“It’s important in life – as you get older – not to do the same thing your entire life. It’s hard to know when to get off the stage you know, and find a new one….”
Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman Alphabet Inc. (interview with Charlie Rose)
This quote resonated so strongly with me last week that I was compelled to really think about what made it so relevant. In mulling it over, I knew it would make a good blog topic because surely others are going through the same thing I recently experienced in transitioning from one line of work to another.
Here’s what makes this quote so relevant for me:
1. I shuttered my company, The Zandl Group – while it was still a functioning, profit-producing entity because I needed a new stage
Everyone who knows me, knows how much Zandl Group meant to me. Everything about my life – friends, clients, travel, fun – was wrapped up with that company. I’m happy to report that I have never had a single regret about moving on. It had run its course. I was bored. I could have kept it going but my heart was not in it. As Eric Schmidt says: It is important not to keep doing the same thing your entire life.
Making the decision to move on was easy, explaining to people what I was planning to do next, was hard! Fortunately, I am a major planner and had spent months preparing for this outcome. I knew that to move successfully from a career that was so integral to my self-worth, I needed to invest the time to really understand what this level of change entailed – on multiple levels!
The best advice I can give anybody considering such a major move:
- Recognize that you will need to communicate your repositioning/rebranding to the people around you.
- If you don’t, they will do it for you e.g. what I found most exasperating was fielding questions about retirement. NOOOO, that’s not what this was about.
My prep for making this change of careers entailed:
- Months of online research on all aspects of personal reinvention – everything from how it impacts your mental state to the kinds of questions you’ll invariably be asked.
- I took copious notes and tried out different explanations for what I was doing – on many different people to get a real sense of what people were hearing (despite what I said).
- Eventually you learn what works for you and most importantly, what feels and sounds authentically you.
Read on below for what came next.
2. Starting my blog
I launched Zandlicious, covering what’s cool, trends, pet peeves and I quickly learned that I loved blogging and loved having a voice. It’s very gratifying to have people refer to the blog for restaurant recommendations, travel destinations, trends in retail, marketing, tech etc.
But, quite frankly, my blog was all over the place. What I discovered is that the most popular blogs are about a single subject, so I knew what I was doing was going against the grain – and success would be very limited.
In August of this year, I took steps to remedy this problem. I changed the name to the opinionator and relaunched, this time with a clearer vision. It’s still not focused on only one topic but now it covers trends at the intersection of business, design, media and culture. Additionally, posts are on a schedule that reflects how people engage with the blog e.g. business topics Monday thru Thursday, restaurants and food on Friday and culture and other personal topics on the weekend. Readership and engagement are both way up – it’s a minor success but I am beyond delighted.
3. To monetize – or NOT.
The most frequent question I get about the blog is how I monetize it.
Ugh!! I am self-monetized – I’m not looking for banner ads (which I get weekly requests for) . What I have not figured out is how to respond to this question without leaving the impression that the blog is a hobby. It is indeed a labor of love but it also serves as a platform to raise my profile in the consulting world.
This one issue is still very much unresolved – it really aggrieves me that the opinionator would be dismissed as a folly.
Yes, I have not yet figured out the proper response to the monetization question but, I am so happy to be on my new stage – not yet as comfortable as I was at the Zandl Group but definitely getting the hang of it.
Bottom line: being the Opinionator is exhilarating. I am meeting fascinating people at the forefront of many different industries. The blog is opening new doors for me and I am gratified and excited about how this next chapter is unfolding for me.