My thoughts and prayers go out to the victims of Hurricane Sandy. This catastrophic event sent shock waves across the country; she threatened the stability of our lives and underscored how little control we really have at certain times in our lives. With billions of dollars in property loss and the death toll having climbed to over 110 people, it seems there is little positive we say about the situation. A few reasonable responses could be to send charity to organizations offering relief, offer housing to those without power or who have lost their home and give emotional support to those we know who are still suffering from the storm’s aftermath.
Surprisingly, economists see a silver lining to the destruction; they say we can improve our cities and their infrastructure to protect against tomorrow’s potential threats and devastation. Other experts consider the storm a huge wake-up call if you will for our governing bodies to create safer subways (inflatable plugs were proposed as one method that might have minimized the NYC Subway flooding). In response to the long power outages, several experts said that America’s power infrastructure could be more resilient — even when tested by a once-in-a-century storm. “The message from Sandy is that it has to be stronger,” said James Hoecker, a lawyer who led the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission under President Bill Clinton. Experts suggested various adjustments, such as underground cables, Smart-Grid technology and tree trimming to make future outages end sooner.
Creative destruction works for economies too. And boy, are we seeing destruction in the economy today. All of these potential solutions cost money and would require more manpower thereby stimulating economic activity. If we review how innovation in our society occurs it’s interesting (although disturbing) to note that it typically comes after destruction in the wake of despair when people are stretched to their breaking point.
When the pressure is that intense you have only two choices; either put your head in the sand and hope the status quo will continue (fat chance) or start your creative engines; reexamine the old ways and do something adults hate doing: embrace change. Economies, businesses and cities are not the only entities that can benefit from creative destruction; individuals can reinvent themselves and their personal brand by applying these same principles.
As Tyler Cowen, a professor of economics at George Mason University wrote;
Culture is, and has always been, a process of creative destruction.
We might wish for the creativity without the destruction, but in this world we don’t have that choice. Visionary empire builders like Carnegie and Rockefeller created fantastic conglomerates that made huge fortunes for investors. We also saw how these businesses were ultimately subject to what economic historian Jo Schumpeter terms “creative destruction.” This is the idea that competitors who find innovative new ideas will ultimately destroy those that dominated an industry in the past.
What To Do When Your Brand Isn’t Working?
You can apply the principles of creative destruction to your personal brand and reinvent yourself completely when the status quo isn’t working for you. First of all, don’t wait till there’s a crisis; you can modify your plan when things are going well to stay ahead of your competition. Stay alert to new opportunities, be flexible and when you make mistakes…use it as an opportunity to shift gears. Be open to learn and grow from your mistakes. Avoid complacency and take risks! Develop your network through involvement in professional, social, philanthropic and alumni associations. Update your LinkedIn profile and connect to colleagues who are top experts in your field. Offer valuable content such as articles for a blog to build your reputation as an expert and help build that person’s brand.
Consider the Two Most Important Things Companies Do in Reinventing Themselves That Can Apply to Your Personal Brand.
1. Remain Flexible: Companies and individuals will need to be malleable and ready to move in order to survive. That may mean physical mobility – like the ability to move production to wherever it’s most cost-effective. It could be wages, taxes, or a whole host of factors at play. You may need to retrain, refresh your skills, and move to a new location in order to achieve your most ambitious career goals.
2: Embrace Change: The smaller the business, the quicker it is off the mark, and the more likely it is to be innovative. If you find that you have chosen the wrong path (either because it doesn’t suit your abilities or there is no demand for the expertise in this area) don’t hang on because you fear change or consider a change in your direction a defeat! Ask career counselors at Universities you’re applying to (or the one you currently attend) how the school’s curriculums are keeping up with industry demands. Like a small company, you too can adjust your goals and your game plan if you discover that the courses you’re taking and your major isn’t preparing you for a marketable position after college. See the OCC handbook for more information on hot careers for the next decade http://www.bls.gov/ooh/.
Rober Kriegel in his book If It Aint’t Broke…Break It! Asserts that the rules for change in the world are like surfing. Passion rules. The best surfers (like the most resilient companies) don’t spend a lot of time on the beach, talking about surfing. They love the water and no matter how rough or calm it is, they are out there looking for a wave. They are totally committed, body, mind, and spirit. Good surfers, like top performers everywhere, are constantly pushing their limits. They expect to fall but the focus is to get back in the water and ride the waves. Develop new more adaptive skills, hone your techniques and remain adaptable to the changing surf.
Combining skill and preparation with boldness and daring, surfers’ model behavior needed to thrive in today’s turbulent economy; they are continually trying new moves and going for the bigger waves and longer rides. Knowing that no two waves are ever the same, they try to ride each one a little differently. Staying ahead of a wave demands taking risks and constantly challenging yourself and those around you. Finally, good surfers expect to wipe out and they embrace the risks of the sport. Similarly, good students and job candidates accept that changing their major and/or their career direction is not a failure but sometimes a necessary step to achieving their ultimate career goals; reshaping your personal brand for success sometimes requires a setback, fall or even a complete makeover to rebuild yourself for optimal success!
Beth is Founder and President of Get Hired, LLC. She advises students on how to bridge the gap from school to career. Beth is the co-author of From Diploma to Dream Job: Five Overlooked Steps to a Successful Career (available on Amazon http://www.amazon.com/dp/1461087082) Her coaching assists students to successfully match their needs, interests, passions, skills, and personal goals with the needs of a sustainable industry in a sustainable location. Beth is also a resource for print and online media and offers workshops for University Career Service Departments, Executive Recruiters, Outplacement Services, College Guidance Counselors and College Alumni Associations. See website for more details about Beth’s services www.fromdiploma2dreamjob.com You can follow Beth on twitter @BethKuhel