Book: Repurpose Your Career: A Practical Guide for the 2nd Half of Life
Author(s): Marc Miller with Susan Lahey
This is a short book.
I really like short books which are lean, quick to read and give a good return of information and ideas without a big time investment.
This is one of those books.
This book is aimed at people who are not in the first bloom of youth and are thinking of changing career.
The author is a refreshingly free thinker with some nice ideas and has succeeded in writing a tight, productive book with no waffle.
Short book – short review!
Some key learning and thoughts I took from this book:
People like to help
This is so true and is what I found in my own recent career explorations.
Most people are happy to meet, talk, help or connect you to someone else when they can – just ask!
(A shout out and thanks to my friends in TCD, Oracle and PWC on this front!).
Helping gives a feeling of power, a positive vibe and tends to be returned to you in multiples of what you put in.
Asking for AIR
If you’re looking for job in a particular company – either one advertised or on a speculative basis – looking for a meaningful connection there can be difficult.
You’ll often get no response or, best case, if your LinkedIn request is accepted, the connection is shallow and doesn’t really produce results.
The author’s alternate approach involves avoiding giving off the scent of “job hunter” by asking for AIR:
Identify who you want to connect to and ask them for 30 minutes of their time so you can ask their advice.
Its a bit of an unusual request, so will spark their curiosity and who isn’t flattered when asked for your advice?!
When you talk to them, ask for their insights.
It could be insights into the company, how it works, its culture, the industry etc, the main thing is that it is relevant.
People like to talk about what they know about!
Finally ask for their recommendations.
What should I do next? Do you think I am going the right way? Is there anyone else I should talk to? Is there someone in the company who you might be able to introduce me to?
Follow the path – you don’t know where it may lead you!
So, the big thing to remember here is that you are NOT asking for a job.
You are networking, building contacts, fostering goodwill and finding people who you may be able to contact in the future (or even help them out yourself!) If the subject of a job is brought up by them in the course of the conversation, grab the opportunity.
And the biggest tip for anyone looking to engage with other people in situations like this:
Listen. Only talk about yourself if asked – this is not about you!
Making stuff up. (Or Making Shit Up…we’re all adults!)
This is our mind’s habit of filling in the blanks when there are gaps in the story or scenario in front of us. Our desire is to have a complete story we can understand and analyse, so we add in plausible bits to fill in the holes.
If we can recognise when we are doing this, it helps avoid making assumptions, needlessly backing away or going in the wrong direction.
The author recommends a “stop, drop and roll” approach, borrowing apparently from the drill recommended if someone’s clothes catch fire.
This involves recognising when you’re MSU-ing, acknowledging that you don’t know everything, taking a deep breath and then either finding out the full facts or accepting that you don’t know everything.
All sounds good, but I still think there may be a place for MSU-ing. Sometimes you can’t get the full facts, and the best you can do is slot in the most likely facts and work on that basis, aware that you might have them wrong.
We all get that little voice in our head talking about things, often negatively.
Research shows that 70% of self-talk is negative, putting us off doing things, raising barriers, detailing all the bad things which could happen if we do it.
One well-known tip is to give your voice – or voices? – a character name. Something like “The Doubter” or “Willie Wonty” or whatever works for you and maybe even have a mental picture of what they look like.
When they pop up and start talking, it will be much easier for you to spot them, tell them to shut up and get on with what you need to do!
Write your own label
The concept of a personal brand is well known and something a lot of people in regular roles seem to be trying out, with varying degrees of success.
The author succinctly defines the aim as telling people in a few words what your big value add is and doing it in a memorable way. He suggests a few good ways of coming up with something strong: brainstorming, asking friends, thinking in terms of unusual questions (“What animal would I be?”) to spark ideas.
It isn’t easy.
I’ve had a few tries at it and nothing great so far. But I’ll keep at it.
I really liked one of the quoted examples in the book – “I am the confluence of business and art” – for some reason!
A moment of clarity
Although it is only deal with briefly in the book, this thought stayed with me and is quite powerful.
The moment of clarity is when something major happens – a life event, a birth, a death, something unexpected, a eureka! – and suddenly everything changes.
You can see everything clearly, differently, in perspective and you suddenly know what you need to do!
The author suggests looking back on events like these in your life in detail. How did they come about? Where did they lead? What did you learn from them? Looking for patterns and learnings from them.
For me, the really interesting thought is whether it is possible to find these moments ourselves, without waiting for life to throw them up?
Could we maybe create “low fat” versions of these full-on moments of clarity through coaching?