Dorie Clark: “Reinventing You: Define Your Brand, Imagine Your Future” | Talks at Google
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Dorie Clark: “Reinventing You: Define Your Brand, Imagine Your Future” | Talks at Google

GIRIJA SUREKA: Welcome everyone,
welcome to the Authors at Google talk. It is my pleasure to
introduce Dorie. I’m Girija Sureka, by the way. A brief introduction
about Dorie. She is considered as the
branding expert. She is a former presidential
campaign spokeswoman. She is also a frequent
contributor to “Harvard Business Review,” “Forbes,” and
other publications, and she’s also given lectures
all over the world. She’s here to talk to us about
her book, “Reinventing You.” And without any delays,
I’ll let her begin. Please welcome. DORIE CLARK: Hi everyone. I’m really glad to be here
at Google today. My journey toward writing
“Reinventing You” actually started because I was
a journalist. That was my first job after
graduate school. And as you can see I worked
for possibly the coolest paper ever. We had rock stars wearing
cat masks on it. It was an alternative weekly
paper in Boston called the “Boston Phoenix.” So I got to go to any
event I wanted. I got to ask people obnoxious
questions. It was a fantastic career. But a year into my career
I got laid off. And we probably all know
the root cause for some of these things. You probably recognize this
ransom note like interface. And between the years 2001
and 2009 nearly 40% of US journalists lost their jobs. And so at first I thought, you
know, I’m just going to get another job. I’m going to get hired
on at another paper. And I slowly began to realize
that that was, in fact, not going to happen. And so I needed a plan B. And
over the course of the ensuing decade I feel really fortunate
that I was able to do some very cool things. I was a presidential campaign
spokesperson, as Girija was saying. I ran a nonprofit. I made a documentary film. And seven years ago I started
my business doing marketing strategy consulting. But one thing that I have
learned over the course of time when I was changing these
jobs and careers and was so excited, because I would have
something new going on, and I sent out emails and
let people know– and people would still ask me,
when I’d run into them, a question about the job that
I had like four years ago. Oh, so, what campaign
are you on now? And I had already moved
on to the next thing. And so ultimately I think we all
live in a world where we may be on the verge of at least
feeling like there’s too many connections. We have 1,000 Facebook friends,
10,000 Google+ friends in our circles. And there’s just too much
to keep up with. And so for most people, and
maybe some of you guys have had this experience, I feel like
their perceptions of us may well be out of date by
two years, three years. You run into people, and it’s
like, oh, and you’ve had a baby in the interim since
I’ve seen you. People are not keeping up. And so ultimately that’s
not their fault. We have a lot of things
that we need to be keeping on top of. But what it does mean is this
that if we want to be the ones considered for new
opportunities, for promotions, for the chance to do the really
awesome projects, then we need to make sure that
somehow or other people hear about and know about what
we’re doing, what we’re capable of, where we are now. But the trick, of course, is
that as with all things personal branding, you can’t
do it in an obnoxious way where you’re just sort of
foghorning your way into people’s consciousness. You’ve got to find a better
and more subtle way of conveying your value, and
your worth, and what you can really do. And so that’s what I tried to
capture in “Reinventing You” is someone who had been through
that process a lot. Whether you’re reinventing
yourself in a really dramatic way, by having a totally
different career, or whether you’re moving around. I mean I know at Google, for
instance, you’re encouraged to get new positions and new jobs
every couple of years. You have the opportunity,
working at a place like this, to move to different country
offices, to do rotations, to move into new areas. This is a company that wants
you to learn and grow and reinvent yourself. But when you’re doing it you
also need to be perceived in different ways. People look at you in a
different context when you’re a software engineer, versus
when you’re doing philanthropic projects, or
when you’re working in advertising sales. And so that’s the question. How do you really determine
how you are viewed professionally? And how do you make
sure it lines up? And so I’m just going to see
if this magic large clicker actually works. Maybe not. So I’ll keep strolling back
and forth periodically. So that’s what led to my book,
“Reinventing You.” So there’s three basic phases to the
reinvention process. The first one is really drilling
down and figuring out how you’re perceived
by other people. That’s kind of the
starting point. The second step is determining
what you want to be known for. What’s the brand that you really
would like to have in the world, and setting
that out. And then thirdly finally, which
we’ll be talking about each in turn, is how do you
manifest that brand? Because once you’ve settled on
something, you don’t just kind of come up to people and
say, hi, I’m Dorie and my brand is XYZ. We don’t put it out
there like that. What we do is, we are
in the world. We do things. We participate in activities. We interact with people. And from that, people
extrapolate what our brand is. It’s not something we say. It’s something that we live. And so the question is, how can
we live in such a way, how can we do things so that people
are more likely to get the right impression of us? I know sometimes even the
concept, even the phrase of personal brand is something
that kind of gets people’s back up a little bit. And maybe that’s the
case first for some of you guys, even. Really where it comes from, in
1997, a gentleman named Tom Peters, a well known management
thinker, wrote a famous cover story for “Fast
Company” Magazine called “The Brand Called You.” And it sort
of launched the modern era of personal branding. But when I used the phrase, I
want to be clear, what I’m talking about is simply a
synonym for your reputation. This is not some new-fangled
shenanigan where we’re trying to spit-polish you
and package you. It’s about being conscious
of your reputation. And I think for anyone who cares
about their career, you want to figure out, how
are you viewed? How do you want to be viewed? And if there is daylight between
those two things, hopefully you want to try
to close that gap. And I should also point out the
other thing that I hear often, when we’re talking
about personal brand, is sometimes, for some people,
it connotes phoniness or inauthenticity. And I also want to be very clear
that that is not what I’m talking about. It’s not a question of sticking
your finger to the wind, and trying to figure out
what the world wants, and then molding yourself to that, or
trying to get to reinvent yourself as something you
think other people want. We’re actually, I would argue,
exiting the era where what mattered most was,
do you fit in? Do you color inside the lines? Are you the same as
everybody else? And we are moving more and more
toward a world where what matters is the exact opposite. What matters is your difference,
and what you can bring to the table that
no one else can. And if you can articulate that,
if you can be clear on that value, then that actually
is your career insurance. That is the thing
that makes you indispensable to your company. So that’s what I wanted to
talk a little bit about. So how do you go about
discovering your brand? This right here is my favorite
quote in the entirety of “Reinventing You.”
