In mijn interviews onderzoek ik wat obsoletie nou echt betekent voor de dagelijkse praktijk. Obsoletie betekent veroudering van menselijk kapitaal. Zoals machines kunnen verouderen, zo kan dit ook bij mensen.

Er zijn een aantal verschillende vormen van obsoletie:

  • Technische obsoletie: fysieke en geestelijke slijtage en vermogens die je kwijtraakt als je ze niet gebruikt. Slijtage is een onomkeerbaar proces maar wordt versneld door overbelasting.
  • Economische obsoletie: je kennis en vaardigheden verouderen of raken raken overbodig. Maar ook functies en banen die verdwijnen door technologische ontwikkelingen.
  • Perspectivische obsoletie: je opvattingen ten aanzien van de ontwikkelingen in je werk raken verouderd. Mensen vinden je ouderwets en nemen je daardoor niet serieus. Vaak verlaten deze mensen teleurgesteld de arbeidsmarkt.

In deze podcast interview ik Dorie Clark, schrijfster van het boek Reinventing You. Dorie is o.a. schrijver, spreker, professor, entrepreneur. Ze schrijft artikelen voor Harvard Business Review en Forbes Magazine. En Dorie heeft met grote bedrijven gewerkt zoals Google en FedEx.

Dorie helpt mensen bij het heruitvinden en succesvol ondernemerschap. Dit doet ze op een hele praktische en bevlogen manier. Ze put uit eigen ervaringen. Dorie werd namelijk door ontslag gedwongen zichzelf te heruitvinden. Sindsdien heeft ze dit meerdere keren gedaan.

We bespreken vandaag het belang van jezelf blijven heruitvinden om daarmee te voorkomen dat je obsoleet raakt. Dorie vertelt dat dit helemaal niet zo groots en spannend hoef te zijn en geeft jou waardevolle tips, zodat ook jij dit kunt.

Reinventing yourself can be empowering if you look at it the right way and if you choose to do it actually can be a really exciting and invigorating process.” -vertelt Dorie.

Veel plezier met het luisteren naar de podcast. Hieronder kun je het interview ook lezen. Wil je de gratis self-assessment van Dorie doen? Dat kan via deze link.

Interview Dorie Clark

Angela: Dorie, it’s so nice to speak with you about your books and about the subject of obsolescence. Can you give a short introduction of who you are and what you do?

Dorie: absolutely and thank you so much for having me. My name is Dorie Clark and I’m a adjunct professor of business administration Fuqua School of Business at Duke University. I write a lot of books and speak and do Consulting around the topics of professional reinvention and personal branding. And really trying to help individual professionals figure out in a rapidly changing Workforce and socio-political environment how we can stay relevant and build the kind of careers that that we want and as an extension to the lives that we want.

Angela: And how did you start? What’s your story?

Dorie: The concept of reinvention inadvertently because early in my career I got laid off from my job as a newspaper reporter. I suddenly was faced with the fact that this career path that I thought I wanted to do was not really available to me. I mean, sometimes we might think well, you just get another job but the newspaper industry was collapsing and it was very difficult to get another newspaper job. And so I had to find a plan B for myself. Through that process of reinvention led me to a lot of different careers. 

I worked in politics for a while and ran a non-profit. Eventually. I became an entrepreneur. That helped me understand at it kind of amor mehta level the process of reinvention ultimately leading to my first book Reinventing you which was inspired by my story. But really the core of it was the interviews that I did with several dozen professionals who had successfully reinvented themselves to try to extrapolate out. The kind of big-picture process the steps that people can take so hopefully our readers there reinvention process can be a lot easier and more seamless than mine was when I felt like I was kind of groping in the dark.

Angela: the first time that you reinvented yourself? What was the first step that you took?

Dorie: Well I think in many ways the first step was being willing to shift my identity and it’s kind of a philosophical statement. I mean, of course, there’s tactical things that we need to do in terms of reaching out and emailing people and networking and things like that. But I was holding on for a long time to the idea of myself as a journalist. That was who I was. That was what I wanted to do. And if I had stayed with that and said “no, this is it. This is only thing I’m willing to do.” I would have probably ridden that train into obsolescence. So instead I needed to learn to think of myself in a new way and understand that my skills were actually transferable. 

Originally, I was offered a job as a release a chance to interview. I ultimately did get the job of being a spokesperson for a political candidate. And originally, I said no. Because well you know, that’s not what I do. I’m a journalist. But I thought about it and I realized that it actually would be a cool opportunity. It’s a different way to use my existing skills. Why don’t I give that a try and that was really the first step of reinvention.

Angela: So letting go of your identity but using your skills in a different way to get to new opportunities. How was that for you?

Dorie: It was it was a little bit scary at first sight. Now the borders between journalism and politics are a little bit more permeable. You see people going back and forth between them, but at the time, you know, which wasn’t even that long ago in a twenty years ago. They were very sacrosanct. And so my choosing to leave journalism and go into politics was essentially saying goodbye to journalism. It wasn’t like if it didn’t work. I could just go back. I was kind of marking myself as a partisan and therefore I was definitely closing off opportunities for myself. 

