saw people playing piano, I saw people doing the flutes, I saw people doing all sorts of things.
Male speaker: [00:09:23] That’s a sitar and this is the glockenspiel.
Daniel Ek: [00:09:25] And in one of the rooms was this person who was playing the drums and I saw that and it was like, "Holy shit, this is amazing. I really want to play the drums."
Reid Hoffman: [00:09:35] Five-year-old Daniel was blown away by the possibilities, but there was one inescapable reality.
Daniel Ek: [00:09:43] My parents, because I wasn't really that into music at that time and nor did I really want to do it, they said, "You can pick any instrument you want." I said, "I want to play the drums." They said, "Well, any instrument you want. But the drums, because we were living in an apartment and we didn't want to get evicted."
Reid Hoffman: [00:10:01] Daniel turned to a cool older cousin for advice.
Daniel Ek: [00:10:05] He had told me that I should pick the guitar because if I picked the guitar I could actually have a shot with the girls. And as a five-year-old, I didn't know what have a shot with the girls actually meant. I thought he was a pretty cool guy. So I ended up playing guitar and that's the story of how I had started picking up the guitar.
Reid Hoffman: [00:10:25] And so when did you start picking up programming and then was there any connection between music and programming at that time? No, it wasn't really any connection between the two. It was a C64.
Computer voice: [00:10:40] The C64 is also known as the Commodore 64. It was an eight-bit home computer, popular in the 1980s.
Reid Hoffman: [00:10:47] With a cassette?
Daniel Ek: [00:10:48] Yes, with the cassettes, indeed. And then one day, the cassette broke. The actual player broke down. So I started deconstructing the player and figured out how to fix it. Next time the computer broke down, I took it apart and then put it back together again and fixed it. Got a bit overconfident so I asked someone who was an engineer, "What's the hardest thing to learn?" And the person said, "Well, C++ is probably the hardest thing to learn."
Computer voice: [00:11:16] C++ as a computer programming language. It is indeed one of the hardest things to learn.
Daniel Ek: [00:11:22] So by age nine I thought, "Hey, I'm going to learn how to program C++." And about 40 pages of code later I could construct a mouse cursor that moved around, which felt like a lot of work for something relatively simple.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:11:39] Music was something Daniel's family was clearly really passionate about. And you hear that actually quite a bit about Swedish kids. I guess they just have a really good public music education there. It's not considered something that you do when your kid just gets in the pot here and there like it is in America. It turns out he was more passionate about girls. No big surprise. So he's picks up the guitar, which is probably good advice to a young Daniel Ek. I do wonder if he ever got the drums now that he's a billionaire, it's like can finally afford to get the drums and you can live in a house where your neighbors won't complain. One issue that I might take with this advice though is he mentions, he said something akin to follow your passion. It's not quite that simplified, but I find that to be often bad advice because we hear it from successful people. But this is kind of survivor bias where they're successful. They've got a big platform because somebody -- Mark Cuban tweeted it and or something, right? Not to put him on blast. I'm making that up. But they're also a minority of people. We don't hear from all of these entrepreneurs or would-be entrepreneurs or creators that followed their passions straight into their mom's basement -- never to be seen again, essentially. So where do you stand on all this?
Reid Hoffman: [00:12:50] So my very first book was called The Start-Up of You. And part of what I was trying to do is to give people how to say, "Yes, your passion's important, but you should be paying attention to market realities." You should say, "What are the opportunities look like? What does the competition look like? Do I have a plan for getting there? Do I have the resources we are getting there?" So the, "Oh, I'll follow my passions and my passions will lead me to an amazing career." Lots of people don't work out in the video gaming industry. Lots of people don't work out in Hollywood. Lots of people don't work -- like you said, there are just these pools where people get exposed to them when they're in, you know, high school or college or younger, and they go, "That's what I want to be." And you're like, "Yeah, actually," you know that there's millions of go into it and there's tens or hundreds where it works out and you have to understand that reality of these things. And so I think it's important to identify your passions. It's important to kind of figure out, all right, which passions are the things that would really trigger but also to be what's the best match from me to what the opportunity landscape looks like.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:13:55] How do you evaluate that landscape? I mean, that's a very complex question. Of course. I mean if you, if you're really good at it, you work in an office like this with a bunch of partners investing in things, which maybe you're a great person to ask about that. Because I think for me, 20-year-old me would go, "Huh, okay. Pretty soon this internet thing is going to be everywhere. I have fast internet in my dorm, so I download MP3s. Pretty soon people are going to have this in their home. What advantage can I take out of that?" That would be advanced thinking for 2000, 2003 and I remember thinking along the lines of -- I had a lot of kind of dumb ideas about that but they weren't all terrible because one of them turned into Spotify, which of course I have nothing to do with, but I just like, "This Napster thing, this guy's on to something probably going to get sued into oblivion," but you can't stop this train. It turned out that that I would have been right, but I wouldn't have thought to license the music. I would have just thought to move it to China and not get caught.
Reid Hoffman: [00:14:52] So the first part is I use your network and what people mostly mistake is think, "Well, if I can get to the head of this record label or something else that will inform me on this question." Usually, we don't have access to that. Usually, the question is, "Well, I have a, you know, I have some family, I have some friends, I have some people the friends know has some people the family knows. That's my network," when I'm young. But what would you do is, well, who are the smartest people that know me, that may have a good sense of this, that may be able to connect me with someone that is interesting, that could then give me some sense where I can go, "Okay, is this a good idea where I have enough of a unique edge I could pick up some of it in that time, I could run an experiment with it."
[00:15:38] And the questions to ask the networks -- so first is not just asked the people you know, but ask them if they know someone who would be useful to talk to. Second is the question you ask them is "What's wrong with this idea?" Not do you like this idea?
Jordan Harbinger: [00:15:48] Right, because they'll go, "Yes I do.
Reid Hoffman: [00:15:50] "Yeah, you seem nice. I want to be supportive. Yeah, that's great." But what could go wrong? If this fails, why would it fail? And then so you're getting a sense of that because you go, "Okay, I think I can navigate that stuff." So network, one key component. Another one is -- and this is again from like my book The Start-Up of You -- I have this framework called ABZ planning, which is your Plan A, you have Plans B, which is how to think about like, "Well, if A is not working on, maybe B will work or maybe B will be a different path or you're not coming." And then you have a Z Plan, which is it's not working out at all. "What's my lifeboat plan? I'm going to row to a different set of Plan A and Plan Bs. So having that as a planning framework and if you can build that planning framework around your particular idea, maybe your passion and so then you go, "Okay, I, I'm, I'm respecting the fact that I'm going to change. I'm going to change the world's going to change. I'm going to learn new things. I'm going to figure out, oh yeah, 3000 people who are in better positions have this music idea than I do and this isn't going to work I need to change." Then you can keep moving and you can keep playing forward. So like having a flexible planning framework that accounts for your changes, your changes in your knowledge, and your changes in the way the world or world market is working are all really critical.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:17:07] That's really solid advice. Thank you.