This is an angel investor named Judy Robinett. And when I was writing the book
I was talking to her on the phone, and she said, Dorie,
this is fantastic. This reminds me of a
Hungarian proverb. And so this, of course, if three
people tell you you’re a horse, buy a saddle. And what this means, the reason
I like this, is that ultimately your brand is
not what you say it is. It’s not what you want it to
be, what you wish it were. Your brain is what other
people say it is. And so the starting point,
always, is figuring out what other people think. And then, if it is not matching
up, taking the actions you need proactively
to get control over that. So incidentally, I was in London
last month, and I spoke at the Google offices
in London there. They’re a great group
of folks. But the night before, my
publisher, Harvard Business Review press, did an event, sort
of a big open event where people came in. And a woman came up to me
afterward and she said, I liked your talk very much. I am from Hungary. I do not know this proverb. So we will attribute it to
Judy Robinett, but the sentiment stands. So there’s a few different ways
that you can begin to get a handle on it. The first, obviously, which
you people invented is Googling yourself. And hopefully, all of you guys,
you’re paid to do this. So hopefully you do it
every day anyway. Google alerts are like the
greatest gift to personal branding ever. But I will ask you, the next
time you do this, do it with one question in mind. That question, that frame,
is if this were the only information that someone knew
about me, what would they make of me? Because more and more we are
moving to a place where that is the case. You’re dealing with people,
you’re working with colleagues internationally, people
who you’ve never met. And literally, even though we’re
three dimensional, fully fleshed out characters to
ourselves and in our own minds, to them, you’re
your Google search. And so you have to pay special
attention to what’s coming across and what’s being
presented there. The next thing, many of you
perhaps have had the opportunity to work with
an executive coach. If you have, that’s a fantastic
thing, because having that outside
perspective can be interesting or useful. But if folks haven’t, because
oftentimes companies may not be able to provide the
opportunity for everyone, it doesn’t mean that we can’t
gain that knowledge. The first thing that an
executive coach will do, generally, is a 360 interview. So like a circle, they will
interview your boss, your peers, your employees, and
they will try to get a holistic picture. What’s Dorie really like? What’s she like to work with? Tell me about her. And they’ll anonymize the
findings and then they’ll present them back to you, so
that hopefully you can hear them with an open mind. And obviously that’s a good
way of doing it, because people feel more free to speak
if it’s anonymous, if it’s to somebody else. But even if you are doing this
on your own, I would suggest you can get a lot of
value out of it. If you find trusted friends or
colleagues and go to them, and you could almost make it like
a parlor game– you ask, if you only had three words to be
able to describe me, what would they be? And if you ask four or five
people, you are going to begin to see patterns, both of what
they say and also what they don’t say, which can be
incredibly illustrative. And so that’s one way that you
can begin to get a sense. And part of why this is
useful it that we all have blind spots. One story that I tell in
“Reinventing You” comes from an executive coach who told
me about a client that she worked with once. And this guy, when she started
doing the interviews, the stuff she heard was
actually terrible. He doesn’t respect me. He’s haughty. He’s a jerk. He’s arrogant. He’s full of himself. And so she started to try to
dig, like what was he doing that was provoking this? Because it sounded egregious. And so she dug a little, and she
asked questions, and what she ultimately discovered
was that he was not any of those things. He was not haughty, he was
not arrogant, he did not disrespect other people. But he did have a problem. And that’s that he
had a bad habit. He interrupted people. And because he interrupted
people on a regular basis, that was the story that
they constructed. That was how they understood
it and made meaning of what he was doing. And as a result, his career was
really being held back. Because people thought
he was terrible. When we think about our personal
brand, about change, things like that, we often
think that it has to be a huge thing. It’s going to take me years. Changing your reputation,
it’s so hard. It’s so big. Don’t get me wrong,
sometimes it is. But sometimes it’s as simple
as getting feedback, and listening, and knowing when to
keep your mouth closed or when you open your mouth,
whatever it is. But for him, when he got that
information, almost immediately he was able to make
changes that led to him being perceived in an entirely
different way by his colleagues. So part of this can
be very powerful. I also wanted to tell you the
story of a woman that I know in Boston named Mary
Skelton Roberts. This is not for everybody. This is not for the
faint of heart. But I love it as a thought
experiment. Mary, when I was talking to her,
during writing the book, she said, you know, this
is so great, Dorie. I love what you’re saying about
the 360s, and getting the feedback, it’s
so valuable. It reminds me of that
time I had a focus group about myself. I said, that’s fantastic,
Mary. Tell me more. And so she was at a career
crossroads, and she had a friend named Don. And Don said, I know what
we’ll do for you. We will have a focus
group about you. And so she invited about a dozen
of her friends, and she was not allowed to say a word. She had to sit in the corner. She could only ask a question
if there was a point of clarification. And for a couple of hours, Don
asked her friends questions about Mary. If you didn’t know what
job Mary had, what would you guess? Mary’s greatest gifts are? The world would be a better
place if Mary did what? On and on, Mary said that it was
one of the most revelatory experiences of her life. Getting to hear at a 30,000 foot
perspective the things that her friends thought
about her. She said that it was a
completely new way of looking at herself that really helped
