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.
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.
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.
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?”
H/t @taylorpearson for this thought.
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
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.
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).
Indeed: I’d posit that respect is best earned from gaining (& deploying) Specialized Knowledge / Skills.
Financial Capital? Knowledge / Skills gives you opportunities to build companies that no one is building, or invest in companies that others aren’t.
To be sure, however, you don’t want a lack of these other career assets to be constraints:
You’ll want the “minimum viable network”, to know the right people to help, + the “minimum viable legibility” to get them to care.
That’s because with knowledge/ skills, there are no shortcuts. You have to put the time in.
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.