Power Players

How Dungeons and Dragons and science fiction helped LinkedIn's billionaire co-founder succeed

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Even by Silicon Valley's high standards, Reid Hoffman has had a successful career.

Hoffman co-founded professional networking site LinkedIn, which sold to Microsoft in 2016 for $26.2 billion. Now, he sits on Microsoft's board and is a partner at venture capital firm Greylock. Hoffman has a net worth of $1.8 billion, and is widely-known as a savvy strategist.

While he has degrees from prestigious institutions like Stanford University and Oxford University, Hoffman also credits his favorite pastimes as a kid with helping to shape his future success.

"There were two obsessions I had as a child that were pretty instrumental to the path I ultimately ended up taking," Hoffman recently told the New York Times.

"One was board games and fantasy role-playing games," said Hoffman, like Dungeons and Dragons ("Not lions and tigers and bears, but dwarves, elves and dragons, oh my," he says) and RuneQuest.

The games focused on "strategy, and how tactics and strategy go together," he told the Times.

Indeed, Hoffman previously told CNBC Make It, "I figured out what the patterns of strategy were and I translated that into how I founded companies and operated as an executive and as an investor."

He said military-themed games helped him learn how to combine tactics into a cohesive strategic plan, while role playing games taught him how to problem solve. Playing against real people helped him learn to keep others' motives in mind, he said.

In addition to playing games, Hoffman told the Times being "an obsessive science fiction reader" broadened his thinking.

"I would go to the public library and would just pull the next book off the science fiction shelf and read it," he said.

"Part of science fiction is imagining the world as it could possibly be, thinking about it on a scale of the change of humanity, or the change of what it is to be human, and thinking about the impact of technology on those things."

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