unstick her and move her on to a new phase in her life
in her career. So those are few ways that you
can at least begin to get the juices flowing. And so next I wanted to talk a
little bit about creating your narrative, proactively, how
do you set it apart? How do you know what you
want to be known for? So you all know these
characters. I have them up here because
I used to work in presidential politics. And one of the first things that
you learn is that there’s a million pieces of information
that voters could learn, that you could push out
to people about candidates. And maybe 1% of all the people
who are reading Politico 23 hours a day. They love it. They can’t get enough of it. But for everybody else, what
they want to know is, break it down for me. What is the difference? How are these guys different
from each other? And how does that line up with
what I’m interested in? And so if you can be clear, as
we’re thinking through our brand, on your difference,
that’s really what’s going to matter. About a month ago I wrote a
blog post for the “Harvard Business Review.” And it was
spawned because an executive reached out to me. He was a senior partner at one
of the big consulting firms. And he wanted to talk with
me because he just had his 50th birthday. He was starting to think
about legacy projects. He wanted to write. He wanted to teach. He wanted to start doing
some different things. But he came to me,
because he said Dorie, I have one problem. I don’t know what
I want to say. And it’s not because he didn’t
have anything to say. In fact, to the contrary,
this was a guy that had almost too much. He knew tons about the industry
verticals that he had consulted in, telecom,
biotech. He had massive global
experience. He had philanthropic interests
that he was involved in. Any of these things, he
could’ve opined about articulately. But he wasn’t really sure
where to start. He wasn’t sure what the core
of his message was. And so what I told him, and
what I will suggest to you guys, is take a morning. Take a Saturday morning. Go plunk yourself
a coffee shop. And if you really want to get
clear on your brand, you really want to know what’s
driving meaning in your life, start to write down some
of your war stories. And what I mean by that is, we
all have stories that we come back to, things that are
particularly vivid, things that are particularly memorable,
meaningful. Maybe it’s the time you first
learned what leadership really looked like. Maybe it was the time that you
failed and you had to pick yourself up after failing. Maybe it was when somebody
showed you what a real friend was. Whatever it was, you can
probably ask your spouse. Because we all have things that
we probably say over and over again, oh, that story. But what we really are
is accumulations of the stories we tell. That’s how we make meaning
in our lives. And I’m willing to bet that if
you write enough of them down, if you write down a few,
you are going to begin to see a pattern. You are going to begin to see
a thread that connects them about why those things are
meaningful to you. And that is how you can begin
to tease out, authentically, what your brand is and what
you feel passionate about. And we had Romney and Obama
up there a minute ago. I mean, I know how messages
are constructed in political campaigns. I’ve sat in the rooms. If you look at the polls, and
you say, oh, what do other people care about? OK, we’ll be that. That’s not, as a real person,
maybe not even as a politician, how people should be
constructing their message. I think we should be starting
from the ground up, with our own experiences, our own
passions, the things that matter to us. And along those lines, I wanted
to just talk to you for a minute about a woman I know
named Libby Wagner, who I write about in “Reinventing
You.” She has a pretty unusual background. She’s a poet. She has an MFA. She’s published numerous
chapbooks of poetry. She was a tenured community
college professor of women’s studies and creative writing. You’re probably getting a vision
in your head of what Libby Wagner is like. Libby Wagner became a management
consultant. She decided, you know what, I
don’t want to do that anymore. I want to become a management
consultant. And so she started, and when she
first got into it, she was extremely nervous and almost
embarrassed that she had been a poet. Because the business professors
on her campus had been so contemptuous
of the poets. They thought, ach, we
can’t talk to you. We don’t have anything
in common. And so she kept being paranoid
that people would ask her, where’s your MBA? What makes you qualified
to do this? And after a few clients, she
realized no one was asking her where her MBA was. She could do the work. In fact, what she realized is
that she had skills and knowledge that a traditional
MBA would not. Because she was a poet. She had, for years, learned to
study the nuances of language. If you are a manager
communicating with your team, if you are a company
communicating with your customers, you need
to understand the nuances of language. And she did. She was able to work
for companies like Nike, like Boeing. For a long time she hid that
she had started as a poet. But eventually she came to
realize that that was actually where her strength was. And so today she has an email
newsletter called “The Boardroom Poet,” her Twitter
handle, @boardroompoet. She’s not afraid to be out
about her identity. And I think that for me, it’s
an important lesson for us. That the place where we are
different is sometimes the thing you want to sand down,
the thing you want to minimize, the place where you
feel like, I’m not sure if these people would really get
where I’m coming from. But that is often the source of
the place where you can add the most value. So I wanted to talk just a
little bit moving into the final piece, about how
you manifest that value in the world. How you show what you can do. How do you live it? So I wanted, I’m going
to try to not set off this loud noise. There we go. Just checking in on timing, so
we can keep a good beat here. I also want to say as well that
throughout the course of this, if you have thoughts,
questions, stories you want to share, please feel free to
dive in at any point. At the end we’ll take questions
too, but I want to make sure that we’re grabbing
things and getting your experiences. Because those are some
of the best parts. So I want to leave you with a