Jason DeFillippo: [00:17:12] You're listening to The Jordan Harbinger Show with our guest Reid Hoffman. We'll be right back.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:17:17] This episode is sponsored in part by Skillshare. This show's all about learning if you haven't noticed. And for one, I try to learn new skills whenever I feel like I'm in a transition period, even if it's an unrelated skill. I remember when I went through a break up a long time ago. I think that was when I started learning Korean, which then became me learning Chinese and I've been doing that for, I don't know, like seven years. So skills are a huge part of my life, but a lot of the time you can't get a coach for what you want because there isn't one or there's just no need. You're trying to do self-study and then you're on YouTube all day looking at people's stupid reaction videos getting sucked into it. Skillshare is focused. That's what I like about it and it has a ton of different classes in every possible niche. Jen took that whole bookshelf organizing thing and then got mad at me for using that example because she's also learned things like Adobe Audition, Photoshop. Skillshare has millions of students already learning and they have zillion different courses. There are always gems in there. Jason, are you in? Are you using the Skillshare?
Jason DeFillippo: [00:18:21] I'm using the Skillshare to hone my Final Cut Pro skills because I'm doing a bunch of videos lately and it turns out I haven't touched the video editor in a very long time and it's a lot different than audio. So I'm using Skillshare to dive deep on some different topics that I really need to just get quickly so I can get back to work. And there are tons of classes that you can go and you can find the lesson that you want. Let’s say, "Okay, I need to figure out how I'm going to match my timeline to my audio." Boom, done, five minutes in an hour or I can spend all day and just go down the rabbit hole, which is, it's kind of fun too.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:18:52] Yeah. Yeah. I think what's great about these is they're bite-sized so you can go, here's the thing that I need, or you can just go teach me everything about Adobe PDFs or whatever. And there's everything in here from cooking to business and Skillshare is offering The Jordan Harbinger Show listeners two months of unlimited access to thousands of classes for free. So to sign up, go to skillshare.com/harbinger. Again, skillshare.com/harbinger for two months for free, skillshare.com/harbinger. See what I did there, made it easier to remember.
[00:19:25] This episode is also sponsored by SimpliSafe. And here's something interesting. Studies show that the security systems deter burglars -- I know that's a huge, a big surprise, right? -- but there's still a burglary every eight seconds in America. How? Okay, think about this. Do burglars give up just because some houses have security systems? No, they find the house that's not protected, right? You want to be a harder target. And that's why securing your home is truly a necessity. Even in our area, man, we've got this like fancy Silicon Valley thing going on and then you leave an Amazon package on your doorstep for five seconds and it's like just vaporizes. And we've got like video doorbells around here. All our neighbors do and they all have just hours of footage of thieves walking through the neighborhood undeterred and people breaking into garages and houses. So let me recommend this brilliant security system built by my friends over at SimpliSafe. So they made Simplisafe, ridiculously smart. Its sensors protect every point of access to your home. So there's door sensors, window sensors, garage sensors, garage. By the way, that is how people have been getting broken into in my neighborhood. I have a feeling that's a thing that you know, people just don't know. Garage is such a weak link. They break your car window because it's parked outside or they scan your frequency, your garage opens and then half the time the door to your house is unlocked in there. Don't do that. And if a burglar even tries to break in, SimpliSafe has an ear-shattering siren and that a let them know that the police are on the way. Best of all, they've got batteries, there's a SIM card in there. You don't need a landline. So it's going to call the cops and the monitoring system for you automatically. Even if you don't have power, even if you're not plugged in and they've got 24/7 monitoring, which is like $14.99 a month. No long-term contracts. Jason.
Jason DeFillippo: [00:21:03] So go with the only home security system we trust, SimpliSafe. By going to simplisafe.com/jordan today. That's simplisafe.com/jordan. S-I-M-P-L-I-safe.com/jordan for the home security we trust, simplisafe.com/jordan.
[00:21:19] Don't forget we have a worksheet for today's episode so you can make sure you solidify your understanding of the key takeaways from Reid Hoffman. That link is in the show notes at jordanharbinger.com/podcast. Thanks for listening and supporting the show. To learn more about our sponsors and get links to all the great discounts you just heard, visit jordanharbinger.com/deals. If you'd like some tips on how to subscribe to the show, just go to jordanharbinger.com/subscribe. Subscribing to the show is absolutely free. It just means that you get all of the latest episodes in your podcast player as they're released so you don't miss a single thing from the show. And now back to our show with Reid Hoffman.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:21:55] I know Daniel was really young when he started his first business, which I think leads people to maybe get a little discouraged. He was also very young though when he started skill stacking. So he learned music, he learned programming because he got, as in his words, kind of cocky and was like, what's the hardest thing to learn? I would love to hear that story.
[00:22:14] So when this next segment from Masters of Scale, Daniel tells Reid about that first business he started at age 14.
Reid Hoffman: [00:22:24] Let's talk about your first entrepreneurial venture.
Daniel Ek: [00:22:27] Yeah, probably like 1997 or so people had started talking about web pages. In Sweden at least, it was kind of the craze that everyone should have a webpage. So one day, there was someone who asked me if I could create a webpage for them. I didn't know how to do HTML and I certainly didn't know how to do anything in design. So my instinct was kind of to say no. The person kept coming back and asking me again if I could do it. And so about the third time the person asked, I decided to just take an absurd number that I could think of just to make sure I get rid of the person. And so I said, "Well sure, I'll do it, but I want $5,000 to do it." And the person said, "Done." And I'm like, "Oh holy shit, I now actually have to learn how to do this."
Reid Hoffman: [00:23:11] Daniel built those webpages and he built them well. Word spread. More people sought him out. He raised his price to $10,000 and they agreed to pay. What happened next is one of the most audacious examples of scale I know of, especially for a teenager.
