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Reinventing You by Dorie Clark

A roadmap to reinvent yourself faster and more easily. This book is about defining your goals, working hard and ethically to get there, and then making sure that people notice once you do. Here's my recap:

Ch 1. The New Branding Landscape

  • You want to ensure that others recognize the powerful contribution you can make.

  • Reinvention and overcoming past perceptions. Who do you want to be? And what do you need to do to get there? It's no longer possible to sit back and count on getting noticed for your hard work alone.

  • How are you staying relevant and competitive?

  • Make sure your connections understand exactly what skills you have and what services you offer.

  • Hone your narrative (what am I bringing to the table?), craft your content (so clients could get a taste of your ideas and approach) and begin using every vehicle possible from speaking to writing to enlisting validators to spread the message.

Ch 2. Recognize Where You Are Starting

  • You have to discover how you are currently perceived. What do people make of you? What do they really respect? And what's holding you back? Listen to what people in the outside world are telling you because they are probably right. There are 4 ways you can get a read on how other people perceive you:

  1. Hold a 360 interview. Talk with everyone in your sphere - your boss, peers, subordinates, clients, suppliers, friends, colleagues and family (up to 20 people who exemplify the interests, skills and values you desire). Set aside 20 minutes for an interview about your brand to see how you are perceived. You can also send an email. Try to elicit honest feedback (may have to cajole them) about you and your performance. You can ask a 3rd party to facilitate for anonymity. If you can't work with a 3rd party, create a list of questions that would be helpful such as What is my strength? What is not my strength? What career can you see me in? What career can you definitely not see me in? What are 3 words you would use to describe me? If you didn't already know what I do for a living, what would you guess? I'm trying to go from X to Y, what steps would you suggest for me? Who are some people who have some of the qualities I should be trying to build? What are my blind spots?

  2. Focus group with friends and colleagues (from different phases of your life/career). Leverage the benefit of a crowd (8‐10 attendees is ideal). Invite to your house, give snacks or a meal, limit to 90 minutes and ask 4 - 6 questions (My Greatest Gifts are, I Could See You ____, The World Would be a Better Place if You _____ and I will Help You by ____. You need a facilitator (a friend good at moderating) and a scribe/recorder (you). Be quiet and slip moderator notes if needed. At the end, ask attendees to write down 3 words to describe you, most important skill you should develop, etc.

  3. Examine your online presence. If you're too nice, you may be perceived as a little dumb or weak. What about your competence, organization, passion for success? Look for patterns - what adjectives are used? What skills do you have or lack? What aspects about you are most frequently talked about? What is unique or unusual?

  4. Seek out patterns in past performance evaluations or use letters of recommendation.

  • What words do you want people to link to you? I.e. decisive for leadership. Remember, if enough people perceive you a certain way, it's true.

Chapter 3 Research Your Destination

  • Keep a low profile until your brand is solidified. Uncertainty confuses people - you still need to come across in a way that inspires confidence and makes other people want to help you. Do not go out into the world lost.

  • Take a break to relax and get more focused.

  • Research people you admire and emulate them. Match their regiment for success.

  • Read to make sure you are conversant with the leading books in your field before you start networking with people. It will help you identify whether a field is the right field for you, master the terminology, pick up some antidotes and allow you to ask better informed questions of professionals you meet when talking about your goals.

To Do:

  • Make a list of people who are doing interesting things (from a neighbor to famous leaders)

  • Read their bios and articles online

  • Identify patterns (i.e. they're all Rotarians, marathon runners, etc)

  • Brainstorm a list of goals such as your own radio talk show, raising a million dollars for charity, being named partner…

  • Set up 4 Informational Interviews with people who are doing what you want to do. Friends of friends or alumni network.

    1. Be clear about what you're asking for. Have specific, targeted requests, not too open (i.e. marketing for food-related business). If you're looking at multiple careers or not sure what you want, make something up for now!

    2. Respect the fact that they are doing you a favor. Let them pick the date, time and location. Pay for his drink or meal. Don't take too much time or talk too much. " It has been 20 minutes and if you have more time, I have more questions. But if not, I want to respect your time"

    3. Ask the right questions. Describe your typical day? Or typical weak? What do you like most and least about your job? What does it take to be successful in this field? What is the average salary range at this level? I'm planning the following steps to obtaining a job in this field. Have I overlooked any strategy or resource you think might be helpful?

    4. Leave with other names. Ask if there are other people in the field they think I should connect with and would they be willing to make an introduction?

To Do:

  • Write down a positioning statement to share with others. "I'm exploring a transition from intellectual property law to entertainment law."