few strategies, talk about actual take home tips,
as it were. So the first thing that
I wanted to mention– there is a sociologist at the
University of Chicago named Ronald Burt. And his research, he uses a
phrase which, as sociologists are wont to do, he talks about
bridging structural holes and the importance of that. But what that means, basically,
to boil it down, is that one of the most effective
things that you can do in your company to build a strong
career, to get known and recognized by your peers as
someone with something to contribute is to become
the dot in the middle. In any organization, no matter
how hard you try to eradicate it, there are going to be
silos between campuses, between buildings, between
departments, between projects. People, they just,
they’re human. They don’t talk. They don’t communicate. It’s a lot easier to talk to the
people next door than it is the people on the other side
of the country or the other side of the campus. And so if you can be the person,
if you can find ways to insert yourself and to build
relationships across those boundaries, you can learn
things that other people don’t know. I know that one of the central
tenets, party of the ethos of Google, is the importance of
learning new things and sharing it with your
colleagues. And ultimately the research
bears out, that’s one of the best things that you can
do for your career. You’ll be viewed
as a connector. You’ll be viewed as someone
in the know. You’ll be viewed as
someone helpful. And that can be incredibly
powerful. There’s Robert Putnam,
the Harvard sociologist, breaks it down. He talks about two different
categories of relationships. One he calls bonding capital,
the other is bridging capital. And you need both. Bonding capital is where you’re
interacting with and relating to people who
are just like you. Maybe there are people who
are in your department. Maybe there are people who are
fellow women, or fellow people from a certain area, or fellow
Yankees fans, or whatever you are. But you’ve got the bond with
your tribe, as it were. But what is equally
important– and if you want to
be balanced, you have to have both– is bridging capital. Are you the person that reaches
across and builds relationships with other types
of people and people who are doing different things? If you can balance those,
that’s one of the most powerful things that
you can do. So we all know from all the
great media reports and pictures of Bono and Angelina
Jolie, Davos, the World Economic Forum. And part of the reason that I
love to think about and talk about the World Economic
Forum is that now it’s this brand event. Every year, every January,
all the poohbahs gather. It costs $100,000 for your
company to be a member of it. It is an international event. It is an event that
was started by a business school professor. It was not something that began
on high as the most powerful gathering
in the world. It was a business professor,
Klaus Schwab, who said, wouldn’t it be great if we had
an annual conference talking about the European economy? And he did it, and it
became a phenomenon. And it might seem sort
of ridiculous to say, you can do that too. You can start your own Davos. But I want to take a moment to
tell you a story about my friend Robbie. Robbie is a nonprofit
fundraiser. And like a lot of people, he
noticed, ah, going back to Ronald Burt’s research,
the nonprofit community was really siloed. All the environmental people
knew each other, but they didn’t know the health
care people. And all the health care people
knew each other, but they didn’t know the anti-poverty
people. Why is that? Is there any way to fix it? And so Robbie decided to
do something creative. He thought, how do we bring
people together in a way that doesn’t feel like homework? In a way that doesn’t feel
like eating your spinach? And so he created a Meetup
group, free, just started a Meetup group. It was called Socializing
For Justice. Socializing for Justice was
a monthly gathering, where people from the nonprofit
community and their friends could get together and do
bowling for justice, cocktails for justice, trivia
for justice. They would do fun activities
and in the process solve the problem. They’d get to know each other,
be friends, and it naturally breaks down the silos. Six years later the group
has 2,200 members. They declared it Robbie Samuels
day in Boston last year on his birthday. The Boston nonprofit community
is not that big. And I would posit that most of
the communities that we are in, the communities that matter
to us, in the end they’re not that big. If you take the initiative to
start something new and different, and really own it,
you can become the connector who is adding tremendous value
to your community. And every month, multiple times
a month, all of those 2,200 people are getting emails
with Robbie’s name on it sending them invitations of
things they want to do and making sure that they
remember who he is. I can guarantee you that anytime
he wants to get a job there are going to be dozens
of people that know exactly what he’s capable of and want to
bring them on to the team. So taking the initiative to
dive in and get started, whether it’s cross-departmental initiatives, ways to meet
people, Google is especially good at this. I know with the Authors at
Google series, bringing in musicians, anything you care
about or are passionate about, there’s a way to plug in and
int the process build connections, not just with cool
people outside Google but within the company so that your
ties are strong and that you are becoming a hub. It’s far more possible
than you might think. So I also, since we’re here in
Silicon Valley, wanted to tell you a Silicon Valley story. So as I mentioned I worked
in campaigns. In the 2004 cycle I was the New
Hampshire communications director for Howard Dean. His campaign, of course, is
famous for being the first really internet savvy
campaign. And that was great. Why? Why were we the internet
savvy campaign? We had had good staffers, we
had all these nice things. Howard Dean certainly let it
happen, but Howard Dean is not Mr. Internet Savvy. This is not him staying up late
at night and tweeting. That’s not his deal. The reason that we were the
internet campaign is because Joe Trippi, who was our campaign
manager, went to San Jose State. And that might seem a little bit