Daniel Ek: [00:23:28] Fast forward, I'm now like in later stages in elementary school. So I had like all the people in my class that were good at math. I taught them how to do HTML for me and the people that were really good at design, I taught them Photoshop. So I was basically like running an illegal sweatshop, when I was like 14. And that was the start of my entrepreneurial career.
Reid Hoffman: [00:23:51] Well, it wasn't so much as a sweatshop because unlike classic child labor things, which is like, "Oh, you're working 12 hours a day and so forth." This is very high price goods with skills that help them have entire careers later and so forth. The entrepreneurial side of this is cool. One would normally think that when you experience this much success early, you would just keep doing it. So what caused you to kind of go look like, "This is great. I've got a huge income coming in. I did that, time to move on"? What was the thinking?
Daniel Ek: [00:24:25] What I started off doing was I bought like the TV I wanted. I bought the guitars that I wanted, and I got the computer that I wanted and eventually, I ran out of things to buy.
Reid Hoffman: [00:24:37] Notice that among all the material possessions he lists, Daniel -- the music fan -- doesn't mention buying records or CDs. It's not because his love of music has died. Quite the opposite. Daniel was listening to more music than ever. But like most people across Sweden, he was buying less of it. The age of music piracy had begun and Sweden was leading the way. Thanks to government-mandated broadband, the country was way ahead of the rest of the world in terms of internet speeds. Music files that took hours to download in other countries could be downloaded in Sweden in seconds. People became used to fast, free access to stolen music. And Daniel was no exception, but piracy did more than super-size his music library. It gave him a calling.
Daniel Ek: [00:25:27] The pivotal moment when I realized that I wanted to work with the internet specifically -- and not just as a software developer -- was the first time I tried Napster.
Computer voice: [00:25:38] Napster was a file-sharing service that launched in 1999 it was infamous for allowing people to illegally share huge amounts of copyrighted music.
Daniel Ek: [00:25:47] And for me, it was like really an epiphany up until that point, the internet was mostly about text and maybe some blinking GIFs. All of a sudden came this Napster thing, which enabled you to get access to the entire world's music. For someone who is really into music, it was phenomenal. I discovered so much great music from it. And when it got shut down, I figured that you can't put the genie back in the bottle, so something like it must exist.
Reid Hoffman: [00:26:19] Daniel was right. The genie was out, and there was no going back despite the best efforts of record companies. Napster may have been sunk by illegal broadside in 2001. But others sprung up to take its place. The genie had granted every music fan their wildest dream, no less than every piece of music ever recorded for free. The record companies went to desperate extremes to stop it. They sued piracy services and even private individuals. Meanwhile, artists from Brittany Spears to Metallica railed against the illegal downloaders, saying it was as bad as shoplifting CDs. Musicians had lost trust in their fans and fans lost trust in musicians. Trust wasn't an all-time low across the board. And this was Daniel's opportunity.
Daniel Ek: [00:27:13] I thought long and hard about what I was passionate about and what made me get into technology, to begin with. Funnily enough, I took a stint off for a few months and just played guitar like on the road with various Swedish artists. I was kind of like doing more soul searching than anything else. And what came back to me was I had these two passions in life, music and technology. It started dawning upon myself like -- why haven't anyone like fix this? Why haven't anyone made the Napster thing work, both for consumers and work for artists as well?
Jordan Harbinger: [00:27:58] I think what worries a lot of people when they hear things like this is they hear of literal children or teenagers and they go, "I can't do anything big. I'm too late. I'm 23 or I'm 43." I didn't learn C++ when I was eight and a half or whatever how old he was, I missed the personal computer and Internet explosion and guys like me who are right there and obsessed with computers at the time but just didn't do anything with them. It's easy for us to go, "Dang, I was so early and I just squandered that advantage." How much of success, especially at scale comes down to timing?
Reid Hoffman: [00:28:33] There's always luck, there's always timing. And so part of the thing they say to compare yourself to a Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg, et cetera is frankly foolishness. Because there's a bunch of people there but there are enormously brilliant, talented, grit driven people. But there are other people who also have those characteristics and it comes down to where you in the right place at the right time? Did you realize that opportunity? Did you pursue it? How did the competition work out? How did the stuff work out? So there's always a range that comes from serendipity. It's one of the reasons why having a flexible planning approach, planning for risks, like thinking what could go right, what could go wrong, navigating across that landscape of what you're doing is really important general strategy. Now that being said, my general belief is that in most circumstances, especially places where we're lucky to be the US other places where you could say, "Well, I always can make the opportunity, I can actually make the opportunity maybe hard, much harder for me than it was for someone who is sitting in Silicon Valley or was from someone in an elite college, but it's doable. I can do it." And it may require two extra work, three extra to work, four extra work. That's what happens. It's still better than being in the Congo like an area. It's war-torn and terrible and so forth. And sometimes you just like, well, you just got to move. You just got to try to get out. So I think that that opportunity is always there. And look, the game is not so much, can I be one of the heroes that are written about in the next hundred years. Sometimes that happens. That's almost always a healthy dose of serendipity and luck. But the game is, can I do something that where, where I started from, I can make something interesting. I can do something where people say, "Well, yeah, you went from there to there and that's pretty impressive." And that's the game that's in front of all of us.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:30:24] It's tricky because I think we often move the goalposts on ourselves. And I'm wondering if someone in your position does this. So for me, I grew up in Michigan. Mom is a school teacher. Dad was an engineered Ford, a pretty common story for a Detroiter. And then it's like, "Oh, your son went to Michigan. Oh, he went to law school. Oh, he moved to New York and then California. And he's got this business on the internet that nobody understands. I don't know what a podcast is." I'm going to be hearing that until I'm 50 or beyond. But then it's like, oh well it's great that I have this big interview podcast, but what I should've done is started Facebook or Spotify. Especially living here, you just go, "Weh, I'm not a billionaire. This is my life is unfair or something." And I wonder if people who are in your position go, "Dang, you know, I should've started a rocket company and then I could've started at an electric car company or I could have started this giant other thing. What's wrong with me? I only started LinkedIn and work at this amazing firm."
