During a recent "Pivot to the Future" podcast, my co-host will.i.am and I were enlightened by one of the most successful entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley – Reid Hoffman – co-founder of LinkedIn, partner at Greylock, bestselling author, and host of Masters of Scale – as he candidly shared insights on a wide range of topics. We covered career building, selling LinkedIn to Microsoft for $26 billion, and his next big pivot

Omar Abbosh and Will.i.am talk to Reid Hoffman – co-founder of LinkedIn, Apple alumnus and venture capitalist.

Reid Hoffman’s career has been full of wise pivots. While earning a master’s degree in philosophy at Oxford University, he revised his vision from becoming a philosophy professor to embarking on a journey where he could help massive amounts of people understand three important things: who we are as individuals, who we are as a society – and reinventing themselves to become what they could be.

They are quite rare, these leaders who can envision the bright futures that people, organizations and societies are capable. These leaders are the ones that don’t get so caught up in the challenges of each day, and of each quarter – enabling them to stay focused on "what’s possible."

Reid has always had a keen eye for infinite opportunities, a talent that has made him one of the most successful entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley. From pioneering ahead-of their-time social networks, helping create PayPal, and founding and then selling LinkedIn to Microsoft for $26 billion, to his current role as a partner at venture capital firm Greylock Partners, Reid has succeeded by making things "personal." Reid’s perspective is that all businesses play roles in human society, and that we should steer into the positive by shaping society for the better.

There are no two ways about it: Reid is a wonderfully authentic leader who is guided by his heart and he's on a mission to map people to their futures. Here's a glimpse of some of the ground we covered during the podcast:

  • Learning can leave scars. Enduring the thrill of launching startups has taught Reid more than anything else he's ever done. "You've jumped off a cliff and you're assembling an airplane on the way down," he said. Some of the lessons were painful, some left scars. But he still values them and they helped shape his career.
  • Reinventing the regulation of platforms. Reid opposes regulation the way most people seem to think of it; enshrining the past against the future and keeping things running the way they were in the 1950s. "I’m in – 100 percent". Reid explained that regulations should be "lightweight," dynamic and focused on building the future in interesting ways.
  • Measuring scale. The term "scale" is so widely used in many ways. In business, I talk about "scaling the new". As a mountaineer, I "scale" mountains. But what I loved about Reid’s take is that he thinks of measuring first: "scale" is based on the number of people impacted and the depth and duration of the impact. He talked about how that equation and his desire to have a large-scale impact on society affected his career. Incidentally, he has a wonderful podcast called "Masters of Scale," and as a fellow podcaster, I appreciated that Reid calls podcasts a "scale medium" because people learn through conversations and the spoken word is a universal human medium.
  • Be the entrepreneur of your own life. Reid believes climbing the career ladder is more like navigating a multi-layered jungle gym. It requires strength, flexibility, the willingness to risk falling and the resolve to be the entrepreneur of your own life – certainly one of Reid’s trademarks. Your life is like running a startup. His advice: always be kind along the way.

Indeed, it is always personal … or it should be. Give this eye-opening episode a listen and you’ll think of your role – and your future – differently.

Omar Abbosh

Group Chief Executive – Communications, Media & Technology

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