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How to Get Hired by a Silicon Valley Billionaire

Helping people first is essential. Working for free can help build trust, create goodwill, and positive relationships that can lead to future opportunities. But some people struggle to figure out how they can help others.
How to Get Hired by a Silicon Valley Billionaire
Photo by Júnior Ferreira / Unsplash

I’m a huge proponent of helping people first. Working for free, as a means of earning trust.

No expectations! Just keep helping. Do great work. Be valuable and relevant. Build up a reserve of good will and positive relationships. Opportunities will inevitably present themselves.

But I hear some variation of “I just don’t know how I can help [the person / company I want to work with]” every week. It makes me want to smack my head against the wall. This post explains why…

My friend Ben Casnocha wrote 10,000 Hours with with Reid Hoffman: What I Learned. Ben is an entrepreneur and author in his late 20’s, and Reid is the founder of Linkedin. Reid is also known as the “oracle of Silicon Valley” with a net worth of $4.7 Billion.

In other words, Reid is someone that 99% of people assume they wouldn’t be able to help. And yet, Ben positioned himself as Reid’s co-author and chief of staff before he’d turned 27 years old.

Here’s what Ben had to say:

“As chief of staff, I reviewed thousands of requests for Reid’s time/attention/money. It was stunning how few requesters actually offered to help him on something. Amusingly, many requests were framed as if the asking party were doing Reid a favor by giving him the opportunity to help them: “It’d be fun to get your feedback on something I’m working on.” Reid’s so generous and so curious that sometimes it is fun for him to simply help you. But why not figure out what he’s working on and send an article of relevance? Or offer to share a perspective that could be useful?Most people think there’s no way to help someone as famous and wealthy as Reid or Bill Gates. Let’s run the thought experiment. How could you help Bill Gates? Donating to his favorite charity won’t help. There’s no one you could introduce him to who he can’t already meet. Buying a Microsoft product won’t make a difference in the grand scheme. But the truth is, what Gates craves, and what you might have, is information. A unique perspective. An insight on something that’s happening in your corner of the universe. He can’t buy that off a shelf.If you can connect information you know to something Gates needs—suppose your 10 year-old cousin is obsessed with a new app that may reveal a new trend in computing—he’ll find it valuable, and you’re more likely to be able to build a relationship with him. At the very least, it’s a powerful first gesture that’s the opposite of “gimme.”Help first. Help first. Help first. It’s key to building relationships – even with the ultra successful.”

Exactly. Literally everyone else is approaching your Target with a “Give me a job! Give me your feedback! Give me your money!”

DON’T DO THAT. Initiate with a relevant offer to help them in some way. Do your homework. Find out where they’re heading, and what currently fascinates them.

This is what I teach in my book, which helped me land a job working with Tim Ferriss, Tucker Max, and Ramit Sethi. It’s also what I teach in my course.