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LinkedIn’s Reid Hoffman says successful people need to ‘unlearn’

reid hoffman
founder and Greylock partner Reid Hoffman says it’s necessary to
become an “unlearner.”

Jennings/Getty Images

  • Billionaire LinkedIn founder and Greylock investor Reid
    Hoffman believes that successful people need to hone the skill
    of “unlearning.”
  • “Unlearning” is the act of recognizing that the factors
    responsible for a past success don’t necessarily guarantee new
  • The skill requires being humble.

In his journey to becoming one of Silicon Valley’s most
influential entrepreneurs and investors, LinkedIn cofounder and
Greylock partner Reid
has seen the full scale of success, failure, and
everything in between.

He’s both observed and mentored founders like
Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg
from their professional infancy
into the heads of world-changing companies. He’s personally
dabbled in managing, investing, teaching, and even political

His career has taught him there’s a danger all successful people
face, he explained on a recent episode of his podcast “Masters
of Scale

“People tend to take pleasure in their mastery of a given field,”
he said. “They go, ‘I’ve learned this, and now this is what will
differentiate me from other people for all time.'”

He continued: “One of the things that I tell people is that
success imprints more strongly than failure. And it does so
because as you’ve succeeded, it’s like, I’ve learned this tool.
And so, this tool must be right. And so, I just keep applying it,
and even as the train comes off the tracks, because part of what
happens is, you know, markets change, competitors change,
industries change. You change.”

Hoffman said that for serial entrepreneurs to be successful, they
must become “unlearners.” It should be noted, too, that when
Hoffman gives entrepreneurial advice, he knows that it can easily
be adapted to the careers of non-founders, as long as they take
entrepreneurial approach
built on the desire to experiment
and grow — as he explained to us in an interview for Business
Insider’s podcast “Success!
How I Did It

“And so, frequently, you have to go, ‘Okay, which of the old
lessons have to be thrown out? And which things do I have to
unlearn or learn anew?” Hoffman explained in his own podcast.

It’s about setting aside ego and not getting trapped in past

“For example, if I tried to go start a new consumer internet
company, and I tried to do that the way that I started LinkedIn,
and just kind of said, ‘I’m gonna follow the early LinkedIn
playbook,’ I’ll fail,” he said. “Mobile is different. Virality is
different. LinkedIn and the ecosystem is different. The platforms
that people are using, they’re all different. So you have to use
a different set of techniques in order to do this. And that’s
part of the learning and unlearning.”

You can listen to the full episode

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