random, but he was there in the late 1970s when all of
this was starting to burst, when all this was starting to
happen and to take off. And he noticed and he watched. And 20 years later, he was there
and said, how can I take this blogging phenomenon which
was a niche thing at the time, it was early 2003. It was still a niche hobby, web
blogging, live journaling. How do we take it and turn
it into something? I remember being there late at
night, knocking on the door, trying to get statements
approved, that CNN needed a statement. And he waved me off and
yell, come back later. I’m like, what is he doing
that’s so important? What is he doing that’s more
important than this statement for CNN? And he’d be, like, working
on a blog post. And so ultimately, sometimes, we
find ourselves in positions where we are able to see things
that other people are not, where we are in a place
where things are happening. And if you watch, and
if you notice, you can pick up on them. And it can lead you to
ideas that other people are not having. Now, a lot of people in Silicon
Valley know that computers are great and
blogs are great. Very few people in presidential
politics in 2003 knew that connection, and knew
that is was something that could actually help a
presidential campaign. So being able to understand
what’s going on, to see those trends, and to get what makes
them important, and to be able to translate them to
the outside world– you are at the hub right now. You are at ground zero, where
things are happening. So looking around and finding
out where that wave is going to be incredibly powerful. Part of the reason why I wanted
to talk about this, go where the wave is going, this
all came up because a few months ago I was
interviewing– I do a blog for “Forbes,” and
I was interviewing Robert Scoble, who many of you guys
may know, the great tech opinion leader. And I asked him, how did you
get your start, Robert? How did you get into all this? And he said, oh, that’s funny. I was at San Jose State
in the ’70s. Sometimes things are
in the water. And I think, when it comes to
Google and being here right now, things are in the water. And if you’re watching, and
finding the places where it starts, you can move forward
exponentially fast. So one of the tips, one of the
strategies that you guys can use today, one of my favorite
parts of the book– I interviewed Professor Robert
Cialdini, who is an eminent psychologist from Arizona
State University. And one of the things that we
know about human nature, about how to express your brand, how
to let people know that you’re expert in a certain area is that
if you just try to tell people, if you say, well, I
really know a lot about this, and let me explain why. People are going to tune you
out immediately, right? They’ll think you’re
a braggart. They’ll think you’re a jerk. It’s not going anywhere. That doesn’t work. But Robert Cialdini shared a
strategy with me which is, as you could say, maybe a
work around for it. That is the email strategy. It turns out that through a
quirk of human nature, we can get away with writing things
that we can’t necessarily get away with saying. And so if you’re going to be
meeting someone for the first time, in advance of that
meeting, you can send them an email and say, Joe, I’m really
looking forward to meeting you next Thursday. In advance of our meeting, to
make it as productive and as efficient as possible, I wanted
to tell you a little bit about my experience with
regards to XYZ that we’re going to cover in the meeting. And then at that point, you
can share your experience. Share your results. Share what you’ve learned. And it is all in the context
of making a better meeting. When you walk into that room you
do not have to say a word, because your expertise has
already been established. You don’t have to prove
yourself because they already know. And it means that you’re far
more likely to have a good experience and to have
your opinions respected from moment one. So that was one of the
things that I really liked about that tip. Along similar lines– we all know it’s awesome
whenever you can have a Top Gun slide– you can’t just say how great
you are, does not work. But similarly, the research of
Professor Cialdini and Jeffrey Pfeffer, just down the road at
Stanford Graduate School of Business, they’ve done research
into the wingman phenomenon. And basically what this means
is that if I tell you about how great I am and how
wonderful, you’re going to think I’m a jerk. But if Girija tells you how
great and wonderful I am, you’re going to think
I’m fantastic. So certainly this means that
if we all want to hire a publicist, why not? That’s a great thing to do. But most of us probably can’t
hire a publicist. So the alternative, the way
around this, is that we can have a wing man. If you have a trusted friend or
colleague, someone that you like, that you respect, that
you would not hesitate to promote, make a deal
with them. Make a pact. And say, if I talk you up,
will you talk me up? At the next reception, at the
next cocktail party, at the next conference, at the next
meeting, you don’t have to worry about promoting
yourself. This is great for those of you
who are shy, who worry about looking a little too
self-promotional, just set that aside. You don’t have to promote
yourself. Because it’s in someone
else’s hands. You’re job is to promote your
friend and to let the world know how great your friend is. Oh, that’s so interesting that
you mentioned China. My friend just got back from
China and she wrote a fascinating white paper about
the latest economic trends. I should introduce you guys. Here you go. Look for opportunities. Look for ways to bring them
into the conversation, for ways to help them shine. If you can do that, you are
being a good friend and they’re doing the same
thing for you. Between the two of you, you
can make sure that your virtues are known. Now I would be remiss here at
Google if I did not mention social media, if I did not talk
about the ways that our digital footprint is shaping
our personal brands. This is a blog post I wrote for
HBR last year called, “If You’re Serious About Ideas, Get
Serious About Blogging.” And the reason that I say
this, you, creators of Blogger, is that ultimately
blogging is not so sexy anymore. It’s like this old thing. It’s like 10 years old, 15,
years old, oh, who blogs. But that is also part of your
