reid hoffman archive

  • Billionaire investor and LinkedIn cofounder credits part of his success to his unusual high school education in Vermont.
  • At the Putney School, manual labor is taken as seriously as academic work.
  • Hoffman struggled socially, but learned to approach life outside of traditional career paths.

At the Putney School in Vermont, graduating students customize their diplomas, decorating them with images that reflect their personalities and passions. Billionaire investor and LinkedIn cofounder Reid Hoffman adorned his with drawings of “cross-country skis, a soccer ball, books, and Dungeons & Dragons,” according to the school magazine the Putney Post.

Putney is a boarding school that sends its students to top schools around the country, but it’s the antithesis to the type best remembered by the film “The Dead Poets Society.” At Putney, students receive a “progressive education” that skips Advanced Placement classes but teaches manual labor skills like carpentry and blacksmithing. Students explore nature through mountain climbing clubs and learn how to paint or sculpt.

In a recent interview for Business Insider’s “Success! How I Did It” podcast, Hoffman said that, “I think it really led me to the view that you could actually, in fact, kind of construct your own path because there were lots of paths available.”

The roots of his career as an entrepreneurial icon and teacher began at Putney, where, he said, there was “a very pragmatic kind of ‘work on solving the problem’ versus ‘being an expert within a discipline.'” He is grateful for learning that you could take “This kind of entrepreneurial focus on a personal life,” and that he didn’t have to associate his future self with a single title like “product manager,” “artist,” or “lawyer.”

Hoffman would go on to study computer science at Stanford and philosophy on a graduate level at Oxford, and he is grateful that he didn’t Read More Here