Dorie Clark is a power woman who chose to turn challenge into triumph. After completing her studies and pursuing a career in journalism in early 2000, she found herself among millions who were laid off during a time of extreme economic decline in the U.S. Her plan B: Get creative and leverage her skills in other related industries.
Clark would eventually venture into politics, serving as a presidential campaign spokeswoman, as well as becoming a contributor to publications including the Harvard Business Review and Forbes. She also started her own business consultancy, Clark Strategic Communications, and has been a speaker for clients including Google, Yale University, and the World Bank.
Her latest book, Reinventing You: Define Your Brand, Imagine Your Future, gives readers a step-by-step guide to assess their professional strengths and create career brands, with a mixture of personal stories and interviews with global leaders including Mark Zuckerberg, Al Gore and Seth Godin.
BlackEnterprise.com caught up with Dorie Clarke to talk tips for throwing fear to the wind and reinventing yourself, no matter what career stage you’re in:
BlackEnterprise.com: How can women take the first step toward reinvention, especially in today’s tough job market?
Clark: First, talk to people who are close to you and ask them a question: ‘What are first three words that come to mind when you see me?’ This is a great way to get valuable information on how people view you.
Second, focus on your competitive advantage. I believe we’re moving from a world where it matters most how you’re the same—[in terms of credentials and schools]— to one where what you’re most uniquely good at counts.
Third, start putting ideas out there. Create content so that people can know who you are and get a sense for how you think. It’s good to have a robust LinkedIn profile. And I always encourage people to start a blog.
Your book includes your own insights as well as stories from top leaders and other everyday entrepreneurs who decided to go for their dreams, no matter how seemingly far-fetched.
Yes. One of my favorite stories in book is about a woman who was a poet and later became a management consultant with a very awesome practice. Her story says to me, no matter what kind of change you want to make, if you’re strategic about it, and apply the principles and ideas that are in you, you can make it happen. She developed a great narrative of how she was able to transition because of her experience as a poet. She’s able to explain her unique talents and skills in a unique way that maybe the average [professional with an MBA] can’t.
You faced the challenge of layoff and unemployment early in your career. Many young professionals face that same dilemma. What would you tell your 21-year-old self knowing what you know today?
I would encourage myself to get started earlier in creating content that other people can see. The earlier adopters of blogging and social media have been disproportionately successful. If you can identify trends or jump on early with new types of platforms or communication tools, that gives you a useful head start.