Charlie Rose Interview with Reid Hoffman
This is an exceptional interview with a Nostradamus of our age.
Reid Hoffman Is No Dummy
LinkedIn Chairman and Founder Reid Hoffman is a smart, smart man. His sense of how and what is happening is prescient beyond fortune telling. Name a silicone valley social network hit and he is involved in some way. Facebook, Flickr, Digg and Technorati are balanced by Kiva, Care2 and Kongregate.
Hoffman’s worldview is what impresses the most. He gets the obituary problem. What, in the end, will you do that matters? His interest is in changing the world for millions of people. I share this desire and know just how hard putting A plan behind such a vision can be, ONE PLAN. Reid has successfully executed five maybe ten things that will change our children’s world. Amazing.
I wanted to Spock mind meld with another man, my bosses boss, who saw the world as his canvas. There is something different in the artist’s mind and approach when, “Change the world,” is planned outcome. I was both right and wrong in my assumption. I’ve noticed my world-changing boss may have, at some past time, thought about “THE WORLD”. Today he is consumed with working the problem. Once the ball moves off the top of the hill nudging its movement in order to maximize value (the value of the change created) becomes all-consuming. He thinks about fixing this or that, completing this or that or supporting this or that. His global vision is now an emergent system created by local guides. Even the original visionary has seeded control to the super organism he set in motion.
I sense Hoffman operates in an emergent way. His degree is in Symbolic Systems with a Masters in Philosophy. This is silicone valley training defined. On Charlie Rose tonight, he discussed coming back to LinkedIn. While Reid Hoffman is clearly a man of vision and ideas I don’t sense any hidden dictatorship. Instead, and this is a similar trait to Evan Williams (Twitter Founder), Jeff Bezos (Amazon Founder) and Francesco Clemente (artist), there share an easy confidence combined with a real desire to be amazed and surprised. Hoffman’s life must be one great surprise after another. He is the living embodiment of a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Success doesn't fall from trees. Hoffman graduated from Stanford (after growing up there), attended The Putney School. I knew of Putney at Choate. Having just learned Putney includes, along with Hoffman, Deborah Gordon '72 and Téa Leoni '84. Gordon is “the ant lady” I’ve been reading about for weeks in Emergence by Steven Johnson and Leoni and well known actress. A casual review of an impressive alumni directory confirms the smart, arty progressive tag Putney had when I was being similarly educated (thankfully somewhat south of Putney’s Vermont location).
Reid knows Red Maxwell and that is just as it should be. I’ve written extensively about meeting Red during the Work with Seth Godin day in Dobbs Ferry years ago. Having a beer with all of them someday would be a memorable event, one I could strike from my “bucket list”. Some people see our collective future better than others. Red, Reid and Seth are a new kind of emergent visionary. They are not Nostradamus. They don’t predict the future. They develop tools of the future. This reminds me of playing with blocks, a childhood habit. When you play with blocks you rarely step back to see the SimCity you’ve built. Instead, you stay head down in your work. You create a cluster, wreck it and throw another set of blocks together creating another. Process is more important than the thing itself and process is all consuming. Reid, Red and Seth are process guys. They are as interested in engineering as meaning. This is not to say meaning doesn’t matter. Large assumptions do become possible. Once a block city is built stepping back from it will explain some universal truth about block cities if you are so inclined. At ten I would simply wreck and reconstruct. I knew nothing of process other than how much fun it was to wreck a full day’s work. As it turns out, this was some of my best training for my life now. My block training and Roger Ready Wizard Training is worth an advanced degree (albeit one of those online ones LOL).
Before concluding this riff one more universal plug for Reid. Reid stresses we are all entrepreneurs now practicing brand husbandry for our own brands. His LinkedIn tool is a necessity for anyone trying to create meaning and value for themselves in today's market. Anyone who reads ScentTrail knows the reason to take control of your own brand is to take control of your life. I read an influential book when I was climbing the corporate ladder. The book was Your Money Or Your Life. It asked a simple question. What is your life worth? What is the limited time you have on this planet worth? Soon after reading Your Money my ex-wife and I left our corporate jobs and started Found Objects, a company that helped millions play with magnetic words. Found Objects is gone, but its spirit and offspring live. Use LinkedIn to manage your professional brand. Create options and degrees of freedom in your life. Can you climb Everest without Sherpas and Oxygen? Sure, BUT WHY WOULD YOU. You are already climbing the highest mountain in the world, sufficient challenge (for most). My advice is use every tool available. Think of LinkedIn like oxygen climbing your brand mountain. Use it early and often (as my P&G boss use to instruct about closing).
One day I hope to meet my fellow preppie Reid Hoffman and share a beer with a friends I owe some SERIOUS thanks to right now (Red Maxwell and Seth Godin).
Thursday, March 5, 2009
Charlie Rose Interview with Reid Hoffman