competitive advantage. Everybody’s thinking about the
newest, latest, flashiest thing, the six seconds videos
or whatever you got. I think that something that is
in short supply in the world of knowledge workers, of people
who are known for their ideas, is people who are able
and willing to contribute to the discourse. For all of us, we’re in roles
where it’s often very hard for other people to really know
if we’re good at our jobs. I mean, if you’re a graphic designer, you have a portfolio. Sure, if you’re a software
engineer you probably have your lines of code people
can look at. That’s great. For many of us, I
do marketing– how do you know if
I’m any good? Well, one of the ways that you
could put a stake in the ground is to be that person who
shares ideas, who writes, who is contributing to moving
the discourse forward. Because fundamentally
there’s two kinds of people in the world. There’s the people who put the
ideas out and then there’s the masses who talk about those
ideas and share them. And so if you are willing to
step up and do it, it can be incredibly powerful. I mean, you see statistics and
some people say, well, blogging’s dying because
teenagers aren’t doing it anymore. So the trend line, it’ll
be going down. The reason teenagers don’t blog
is that blogging’s hard. It is a lot easier to send a
tweet, to take a picture. It’s hard, over time, to make
a commitment to putting your ideas out there, for that is
one of the most powerful things that you can do to
establish your expertise. And even, if you are not a
writer, even if you don’t consider yourself a strong
writer, I will point to this gentleman as our example. This is Gary Vaynerchuk, who you
all may know, YouTube star and beyond of Wine Library TV. Gary Vaynerchuk is
not a writer. By his own admission, he
is just not good at it. But he is someone who
has a ton of ideas. And we all have the technology–
you know it better than I do– to make videos. YouTube is one of the most
powerful platforms that we’ve ever had. People can share themselves,
can share their ideas, and upload them instantly
from their phones. And I think it is only going to continue to grow and thrive. And so whether it’s on text,
whether it’s on video, getting your ideas out there, in a lot
of ways, it’s our obligation to ourselves, to the
world, to share the perspective that we have– the perspective that
only we have. We talk about reinventing our
personal brands, what that really means to me. Why more and more people are
doing that now is, we all know this is not a world anymore
where you have the job that you settle into and you
do for 30 years. Even if you work at Google for
30 years, you could have 20 different jobs doing incredibly
different things, and that is a virtue that is
encouraged in this workplace. Here, and more and more in the
world around us, because it’s through those connections
through, seeing different things and learning different
things, that we’re really able to do the kind of creative
deep thinking that is necessary to keep the ball
moving forward and innovate. And so that’s why it’s something
so important to be able both to reinvent ourselves
and also to convey that to others so that they
grasp and understand all that we’re able to do. So I would love to get your
ideas and thoughts and questions and I’m really
delighted to have the opportunity to be here and talk
with you a little bit about “Reinventing
You.” So thanks. Are there folks you who have
thoughts or their own reinvention stories that
they’d like to share? The question is about
specialization versus being a generalist, it’s also
about mentors. What do you do if there are
kind of aren’t mentors, because you’re in a field
that’s so new? So two thoughts about that– number one, it is always easier
to advance more quickly if you’re a specialist. In that same conversation with
Robert Scoble, his advice about how people can become
a thought leader– he said, find a niche, find an
unexploited niche that is of interest, that’s got the wave
behind it, and own it. And then his example was
wearable sensor technology. Like we all know that’s growing,
we all know that’s going someplace. There is not yet someone who
is recognized as the definitive expert on wearable
sensor technology. If you can be that person
then you will be turned to for that. And then all of a sudden because
of a phenomenon known as the halo effect, people– if you’re an expert in one
thing, people will sort of think you’re universally
brilliant, and will start asking you, what stocks
should I buy? And when will the volcanoes
explode? I mean, they’ll ask you all
kind of crazy things. So that’s one thought. However, some of us are not
wired to be specialists. And that’s the other point. It is perhaps a harder road,
it’s a little more circuitous, I say from example, to
be a generalist. But some people are
called to that. I am not a specialist, because
I would get bored being a specialist. And so that means that I’ve done
a lot of different things and it’s sort of a more
winding path. I would like to think that in
the end, you can get to the same or perhaps an even richer
place as a result, because you’ve had these different
experiences that you can cross hatch and bring to bear. And so one is quicker
but the other one may have other benefits. On the mentor front, I agree
with you entirely. There’s a professor at Harvard
Business School named Tom DeLong who I interviewed last
year for my Forbes blog, and wrote about this. He believes that there’s kind
of a, you could call it a mentorship crisis,
in some ways. Because, he gives an example– when he goes into a room and he
asks people, so, how many of you have had really great
mentors, really great people that have looked out for you,
that teach you things? And he says that almost
everybody over the age of 40 raises their hand and almost
everybody under the age of 40 keeps it down. And he says, and I agree with
him, that part of it is because of increased performance
pressures. In the past 20 years, because
of the economy, first it’s booming, then it’s busting, now
it’s in who knows what– particularly in professional
service firms, people are called upon to be rainmakers. Everything they do has to be
about the bottom line. And so a lot of the things that
are squishier but often have profound long term value,
like cultivating the next generation of talent,