  • Spend an hour searching book titles and make a list of half a dozen books to read.

  • Make a list of 10 people you'll ask for an informational interview. Email 3 of them right now.

  • Make a list of 5 to 10 questions you intend to ask. What do you know now that you didn't know when you launched? Don't forget to ask personal questions of the individual.

  • Write thank you notes right away. A week or two later, offer value (article, etc). 4 - 6 weeks, let them know how you're using their advice. Send them interesting information on personal interests (i.e. Sports teams, vacation, comma charities, comma children, hobbies, restaurants, hometowns).

  • Also keep them updated on major milestones, updates on advice they gave you and relevant articles.

  • For cold-calling, look online to get as much info as possible, a phone number if possible. Call just before or after office hours. Call the COO secretary and ask for their best salesperson or marketing person. Then when you call them say the COO office recommended them and you read about them online. Ask for an appointment this month or next - 10 minute call or a lunch date.

Chapter 4 Test Drive Your Path

  • Apprenticing - send a letter "I love x and I'll take any position." Make it clear you'll work hard.

  • Volunteering - allows you to network with new people and build skills

  • Join a Board - non-profit to show skills, tey new ideas.

  • Campaign Volunteer

  • Job Shadowing - for a day. Vocation Vacations.

To Do:

  • Make a list of dream businesses you'd like to work for - see who knows them.

  • What values can you provide (i.e. skills anybody can do such as make phone calls to unique talents such as photography to improve visual brand).

  • Which opportunities above fit your life?

  • Calendar reaching out with a proposal to help.

  • How much time can you devote?

  • The juiciest volunteer/internship opportunities aren't usually advertised so approach them.

Chapter 5 Develop Skills You Need

  • Take advantage of having interesting people in front of you. Keep your day job and learn your side hustle, i.e. speaker hires speech coaches, take classes in comedy and storytelling, choreographer for physical movements on stage. Take your skills as a hair stylist to speak on products then move into business themes.

  • Go back to school when mandatory (specific technical skill, licensure). It's your demonstrated expertise - not your academic credentials - that count in the business world. You can often learn what you need and make connections through networking, volunteering or other inexpensive means, such as a blog.

  • Fill gaps in your knowledge using Mini-MBA programs or targeted classes on a particular skill (i.e. goal setting, sales, creative writing)

  • Put a QR code on your resume.

Chapter 6 Who's Your Mentor

  • Step 1: Who do you want to emulate? Don't assume your mentors have to be older or in the same industry. You can learn from the most unexpected sources.

  • Step 2: Good Fit. A good mentor should listen to a mentee and helping them figure out what they want for themselves rather than pushing their plan. Also need to make time for their mentee.

  • Step 3: The Right One. Formal (i.e. Women in Development) or informal mentorships. Ask for the mentorship and explain their role.

  • Step 4: Wisdom of Crowds. Masterminds - use who you think would have the most insight.

  • Step 5: What Can Your Mentor Teach You? I.e. how to organize tasks.

  • Step 6: Develop your own curriculum. Ensure frequent contact such as monthly meetings. Also also be prepared for your meetings by completing a syllabus. Ask your mentor to critique your work. Ask for advice on how to handle situations you are struggling with.

  • Step 7: Make it worthwhile for your mentor.

  • Step 8: Give back. Say thank you, mentor someone else, share your perspective, stay in touch.

Chapter 7 Leverage Your Points of Difference

  • What is unique about you and convey that memorably to others publicly? What makes you different?

  • Build on your transferable skills. I.e. A train guy buys an Airbnb by the train tracks and recognizes that his visitors are are looking to buy home. He gets his real estate license and specializes in selling and purchasing homes near rail trails. Took the clients on showings by bicycle.

  • Understand what you have that they don't. What skills or abilities do you have that are in short supply in your new field. Leverage your expertise in an outsider field in your new field. You can allay concerns about your components while intriguing others with your outsider perspective. It allows you to suggest new ideas and approaches and thinking about things in a new way. It's knowing enough to know what's going to make a difference and be helpful but you're able to think outside the box. Look at innovations from other industries.

  • Use your core identity to identify contributions only you can make. For example a psychologist with an MBA creating a global brand of Islamic superheroes.

  • When your appearance is the brand. It can be much harder to stand out. If you make your difference obvious, you're attracting attention to build a powerful brand. Your presumed weakness can then become your strength.

  • Make a list of things about yourself that most surprise people when you tell them.

  • Now write down your professional skills. List at least 2 proof points for each such as a story that demonstrates your expertise.

