How do you leverage the things you’ve done in the past for what you want to do in the future?
A friend and world class entrepreneur, Michael Drapkin, raised that question to me recently when we were talking about reinventing yourself.
Drapkin, over his 30-plus-year career, has been a classical musician, programmer, program manager, academic, technology consultant, CEO and business strategist. You know the sort: A polymath that’s good at so many things.
More than that, though, Michael knows the secret to career change and self-reinvention. It’s that reinventing ourselves is not a fairy tale where the ugly duckling suddenly molts into a swan. We don’t shed our old selves as we change career paths. What we do is evolve.
It’s important to realize that when you change careers, you’re not suddenly person Y when before you were person X. Don’t think simple addition but a synergistic melding of all your selves that ideally reinvigorates your personal brand.
In Michael’s case, while he no longer plays clarinet with a symphony orchestra as he did early in his career, he has never forsaken his musical roots. Over the years, he’s published several books on the classical clarinet and recently founded the Brevard Conference on Music Entrepreneurship to teach musicians to become entrepreneurs.
Michael says his serial career path has added depth, complexity and creativity to his character, allowing him to approach problem solving with a multidimensional view.
An integral part of who he is, Michael’s musical talents are woven into his personal brand. “Rather than hide my musical skills,” he says, “I turn them into strengths.”
Which brings us back to our original question. What have you done in the past that can enhance your personal brand? Remember, you’re more than the sum of your parts. You’re an evolving person who in the act of change has an edge over the other guy who doesn’t have your background. As the adage goes, you’re not getting older, just better.
Wendy Marx • Public Relations/Marketing Communications • President, Marx Communications, Inc. • firstname.lastname@example.org