Dorie Clark’s book, Reinventing You: Define Your Brand, Imagine Your Future, provides a step-by-step guide to reinventing yourself.
Why Reinvent You?
The working world has changed a lot in the last few years. Big companies who we once believed were stable places to work have become less stable.
This has been driven by many different inputs, usually out of anyone’s control such as the adoption of new technologies or the global economy. Unfortunately, sometimes this results in unemployment for some.
But even with these factors in consideration, some of us get to a point in our lives and careers where we feel this need to do something more, something different. We may not know it at that moment, but when those feelings hit, that’s the perfect time to consider Reinventing You.
How do you know when it is time to reinvent yourself?
Reinvention – to make major changes or improvements to (something), to present (something) in a different or new way
Substitute the word You for “something” in the definition above and re-read it. Does that feel right to you? If so, it might be your time. Dorie also suggests asking yourself a few other questions such as:
- Are you in a new phase in your life and you want to be known for something different.
- You’ve been laid off and need to ensure you’re in the best position possible to land a new position.
- You’ve been trying to win a promotion, but feel you’re being held back by misconceptions about your capability.
- You’re changing careers and need to make a compelling case that your unusual background is an asset, not a liability.
Regardless of your reasons for reinvention, personal or economic, you need to begin the process rather than continue down the path you’re on.
When you find yourself at this crossroad, the point where “Two roads diverge in a wood” just like Robert Frost, you have a choice to make. Will you continue down the well-worn path or take the path less traveled?
If you choose the well-worn path, stop reading now. This post nor this book are for you.
If however, Dorie’s questions above resonate and you are ready to choose the path less traveled, then continue reading as the book Reinventing You will guide you on your journey.
Steps required to Reinventing You
RECOGNIZE WHERE YOU ARE
Before you can go on any journey, you first need to understand where are today. A GPS (ok, a smartphone with Google maps) is worthless if you don’t have a starting point. Reinventing You is the same.
This is an important concept and one that many have a hard time grasping. Why? Because you may think you know where you are today, but your reality might be something completely different.
Do you know what others think of you? Dorie notes that understanding what others think about you and identifying the gaps between this current reality and where you want to be in the future is critical to begin your reinvention process.
She suggests the following methods to determine where you are today:
- Conduct a 360 interview
- Hold a focus group with friends and colleagues
- Examine your online presence. (learn more HERE, HERE and HERE)
- Seek out patterns in past performance evaluations or recommendations letters.
Keep in mind, you don’t need to implement every one of these suggestions. Choose the ones you’re comfortable with and start with those.
This exercise can be very challenging but also very rewarding. I know I struggled with the 360 Review, but I can tell you from experience that hearing from your trusted advisors is very powerful.
If you’re wondering how to implement any of these activities, don’t worry. Dorie includes suggestions to try and real life examples of people who did.
If you seriously want to reinvent yourself…do the exercises.
RESEARCH YOUR DESTINATION
Once you have a handle on where you are today, you’ll next need to take time determining where you want to go.
Dorie cautions that it’s often a good idea to keep a low profile as you begin this portion of your journey.
Why? Because you may not have a fully formed sense of where you’re headed. Rather than publicize where you’re heading, quietly go about the business of researching your destination.
You can do this in a number of ways. Dorie suggests starting with the following:
- Conducting interviews with people doing the work
- Read blogs about the topic or person who is doing the work
- Look for patterns in items one and two. Is everyone a member of a specific group? Join that group as well.
- List out your goals based on your destination.
Side Note: For those more technologically advanced, I would also suggest starting a podcast. This is defiantly not for everyone but it is a great way to learn from people already doing what you eventually want to do.
After you’ve researched your destination, it’s time to determine if the path is really right for you.
TEST DRIVE YOUR PATH AND DEVELOP THE SKILLS YOU NEED
After researching your destination, it is time to test out your new career. This will help you avoid costly mistakes down the road.
For most of us, this part will be challenging, especially if you’re employed full-time.
Here are some ways Dorie suggests you can “try it before you buy it” as you test drive your new path:
- Job shadowing
- Go back to school
If you’re really serious about heading in a new direction, these suggestions will enable you to keep your day job while exploring your side interest.
