Didn’t Think Professional Reinvention Was Possible?

This interview originally appeared at Talentedly.

Dorie Clark is a testament to reinvention, and that we can be anyone we want to be if we are willing to put in the work. She has been a political reporter, a presidential campaign spokesperson, a non-profit director, and filmmaker. She now has her own thriving marketing strategy consulting business and a second book on the way. Dorie shares the most important elements of her journey, from taking improv class to taking her mom along for the ride.

Talentedly: As someone who has built a career around creating strong personal brands, what is the biggest misconception about you?

Dorie Clark: For some people, the entire concept of “personal branding” connotes slickness or inauthenticity, and they may think that’s what I espouse. In fact, that’s the polar opposite of what I’m talking about. I believe that personal branding, when done right, is about getting clear on who you are and helping the world understand what you can bring to the table and why that’s valuable. It’s about the power of being yourself and sharing the best of yourself with others.

TLY: What is the best professional feedback someone has given you?

DC: As a former reporter, my tendency is often to talk about other people’s experiences. But in the process of writing my two books, Reinventing You and the forthcoming Stand Out, the feedback I got from my editors was about the importance of injecting my own story into the narrative. Why and how did I get passionate about these topics? That’s been really valuable, because those are some of the stories people connect with the most. They want to understand what formed you and where you’re coming from.

TLY: Can you share one of those personal stories?

DC: As a result of this feedback, early in Reinventing You, I shared my experience of being laid off as a reporter at the start of my career and having to come up with a “plan B.” I also frequently begin my talks about the book that way. That’s an experience a lot of people can unfortunately relate to, and it makes the material I’m talking about feel that much more relevant to their lives.

TLYWhat was vital to know as you changed career paths from journalism to marketing strategy consulting?

DC: In my own career transition, I really came to appreciate the importance of content creation. In the early days of your reinvention, it’s essential to send the message that you really know what you’re doing in your new field. A powerful way to do it is by creating a portfolio of your work – blogging, giving talks, and creating other materials like case studies, white papers, podcasts, etc. – that allows people to see your expertise with their own eyes. That gives them the confidence to hire you and recommend you.

TLY: What kept you going every day during the transition?

DC: When I was making my most recent career transition – from a nonprofit executive director to a marketing strategy consultant, which I did in 2006 – a lot of my ability to move forward came from how I framed the transition. I wasn’t making a lot of money running the nonprofit, and I realized it wouldn’t take that many clients to replicate and even exceed my previous salary. Being really concrete about my goals – X more clients means I’ll be making even more money than I was previously – gave me a sense of purpose.

TLY: What is the skill that has served you best in your career?

DC: I actually think the most valuable activity during my college years was my time in an improv troupe. The ability to adapt and respond to new information, to stay calm when you’re put on the spot, and to think quickly is invaluable for anyone in contemporary professional life.

TLY: What advice would you give your 12-year old self?

DC: I was actually really mature and put-together at 12. A couple of years later, at 14, I went off to college. But if I were offering advice, it would be along the lines of Dan Savage’s “It Gets Better” campaign. I felt a little lonely and different and didn’t feel I had a lot in common with people in my community. It would have been nice to know that, as I hoped would be the case, things really do get better as you get older, because you can choose your friends and the milieu where you feel comfortable.

TLY: What are you most proud of?

DC: I’m lucky enough to have a great mom and I’m probably most proud of the fact that through my professional endeavors, I’ve had the opportunity to travel extensively and sometimes have the opportunity to take her with me. Earlier this year, we went on a month-long trip to Asia, and visited Vietnam, Hong Kong, Thailand, India, and Singapore. That kind of travel certainly wasn’t common for most people when she was younger, and I’m really glad I had the opportunity to help her experience it.

TLY: What’s the secret sauce to being an Influencer?​

DC: I’ve discovered the more consistently I write and share my ideas, the more influence I have. The trick is that it takes a long time, In my case, I’d peg it at 2-3 years of intensive focus to begin to show results. But once people start hearing about you and seeking out your insights, there’s a snowball effect.

TLY: Mantra or quote to live by?

DC: “In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.” – Theodore Roosevelt

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