  • Mix and match your lists. As you think about your future goals, which align best? Which combinations are most interesting, surprising or memorable?

  • The perils of fixing your brand? Ask Jennifer Gray after her nose job. Nobody is interested in how you're the same as everyone else. Don't downplay your differences.

Chapter 8: Build Your Narrative

Now that you have identified the unique talent, skill and perspective that sets you apart it's time to craft a powerful story that explains it.

  1. Make the connections obvious with a narrative that makes sense and captivates others. For example, a 24-year-old in charge of eight $30 million Apache helicopters in the military plus the 30 people who manage them.

  2. Find your hidden, underlying themes. Even though the tools may be different the basics of creating whatever you're creating are the same.

One person didn't want to be known for just being an expert in one subject matter. To add to winning strategies and extend your brand, the transition should be understandable and palatable to readers. Your material should reflect the way you do certain things like deconstruct problems not because of the specific subject matter. Create a commonality in your brand such as a lifestyle designer making a leap from business to health.

Finally, explain that your change isn't simply a sign of narcissism. Everyone has passions and things they'd love to do. How do you get people to care? You have to explain it's not about you, it's about the value you bring.

Learn to ask good questions. That is the value that you bring to clients. They want results to know that the money time and effort they are investing will give them what they want.

  • Write down your explanation in 2 sentences about why you are making a transition. Highlight how you want to apply your skills to new domains or learn new things.

  • What's the value you bring? Write down 1 or 2 sentences identifying the unique knowledge or skills you have that others in your new domain might not know about.

  • Find your common thread between the old and new brands. How can you articulate that commonality?

  • Practice telling your story to close friends. Does it sound plausible? Responsible?

Don't go too far in trying to reinvent yourself or you risk looking fake. At that point you've lost all credibility. You you have to believe in yourself. Speak confidently about what you do and learn to talk about your profession. People will start to treat you as what you are.

The hardest gap to fill is how others used to perceive you and how you used to perceive yourself and how you'd like to be seen moving forward. Fake it until you make it. Pretend you are already where you want to be. People are not looking to nitpick who who you are so act confident and clearly embody the person you want to be.

Use props like the right outfit to affect your confidence. Your new role requires you to become who you want to be so dress the part. People will begin to see your hard work and understand the direction you are going as long as you make it explicit.


  • Others will tune out if they don't understand the rationale behind your transition. Find a way to make the connections obvious between your past experience and your future goal.

  • No one will care about or respect your rebrand if it seems like a way to "find yourself". Create a narrative that focuses on the value you can bring to others.

Chapter 9: Reintroduce Yourself

  • You have done a lot of work but it's easier for friends and colleagues to gloss that over and stick to the image of you they've always had. You need to ensure they understand that you've changed and grown and their concept of you needs to change as well.

  • There's a presumption that talented people have a set of generalized abilities. In other words, your status is portable and transferable. The secret is to leverage your past experiences and the confidence you have derived from your accomplishments. Assume that others will welcome your new contribution. Be positive, optimistic and clear that you are somebody who accomplishes things. The outside world only sees your actions, what you say and do. Be careful that you don't assume people see you as as you do in your head.

  • It takes a lot to break through the noise and you need to be hyper aware of what you're doing and make sure you're explicitly signaling what you're trying to build. Keep your online information, email signature, voicemail, LinkedIn profile, et cetera updated and relevant.

  • Use introductory letters, certificates on your wall, more info in email signature, website, etc.

  • Shift your behavior. For example, network and become a forward thinking, connected exec who understands industry trends. Be a connector.

To Do:

  • Make a list of 3 actions over the next month to enhance brand reintroduction (domain name, sign up to help with a project, read more industry news, network, etc.)

  • Create a pact with a wingman to promote each other and make introductions. One paid promoter will get an exec on the line and say "You've got to meet ____." Tell them why, cite a relatable success story, personal experience you've had to highlight how great s/he is.

  • Strategize your unveiling. How to grab attention. Brainstorm what affiliations or signs are most meaningful to your target. Projects, groups, headquarters not field offices, social media. Take on the "dirty work" to get noticed. What "currency" can you traffic that matters to the people you need to influence. The problem is there's too much information to digest. The value then is to curate information and find interesting facts that have been overlooked or combining pieces of data and finding meaning in them. This will help position you as an informational hub.

If you can be honest, vulnerable and authentic in your way of presenting yourself to the outside, that's a helpful tool for others to understand that everybody goes through difficult times. The more we create a divide between the public image and the private reality, the more we create dysfunction.