Reid Hoffman: [00:31:22] I think that's a common human condition. So I think there are a number of highly wealthy, highly successful people who are like, "Whoa, wait, wait, wait. I could still be better." And I think the key thing is to not measure yourself really relatively to other people other than figure out how to do better. Like it's not a question of like, which of us is better in the league rankings? Which of us made more money? Which of us has more mentions on the internet, you know, in some kind of positive sense. Like if you get wrapped up in that game, you're not playing your own game. You're not playing the games like, well who are you? What impact do you want to have in the world and in life? What do you stand for? What makes you you? And so it's worth paying attention to other people and what they're learning and how they're doing and how you could do better, but only for how you could do better. And so I do think across the whole spectrum, the goalposts move and that people go, "Well, now I want to play this game in order to be the bigger, you know, more, more important person in some registration of that. But I actually think that it's very good to learn as early as you can. You're playing your own game. And what success looks like is what's your measurement for success. What's your sense of, "Well, this is a life worth living"? This is what I want to have been known for in this is what I want to do. And part of how to know that is who are the people that you respect and what would they think, "Yeah, that was great. That's important"?
Jordan Harbinger: [00:32:46] Important to realize the goalpost might move. But if you use that to challenge yourself and sharpen your skill set, great. But if you use it to beat yourself up, you're just going to beat yourself up until you're dead.
Reid Hoffman: [00:32:56] Yes.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:32:57] Which is kind of like I cheat in between of those two things if I'm being honest. But I think most people probably do.
Reid Hoffman: [00:33:01] I think it's good to always -- like in The Start-Up of You, we have this concept Permanent Beta, which is you're always learning, you're always changing. So I think it's good to have that and have that always be learning, always be stretching yourself, "Oh yeah, I've got to here. Well now maybe I can get here." That's a good impulse. But the notion is to say also reflect on, "Well, I'm doing some good stuff." And by the way, sometimes doing some good stuff is you helped that one of your friends. That's great. So really take pride in the things also that you're doing that are contributing well.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:33:30] Easier said than done for some of us, but I think also some of the drives that make people really good at whatever it is they're doing, it's almost cliche, is the same thing that's making them miserable personally. Like the tortured artist is one thing, but we see the tortured entrepreneur who's like, "I only have 100 million users. I'm never going to amount to anything." Or, "This is failing because we're going through our burn rate is so high." And yet, I mean, even things like PayPal, it's like is this really going to do anything? Is this going to be successful? And then it was.
Reid Hoffman: [00:33:59] By the way, I think it’s the balance, it's worth owning that sense of, "Well, I want to be more like own it." And go, but, but don't own it in a way that you're making it less true that you'll get there and making it in a way that your part of life is to have some joy in the good things you're doing. Make sure you experienced that.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:34:18] Okay, so our next segment from Masters of Scale features Marissa Mayer and Marissa is famous for, among other things, being an early employee at Google and later the CEO of Yahoo and she's also famous for making decisions based on a ton of data. In the story we're about to hear, Marissa is still in college and she's agonizing over a decision she doesn't know how to make.
Reid Hoffman: [00:34:41] Marissa herself is one of Silicon Valley's more famous names. She joined Google as employee number 20 and their first female engineer. After 13 years of Google, she moved on to become Yahoo's eighth and final CEO. But we're going to start at the beginning. Marisa was still a college student and Google was one of the thousand teeny Silicon Valley startups competing for talent.
Marissa Mayer: [00:35:06] Due to a long-distance relationship and a bad bowl of pasta, I was in my dorm room on Friday night and I told myself, "If anyone else mails you about another job, you just have to pick. You have 13 good offers. Like you just have to pick one."
Reid Hoffman: [00:35:18] At just that moment, another email popped up on Marissa’s screen. The subject line was just three words -- Work at Google.
Marissa Mayer: [00:35:27] It came in late on this Friday night and it said like, "Work at Google," and I remember looking down and being like, "This bowl of pasta is so bad and I am so pathetic that I’m here on a Friday night eating bad pasta."
Reid Hoffman: [00:35:38] Remember, this is 1999 the peak of the Dot-Com bubble. Stanford grad students were showered with offers from tech recruiters. Marissa assumed she was just being spammed. She hit delete, or at least she meant to,
Marissa Mayer: [00:35:52] But I actually hit the space bar, which in my email reader program opened the message. So I looked back up and it was open and I realized I was actually an email from Salar Kamangar, another early Googler who said, "I've been talking to different professors at Stanford about who I should be talking to that's graduating, your name came up."
Reid Hoffman: [00:36:10] Salar Kamangar, the Googler who sent that email was Google employee number 9, for those keeping count. He's now senior vice president of YouTube. Now Marissa had another offer, 14 to choose from. It's the kind of problem most new grads wish they had. How did she decide? Methodically. Marissa enlisted help from Andre Venier, a fellow Stanford student who is now a VP at Oath.
Marissa Mayer: [00:36:36] I went up to his apartment in San Francisco and said, "Okay, I've got all these offer letters," and we pulled all the values for all of the different columns off of these offer letters -- so you know salaries, stock, where it was, career trajectory, promotion ability, happiness quotients.
Reid Hoffman: [00:36:50] They drew up charts and plotted graphs. They buried their heads in the numbers. After six hours of churning data, Marissa looked up to see the sun had set. Her head was spinning and she felt no closer to a decision.
Marissa Mayer: [00:37:04] Andre just loves working on problems like that turned. He was like, "Well, this is been really fun." And he's like, "Thank you so much for involving me." And I was like, "I haven't made a decision. This hasn't been fun for me at all. I'm completely overwhelmed." So he's like, "Go to bed, sleep on it. The first thing you think of tomorrow morning, whether you can articulate it or not, that's the right decision." So that is how I ultimately picked Google. I went to sleep, woke up the next morning and I just wanted to work at Google. For a lot of the reasons, I could articulate it and for a bunch of other reasons, there were harder to articulate like the fact that I felt like the smartest people were there and I felt really unprepared to try and do what they wanted to do overall as a company. They were really ambitious and for all those reasons, I picked it.
Reid Hoffman: [00:37:48] Marissa is well-known for her intense use of data when she makes decisions. Indeed, it has been the target of much criticism. But what people overlook is that she's not making choices based solely on the data she collects. Each table of data she builds is like a diving board. The higher she builds it, the wider the view and the bigger the splash when she jumps. But whether she actually takes that dive or not, that's still based on intuition.
Marissa Mayer: [00:38:18] I like to be really data-driven but I don't ignore as sort of the human instinct element of it, which for me, my process is a lot of times roll around in the data, to get to know it, and really understand it really well, and then make a gut-based call, which is often supported by data and a lot of hard to articulate factors as well.
Reid Hoffman: [00:38:36] Informed intuition is I actually think a good way of making decisions.
