LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman offers Vanderbilt’s starting address

LinkedIn co-founder Reed Hoffman delivered the commencement speech for Vanderbilt’s graduating class 2022 on Thursday, sharing with students the lessons he’s learned throughout his career.

Hoffman, 54, worked as COO of PayPal before co-founding LinkedIn in 2002 with two former colleagues. According to the website, the platform, which Hoffman started in his living room, has more than 830 million members in more than 200 countries and territories.

Hoffman says he would not have had such success without his friends.

“Creating, developing, and keeping close friends may be the most important act of your life. Yes, your network is important, but most importantly, friends will be absolutely central to your sense of happiness, connection, and meaning.”

Here are four “valuable” lessons Hoffman says he learned from his friends:

Appreciate other points of view

Through a college friendship with a woman of color, Hoffman says he learned he had no understanding of women’s experiences in the world.

“One day, after we’ve known each other for a while, she said one of the most wonderful things anyone has ever said to me. She said, ‘Red, it seems you don’t understand half of humanity.’” “She meant women. Because like a lot of guys, I went to college without understanding almost anything about women. And nobody else cared enough to tell me I needed help.”

Then Hoffmann’s friend invited him to hang out with her and her friends, where he was able to get firsthand knowledge of the experiences of women from different backgrounds.

“Understanding that your experience may be very different from mine is an imperfect awareness, but it has helped me be a better friend, manager, spouse, or investor, really in every part of my life.”

“When there’s something important that you don’t know, good friends will tell you about it.”

achieve your purpose

After leaving college, like many recent graduates, Hoffman said he was faced with the question, “What do I want to do with my life?”

He thought the answer would be resolved in the Oxford Department of Philosophy, but found himself dissatisfied with the programme. Fortunately, a close friend helped him find his way.

“When he saw me suffering, he asked me this question which was very simple, but completely changed my life. He said, ‘You want to bring the good values ​​in society back to a real level.’ Why do you think philosophy is your only way to do it? If academia didn’t get me there, I should have chosen a different path. Don’t just sit there and feel like you don’t know what to do. Go do something. I never stopped thinking about it that way.”

Without friends “who support and motivate him,” Hoffman says, he would not have been able to find his purpose.

“Your friends can help you see what you cannot see. They will help you, you will help them, you will all do better, and you will go further.

Saying “no” to yes men

We all seek endorsement or approval in one way or another. While it’s good to have friends who support what you’re doing, Hoffman says it’s important to have friends who can tell you the truth, even if it hurts.

“Friends will not tell you what you want to hear, but what you need to hear,” he told the graduates.

After PayPal was acquired by Ebay in 2002, Hoffman said he was tired of Silicon Valley, and wanted to take a year off, despite his plans to create the socio-economic platform, which is now LinkedIn. One of his friends pushed him to cut short his vacation for a year, and start reviving his idea.

“You have a team… some of your key teammates are your friends. And the people you share your dreams and fears with are the people who are best able to help you get where you need to go because again, friends won’t tell you what you want to hear, but what you need to hear.” “.

Helping your friends helps you

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