Chapter 10: Prove Your Worth

  • Building your portfolio: develop your own content is an essential strategy to showcase your knowledge and opinions; connect with interested parties and establish an expert reputation; let people judge you based on the quality of the material you produce not your past history or credentials.

  • Take your time to produce materials and find what content most interests customers. That will guide you to develop areas that people will click on. You will build a following and gain respect. You will then be able to expand into other areas.

  • You can use a blog or vlog (or both!) with regular consistent updates. Use SEO!! Google loves video so make sure to incorporate regularly. Podcasts: phone interview an interesting expert, monolog or record a speech you make. Use industry experts that are not always familiar to the general public because they are more accessible. Especially if they're in the midst of promoting a book. Quote people in your articles to make connections. Start making a list of who you want to connect with in your industry.

  • To promote your blog, offer to guest post on others blogs and affiliate with well known media outlets. Send a short, bullet point list of ideas to allow them to pick the topic most relevant to their readers. Include a link to your writing samples. Ensure your post is full of research, charts, data and expert information, not your opinion. Look for prominent media outlets and make a list of the publications that matter in your industry. Make sure you are persistent as editors are usually overwhelmed by would be contributors. The exposure is worth all the effort.

To Do:

  • Create a list of potential blog topics and keep it updated as new ideas occur.

  • Make a list of at least 5 publications that matter in your industry. Go online and look up the name and address of their online editor. Calendar to contact them in 3 months after you've built up a good set of clips from your own blog to approach them with a pitch.

  • Set aside a day per week to create your social media content. Add a mix of fun and education when you have something worthy to say.

  • Twitter: Be engaged and up to date but minimize your time on it. 1 - 2 posts per weekday. Give tips and insights, ask questions an retweet interesting material.

  • To ensure your brand spreads you can't rely on online methods alone. Get involved with your field's professional association. It helps you make connections with other practitioners and ensures you are staying on top of the latest thinking and best practices. If you're going to join a professional/volunteer association, it is imperative you take a leadership position.

  • Start your own group: an online community, other bloggers who can link to your posts, in person gathering where new and experienced people in your field can share their knowledge.

  • Speaking engagements allow you to interact with prospects in an expert capacity, enhanced credibility and leverage your content (turn your speech into a podcast, invite the news, or give a white paper to attendees. You may get paid. Work with a professional speakers bureau, eventually. Start with the Chamber, Rotary then regional or national trade association (read Million Dollar Speaking by Alan Weiss and get National Trafe and Professional Associations Directory). You can write an inquiry letter citing your credentials and the amazingly relevant talk you can give to their members But it is better to ask your existing contacts what associations and organizations they can introduce you to.

Chapter 11 Keep It Going

  • Start at point A and with the right planning and execution you will eventually end up at point B. It can take a few months to a few years to reinvent your personal brand. It is hard work but it is not a lifetime.

  • Set up a Google alert for yourself which will email you any time an article or blog post mentions your name. Make sure you thank them or immediately correct any negative or incorrect information.

To Do:

  • Make a list of your most with-it friends and colleagues. Reach out to 3 to 6 of them and ask if they'd like to get together periodically to trade ideas.

  • Making a public commitment helps get you moving in the right direction fast.

  • Do not be afraid to reevaluate the path. Sometimes our new direction may not be a fit. It is not easy to admit mistakes but doing so early on can save you a lot of trouble.

  • Be consistent. You want people to feel they understand who you are and where you are coming from not that you are an opportunist. Prove your values by living them out every day.


  • People are too busy paying attention to themselves to pay close attention to you. Left to chance, their impression of you will be haphazard.

  • We don't often see our own blind spots spots so it's important to start by bringing in trusted friends and colleagues to understand where you are starting and the unique gifts you possess.

  • Armed with this information, you can move into research mode starting behind the scenes with online research and reading books to ensure you're on the cusp of industry trends.

  • Next you will connect with people for informational interviews.

  • You should begin to get a clearer sense of which direction makes the most sense to you. Take opportunities to intern, volunteer volunteer or take on a new job to evaluate whether it's a good long term fit.

  • Find the right mentor.

  • Celebrate your differences and uniqueness and learn a compelling way to tell the story of that difference. It should engage others and allow them to make sense of your transition. Strategically apply your existing skills in a new way that adds value.

  • Enlist the help of validators to catch people's attention regarding your new brand.

  • Build a portfolio online and off to demonstrate your abilities. Ask others to read, share and comment. Build a reputation as a thought leader in your industry. You can take leadership roles in professional and volunteer associations as well as become a speaker at industry events.

  • Keep watching your reputation by monitoring what is being said about you online.

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