Marissa Mayer: [00:38:40] Totally, yes.
Reid Hoffman: [00:38:41] So Marissa took the plunge and became Google employee number 20.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:38:48] Not a bad pick and given her career trajectory, but is there such a thing as too much data? We hear about analysis paralysis and things like that. How do we strike a balance?
Reid Hoffman: [00:38:57] So there is almost always too much data and part of what you have to think about is what are the key things that would change my decision, not let me integrate all of the information because then you get overwhelmed with it. And by the way, that overwhelming can actually make you have bad decisions. So I'll share like for example, one of the frameworks that I tend to utilize a lot, which is, you say, "Okay, this is the first priority, this is a second party, this is a third party." So frequently what I'll do is like, can I make this decision just on first priority, not looking at second or third. Like what would the decision be if it was just on the first priority? Because, by the way, then it's only the data around that. It's only the things around that. And if you say, "Well this would be the decision," then you go, "Okay, well why would I allow that to change for any of the other priorities?" If that's really the driving priority, then you know, okay maybe that should be the decision, I should tune it a little bit to respect these other interests, these other goals, these other needs. But that should be what I'm going to do. And that's one of the ways to simplify the set of data because you go, what is the really, really key thing? The only thing that I find personally useful about doing the process, that is the exhaustive, like here I did the entire table, I did the entire spreadsheet, and some people who are deeply smart, analytical, like Marissa, really make that work well. But for me, I'm going just look into the, "Oh, this is the one question that matters." And once I figured out that question, that's the decision and that's it, right? And so I think that's important. The other thing that is important is how do you set your goals the right way in terms of how you evaluate the data within it. And I find that people make very commonly one of two mistakes. It's almost like the Goldilocks mistake in goal setting. So there you go, "What's my next step? It's like, what's my passion? What's my next step?" I should only evaluate on the next step. And you're like, well, but actually, in fact, you have this whole career and whole life in front of you. If you evaluate only on the next step, you're going to have a problem now.
[00:40:52] And then they go, "Well I want to be a hedge fund manager. Like this is the thing I want to do. Like this is the thing." And I was like, you know, 15 years out and you go, "Well don't you think you're gonna learn some things? Don't you think you might change? Don't you think you're wrecking; you might be going along this path and realize you have this other great opportunity." So saying that's the only thing. So frequently what I do is I say the way a decision as I think of as a two-step decision in the process, by which you go integrate into this step, what is my changing landscape of possibility on the second step, not where I'm going to be 20 years from now, but like how does that landscape change in a way that's really good for me. It's a good fit for my skill, it’s a good fit for my passions, and a good fit for what the market needs and opportunities and do that. So you integrate those two. Now when you're only doing that, the amount of data is a much more compact set of data.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:41:42] Yeah. Interesting. Marissa also mentioned informed intuition. And I'm wondering how do we know when we're informing our intuition with data versus just like procrastinating because -- "But there's more data over there. Maybe there's something in there that will inform my intuition," aka never pulling the trigger on anything.
Reid Hoffman: [00:42:03] Well, there's an additional thing I can say, which is one of the things I learned from startups is what I'm operating, or what I think of as quick time -- when I'm confronted with a decision, I say, "What would my decision right now be?" If I had to make the decision right now I don't get any more data. This is the data I have. This is what the decision would be. Then because I go, "Okay, what are the key things that might change my decision?" So I need to talk to Jordan, I need to talk to Sarah, I need to talk to -- or I need to find out if this is true or not, like this thing. "Great. Do I have the timeframe and the, and the ability and the cost and go do those things.”? "Okay, let me go get those specific things and then inform this decision." And that's a way of trying to say what's the minimum set of data that I need to make where sometimes very massive decisions. Like it could be the -- are we going to, are we going to launch Product A and work on Product A or Product B? Are we going to raise money from Person X or Person Y? Like huge decisions. But you could still kind of make it really compact and that's, that's one of the ways to do it. And so one of your tests should be, is not -- because you could always say, well, more data is useful. The test is what's the minimum set of data that you would actually, in fact, make this decision on.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:43:19] Right. So it's almost like gut check first and then that gut check or intuition says, "Okay, as long as we find out that that's really the market size and that this is really going to cost this, we should do it." As opposed to, "Let's gather the pattern of seagull migration in Idaho at this time of year and then see if that affects our decision."
Reid Hoffman: [00:43:38] Or talk to everyone.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:43:39] Right. Talk to every, yeah, we need six months of studying. Like that's how the government makes decisions but it's not good for business.
Reid Hoffman: [00:43:46] Yes, or for individuals.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:43:48] Or for individuals. Especially not for individuals. There are people that are still trying to figure it out -- I mean, whatever, we can go down that road in another time.
Jason DeFillippo: [00:43:57] You're listening to the Jordan harbinger show with our guest Reid Hoffman. We'll be right back after this.
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Jordan Harbinger: [00:47:09] In our next segment for Masters of Scale, we hear from Mark Pincus, founder of Zynga, aka the Farmville people. He had some good points in this next clip. He's essentially telling us that we need to know how to kill our ideas and know when to give up on something. When the clip starts, he's telling read about one of his greatest failures, a startup called Tribe, which was an early social network.
Mark Pincus: [00:47:32] It's pretty amazing if you think about it, that I started one of the first three social networks in 2003 and I managed to fail. At a time when everything worked. I actually managed to fail.
Reid Hoffman: [00:47:46] I think Mark is being too hard on himself. It's true that 2003 was a banner year for social networks – MySpace, Tribe, LinkedIn, Hi5. Friendster, the year before. Facebook, the year after. Of those, only half are still around today.
Mark Pincus: [00:48:04] The lesson from Tribe that came resoundingly out for me and still stands out -- that as entrepreneurs, part of the journey that we're on is learning how to separate our winning instincts from our losing ideas. I think as a rule of thumb, if you're a good entrepreneur, you can assume that your instincts are right 95 percent of the time and your ideas might be right 25 percent of the time.
Reid Hoffman: [00:48:27] I'm not as certain as Mark when it comes to fixing percentages on things as hard to pin down as instincts and ideas. But I do believe in being able to recognize a winning instinct is an essential part of being an entrepreneur. And I certainly agree with Mark that you can expect to see a very high mortality rate among your ideas, even if the instinct behind them is right. In the case of Tribe, Mark was pursuing three instincts that, separately, would indeed turn out to be spot on. His instinct that real-name social networking would be huge was born out by Facebook. His belief in the power of smaller sub-community forums powered by reputation found form in Reddit; while creating a better way to find jobs and showcase your professional talents -- that's LinkedIn. But his idea to pursue all of these instincts with one product was wrong.
