Get Inspired

The Start-Up of You has helped thousands of people adapt to the future, invest in themselves, and transform their careers. Here are a few stories of readers who applied the entrepreneurial strategies in their own lives, and have never looked back. Will you be next? Has The Start-Up of You had a positive impact on your career? Let us know!


Name: Ben Bacon   Location: Denver, Colorado

Work: Director of Marketing at P2 Energy Solutions – Software

How the Book Affected Me: “I attended SxSW in 2012 and listened to Ben and Reid present on their book The Startup of You. Out of the 40+ sessions I went to that week, it was the one that hit me the hardest. At the time I had worked almost 15 years for two very large and stable Fortune 500 companies. It was an incredibly comfy career. As I listened to Ben talk about risk avoidance in relation to work and how most people foolishly believe they can avoid risk in their career, my ears perked up. I was that person. I made the decision that week to embrace more risk in my career and to find a leadership role at a small company. About 3 months later, I quit my “stable” job and jumped onboard a startup. Unfortunately it didn’t go so well and a few months later I was unexpectedly let go. I embraced risk all right! However, the tools from The Startup of You got me back in the workforce very quickly. Today, I have that leadership role at a small company where I’m able to make a bottom line contribution each day and I’ve never been happier at work. While it was a circuitous journey, I’m so glad I went through it all and I feel like today I’m much more equipped to handle whatever life and the workplace brings my way.

Name: Brad Lindenberg   Location: Sydney, Australia

Work: Founder, Lind Ventures – Entrepreneurship

How the Book Affected Me: “Reid and Ben have validated and reiterated the decisions I’ve made to take the entrepreneurial path. The traditional establishments of university and college are only beginning to endorse and promote entrepreneurship as a valid and accepted career path. The reality is that the world is changing faster than they can change their curriculums. We can no longer rely on the old establishment to set our direction for life. We need to be creative, nimble, openminded and adapt to the changing world on a personal and professional level. The book resonated with me on many levels, but mostly echoed the necessity of taking smart risks with a long term outlook. It also drove home the point of positioning oneself on an upward trajectory while still developing soft skills and networks along the way. Getting on the right trajectory is not something that just happens. You have to create an environment and platform personally and professionally that enables you to reach your goals and that involves surrounding yourself with the right people and constantly striving to improve.”

Name: Michelle Murphy   Location: Liverpool, UK

Work: Sales Administrator at Medical Legal Appointments – Legal Services

How the Book Affected Me: “I am just a simple sales administrator in Liverpool, UK, and I finished reading The Start-Up of You this morning on the bus on the way to work, and I cannot believe the results I have had already from putting these straightforward guidelines into exercise. In the last 2 weeks I have managed to impress the owner of the company I work for by attaining partners of key companies to meet me at a local conference in a couple of weeks time for a cup of tea and a chat. I have moreover been approached by someone asking me to supply an internet marketing service to assist them with starting up a new company, and also for my advice on the industry. I am quite simply over the moon with the reaction and the feedback I have had from persons in my industry. I am going to read it again!”

Name: Shawn Haag   Location: St. Paul, MN

Work: Program Coordinator at the University of Minnesota – Education

How the Book Affected Me: “As a professional in higher education for over seven years, I felt I was at a point in my career where I needed to start thinking strategically about my future. Since reading The Start-Up of You, I’ve been able to start developing a long-term plan to invest in myself and my network. In strengthening and maintaining my network, I found Ben Franklin’s quote in the book, “If you want to make a friend, let someone do you a favor,” extremely valuable. I plan to continue focusing my efforts on growing my network and helping others by introducing them to my other contacts. Investing in others is one of many ideas I took away from the book. While I’d like to stay in the higher education industry, I am open to an entirely new industry, and I am positive a breakout opportunity exists for me in the foreseeable future. I am spending my time going back through the book and moving through the Invest in Yourself bullets at the end of each chapter. By doing so, I’ll be able to move myself ahead of the crowd and inevitably find a new opportunity with potential.”

Name: Elnura Kuldaeva   Location: San Mateo, CA

Work: Registered Nurse / Entrepreneur – Healthcare

How the Book Affected Me: “Being a curious and adventurous person by nature, I immigrated to the USA as a young aspiring student from Kyrgyzstan. Soon after graduation from the BSN program, I began my successful nursing career in Silicon Valley. The book helped me look at things in a different way. The main lesson I took away from the book is: there is an entrepreneur in all of us! No matter the gender, race, or background, we all have an innate ability to adapt and reinvent ourselves. The book inspired me to do more and provided me with the specific techniques on how to navigate the exciting times of the new now. I have a dream to build something beautiful in order to help many patients live healthier and happier lives. As this book suggests, I am continuously building my competitive advantage: learning new things in order to turn my dreams into the reality, going outside of my comfort zone (learning software development with web design) and building a network of passionate and creative people around me.”

