1/ In the literature of growth & marketing, there is this concept called “loops”

I’m curious to explore “loops” in the context of how people make career decisions and think about how to build career capital over time.
2/ “Loops”: 

The basic idea is that the best companies not only understand their “funnels”: where their users are coming from and convert down the stack — but also their loops: the process by which one cohort of users not only retains but leads to an additional cohort of users.
3/ Loops, in other words, are what leads to sustainable, compounding, growth.

Funnels without loops means you have to keep pushing in order to get output, and, at some point, that becomes unsustainable, especially if your funnel is disrupted.

h/t reforge.com/blog/growth-lo…
4/ Applying loops in the context of career:

The Q to ask when evaluating career decisions:

“What are the things that if you do, today, make it easier for you to have the career opportunities and resources you desire, tomorrow, in a way that compounds and is defensible?”
5/ Understanding how to build a moat is hard (and takes a long time), so people affiliate w/ brands as short hand: Harvard, Goldman Sachs, etc.

6/ As information symmetry increases, however, the value of brand decreases. In a world w perfect information symmetry, your Harvard degree is only worth the intrinsic value of the skills/networks/etc. developed there.

H/t @taylorpearson for this thought.
7/ I posit there are four different types of career loops (or assets):

Specialized Knowledge / Skills (“Get So Good They Can’t Ignore You”)
Financial Capital ($)
Brand / Legibility (ability for your skills/assets to be widely recognizable)
Unique Network Access/Strength
8/ These loops are reinforcing. Having one of each affords you more of the other.

But not all loops are equal

You can be rich, for example, but not respected. People will use you for your money, but your influence will be limited to your access to capital.
9/ You can have a big brand (have distribution), but not respected. People will use you for your distribution, but your role will be limited to the eyeballs you can summon. Once you’ve served your purpose, you are no longer needed.
10/ You can have good network access — you can be well-liked by a lot of people — but not respected. People will use you for your network, but your influence will only be limited to who else you’ll rout them to.
11/ Once you’ve served your purpose as a router, you’re time is done. And, worse over, unlike with financial capital (e.g investing), you don’t capture any value. If you look at your network as a marketplace, your marketplace has 100% “leakage”.
12/ Let me explain.

It’s one thing to be widely networked. Another thing to be strategically networked. And yet another to have created networks that compound over time (e.g Thiel Fellowship, Paul Graham and YC).
13/ It is yet (yet!) another thing to be well *respected* among these strategic networks — as in, they not only like you, they deeply respect you and would let you invest in their company at better terms, pay you for your expertise, or some metaphorical equivalent.
[13b/ this is some really wonky stuff. don't take any of this too seriously. make friends and have fun.]
14/ Respect -- this is a loop that most enables other loops. I didn’t put it as one of the four because you can’t go after it directly - it is a byproduct of something else. 

Indeed: I’d posit that respect is best earned from gaining (& deploying) Specialized Knowledge / Skills.
15/ Knowledge / Skills is also the best loop to attract the other loops.

Financial Capital?  Knowledge / Skills gives you opportunities to build companies that no one is building, or invest in companies that others aren’t.
16/ Unique Network Access & Strength? knowledge / skills allows you to build a unique network access & strength. Networks are heat-seeking missiles searching for specialized skills / knowledge.
17/ Others can spend their whole lives building relationship with someone only to, when it matters, not have as much influence as you after meeting with that same person for 5 minutes, if you’ve gotten “so good they can’t ignore you.”
18/ Brand? Specialized knowledge / skills makes legibility much easier. Just give a talk, write a post, or go on a podcast and boom — your expertise is widely known, cemented on the internet.
19/ It's not that the other assets aren’t really important. They are. They’re just easier to get once you have specialized knowledge.

To be sure, however, you don’t want a lack of these other career assets to be constraints:
20/ You’ll need the “minimum viable $” to keep going + not have to take a job that doesn’t remotely increase your specialized knowledge / skills.