Mark Pincus: [00:49:19] I persisted with one losing idea, which was, "What if we mashed all these things together? And I got a bunch of the components of that wrong and I stubbornly persisted with it. I enabled anybody to connect with anybody and what I got wrong was that mass-market people did not feel comfortable sharing everything with strangers.
Reid Hoffman: [00:49:44] Mark needed to kill the extreme openness of Tribe if he wanted to attract more mainstream users and take advantage of the big opportunity. But he could not bring himself to deliver the killing blow.
Mark Pincus: [00:49:56] The idea of Tribe wasn't right. And rather than failing fast so that you get a lot of shots on goal, we stoically, stubbornly, heroically stuck to our one idea the entire time.
Reid Hoffman: [00:50:10] It was this bitter experience with Tribe that reawakened the killer in Mark
Mark Pincus: [00:50:17] Out of that, for me, came this mentality that I brought into Zynga of, "I'm not wedded to any idea whether it's mine, yours, someone else’s." I'll try anything and I'll kill anything and I'll kill it quickly. And I'm not going to let killing an idea, kill a winning instinct.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:50:39] what I like most about this idea is that, especially as entrepreneurs and this goes for creators of any kind as well, we need to separate our winning intuition or instincts from our losing ideas. He seems pretty confident about the percentages of him being 95 percent right in terms of intuition or instincts and 25 percent right in terms of ideas. I don't know how you track on that, but I love this concept because it's really easy to go, "Well, that idea didn't work. I'm clearly not cut out for this. I'm an idiot. I'm never going to get it right."
Reid Hoffman: [00:51:09] So part of what I think is really good about Mark’s framework here is there are times you're wrong with intuition and you need to actually correct for that. But frequently one test of the intuition is, does not tell you. You actually have to test her a sequence of ideas and what it allows you to do is acknowledge you might be wrong about this. Like where people frequently go wrong is, they go, "I'm so right about the intuition. This idea must work. And I keep working on that idea until I literally drive the bus off the cliff." And you're like, "No, no bad idea. You need a pivot earlier. You need to figure it out." And so actually in fact, for one piece to give you the psychological space is to say, "Well, maybe this idea is wrong and maybe I should abandon this idea." That's very hard when you're the author of the idea, you go, "Well, but that's my value. That's my idea. That's the thing I have that’s unique from everyone else." You know, not more often than not, greater than 50 percent of the time, you're going to have to give up on that idea. And that's hard for people. And that's one thing that's really useful about, you know, Mark's break of winning and tuition versus a potentially losing idea.
[00:52:18] The other thing I like about it is that part of how I advise people when they think about macro pivots and changes is you kind of measure what your ideal flow is. And so you go, "Well, in order to make this intuition work, I've got this idea, I've got idea one, I've got idea two, I've got idea three, I’ve got idea four.” And part of how you go, "Well maybe that intuition is wrong," is you go, "Okay, so I've now tried five ideas. Is my sixth idea as good or better than the average or the kind of set of the five ideas or am I now hitting the substantially worse ideas that I had before?" Because you go say, "Ah, no, I'm now kind of scraping at the bottom of the barrel for the ideas to make the intuition work." And that's when you pivot the intuition. That's when you may say, "You know I tried five different ideas, doesn't really work. I'm now going to go for a different intuition."
Jordan Harbinger: [00:53:11] That's actually really useful cause I think most of us are so ready to throw out or actually either hold on with a death grip or throw out an idea and then just think, "Well, I don't have what it takes or this can't be done or since they did this wrong I everything I do I'm going to be making a similar mistake," and we might not have those thoughts consciously but it's kind of hard to shake, especially if you really get your butt handed to you by mentors, peers of the market or whoever. You might just think, "Okay I'm going to go work at target."
Reid Hoffman: [00:53:41] And an additional point that is really important and I think we may get this later too, but it's always like oriented, always get back in the game and keep playing. It's part of the grit point. Now, the point of that it doesn't mean always keep trying to do the same thing until it totally crushes. You need to pivot and change, but staying in the game is part of how you win.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:54:02] It seems clear that now that never give up is pretty terrible advice and it's – but it’s advice we hear all the time. Actually, I think the people who say, "Follow your passion, follow that with and never give up." Yeah. It's almost like they just looked at a bunch of hallmark cards and were like, "I need a keynote speech." But how do we know when to give up on the idea itself? Yeah. If the market kills us maybe or a company may be a better question. How do we know when that time is where we go, "Look, pivot is not going to do it five degrees to the left is not going to do it”? This needs to be mute because we need to take our ball and put our resources somewhere else.
Reid Hoffman: [00:54:39] Well, the framework I used for this is the same framework I just outlined, which is what you do is you say, "I've got a Plan A," that's kind of Idea One for this and then, "Ah, it's not working and I'm adjusting maybe my goals are, I'm adjusting what I'm doing. Those are kind of ideas two, three, four." But as you begin to realize that on this path, the idea is that you're testing and aren't working or getting worse and worse, you want to pivot early. So part of what the key is -- the mistake that people make is they go, "Oh, when the company is shutting down, now I pivot." No, no, no, no, no, no. You actually want to be asking yourself the question, "Should I pivot?" And you want to ask that question before the market hits you in the face with a two by four. And that's true as an individual too, you're kind of going, you shouldn't be going, "I get to the end of the decade," and I go, "Oh, I really should have done something different nine years ago." That's a mistake.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:55:31] Me learning all this Symbian programming instead of iOS turned out not a good future-proofed idea.
Reid Hoffman: [00:55:36] But what you do is if you're good and rigorous about asking yourself the question, call it every year and going, "Well, do I now have more confidence or less confidence in the path I'm in," and I'm testing, I'm talking to my network. I'm asking about it because by the way, sometimes the test is, "Hey, do you think the Symbian thing is going somewhere?" And you go, "Oh, I hear it from a bunch of smart people. I don't think it's going anywhere." "Okay, do I really know something they don't? Which I might sometimes that's the bold thing," but consider trying to get to your pivots early and think everyone pivots. The view because this is the whole survivor bias thing, we just talked about is everyone loves to tell these narratives of, "When I was two, I knew what I was going to do when I was 40," and it was a straight line. That kind of smooth sailing. The wind was at our backs. It was kind of unproblematic. It's always fiction. Just not true. Everyone pivots. So I'm going to be pivoting too, so let me pivot intelligently and early. That doesn't mean you don't have persistence. That doesn't mean you don't try the hard thing a couple of times every so often, but you're knowing that pivoting is part of the game.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:56:46] Perfect. Yeah. I think that's, it's not defeat. You're merely steering the boat to get to the port in the right direction.