gets overlooked. And so as a result, we’re
losing a lot of mentors. And in some cases, in your
field, there’s not even people to begin with. But the theory that I have about
this is that we have to re-conceptualize mentorship. I actually wrote a free e-book
about it, as a matter of fact, if you ever want to Google
“Mentorship 2.0,” Dorie Clark, you can get it. It’s one of the “Change This”
manifestos, which is this cool thing that Seth Godin started. But I think that what we really
need to do more and more is to stop looking for this
one perfect holy grail person that’ll teach us
everything, and instead think of it more as a mentor
board of directors. Who are the people– who could be peers, they could
be people above you, they could even be your interns
or your subordinates– who are the people who have
slices of things that you like, that you respect, that
you want to learn from? And how do you go a la Catie
with a mentorship? And hopefully we can learn
more in that way. And so for anyone who couldn’t
hear, the comment was you can’t afford to outsource
your brand. Because if you assume that other
people are evangelizing on your behalf it’s probably not
happening and an erroneous brand might take root. I think that’s really true. I mean, politics is a good
training ground in the sense that literally, you have people
who are trying to throw arrows at you every day. They’re trying explicitly to
define you in a way that you do not want to be defined. And so you have to be very
vigilant to guard against it. I mean, fortunately, I hope that
for most of you you don’t have people throwing arrows
at you on a regular basis. But nonetheless, even without
that people just, they get impressions in their head. Where do they get it? Oh, they saw a Google+ post from
two months ago and oh, yeah, Girija, that girl
that likes ice cream, or whatever it is. And that’s not necessarily
the thing that you want. And so I am really glad that
you sparked this piece, because for a lot of people,
they think their work will speak for itself. And that’s just not sufficient
anymore. If you do that, you
might luck out. You might. There’s some people that
succeed that way. For most of us, it
doesn’t happen. And if you don’t want to roll
the dice with your future then it’s important to least take a
little time to be cognizant of what’s out there and how you can
begin to kind of stack the deck in your favor. You can never perfectly control
what other people think of you. We’re not omnipotent. We don’t have the ability to
plant ideas in people’s heads. But we can make it far more
likely that people will view us in a certain way. And so I think that’s a
really great point. Other thoughts or questions that
people wanted to raise? Yes. The gentleman was just quoting
Scott Adams, the Dilbert creator, talking about
specialization. And the fact that if you kind
of combine a couple of different areas, being a
comedian, doing writing, piece them together– it’s a smaller
universe that you’re competing in, which I think is
exactly right. Ultimately, when you’re
specializing, and when you’re thinking if you want
to specialize, you have to be strategic. Because it can’t be too big. That’s, as a starting point, you
have to be smart about it. It’s kind of like in college,
you have to write a 20 page final paper. And it’s, oh, I’m going to write
my 20 page final paper about the history of Rome. Oh, OK, great, you can really
cover the history of Rome in 20 pages. It’s not going to work. And so your professor always
stops you and says, no, no, no, maybe you can write a 20
page paper about the history of upper class women’s fashion
in ancient Rome in 20 pages but you cannot write about the
history of Rome in 20 pages. If you set out and you try to
be the expert in sports, you are going to get pummeled. You won’t ever break through
and get noticed, because there’s just too much
competition. But if you want to be the world
expert in some variety of rugby, or something
like that, then the path gets a lot easier. So choosing well is
key, so thank you. Did you have a thought
about that as well? Yes, so it’s a great question,
thank you. It’s about staying motivated
as you reinvent yourself. How do you kind of keep going
with these uncharted waters? I think that one of the most
powerful tactics, in a lot of ways, is the public promise. Part of why I like
blogs, too, is– certainly we all know of blogs
that have been abandoned and whatever, but if you’re serious
about it, a blog demands to be updated. And it’s something that
has sort of a built in demand on it. And so if you put out there, I’m
going to start this, I’m doing it, then there’s sort of
an internal compulsion to keep it going and keep
it successful. There’s a website that I talk
about in “Reinventing You” called, which
some of you guys may be familiar with. It’s S-T-I-K-K dot com,
and you make a public vow of some kind. So this is like the thing you
do only when you are very, very serious. And so you say, OK, I am going
to lose 50 pounds. And you put some crazy bet. If I do not lose 50 pounds in
six months, I will give $20,000 to my friend, or I
would give, even better– this is sort of their
innovation– if you are a Democrat, they will
say I will give $20,000 to the George W. Bush library. And so you are making a public
commitment and you are highly financially motivated to
succeed in your goal. So sometimes just going nuclear,
laying down the gauntlet, and putting
it out there. But I think that your friends,
your colleagues, they have to be in your corner. It’s just part of why I talk,
in “Reinventing You,” about the importance of kind of
getting your team on your side and finding a narrative, a way
to explain it to other people. Because if you have the people
around you who are sort of skeptics, or they’re sort of
nagging at you, or tearing it down a little bit,
it’s very hard. But if you have the team in your
corner, you can really do amazing things. There’s a book called
“Influencer,” which I would recommend highly. It’s by the same people, it’s
five authors, Joseph Grenny, and I don’t remember
any of the others. There are far too many, but the
people who did the book “Crucial Conversations,” and
“Influencer,” and then they have a sequel called “Change
This.” And they’re both really cool books about the ways that
you can effect change in your own personal life, or at
a more macro level. So great strategies in there,
