The 10 Commandments of Startup Success with Reid Hoffman


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“Hard work isn’t enough, and more work is never the real answer.”
– Reid Hoffman

In this special episode, we explore the “10 Commandments for Startup Success” as taught by the one and only Reid Hoffman (LinkedIn, Twitter). Reid has been on the show before, and he is often referred to as “The Oracle of Silicon Valley” by tech insiders, who look at his company-building and investing track record (which includes Facebook, Airbnb, Zynga, Flickr, and more) with awe.

Reid is Co-Founder of LinkedIn, which has more than 300 million users and sold to Microsoft for $26.2B. Prior to that, he was Executive Vice President at PayPal, which was purchased by eBay for $1.5 billion. At PayPal, he was nicknamed “firefighter-in-chief” by CEO Peter Thiel. Noted venture capitalist David Sze says of Reid, “[he] is arguably the most successful angel investor in the past decade.” They are now both partners at Greylock Partners, a top-tier venture capital firm.

The “10 Commandments” in this episode are drawn from the entire first season of Masters of Scale, one of my favorite podcasts, also hosted by Reid. But that’s not all… there is plenty of new footage, including 6-10 new questions posed by yours truly to Reid, some of my own startup observations, and lots of great cutting-room floor material from people like Brian Chesky (Airbnb) and Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook).

On Masters of Scale, Reid shares his theories on how companies scale from zero to a gazillion, and he explores them with famous founders. It’s one of the few podcasts that has a permanent home on my phone.

I hope you enjoy this one as much as I did!


Want to hear another podcast featuring Reid Hoffman? — Listen to this prior conversation. In this episode, we discuss the habits and behaviors of highly successful people, using board games to develop strategy, the 3 types of CEOs, best lessons from his network, and much, much more (stream below or right-click here to download):

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QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.

Scroll below for links and show notes…

Selected Links from the Episode

  • Connect with Reid Hoffman:

Masters of Scale | LinkedIn | Greylock Partners | Twitter

Show Notes

  • Commandment 1: Expect rejection. [09:14]
  • Commandment 2: Hire like your life depends on it. It does. [19:26]
  • Commandment 3: In order to scale, you have to do things that don’t scale. [25:37]
  • Commandment 4: Raise more money than you think you need — potentially a lot more. [36:18]
  • Commandment 5: Release your products early enough that they can still embarrass you. Imperfect is perfect. [44:45]
  • Commandment 6: Decide. Decide. Decide. [1:00:16]
  • Commandment 7: Be prepared to both make and break plans. [1:03:13]
  • Commandment 8: Don’t tell your employees how to innovate. [1:07:21]
  • Commandment 9: To create a winning company culture, make sure every employee owns it. [01:12:32]
  • Commandment 10: Have grit and stick with your hero’s journey. [1:23:22]
  • Bonus Commandment 11: Pay it forward. Use the momentum of your own success to move the success of others. [1:26:03]
  • What would Reid’s billboard say? [1:29:25]
  • Books most gifted and influential. [1:29:48]
  • What has Reid changed his mind about in the last few years? [01:30:52]
  • Recent purchase of a hundred dollars or less that has had the most positive impact on Reid’s life. [1:32:09]
  • Advice for a college senior about to enter the “real” world. [1:32:36]
  • Reid’s advice for a thirty-year-old version of himself. [1:33:15]
  • Favorite failures? [1:33:58]
  • The worst advice Reid hears commonly dispensed in his field. [1:34:54]
  • What’s an unusual habit or an absurd thing that Reid loves? [1:35:56]
  • Rules or criteria that lead to a “yes” from Reid. [1:36:40]

People Mentioned

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