Reid Hoffman: [00:53:52] Exactly.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:53:53] Nobody says, well, you know, I had to make a left turn so I lose.
Reid Hoffman: [00:53:56] Yes.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:53:57] You're not supposed to get it. What does that like sort of momentum game at a bar where you, you have to throw the little cartridge and it has to land in the exact specific spot? I guess it looks like curling on salts -- this analogy has gone to hell. Let's just go to the next clip.
[00:57:10] When Instagram first launched, it was mostly just like a camera app with some network features. And I know I'm just totally de romanticizing the idea and I'm doing that on purpose here. It arguably still is kind of like that, but what we'll see in this next clip is that the initial explosion in users came in part in large part because of filters, which I don't even know how to use admittedly, but the founder Kevin Systrom‘s wife actually came up with this idea. Here's the clip.
Reid Hoffman: [00:57:42] Kevin wished he could take credit for it. But he says it was actually his wife's idea. It came to them during a trip to Mexico.
Kevin Systrom: [00:57:49] We rented a little room in a bed and breakfast and I was working on Burbn at the time and we were pivoting to photos, but she was like, "I don't think I'm going to ever use this app." I was like, "Why not?" She's like, "Well, my photos aren't good." And I was like, "Well that's fine. You can post photos. It'll be good." And she goes, "Well, they're not as good as your friend Greg's." And I was like, "Well, Greg filters all his photos." And she looks at me and she's like, "Well, you should add filters then." I was like, "Ah, you're right. I should add filters."
Reid Hoffman: [00:58:16] I hear stories like Kevin and Nicole's all the time. Entrepreneurs take note -- an honest partner is always your best source of ideas. Kevin was smart enough to listen.
Kevin Systrom: [00:58:27] I went back to the bed and breakfast room and with a dial-up connection to Mexico of all places. I was looking up code on how to change colors and photos and I made the first filter there on the spot. And it's still in the app called X-Pro 2.
Reid Hoffman: [00:58:43] X-Pro 2 was one of the 11 original filters that Instagram launched with. Each of the distinctive filters added the kind of blurred edges, color wash and light leaks that gave even mediocre photos a sense of nostalgic meaning. And when Instagram launched there were a lot of mediocre photos. Phone cameras were still primitive.
Kevin Systrom: [00:59:05] Any person we gave it to, their eyes lit up because they were like, "Oh like my photos seem so much better now." And that was the moment when we realized, "We think we have something."
Reid Hoffman: [00:59:15] Filters where the simple feature that set Instagram apart. But Instagram also made it simple to share those beautiful photos. And this was its true secrets to scale.
Kevin Systrom: [00:59:27] And I remember hearing from people, they were like, "Whoa, I just got like," and I was like, "Yeah, because it's a network." And they're like, "Oh, I didn't realize it. I thought it was just a camera app."
Reid Hoffman: [00:59:37] Instagram was an instant hit. On its first day on the App Store 25,000 downloads, within a week 100,000, within 10 weeks 1 million users. Instagram had entered multi-player mode.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:59:54] So an honest partner is almost always the best source of ideas or often the best source of ideas. Why do you think this is the case?
Reid Hoffman: [01:00:03] Well, there are lots of reasons. So one is they have a certain amount of objectivity so they don't have their own ego as invested in. "Oh, this is brilliant, this is the exact right thing, et cetera." So they can, they can both see the potential strengths and weaknesses in a clear way. Second is that they have an investment in trying to help you. So they can say, "Look, I'm trying to help you get to the better place, whether it's doubled down or change or pivot." And the third is they have a communication channel that you trust. You trust this person you trust their interest in you. So that partner -- and by the way we this like part of the meaning of life is to seek out those people. It isn't just you know, your spouse, et cetera, but it's your friends, your allies -- seeking that out is supercritical and those people that it's more than gold, it's more than diamonds, it's more than platinum. Those are the people that not only give meaning to your life but also help you steer.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:00:54] How do you find those people? Of course, it's a matter of filtering I would imagine you meet a hundred people and one of them turns out to be a great board member for your personal life. Do you have any specific ways where you go, "Ah, this person is really -- I've really wanted to spend more time with them? They are sharp."
Reid Hoffman: [01:01:11] First is lots of people have interesting perspectives and interesting experience in various different ways. And the dimension could be knowledge of the world, that knowledge of an industry, knowledge of what's going on here locally, their own networks of who the people they know, the kinds of things that – like there's just lots and lots of knowledge and different things. And so the first thing is to realize that you know the vast majority of people you have something of value and figuring out what that is. Now that doesn't mean that everything's a value. So like for example, I meet a great artist and I go, "Oh, this person really understands like how we order our perceptions and they're the person I will ask about that." I wouldn't go ask them about an investment in the company, they just wouldn't know it. It wouldn't be useful. It's kind of puts them in an awkward spot and so forth. So you have a whole massive network of potential advisors that it's good to map to. Then what happens when you get to say, "Well who are the people that are the best kind of inner circle guides for you?" Well, those are people who are, generally speaking, somewhat balanced in their own self so that when they're giving you advice, they actually see you in giving you advice, and they'll go, "Well, if I was in your shoes, I would want to do X." "But you're not in my shoes, I'm in my shoes." We have different goals, we have different interests, we have different risk tolerances, we have different like the ways that we play and what we're willing to do. And so people who go, "Look, I see you and I at least know you some and I care about you and I care about what the right outcomes for you. And so by the way, I'm willing to tell you the hard thing was like, okay, I know you have your heart set on this acting career is probably not going to work out. It's a really long hard path for you. And I know that you may get angry with me because I'm trying to help you this way and I want to try to do it in a warm as a possible, most compassionate way in order to make it happen because I want to show that I care for you and what I'm doing that and I'm paying attention to it." So those are the kinds of people that you want to be most close in and yes they may have some expertise, some knowledge about the world, they may be super smart though all those things are useful attributes. But their ability to stay true to being an ally with you is the really key core characteristic around that inner circle.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:03:25] Do you find that some of us maybe have partnered with terrible ideas or partners that are too close to the project and we go okay, "They're telling me this and I should probably not listen to them."