You’ll want the “minimum viable network”, to know the right people to help, + the “minimum viable legibility” to get them to care.
21/ However, most people make a directionally different mistake. When it comes to network, most people make the mistake of focusing on brand awareness, instead of expertise. They focus too much on the “legible” side of things, rather than knowledge / skills.
22/ In 99% of cases, you don’t need to grow your network as much as you need to elevate how highly your existing network thinks about you -- by developing rare & valuable knowledge / skills.
23/ In other words, your bottleneck usually isn’t that this person won’t get coffee with you. It’s that when you do, it’s not worth their time (otherwise they would likely have done it!).
24/ You want to refine the knowledge / skills loop so that when you do get coffee w/ them, they’ll get value out of it, and they’ll want to do it again—and refer you to others — or they’ll even reach out to you for coffee.
25/ In other words, focusing on knowledge / skills enables you to most quickly gain the other loops — capital, network, and legibility. but it doesn’t work the other way around.

That’s because with knowledge/ skills, there are no shortcuts. You have to put the time in.
26/ Not necessarily w/ the others.

Indeed: Found yourself with some money, valuable contacts, or fame? Parlay that into acquiring knowledge / skills.

Knowledge / skills will advance all the other loops and it will bring you more optionality, autonomy, and durability.

Getting in touch with someone -- or even getting coffee with them -- is not the hard part. The hard part is having something worth saying when you do.

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More from @eriktorenberg

Dec 31, 2021
Here are the most interesting books and articles that changed my mind in 2021:
Lyn Alden presents the case for inflation, drawing partially from Ray Dalio’s "Big Debt Crisis"

Whenever sovereign debt to GDP has reached over 130%, 51 out of 52 times that debt was not paid back in real terms, meaning there was inflation.

Scott Sumner believes that recent inflation is transitory (COVID supply shock) & inflation won't exceed 3% in 2020s

He believes Fed can stabilize inflation (2% last 40 yrs) & GDP/debt concerns are different this time b/c interest rates are naturally low

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Nov 14, 2021
How do we get all the ambitious college grads going into consulting/wall street to go into tech instead?

It's perplexing they don't, given tech is often more creative, impactful, & it competes financially.

What should an initiative aiming to re-route all that talent look like?
What should On Deck build/launch in this space?
Read 4 tweets
Oct 21, 2021
Sharing some big news today:

- We’ve launched a $100M community-backed accelerator to fund people as early as pre-company

- We provide $25K advances for people to quit their job and explore whether they want to start a company

- Now Co-CEO at On Deck

ODX is built off the learnings from Village Global (where I remain a GP)'s accelerator, which is now partnering with On Deck to build ODX

ODX is the culmination of the goal we’ve all been focused for the last 5 years: Helping founders get off the ground.
Some think there are too many founders, too much capital. We disagree

More founders is how we get better & cheaper education, healthcare, among other needs

There’s no natural limit on the amount of successful startups, which is why we want more founders
Read 6 tweets
May 21, 2021
Twitter is a social network where people often post when they're angry, snarky, curious, or self-promoting, among other triggers

Imagine a social network where people listened to music that made them feel relaxed or connected—and that was somehow native to the posting experience
or other iterations of social networks that would bring about better versions of ourselves by altering the environment or incentives
Yes also think campfires, listening sessions, late night philosophical conversations (clubhouse gets at some of this, but there could be text version too)

Read 4 tweets
Apr 7, 2021
Some of the big challenges in higher ed👇

- Price is too high & rising
- Too much student debt
- Too many students dropping out
- Too many students underemployed
- Credential inflation
- Misaligned incentives on multiple levels
- Oligopolistic market dynamics prevent competition

- Education costs have increased by 300% since 1980.

- Gov't spends 3% of GDP ($600B) subsidizing higher education.

- Incentives are misaligned such that the more gov't dispenses subsidies, the more expensive college gets.

College debt is now ~$1.7 trillion (was $300B in 2000). Avg student is $40K in debt

Debt is now non-dischargeable in bankruptcy. If you don’t pay off loans by 65, gov't garners social security

Excessive debt leads ppl to delay having families and buying a house
Read 21 tweets
Feb 28, 2021
Hiring a Head of Special Projects to work w/ me at @beondeck

You’ll incubate:

- @Cosign
- “People Hunt” for ppl looking to do their next thing
- Wiki for start up-ideas & decks
- @beondeckdaily 2.0

and other ideas we conceive

Submit your plans for these to erik@beondeck.com
Read 7 tweets

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