But we talk sometimes in the business world when it comes to change management about a burning platform. People don’t necessarily really want to change but if you if you recognize that you have to change. If you’re on a pier or a platform and it’s burning well, okay jumping into the ocean. Might not be ideal but it’s a lot better option. Ultimately with time with perspective and especially with writing my book Reinventing You I came to understand that while reinvention initially for me was something that I didn’t really want and didn’t really seek out. It can be empowering if you look at it the right way and if you choose to do it actually can be a really exciting and invigorating process.

Angela: So eventually you won’t need a burning platform to reinvent yourself. That’s actually your goal. Yeah, that sounds like a really good thing to do. But a lot of people find that very hard to do. They actually need the burning platform to make a choice. So what advice do you have for those people?

Dorie: I mean certainly I understand. I’ve been there. No shame in that. I would still be doing journalism if I hadn’t been laid off from it. But I think that one of the distinctions that I draw and that I talked about in Reinventing you is the difference between what I call lowercase R reinvention and capital R reinvention. The capital R reinvention is what we often think of. It’s a very dramatic change. You suddenly lose your job or are you suddenly have an epiphany and you make a big shift in your professional life. And of course, that’s exciting but frankly, it’s mostly scary. You’re making a very big move it’s often into something that you know very little about. And so there’s a lot of uncertainty. Certainly, financial.

But also even just: how’s it going to be? Are you going to really like it? Is it going to live up to the expectations that you have? That can be fun. But if you want to try to derisk the Enterprise. Which a lot of mid-career and later-career professionals probably do, honestly. The closer you get to retirement age the less risk you want to take on financially. A better thing to do is what I call lowercase R reinvention. And that is having a mindset of reinvention.

So that it’s not that every ten or twenty years, you’re taking some huge massive leap. But instead on an ongoing basis. You are doing small incremental changes or small incremental growth. So that over time the benefits of that accrue and when it gets to be that ten or twenty year inflection point. And when you began to say well maybe I should be doing something a little different or oh, wow. My job has really changed. You will have equipped yourself with the skills that you need to be able to move forward. 

Practical example for instance. Over the holidays I spent time, multiple hours, training myself on a new software. Now it was not necessarily a fun process. Nobody is really like: “Oh, yeah, I am going to spend my holidays learning a new software.” But I’m happy that I know how to use it now. And it’s going to make my life a lot easier. Because you could choose to spend a few hours doing that or you could wait two years or five years and then all of a sudden everybody shifted to this new software. You haven’t learned it. You’re behind and it actually becomes a crisis. Because all of a sudden they’re cutting off the supply of your old software you used.  And oh my gosh, you don’t know what to do. And so just a little bit of prior planning can really head off a lot of problems and make you much nimbler with a lot more options

Angela: And how could older professionals adapt? Because there are a lot of stereotypical thoughts. Like they’re not able to make any changes or not able to learn any new things. What’s your opinion on that and how could they adapt to that?

Dorie: I think number one stereotypes exist in some ways for a reason. Which is that they’re there certainly are plenty of older people that say “no, no, I’m not going to do that. Oh, the internet who needs that”. But the critical thing is that it actually enables you. If you are an older worker who does not want to be like that. If you’re someone who is committed to really saying:” no, I’m not I’m not just going to check out and go play golf. I want to do this”. That actually sets you apart. Of course people at any age can learn anything. I mean all of the cognitive science research in the past three decades has shown that these past attitudes about you know, your brain cells just die off and we’re going nowhere just you know, we’re not able to do it. It’s completely wrong. You are regenerating new neurons every phase of your life.

Older people can learn anything that they want to learn. They just have to have the willingness to put in the time to be able to do it. So the real question is if you are an older professional. How do you actually convince people that you are willing and able to do it? How do you build your brand as someone who is committed to keeping up and keeping ahead of the curve? So that you don’t get stereotyped into a corner and people say: “she couldn’t do that. So, let’s give the job to somebody else”.

What I would recommend for an older professional. I have actually written about this for the Harvard Business Review, I did a blogpost on How to reinvent yourself over age fifty. One of the things that I talked about, that I think is important, is the idea of almost over indexing on demonstrating your desire to dive in. And you in your aptitude for and your commitment to learning new things. What I mean by that is that it’s sort of assumed that if you’re twenty-five years old, that you know all the new technology and you don’t have to try that hard to convince people. The stereotype in that sense is working in their favor. They have other stereotypes working against them. People might think they have not so great judgment. But when it comes to technology people are like:” she probably gets Snapchat”.

