In the past year, I’ve met many high-level executives in what I’ll call “today’s media industry,” companies that have been around for 10 years or less. Many of them are entrepreneurs themselves, while some are running someone else’s small to midsize agency.
Interestingly to me, the single trait that each of them shared was the ability to reinvent and reinvigorate their own careers and businesses. Most had gone from corporate to a smaller setting, some as part of a restructuring of the larger company while others made the choice themselves. (In one case, it was simply a lifestyle choice – he wanted to wear jeans to work everyday!)
Regardless, the point is that they changed. They reinvented themselves – they went from a familiar path to one uncharted. They reframed how they viewed their work.
To me, nothing is as important as being able to think differently about a situation and act on that thinking – and I say this from experience. I started my career as a daily newspaper reporter. After five years, I became a freelance writer, providing copy for web sites during the Web 1.0 years. Then I joined a major media company as an interactive content producer, which resulted in a layoff.
Now, in Web 2.0, I’m a small business owner (though Web 3.0 is fast approaching). The challenge to change is even greater now as the economy struggles – but so is the need.
Reinvention has become, to me, like changing clothes – the question is simply what to wear and how to wear it. With that in mind, my tips for turning a corner:
- Before you change, situate – Be present. Whatever happened to you happened to you. It doesn’t have to keep happening to you.
- Take what you have and use it – A job is a job and, for many of us in today’s climate, it doesn’t belong to us (unless you own the company). Your skills belong to you. Think of alternative ways to apply them.
- Get failure out of your head – If you think you’re failing, you probably are. Unclog your head and seek the next step. Don’t let someone else define whether you’re successful or not. (Note: Certainly, if you have a boss, success metrics are not entirely in your hands, but if they don’t match your idea of success, rethink – and move on if necessary.)
- Reframe your viewpoint – Look from the inside out, rather than vice versa. Building blocks, not gaping holes.
- Learn something new – Be an active thinker. Read. Take a class. Mental stimulation is critical when going through a change.
- Talk to people – If you can’t afford networking events, get on the phone. Send networking e-mails. Get outside perspective. Not one of us knows everything.
- Listen to yourself – Know when to *stop* talking to others – it can become too noisy. Don’t take every piece of advice. Give yourself the space and time to process what you’ve heard and apply what makes sense.
It’s not easy to get out of your head when you’re consumed by whatever challenge you’re facing – believe me, I know of what I speak. It is, however, completely possible – and a skill worth honing.
And now, I must decide what to wear today. Probably going for the jeans.