Most of these options will require you to make time in the margins of your life to try these out. That’s why Dorie recommends volunteering as a great place to start for most people.
I agree. Volunteering allows you to not only test drive certain careers, but you can also gain valuable skills you’ll likely need such as networking, leadership, and giving back to your community.
Whichever route you choose, you will be gaining experience and knowledge for your new path that you won’t necessarily get from reading a book. As the saying goes, experience is the best teacher.
Go and experience. Test drive your path while gaining the skills you’ll need to be successful.
WHO’S YOUR MENTOR
Mentors are hard to find these days. Before we go further, let’s get on the same page for the definition of a mentor.
Mentor – an experienced and trusted adviser, an experienced person in a company, college, or school who trains and counsels new employees or students.
As you move in your new direction, odds are you will not know anyone who can serve as your mentor. This is normal.
Fortunately, Dorie Clark gives us the secret to finding a mentor. It’s something simple and requires effort on your part, but the secret is to seek them out. Often, mentors can come in unexpected packages.
Dorie offers the following methods for finding the right mentor for you:
- Discover who you want to emulate
- Identify the mentor that is right for you
- Build a broad-based personal board of directors
- Learn what your mentor can teach you
- Make it worthwhile for your mentor (think win-win)
To put these insights into action, remember to think about the skills you’d like to develop and the person you want to become. During your research, you’ll likely come across someone who embodies the skills and qualities that you are seeking to obtain.
Dorie also tells us to remember that you may not find one single person who can help you close the gaps between where you are and your destination. You may need to find more than one mentor to encompass all the skills needed for your new direction.
LEVERAGE YOUR POINTS OF DIFFERENCE AND BUILD YOUR NARRATIVE
By now, you’ve identified where you are today and where you want to go. You’ve researched your destination and you’ve been able to test drive it to determine fit.
It’s now time to let the world know, but before you start publicizing your new direction, you first need to understand what’s unique about you.
What do you have that others don’t? This is a difficult question to answer.
Fortunately, Dorie discusses strategies for identifying and leveraging your unique points of difference such as:
- Building on your transferrable skills
- Understanding what you have and they don’t
- Using the power of your identity
- Your appearance as a brand
When you get to this point, you might start to question your direction. But remember this, there is only one you.
No one else has your experiences or your transferable skills. Understanding this is the key to unlocking your points of difference which will allow you to build a narrative for people to follow.
Dorie covers multiple tactics on how you can leverage your uniqueness in a way that resonates with others.
She offers two caveats though as you begin to build your narrative:
“You can’t be who you aren’t” – Dorie Clark
“You have to believe in yourself” – Dorie Clark
If you try to be someone you aren’t, people will notice. The same is true of believing in yourself. If you don’t believe in yourself, no one else will. You need to ensure you align who you are with what you do.
REINTRODUCE YOURSELF, PROVE YOUR WORTH AND KEEP IT GOING
In the final chapters of Reinventing You, Dorie Clark walks us through the process of reintroducing ourselves as our new brand.
This is the walk-the-walk portion of the book.
As you reintroduce yourself, people will be looking to see if your actions reinforce the new message you are sending out. This includes everything from the clothes you wear to the portfolio you build online.
These last few chapters alone are worth the investment in the book. However, as I’ve said before here on this blog, you can’t skip to the back of this book and expect results.
You have to go through the process, step-by-step. This is where I have seen many people fail and why Dorie offers the cautions she does in these chapters.
If you haven’t completed the first steps, people will know.
So despite the temptation to jump to the actionable tips in the last few chapters, start at the beginning and earn your way here. You will not be disappointed.
Reinventing You is a MUST read for anyone looking to define their brand, expand their horizons or discover a new path.
Just because you’ve done one thing all of your life does not mean you need to do the same thing for the rest of it.
With Reinventing You, Dorie challenges each of us to question the assumptions we have about ourselves and the paths we’ve chosen.
You can reinvent yourself. You can become a brand new you. It won’t happen overnight. It won’t be easy. But as Robert Frost said:
“I took the one (path) less traveled by, and it has made all of the difference”
Are you ready to make a difference in your life? Dorie hands you the keys to making it happen. Don't wait any longer. Get started Reinventing You.
Learn more about Dorie and how to purchase her book at her website; Dorieclark.com