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Change is not easy. Entrepreneurs feel pressure to reinvent themselves each and every day. But pressure makes diamonds. The old adage “Don’t reinvent the wheel” could not be further from the truth in my opinion. The moniker promotes playing it safe, but why conform? I say create and reinvent. Don’t just imagine possibilities, but rather, make it happen.
In my own life, I’ve been using reinvention as a tool since I was a teenager. All I knew was that I wanted to be an opera singer, and so I knew I had to find some way to do this. With that youthful spirit pushing me forward, I entered a local beauty pageant to win scholarship money and continued working to get into my top choice college. I managed to go to my dream school and spent years singing in castles and cathedrals all over the world. Everything was coming up roses — until it wasn’t.
The time for reinvention came once again, only this time I didn’t bring it upon myself. Being unable to get my visas renewed brought this dream to a grinding halt. I returned to America mourning the loss of the life I loved but chose to rise to the challenge and reinvent myself once again. It was then that I found my second calling: public relations. I had a new goal, and once again, I did whatever it took to get there. Based on my experience in continually reinventing the wheel, I’d like to share how others can approach the process of reinvention.
A Go-Getter Attitude
Was I fully educated in the ways of marketing and PR when I started out? No, but what I learned in doing my own publicity during my music career is that you can build your brand, formulate a stout network of media and put yourself in the spotlight if you have a strategy. As a self-taught entrepreneur, I had to do everything from marketing to cold pitching on my own. Transitioning to a different career can be daunting.
Of course, this doesn’t mean I’m suggesting you throw your hands up in the air and start from scratch tomorrow. It doesn’t always work, and it’s not always necessary to give up your entire life to get success. But, if you want to reinvent yourself, it’s a good idea to start on your personal brand and to always trust your instincts.
Reinventing the Wheel
Wondering how to start? It’s not easy, but it’s not as difficult as it will initially seem. The first thing you have to do is realize there’s nothing stopping you but yourself. Once you decide that it’s time to push forward, you need to do three things: take a non-traditional route, create a brand that matters and opt for relationship building and networking. Building relationships is key because that can go a long way in reaching your goals.
The next thing you should do is start to focus on what makes you, you. Remember that this is also something we choose, and you can be whoever you want to be. Try making a list — and be honest with yourself. What are your skills? Where does your expertise lie and what have you been subpar at? What do you get the most compliments about? Once you answer these questions, you’ll know a little more about the sort of personal brand you’re building. And, if it changes in a few years — that’s fine. Growth is a good thing. You should focus on this exercise once every few years so you can re-evaluate where you stand.
Of course, there are challenges to not only building a successful brand but keeping it relevant as well. Always have a vision. How is your brand different from the competition? Is it resonating with customers? You should never treat your brand as an asset. What I mean by that is don’t focus solely on financial results versus meeting measurables.
One of the biggest roadblocks to reinventing yourself is forgetting about your audience. The audience runs the show and maintaining a growth mindset is key in keeping it entertained via new initiatives, capabilities and strategies. Sure, this is about you, your personal journey and your personal brand, but what’s the use of a brand without an audience? Consider who these people are, and you’ll begin to answer the other questions about yourself. You’ll also be able to direct your vision, accordingly, targeting the right audience overall.
Once you build your audience, don’t forget about your network. Family, friends, colleagues and anyone you’ve interacted with or given an elevator pitch to (speaking of, don’t forget about your elevator pitch), they’re all part of your network. Build, nurture and maintain this network.
Remember that the only constant in our lives is change. It can be a scary thing, but with the change, you also find the ability to actively change the course of your life for the better and reinvent yourself and your brand.