SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

May 1, 2013

Author teaches you how to reinvent yourself

BY ETHAN FORMAN
STAFF WRITER

---- — SALEM — Author and marketing strategy consultant Dorie Clark got a hard lesson in rebranding herself when she was laid off from her job as a cub political reporter at the former Boston Phoenix on Sept. 10, 2001.

The next day, she was watching CNN as the terror attacks of 9/11 unfolded, sending the economy into a spiral and the world into uncertainty.

“I had to figure out how to make a living, and what was next,” she writes in her just-released book, “Reinventing You: Define Your Brand, Imagine Your Future” (Harvard Business Review Press, 2013).

Clark, a Harvard Business Review author and branding expert, will take her message of professional reinvention to the Enterprise Center at Salem State University tomorrow in a free workshop. It is her second time presenting at the center, for which she has also done consulting work.

Her work with the center stems from meeting its executive director, Christine Sullivan, during a Renaissance Weekend retreat a few years ago. Such invitation-only weekends are designed to build bridges among diverse leaders in various fields.

Clark, a 34-year-old Somerville resident who grew up in North Carolina, had no such road map to personal reinvention that her book offers. She came to New England to attend Smith College in Northampton, and later, she went to Harvard Divinity School.

After being laid off as a reporter, she became a freelancer, frozen out of a staff job as the Internet cut into the newspaper business.

“I realized I needed to come up with a plan B,” Clark said.

By chance, in 2002, she took a job as press secretary for former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich as he ran for Massachusetts governor. Reich didn’t win. And a presidential candidate for whom she was a press secretary never made it out of the primaries. She later ran a nonprofit advocacy group but instead of staying on that career path, she opened her own marketing consulting business.

“I muddled through my reinvention, and along the way, I was able to land some exciting jobs,” Clark said.

During her career, she heard a lot of tales of reinvention like her own. She also says in her book that as someone helping to rebrand companies, she had to make sure she has her personal brand and narrative in order.

“This book is the combination of lessons I’ve learned,” she said.

These are tales from dozens of professionals who have reinvented themselves along the way. For some, just improving how they dressed allowed others to appreciate their personal brand, Clark said. Given that people no longer stay at one job for long nowadays, Clark said, “most people will have to reinvent themselves sometime in their life.”

The problem for many people stuck in their careers is they don’t think strategically, they just look for the next opportunity to come along. It’s best to go for the brass ring now instead of later.

“Oftentimes, we don’t think big enough,” Clark said.

The book sprang from a blog post in November 2010 called “How to reinvent your personal brand.” She got a lot of positive feedback from it and fleshed it out for the Harvard Business Review. She was then approached to write a book along the same lines. She found that many professionals wanted to talk about their rebranding experience.

“When you’ve done a successful professional reinvention and it’s in your past, then it’s something people are happy to talk to about,” Clark said.

People are more hesitant to talk about how they are perceived, their personal brand, she said.

“Everyone has a personal brand. It’s just another word for your reputation,” Clark said.

Staff writer Ethan Forman can be reached at 978-338-2673, by email at eforman@salemnews.com or on Twitter at @DanverSalemNews.

IF YOU GO What: Author Dorie Clark presents a free workshop, "Define Your Personal Brand! Imagine Your Future!" When: 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. tomorrow Where: Enterprise Center at Salem State University, 121 Loring Ave. To register: Visit http://enterprisectr.org/workshops/3418/ or call 978-542-7528.