But if you’re older then it works the other way. People probably assume you have good judgment. You have a good gravitas, but when it comes to his let’s say technology. They might assume you’re not that great. I think it’s very important for you more than you might imagine, to actually start telling your story and talking proactively about it. For instance, you could be the person to say: “oh, hey, you know, how did you spend your holiday?” “Oh, I was just learning a new software.”Or you could say things to people you can be like: “hey, what’s your Instagram handle? Let me follow you there.” Like what you’re on Instagram?! You want to surprise people that gets them to view you in a new way.

Angela: The other thing that I loved in your article was when you said you’re overqualified qualified own it! That are great tips for the older professionals. What other advice do you have for professionals that want to make the next step into Reinventing themselves. To actually go and just do that. To convince them to do it.

Dorie: I think that one of the things that often happens is that we often allow ourselves to be limited by the line items on our resume. Meaning the rest of the world sees it that you went to law school and then you were a lawyer and then you studied more law. Oh look, I guess you can be a lawyer and they assume that’s it. And the trouble is when we also internalized that and say:” oh, I guess that’s all I’m qualified for. I guess it’s all I could ever do.” Then unfortunately, if the choice is in your head: “Oh, I guess I could do this thing.” That you build up a lot of stature and seniority and financial success and I can keep doing that. Even if I don’t really like it. Or even if it seems like maybe it’s going to be obsolete. Or if you think the only choice is either to do that or to start from zero. I have to go back to being an intern and making $10 an hour. Well, obviously the push is to keep doing the thing that’s been successful. Even if you feel like eventually it’s going to just drive off a cliff or you’re going to go crazy doing it.

Because nobody wants to throw away twenty years of their life or thirty years of their life and start from zero. I think the most important thing to remember is that you are not starting from zero as a professional. Number one: You have not just been doing the name of the job that you’re doing you have been building skills and those skills are transferable. Now you have to be able to tell the story of how those skills are transferable so that other people will get it they won’t necessarily into it. But if you’ve been a lawyer for instance. You probably gotten pretty good at research, you probably gotten pretty good at public speaking. You probably gotten pretty good at client relationship and n business development. 

Those are all things that you could apply in a new job. If you can learn how to tell the story about that. That’s very powerful. Most especially if you are professional in your late forties or fifties or sixties, even your seven-tees. Guess what, you’ve probably built a pretty good network for yourself. Certainly a lot better than you had, or that a kid today, has when you’re twenty-two years old and coming out of college. And if you are assiduous about it, you can reach out to those people they can be sources to. Job leads, client leads. They might even end up hiring you for things. So it’s a real advantage that you can tap. So that you’re not really starting from zero and hopefully that might make it feel a little les scary.

Angela: How do you tell your story? Because when we think of branding when we think of telling a story. The first thought is well, I don’t want to tell a story that’s not me. How can we tell our story?

Dorie: So I think this is what I talk about in my book Reinventing you. One of the key things when it comes to telling the narrative is, for any story, there’s kind of a beginning middle and end. And most people are pretty good at their beginning. Where they say: “Okay, here’s what I’ve been doing. Here is the starting point.” Some of them are pretty good at saying what the end destination is. “Oh, well, I’d like to do this thing.” That’s great. But if you somehow forget the middle. If you don’t connect the dots it’s a problem.

Because you were expecting the listener to intuitively say, okay you started here, and you want to go here. “Wait, you were a lawyer and you want to be a zookeeper? Now you want to run a ballet company? How does that fit?” The other person is just not going to invest the time or the energy to really think about that. They’re going to be, alright whatever and move on. What we have to do is to collectively get better at explaining that middle piece. Which specifically is: how does your past connect to your desired future?

If you can learn to do that. To say :”I’ve been a lawyer for the past twenty years. I was honing my business development and my public speaking skills. And so my goal moving forward, is to get this job as the executive director of the ballet. Because I know that fundraising is one of the key skills. And in order to do that, you have to be able to build strong relationships with donors and be an effective spokesperson for the ballet company. And I know I could do that.” When you tell the story like that. All of a sudden: “Oh, okay, that makes sense.” And that person will now be able to be an ally that can help you.

Angela: So, it’s very important to tell your own story and connect the dots. Most people know the beginning and the end, but they forget about the middle part. Focus on that, know what you want and than tell your story. Use your network. And Rebranding and Reinventing yourself could be a big scary thing. But if you take little baby steps. Everyone can do it. Everyone can learn new things and reinvent themselves. That’s what you’re saying.

Dorie: Absolutely

Angela: Thank you very much for this interview and I’ll make sure that everybody in the Netherlands will buy your book

Dorie: Actually, I would love it if the whole country would buy my book. I’m in favor of that. And I also want to mention too that for anyone that’s interested. I have a free resource related to reinvention. It is the Reinventing you self-assessment. It’s a short self-assessment that people can go through. It helps them think through their own reinvention. And if anyone would like to get that for free, they can grab it on my website, which is

Angela: I’ll make sure that the link will be on my website as well. Thank you very much.

Dorie: Thank you so much. It was great to speak with you

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