Name: Dan Brody   Location: New York City, NY

Work: Chief Operating Officer for Grace Tokyo – Fashion

How the Book Affected Me: “The Start-Up of You has helped me realize that there is no such thing as a lone entrepreneur. We are all members of our own powerful network of contacts, complete with the knowledge and ability to help us accomplish great things. Since reading the book, I have taken the initiative to reconnect with fellow past contestants of NBC’s The Apprentice (I was on season 5) as well as offered my help to others in my extended network. Being in the position to help others (several of whom are far more successful then I am) has given me a great sense of empowerment and helped me forge new relationships with contacts in industries once foreign to me. Who would have thought that opening up to my extended network and sharing would have such fantastic dividends to offer in return? Don’t just read The Start-Up of You, dog ear the pages, underline stuff and scribble notes in the margins.”

 amy barczuk Name: Amy Barczuk   Location: Rochester, NY

Work: Pro Soccer Player, Western New York Flash of the National Women’s Soccer League – Sports

How the Book Affected Me: I recently graduated from the University of Colorado with a degree in Business Administration. I read The Start-Up of You as an independent study for one of my classes last semester in order to pursue my professional soccer career early. Even though I have not entered the professional business world yet, I was incredibly surprised how much the book applied to my current profession. As a professional soccer player, I may not have the experience at a big accounting firm like others, but I am adding value in other places. In the book, it asked the reader to fill in the remainder of this statement: “A company hires me over other professionals because….”. Right now I am building my own brand and differentiating myself so I am able to fill in the rest of that statement. Not many people in this country have the opportunity to play a professional sport. It creates lessons in hard work, dedication, teamwork, punctuality and competition. By playing professional soccer now, I am adding value to my assets in order to create a competitive advantage and continually investing in myself as a brand, as the book emphasizes. Everything in this world is constantly changing, so if we are not constantly adapting, we will be left behind.

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The conditions in which entrepreneurs start and grow companies are the conditions we all now face when fashioning a career.
A career move that makes you feel in over your head stretches you in new dimensions and usually contains more upside.
Name: Saurabh Palan   Location: San Francisco, CA

Work: Roboticist, iRoboticist – Engineering

How the Book Affected Me: “All my life I have followed my passion, sometimes taking decisions which were not logical. The Start-Up of You gave me comfort and confidence that I am on the right path. The tips about planning (ABZ) were really helpful. I have taken risks, but I didn’t evaluate the consequences or my backup plan. Luckily, most have followed through as planned, but it is a wakeup call for me to plan better in the future.”

Name: Nitin Julka   Location: Cleveland, OH

Work: Vice President, Smart Solutions – IT Services

How the Book Affected Me: “Ben and Reid have written something so powerful that it continues to inspire and change my behavior more and more every week. For example, I am now creating a local “meet up” of entrepreneurs in my industry. I am incorporating an “ABZ planning” approach into my career and my company’s culture. I reached out to a childhood friend whom I highly respected but had fallen out of touch with. I started a personal angel investing “side project.” And this has all been within a month of reading the book!”

Name: Jim Lauria   Location: Los Angeles, CA

Work: Water Technology Executive – Engineering

How the Book Affected Me: “Throughout my career I have always viewed myself as an entrepreneur – whether I was working for my own company or within a corporate organization. While my connections showed a great deal of density in the water technology field, the Start-Up of You allowed me to see I needed more diversity throughout my network. I took to heart the recommendation to exercise skill sets, interests and experiences in two or more domains, then act as a bridge for my connections in one circle who want to access another. I have particular proficiency in mind mapping. Based on this expertise, I created a map for my water technology clients and other colleagues that articulates the value of LinkedIn and illustrates how individuals and companies can use it more effectively.”

Name: William Griggs   Location: Nashville, TN

Work: Startup Marketing & Customer Acquisition Specialist, – Marketing

How the Book Affected Me: “Prior to reading this book, I often felt that I was doing something wrong. That I was doing something that society, including my peers, thought was irresponsible, or a waste of time. I would try new things, push to learn new topics, and experiment, while many of my friends in more established fields (think accounting) would climb the corporate later. I would often ask myself if I was missing the boat. If what I saw as the correct course of action was just plain wrong. After reading this book, I realized that I am not alone. I realized that some of the smartest thinkers in the game (Reid & Ben), view a “career” the same way I do. In short, this book gave me the encouragement and actionable tactics I needed to push forward.”