and if you’re interested in it, that’s one way
of pursuing it. Yeah, it’s interesting. For Dean, one of the things
that really– there’s sort of an external
factor that kind of came in early on, which is that
he was originally– his record is that of a
moderate, centrist governor. That is not how he was perceived
by the vast majority of the American public for one
large reason, which is that at the time that he was running,
the Iraq war had started. And he was one of the earliest
and most vocal opponents of it. And so consequently he got
branded as this crusading liberal firebrand. And I think a lot of people
assumed that there were other pieces, sort of left wing pieces
that went along with that, when in actuality that
wasn’t really the case. So I think that one of
the challenges– and at the time, obviously there
was so much momentum behind the anti-war thing,
that it was more of a net positive, at least
in the primary. Although you’re right,
ultimately because of again, other interesting outside
factors like the 527s, which was the Political Action
Committee that was allowed time and is no longer, under
campaign finance laws, people were able to give really large
amounts of money to target him, particularly in Iowa. Anyway, all that being said,
how is an individual brand different from a candidates’
brand? I think that when you are
working on a political campaign, you need to
be really mindful of a few other things. The first thing that you need
to be mindful of is, who are your competitors that
are out there? How do you differentiate
yourself? You might have a great record
as a school teacher, or something like that. That’s great, but if you’re
running against another school teacher, then whatever
advantage you have on education might be
neutralized. You’ve got to come up with
something different. You also need to be taking a
careful look at macro trends. So the Iraq War would be a big
example, what’s going on in the economy, that
sort of thing. When you are an individual
branding yourself, those things are important. I mean, obviously you
need to be mindful– well, what other types
of candidates are applying for this job? Or what is going on in the
world that would make me marketable and saleable in
the broader marketplace? But I think it’s a difference
of degree. You keep those things in mind. But as an individual when you
think about your individual brand, what matters most, what
matters fundamentally, is what’s coming from you. It’s not these sort of
external factors and positioning yourself. It’s what is true to me and
what is that sort of uniqueness that I can convey? And so I think that they are
similar phenomenons. The way that they’re done is
different, because so many politicians really do you start
with polls and work backwards from there. But when done right, it’s mostly
that politicians and individuals should be looking
at similar things. But individuals should
worry far less about the external world. I think that for most of us we
can solve many of our problems just by really getting clear on
internally who we are what we bring to the table. I hope that might answer
your question. Thanks. So Googlers, it’s fantastic
to be here. My book is available. I’m happy to sign it
if you’d like. If you’d like to stay in
touch, I’m on Twitter @dorieclark. We can Google+ Circle each other
and you can feel free to friend me on LinkedIn. I’m delighted to be here. Thank you.

About Ralph Robinson

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16 thoughts on “Dorie Clark: “Reinventing You: Define Your Brand, Imagine Your Future” | Talks at Google

  1. This is more depressing than kids beauty pageants.
    I had to down-vote it with heavy heart. Promotion and reinvention of madness is not something this world needs more.

  2. I do not think she is idolizing any crazy self promotion. It's more a matter of becoming aware of the signs that you are showing to the world and the brand that this is creating. It's more a matter of accepting your particularities and make the best of it.

  3. Marko, its all an act anyway! Who you are isnt who you were yesterday, so why not free oneself from confines of the past and choose how you want to be, then be it! The word "brand" makes it sound like its about money, and I agree I don't like the word "brand" wrt creating myself, but create ourselves we do, if not consciously, then automatically=unconsciously… so why not be creative about it and create a personal "brand" (IE reputation, or the way people see you). Its not about being fake!

  4. Why not also free ourselves from confines of the future? Its even greater source of misery and anxiety for humans.
    Our obsession with ever-changing surface is safe way to madness.. of which majority of humanity already suffers. Socially accepted madness (real dysfunction not just word!).
    IMO, life begins when we stop deluding ourselves that we control or create anything. Its an important distinction who does it! Think about it before discarding hastily.
    What do you think after you think? 🙂

  5. Very interesting, and she strikes me as HIGHLY authentic, natural, HERSELF. If you accept that "who you are" is not a crusty, immovable, same-old-same-old person, then why not explore parts of you that have yet to see the light?

  6. Maybe it's not reinventing yourself, or your brand.  Maybe it's more about sharing yourself and your existing brand, thoughts, values, and ideas

  7. Simply branding yourself by going with whatever people say you say you are can be clouded by stereotypes others may have of you. This could be very harmful. Trust yourself more.

  8. It just feels odd to have sat here and listened to someone preach about being authentic all while delivering that message in such a disingenuous way … I wanted to "like" Dorie. I really did, but laying on that "false familiarity" too thick negates the purpose of the entire chummy, chummy, routine that's being used to "sell me" on the idea in the first place …
    Oh well … 🙁

  9. how can ou be an expert on rebranding yourself when you are still about 12 years old? Middle class private school thinking right there lol

  10. Great talk. We do need to trust our own intuitions of who we are. We still live in a place and time where it's more important to learn about what others think of us…unfortunately.

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