‘I just need to have a full-time role in [fill in the profession or industry] to see what it’s like and if it’s for me.’
One of my coaching clients dropped this statement this morning as he is navigating through a career pivot.
However, this is probably the worst way to go about it.
Because it’s risky and not necessarily in a good way.
My approach has (and will always be) risk-controlling as I know too well what it’s like to have financial commitments and that this can be intimidating to start with and often even the reason why people don’t start at all.
What I learned from my Brand and Product Management experience is that you don’t just launch something new because it’s exciting and you enjoy doing it. It’s also about making sure its commercially viable, sustainable, and has the potential to go bigger.
This is why I apply exactly the same principles to my coaching clients when it comes to their career; We don’t just launch into something because it looks and feels pretty exciting. We experiment, experience, and validate before we immerse as this is what puts you in the driver’s seat and in control - the best place to make decisions.
So how do we actually do it?
We have a look into where you actually want to be and what you want to achieve.
Whilst many say they don’t - often they are too scared of saying what they want because they don’t know how to get there yet. Hence, they don’t even start.
You can’t perfect what hasn’t been established yet so putting a goal out there that we are aiming towards is the first step. And yes - it might change over time but that’s good as you also evolve. But starting somewhere is already the biggest step.
Then we look into what we have already so we can create something bigger and better from there rather than reinventing the wheel:
What’s your Brand Archetype (unveils your values, motivations, subconscious beliefs and triggers)? You know when you choose A over B and have no idea why, even if B makes much more sense? It’s because you are drawn to the brand archetype that A stands for as you share the same values.
What’s your Personality type in terms of your strengths? If your Brand Archetype is a given - who you are based on your DNA - Personality type is the area you can proactively influence and work on by practising more.
The test we use is very broad and extremely specific at the same time. What does that mean? We see the tendency on how you approach tasks. You might be an inquisitor who questions everything so having a role that just follows a script is the wrong career choice. Or it might be that you are more an operator who enjoys putting pieces together and can make sense out of chaos.
What is your experience so far and what does it tell us?Same approach as we do in Marketing when we are about to launch a new product: What has worked in the past and why, and what can we learn from that? Too many people get stuck by focusing on what they don’t want and what didn’t work which puts them into an analysis paralysis state and keeps them where they are.
2.) Market research
We can think that we know it all and have the best ideas but it’s definitely worthwhile to get an outside perspective. So we also look into what others are saying about you and get a 360 degree feedback to get an understanding of how you portray yourself (consciously or subconsciously), and to see what they value in you.
We also look through the wider lens and see what the market or the industry does. There is no point in honing in to what’s hot now but has zero potentially tomorrow. It’s about being diligent and identifying why things work today and how that will apply tomorrow.
Now this is where it starts to become really exciting (and sooo scary at the same time).
This part is about assembling the first two stages:
Package your position based on your strengths, your motivators and values to get results and outcomes people value and will pay for.This is when we start putting the new positioning ‘out there’ to see what feedback we get and where we might need to tweak, adjust and potentially pivot again.
This is when we mention in conversation that we really want to get into xxx or we are so passionate about xxx that we will make it our profession. It can also be by volunteering, by doing some freelance work, by simply getting some kind of experience in the field we (think we) want to get into to get actual feedback from it. This is when we can validate our proposition and confirm the next stage:
Immersing yourself further to become and expert and expand in the industry to maximise earning potentials and the impact you can make.
This is where things become real and we commit to the position and make it ‘official’. By either taking on the role or by launching the business or by creating the course, whatever it may be that we have explored and validated in the first 3 steps.
This is where the marketing of your brand comes to play and all of your external assetscome to play - from your LinkedIn profile and website to your CV and words you use in interviews and conversations to your pitch, down to the way you dress. You have to embody the person with the position you want to be the expert in, even before you are.
Nobody wakes up knowing it all and having someone else giving us the permission to claim we are the expert in it. The minute you know more than others and you are able to impart value to them, you are on the path to become an expert, and even more so while you are practicing and experiencing it.
You are not labeled a professional athlete only when you get sponsored by a brand. You become a professional athlete when you commit to the training and the lifestyle that comes with being the professional athlete.
5.) Last but not least - it’s now time to expand
The more experience you have, the more comfortable and confident you feel and the more you desire to expand further. Expanding keeps us interested and excited, it’s in the continuous learning and growing.
Expansion might be in the form of sharing your experience through becoming an educator (in the traditional sense or in a corporate setting by becoming a trainer or speaker), it might be to set up your own practise as consultant, by investing in a company, partnering with a complementary offer…
Whatever it may be - this stage is about growing your position and maximising the impact you create on others, and leaving an even bigger footprint in your whole industry.
You see, it’s only the last 2 steps that is really visible to others. It might be the shiny and exciting bits but without the ground work from the first 3 steps, those last 2 will fail and will do so miserably.
Most of the products I developed on my 10 years in Brand and Product Marketing are still in shelfs or available to buy so my approach is all about being sustainable and profitable.
With some help, commitment, and an open mind, your career can go a long way. Can't wait to hear what's coming for you!