Name: Melissa Lim   Location: Los Angeles, CA

Work: Entrepreneur – Online Media

How the Book Affected Me: “The book pushed my mind to places it wouldn’t otherwise have gone on its own and to rethink some of my existing beliefs about a traditional career route and how I can take action. I took the first step towards my plan A: relocated to Silicon Valley to immerse myself in the tech start-up culture and learn from industry best practices. I’ve incorporated my company and am working on the wireframe for my project related to the beauty industry to be launched soon. My plan B is within the online media scope and something that I can always pivot to. If all else “fails”, I would still have acquired the wisdom, connections and skillsets while trying out plans A and B but most importantly still be able to fallback to my stable Plan Z: attending grad school or get back on the corporate ladder. I reexamined this scary thing we call “RISK”, realizing that if you don’t take any mitigated risks, you’re risking even more. I diversified my identity and my interests to learn video editing, improv, design and public speaking. I started a mindmap of my assets, aspirations and market realities and pasted it in front of my workspace. The book provides simple concepts that tweak your mindset governing your actions, causing breakthroughs in your professional life.”

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Lofty questions about identity and moral purpose take time to work out, and the answers frequently change.
Instead of listing impressive-sounding experiences on your resume, show what you’re able to do BECAUSE of your experiences.
Name: Scott Kartsounes   Location: Chicago, IL

Work: Co-founder & CEO of Intelligence, Inc. – Software

How the Book Affected Me: “The concepts presented by Reid and Ben were clear, concise, and actionable. The ideas they developed were fresh and unique from those found in typical ‘self-help’ career books. The biggest takeaway for me was their practical insights on networking. As a serial entrepreneur, my identity has always been a subheading of my businesses. After reading The Start-Up of You, I made a commitment to start building a stronger personal brand of my own, independent of my businesses. I am continually building my personal network by attending more events and asking for more introductions through existing connections. I now set aside time each week to reach out to new contacts and build new relationships, regardless of whether there’s an immediate need. I’ve also made it a point to reconnect with old colleagues and set up a system to ensure I am continually nurturing my network of contacts. I recommend The Start-Up of You as a ‘must read’ regardless of whether you work for a company or lead your own business. The advice within is valuable for all.”

Name: Adrian Sferle   Location: San Francisco, CA

Work: Digital Strategist – Public Relations

How the Book Affected Me: “This book is a life-changer. Reid’s advice is a real roadmap to success from a battle-tested Silicon Valley billionaire. He practices what he preaches and shares that valuable information with his readers. Immediately after reading this book, I used Reid’s strategy on expanding my network of personal contacts to win more clients than ever before. Also, Reid’s ‘ABZ Planning’ and iteration strategies provided a clear structure for reaching my personal goals in a logical and pragmatic way. The book also helped me change how I view career challenges from a psychological standpoint– Reid’s start-up management strategies aided me in resolving job challenges that initially seemed hard to control. The Start-Up of You is the one of the most useful books I’ve ever read and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in creating a successful future for themselves.”

Name: Laura A. Jana, M.D.   Location: Omaha, NE

Work:  Pediatrician, Author – Parenting & Health Communications

How the Book Affected Me: I found The Start-Up of You to not only be easy to read and interesting, but with far more crossover relevance to “my world” of pediatrics/parenting, education and health communication than I had anticipated. In fact, there are so many striking similarities and applicable “truths” that I actually took notes. Even the definition of the word “permanent” (“to be forever a work in progress”) included on the cover flap is literally almost the word-for-word motto for how I approach my own professional endeavors, teach my management team to run my business, and even teach parents how to approach parenthood in general! I also agree wholeheartedly with the useful and concrete end-of-each-chapter advice, and share Reid and Ben’s belief that committing to these entirely realistic steps is key to enhancing one’s success – both in business and in life.  From investing in an “interesting people” fund to believing in intelligent randomness, I am so glad I made time to read this book. On it’s surface, The Start-Up of You seemed a bit out of my realm of professional literature, yet ended up being unexpectedly and impressively relevant.

  Name: William R. Lynch, MD, SC   Location: Chicago, IL

Work: Owner, and – Psychiatry

How the Book Affected Me: I am a psychiatrist practicing in Chicago for the past seven years, but I “grew up” professionally in Dallas, Texas. I took risks starting and growing two successful businesses instead of staying within the safe harbor of hospital psychiatry or even in my well established Dallas home. In making the move, starting over from scratch, and succeeding, I recognized that I enthusiastically tackle the challenges of a small business start up. It was only after listening to the audio book version of the book – twice! – that I became clearly aware that I am an entrepreneur.

I am currently meeting with groups of psychiatric residents and other clinicians and I strongly recommend the book to all these audiences. A peculiar fact is that most clinicians do not actively promote their businesses. My new consulting service aims to preach the necessity of developing an entrepreneurial mind set in this profession. The Start Up of You will be a central part of trying to wake up my colleagues. The book has also affected my work with patients. I am very grateful to Reid and Ben for writing this inspirational work.

