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  • Billionaire LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman studied philosophy at Oxford with hopes of becoming an influential public intellectual.
  • He realized that he could have a bigger impact in tech, but kept his ambition.
  • In high school, Hoffman decided his life’s mission would be to “help humanity evolve,” and that he didn’t have to define himself with labels limiting himself to a single occupation.

LinkedIn founder and Greylock investor Reid Hoffman has had the same driving force since he was a teenager.

In a recent interview for Business Insider’s podcast “Success! How I Did It,” Hoffman told us that since high school, his goal has been “How do I help humanity evolve?”

That is, he explained, how can he help people improve both as individuals and as social groups?

“I tend to think that you should always have a fairly big goal and I, of course, know that the likelihood that I’m going to make big changes for the billions of people on the Earth is very difficult,” he said. “Luck will play a huge component of it, but as you think about it, you go, ‘OK, well maybe I won’t get the billions — maybe I’ll only get to hundreds of millions or tens of millions.”

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Learning he doesn’t have to fit a label

Hoffman decided to leave his hometown of Berkeley, California to attend the Putney School in Vermont, an elite boarding school where instead of wearing uniforms for morning chapel services, students head to a farm to milk cows or chop wood.

Putney’s combination of rigorous academics with manual skills and art education inspired Hoffman. It gave him a new lens for viewing the world, teaching him that you set your own path and pursue “work on solving the problem” Read More Here