- Brian Snyder/Reuters
- LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman said he cannot perform well if he is not challenged.
- He said that if you struggle to stay focused at work, it’s time to find a new opportunity or leave.
- The media magnate Barry Diller told Hoffman his career has been defined by seeking out challenges to unpack.
LinkedIn founder and Greylock investor Reid Hoffman proudly refers to himself as “a bad employee.”
As he explained in a recent episode of his podcast “Masters of Scale,” Hoffman has never been someone who could blindly take orders and do his job well, day in and day out.
“I need to feel challenged, that I’m learning on the job every day,” he said. “Otherwise, I tend to lose focus.” If you’re losing focus at your job, he said, it’s time to reconsider how things are going.
Hoffman’s second job after college was a brief stint as a product manager. He said he was initially a good employee who enjoyed the work, “But once I understood the technology and knew how to manage the product team and run through all of those QA [quality assurance] checkpoints, I struggled to pay attention. The way I solved for that is I drank coffee. A lot of coffee. And if you find yourself drinking a lot of coffee just to stay interested, you better start looking for the exit.”
He interviewed the media magnate Barry Diller for that same episode, and Diller told Hoffman how he shared Hoffman’s link between performance and difficulty level.
Diller’s career has included running Paramount Pictures, cofounding Fox, and overseeing Expedia. He’s flourished when he was presented with an opportunity to dig deep in order to find creative paths to success.
“That’s real – that is joyous work to me, is getting through those layers, down to something,” Diller told Hoffman. “And then once I’m down there, once I’m actually at the very, very base of it, I can actually start to do something good.”
You can listen to the full episode below: