A new friend I met recently at a networking event, and I began talking about personal and professions relevance and how staying the same meant falling behind. How many times have you heard the phrase about the pitfalls of "staying the same" but never really thought about how it applied to you? Another friend of mine says that you need to reinvent yourself every five years to not only stay relevant but also to prepare yourself for new possibilities.
There are many examples of how individuals, groups of people and companies have figured this out as well as those who have not.
The Temptations are a great R&B vocal group from the 60s and 70s who never had a hit record until they replaced original group member Al Bryant with David Ruffin. The Beatles hit it big after replacing original drummer Peter Best with Ringo Star. The original members were not willing or able to keep pace with the future requirements and missed stardom.
Today the City of Pittsburgh is known as a financial services business capital. Few remember that they were originally known at the steel capital of the United States with smokestacks belching thick smoke over the downtown waterfront. When steel started to falter, the business and government communities joined forces to change their trajectory and point towards an industry that would be sustainable. It took decades but they made a successful transition.
Nokia was founded in 1865 as a paper mill, transitioned to a diversified portfolio from telephone equipment to rubber products to cables. In 1991, they introduced a mobile phone line and quickly become a market leader. Due to competitive pressures, the product line fell behind and was eventually sold to Microsoft. They both succeeded in keeping relevant and failed to keep up with competitive pressures.
Howard Johnsons owned the motel, restaurant, and ice cream franchises across the USA during the post WWII 1950s and 1960s. With the building of the interstate highway system, and economic boom allowing families to buy cars and travel once again, Ho Jos was the "go to stop" for vacationers. Yet they slowly let the franchisee slip away with other companies picking away at their market share until the final location in upstate New York closed recently. Their fault was not changing with the times and resting on their laurels. Do you do that? Are you complacent? Do not make the same mistake.
How about you?
How can you keep your head in the game and stay up with every changing market conditions? If you are in a declining industry, how can you make the shift to a growing area?
Here are several ways to "remake yourself"
- Go back to school: Get the credentials to be a lawyer, cyber security specialist, or EMT. Whatever interests you and has a bright future. The Bailey Group founder, Leigh Bailey, did just that, transitioning from a banking career to coaching. The firm just celebrated 33 years of success.
- Volunteer Part time work on a "pro bono" basis in the industry that you want to enter is a good avenue to gain experience. You can see if this is something that you really want to pursue. This route has proven extremely successful in the not-for-profit world where both parties can "check each other out."
- Consult: Work on projects on a consulting basis and show how you can add value in a new area. I know an individual who puts part time gigs on his resume under a consulting category rather than show multiple less than one-year employment tenures.
- Work on your personal brand: Everyone has the capability to create original content on social or print media to showcase your expertise. Be a regular contributor on topics relevant to companies where you want to be hired.
- Network: Get out in the marketplace and let everyone you know about what you are trying to accomplish. Do not be shy or discount any contact that could "know somebody, who knows somebody." An acquaintance of mine was hired to be CEO of a Utah based company and the referral chain started with a friend of his who was a Minneapolis school teacher.
No matter what you are trying to accomplish, remember that you are the one in charge of your future and personal brand. Sometimes you need to take a risk or a step backwards to achieve the ultimate goal that you have in mind. Are you willing to take that risk?