Reid Hoffman: [01:03:37] It is almost always the case that you will have some of that. And the way that I do that is I go, "Okay, what do I think I know that they don't." And so I get crisp on it, like they may be close to it. I may think that they're being led by their own bias. I maybe think that they have something like an emotional decision or something else or passion decision that is biasing their decision and I may believe all that. That's great, but the discipline you get to when you say, "Well, this person is close and they're smart and they're saying this, okay, what do I think that I know that they don't, and can I articulate myself that with some degree of precision?" Now if I do that, then I can feel comfortable going, "Okay, I'm going to not follow their advice. I'm going to have heard it. I'm going to put it in the memory bank, but I'm going to go, I'm going to continue on this course of action."
Jordan Harbinger: [01:04:23] Yeah, you hear that mom. It's nothing personal. I think actually that's a random accidental example. People who are really close to us often want to protect us. So they say things like, "Ooh, if he goes and tries to start this company and fails, he's going to cry. He's going to be upset and he's going to move back in our basement. You know, you're doing really well at the police department. Why don't you just stay there." And it's not, not in your best interest, but it's also playing it safe because they don't want to see you fall on your face.
Reid Hoffman: [01:04:50] Yes.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:04:51] It's nah saying, they're trying to protect.
Reid Hoffman: [01:04:53] Yes, it's out of love. But by the way, it isn't whether or not you take a risk or not. We almost always take risks and everything. Even saying that the police department is actually taking risks. It's a question of taking the smart risks and this is also getting down to the competencies of advice-giving. Because if you realize that every path involves some risks and its risk tradeoffs, then you go, "Okay, so how do we trade her off?" And that's part of the reason why the ABZ Planning Framework. Because you'd go, "Well look, you actually could move back from the basement. That's fine. And then we help you get the confidence to go out in the world again and we all going to agree to do that. Like you can say, look the conversation as, "If you start this company, you do this thing, it may not work out. Do you have a plan for if it doesn't work out?" "And there are all my plans, I moved back to the basement." "Okay great. You're going to move back to the basement. We will actually, in fact, do that. Do you have a plan of how you get out of the basement? Like what are you going to do then and are you going to have the energy and the dedication, the wherewithal to do that," and the person says, "Yes, I will." "Okay, great. Take the risk."
Jordan Harbinger: [01:05:49] Perfect.
[01:05:53] so Jason, slightly different format but I'll hold a lot of fun and kind of a good reason to listen to a whole bunch of other good podcasts and then ask questions. A little meta.
Jason DeFillippo: [01:06:01] It's definitely a little meta. I enjoyed it quite a bit. As I was going through the clips, I'm like, "Oh, this is good stuff. I really enjoy it." And Reid is such a smart guy. I mean I met him like what 15 years ago. My friend Joi introduced us, Joi Ito from the MIT Media Lab introduced us and Reid gave me business advice over breakfast that he didn't have to and he spent an hour with me like coaching me on how to sell my company, which was invaluable, which I ended up selling to Tucows. Thanks to his advice.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:06:26] Now that hour of consulting with Reid Hoffman, it's probably like six figures, price tag plus you got to pay for the lunch. So --
Jason DeFillippo: [01:06:33] yeah. And yeah, I had to pay for it and pay for the food and give them a cut. So --
Jordan Harbinger: [01:06:39] Yeah, there you go. All right, so you paid your dues and look where you are now. Look where we all are now. Reid is great. The clips are great. We've got a whole Part Two coming, so if that seemed to end a little abruptly, no worries. We have another hour coming up with Reid next time, Jason.
Jason DeFillippo: [01:06:53] Yes, we do. Yes, we do. This was just, this was the teaser. We’re going to bring you the rest of it next episode.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:07:01] Big thank you to Reid Hoffman. In fact, if you haven't been listening to Masters of Scale and you're interested in the business world or the tech world, it is just a phenomenal podcast and it's done by the WaitWhat Crew. I worked with them on this project and everything they produced is just so, so well done. It's called Masters of Scale. We'll link it in the show notes and you can find that anywhere you find your favorite podcasts.
[01:07:20] And if you want to know how I manage to book these great guests and manage my relationships -- well this one, Jason, was your relationship and you created that over years and of course, you're also expert, expert-level networker -- and we've put some of those tiny habits and systems into our Six-Minute Networking course, which is free over at jordanharbinger.com/course. Don't wait, of course, a lot of people kick the can down the road. You've got to dig the well before you're thirsty. Once you need relationships, you are too late. The drills take a few minutes a day. This is Reid Hoffman approved or Reid Hoffman recommended in terms of networking and making sure that you've got those warm introductions going. You got to dig that well before you're thirsty. I wish I knew this stuff 20 years ago. That's all at jordanharbinger.com/course.
[01:08:02] Speaking to building relationships, tell me your number one takeaway here from Reid Hoffman. I'm at @JordanHarbinger on both Twitter and Instagram and there's a video of this interview, Part One and Two on our YouTube channel at jordanharbinger.com/youtube.
[01:08:16] This show is produced in association with PodcastOne and this episode was co-produced by Jason "Warm-Introduction" DeFillippo and Jen Harbinger show notes and worksheets by Robert Fogarty and I'm your host Jordan Harbinger. Remember, we rise by lifting others. The fee for the show is that you share it with friends when you find something useful, which should be in every episode. So please share the show with those you love and even those you don't. In the meantime, do your best to apply what you hear on the show, so you can live what you listen, and we'll see you next time.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:08:46] This podcast today is sponsored by another podcast called Disgraceland. Disgraceland, great title, I am jealous. It's hosted by Jake Brennan. Disgraceland is a true-crime podcast about musicians specifically -- getting away with murder, behaving really badly. Each episode traces the most insane criminal stories surrounding our most interesting and infamous Popstars, Jerry Lee Lewis’ fifth wife dead, Sam Cooke at 3:00 a.m. in city motel dead, Sid and Nancy dead. Why? Because musicians are freaking crazy because crazy things happen to them. We love those things and those people and we let them get away with it. Johnny Cash, Amy Winehouse, Kurt Cobain, the Rolling Stones, the Hells Angels run security -- all that is on Disgraceland. If you love true crime and you love music, I think you'll love Disgraceland so you can listen to that at Apple Podcasts, on the iHeartRadio app or wherever you're listening to this show.
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