“Be yourself. Everyone else is taken.” Oscar Wilde
Don’t be deterred by the title. I wasn’t only because I hold Dorie Clark in such regard for the quality of her contributions to Harvard Business Review and the HBR Blog Network. It is a stretch to suggest that a person can be “reinvented” or “recreated.” (Clark makes no such claim.) However, it is possible to achieve the self-improvement goals on which Clark focuses. This requires more than a Stewart Smiley mindset (“I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me.”) Moreover, it is an on-going process rather than an ultimate destination. Clark does not mean “reinvention” in the sense of starting from scratch or achieving the human equivalent of reinventing the wheel. What then does she mean by the term?
o Understanding the new branding (or identification) landscape
o Understanding what current perceptions of us are…and why
o Determining our objectives for personal growth and professional development
o “Test-driving” the path to achieving them
o Develop the skills needed
o Selecting an appropriate mentor
o Leverage key points of differentiation
o Formulating a “story” that is truthful, revealing, and (key point) compelling
o Re-introduce ourselves to those we respect, trust, and admire most
o Prove our worth with [begin italics] consistent behavior [end italics]
o Sustain continuous self-improvement
In her book, Clark shares everything she has learned (thus far) about how to achieve these and other objectives. Each person already has whatever is needed (most of it between the ears) but lacks a sufficient understanding of how to develop those internal resources and then apply them effectively in relationships with others. She suggests and explains do’s and don’ts when recommending specific initiatives. Throughout her lively and eloquent narrative, however, she stresses the importance of the authenticity to which Oscar Wilde refers. She agrees with him about the importance of being one’s self while urging her reader to become a better person, a more productive person each day.
Appendix A (“Your Professional Reinvention Self-Assessment”), all by itself, is worth far more than the cost of the book and its value becomes almost incalculable if you complete the exercise I now presume to suggest: Complete the self-assessment before reading anything else in the book, and record your responses on separate sheets of paper (in a notebook or journal) or rather than within the book itself. Only then read the book, re-reading highlighted passages in the narrative. Finally, complete the self-assessment again (also on separate sheets or paper or in a notebook or journal) and compare/contrast the two sets of responses. That is the approach I took and was astonished by the nature and extent of Dorie Clark’s impact on my perspectives after reading her book.
When concluding, she reminds her reader that the journey of discovery that she recommends “is a way of life and a way of seeing the world — full of opportunity, open to new possibilities, and awaiting your contributions. I hope this book has been helpful as you consider and begin your reinvention process. Reinventing your personal brand allows you to optimize your life, constantly explore new professional frontiers, and be the person you want to be. Congratulations on taking the next step.” To which I presume to add, “Bon voyage!”
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Dorie’s background: “Dorie Clark, a former presidential campaign spokeswoman, is a frequent contributor to the Harvard Business Review, Forbes, and the American Management Association’s publications. She is also a columnist for Mint, India’s second-largest business newspaper. Clients like Google, Yale University, and the Ford Foundation hire her to help increase sales and enhance their brand reputation. Recognized as a “branding expert” by the Associated Press, Clark has taught marketing and communications at Emerson College, Tufts University, Suffolk University, and Smith College Executive Education. She has also lectured at universities worldwide, including Harvard University, the University of Michigan, and Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business. At age 18, Clark graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Smith College, and two years later received a Master of Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School. Originally from North Carolina, Clark divides her time between Somerville, Massachusetts and New York City. Learn more and access free resources, including hundreds of podcasts and articles, at www.dorieclark.com.”