Name: Tom Pendolino   Location: San Francisco, CA

Work: Global Product Management – Financial Services

How the Book Affected Me: As someone who has worked at a Fortune 50 company for the last decade, I found it very interesting how the principles Reid and Ben expound in the Start up of you, are as completely relevant and necessary for a career  within a single company as they are for someone looking to change companies or industries. Taking risks, stretching yourself, having an ABZ plan and most importantly a strong network across the company are absolute requirements to not only survive corporate reorganizations and strategic shifts, but to grow and succeed. I have done well by have an network of friends and associates, but have let other priorities dictate the time I spend leveraging and growing those connections. After reading their book I am reminded that managing that network is as important to my career and its development as my next strategic presentation or project deliverable is.

Share these insights from the book on Twitter:

Instead of listing impressive-sounding experiences on your resume, show what you’re able to do BECAUSE of your experiences.
You remake yourself as you grow and as the world changes. Your identity doesn’t get found. It emerges.
Name: Anthony Mastromatteo   Location: Akron, OH

Work:  Painter – Fine Arts

How the Book Affected Me: I am an artist with no formal business background. I have had to develop over the past 10 years basic entrepreneurial skills to transform my passion for painting and beauty into a viable business. In the summer 2011 I embarked, with the help of a close friend with investing experience, on the creation of an investment structure that would set my fine art aspirations on sound financial ground while allowing my creativity to flourish in the space created by the economic soundness. Then, one day in early 2012, I heard Reid interviewed on NPR. What I heard turned my world upside down. Eight months earlier I had created the investment structure supporting my business only as a tool to support that business. I was not willing, however, to admit to myself that I had enjoyed the entrepreneurial process of creating the investment structure itself… of searching for, meeting with and explaining to potential investors my vision. While I listened to Reid I realized that I liked building the business as much as I liked executing the business each day as I made my paintings. I rushed to a local bookstore that day, purchased “The Start-Up of You” and devoured it like a guilty pleasure… guilty, because artists are not supposed to love business… to love making money. But I loved it. I realized that I loved the art of business as much as the business of art. The exact implications of that realization remain unclear, but one thing is for sure… I have taken a bite of the apple… I am embracing the state of Permanent Beta. I am going to develop in a serious and more formal way my interests in entrepreneurship and embrace the possibilities derived from these interests as I continue along my artistic path.

Name: Jessie Young   Location: San Francisco, CA

Work: Product Marketing Manager at Get Satisfaction – Software

How the Book Affected Me: “The book changed the way I approached making a career switch. Before, I spent more time than I’d like to admit staring at my computer screen and thinking about whether I might like to work at this company or that company. After reading the book, I began by taking stock of my existing assets. I made lists of people I knew in different industries. This helped me to map out my network to see what resources I had at my disposal. I systematically reached out to them (by asking for introductions, as the book advises) and was surprised at how willing people were to help and the level of detailed feedback they were willing to offer. I’m now happily working on my new Plan A. The Start-Up of You’s ABZ Planning framework, and its emphasis on how to use your network to figure out what those plans should be, helped me tremendously when I shifted my career from the healthcare industry into the technology industry.”

Name: Stephen Dodson   Location: San Francisco, CA

Work: President, Bretton Fund – Finance

How the Book Affected Me: As a professional money manager, I think about risk in a financial context every day. But risk in your career is something different, and this book helped give me the framework for how to think about it. For example, by reading about the “negativity bias” in the Start-Up of You, I realized that some of my career risks weren’t actually as troubling as I had initially thought. This really is the definitive manual for smart career-building in our entrepreneurially-driven economy.”

Name: Jason Richardson   Location: Los Angeles, CA

Work: Account Director, Conscious Minds Productions – Entertainment

How the Book Affected Me: “Historically, I thought about my network as consisting of just my friends. The Start-Up of You taught me how to think about my second and third degree connections. Since I finished the book, I’ve made a point of engaging my extended network on LinkedIn and in person – via introductions, not by cold-calling – to generate significantly more deal flow for my video production company. That’s just one example. From beginning to end, Ben and Reid surprised me with an innovative perspective on how to view my career and adapt it to make it stronger.

Name: Andrew McKenzie   Location: Bethesda, MD

Work:  Neuroscientist – Healthcare

How the Book Affected Me: “Before reading this book, I thought about self-improvement in somewhat random fashion. After reading the book, I am more disciplined about how I invest in myself. I’ve started a running list of soft assets I want to improve on in a file on my computer and every time I run into difficulty on a project or on anything in general, I add it to the list.  Even as someone who has committed to an academic biomedical path for the foreseeable future, who you might not expect to be within the book’s intended audience, I found the material quite useful. It’s changed the way I invest in myself every day, every week, every month.”

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It’s unwise, no matter your stage of life, to try to pinpoint a single dream around which your existence revolves.
A good plan A minimizes the cost of failure. Don’t bet the farm. Iterate bit by bit, learn experience by experience.