Today, I’m going to share a huge frustration I’ve been grappling with over the last couple of years since I closed The Zandl Group and started my new endeavor, The Opinionator. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has gone through this experience – especially if you happen to be in your 50’s, or God forbid, your 60’s.
SO WHAT’S BEEN AGITATING ME?
The struggle to explain clearly what my new gig is – the disparity between how I view what I’ve been doing versus how the world perceives it, is a mile wide. Let me show you:
How I view what I am doing:
- I’m doing a start up
- It’s consistent with what I’m passionate about and my skill set i.e. trends, what’s new, what’s next
- Indeed, because I am doing this without client constraints, my learning is richer and purer than any work I’ve done previously
- If I get this right, it will provide an incredible platform positioning me as a high profile advisor to companies – and Speaker – particularly on trends and how to navigate change
- I’m fortunate that I have the financial resources to build this start-up without having to compromise my vision
How others view what I am doing:
- How does she monetize this thing?
- Oh, it must be a hobby
- Oh, she’s retired (eye roll)
I’m finally tackling this annoyance head on, and taking full responsibility for getting myself in this pickle by sending out mixed messages for so long. No wonder people around me have been confused about whether I’m in or out, working or not. Yikes!!
But as of last Sunday, I am back! I climbed out of my rat hole to have an incredibly productive meeting with David Rosenberg, one of my most creative and strategic pals. He not only helped me drill down on the problem, he clarified my branding and helped me to articulate a compelling message about what the Opinionator is all about. Thank you David– you are a genius!
Big thanks also to all my friends who have put up with my endless whining and finally got me focused. And to Brad, who doesn’t show up often on this blog, for encouraging me to consider new language when describing what I do. Who knew Brad was reading a book by renowned naturalist, Edward O. Wilson, famous for saying: “Changing conditions require new words.”
Read on below for what I’ve learned.
SO WHAT HAVE I LEARNED?
- When planning a switch, get really clear about your message and your branding early on – because if you don’t, others will create something for you and it will probably NOT be to your liking (remember, nature abhors a vacuum). And this goes double, if you are making a change at a pivotal moment in your life, times when people might make assumptions about age, marriage, motherhood or retirement.
- Rebranding is hard work and it’s tricky, especially if you have achieved a lot on a certain stage and now want to get off and try something different. Expect people not to get what you’re doing. But value their skepticism because it will help you to define what you are about and it will test your resolve and the strength of your vision.
- Fascinating, interesting work is the most satisfying thing in the world. Having always had my own business, I am fortunate in being able to create a lifestyle where my work aligns with my passions. I know that sounds like a fantasy but it is doable. Surprisingly, HBR just published a major global study that finds the majority of people are unhappy and stressed out in their jobs- so perhaps most people can’t wait to chill out and never work another day in their lives. Definitely not my jam but to each his own.
- Change is coming at a much more rapid pace with technology driving most of it. The most dramatic changes are in how we work, how we shop, how we communicate and how we access information. Another major change to keep an eye on: 10,000 people a day turning 65.
- EVERYBODY is more adaptable and better prepared for change these days. Some people see it primarily as a threat but increasingly, people also seem to recognize that change represents opportunity. At the end of the day, most of us, still need a leg up when it comes to navigating change – so whether it’s a friend, or a business advisor or a great book, make sure you get someone to give you an assist on this amazing journey!