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  • My Personal Branding Story Part 5: Becoming a Renaissance Worker

    This is the fifth of ten posts where we follow Marcos Salazar’s personal branding journey, as he uses the concepts and four-step process outlined in Me 2.0 for his own career.

    In my last post, I introduced the concept of a Renaissance Worker and how I came to see this term as a way to unify all of my skills, passions, and work experiences into a personal brand. It was an idea I had been thinking about for months, but during the discover phase of my personal branding journey I realized that it really encapsulated the career adventurist in me. In addition, the brand just felt right.

    I have always been the type of person who loves learning from a wide array of fields, and I have made the conscious effort since college to develop skills from a diverse set of disciplines. This mindset has been at the heart of almost all my career decisions and I have seen many, many benefits of approaching my professional life in this way.

    However, I am by far not the only person who has adopted the Renaissance Worker mindset. More importantly, I believe that developing a Renaissance Worker mindset will need to become an essential part of any personal brand if you want to succeed in the working world of the 21st century.

    Twenty-First Century Renaissance Workers

    BonoWhat do Bono, Diddy, and Tim Ferriss have in common? They are all modern day Renaissance Workers.

    Diddy, for example, owns Bad Boy Records, has his own clothing line Sean John, has a movie production company, and owns two restaurants. He has also taken the roles of recording executive, performer, producer of MTV’s Making the Band, writer, arranger, clothing designer, and Broadway actor.

    Bono is a rock superstar, but he is also a dedicated humanitarian as well as owner of Dublin’s five star Clarence Hotel, on the board of the Elevation Partners private-equity firm, has invested in the Forbes Media group in the US through Elevation Partners, and been in multiple movies.

    Tim Ferriss is a bestselling author and much sought after speaker, but he has also amassed a diverse (and often odd) roster of credentials. He has been a Princeton University guest lecturer, the first American in history to hold a Guinness World Record in tango, a National Chinese kickboxing champion, and was named Wired Magazine’s “Greatest Self-Promoter of 2008.”

    While these are examples of individuals at the far end of the Renaissance Worker success spectrum, Diddy, Bono, and Ferriss demonstrate how you don’t have to stay in a single niche anymore. Today, you are able to diversify your professional life and succeed in many areas that don’t always seem to relate to each other.

    Gen Y and Millennials – Renaissance Workers in the making

    What I have discovered on my personal branding journey is that my generation (Gen Y) and Millennials are all adopting the Renaissance Worker concept – both out of choice as well as necessity.

    Liberal ArtsIn many ways, the foundation for becoming a Renaissance Worker was laid out for us by our educational system. Most students are required to take liberal arts classes where they learn about topics unrelated to their major (sadly, colleges still don’t do a good job of helping students see how the knowledge and skills they learn in one field could be beneficial other fields as well as in the potential career paths they may take after graduation).

    In addition, there has never been a time where we have access to so much knowledge, are able to use so many tools to express our creative potentialities, and are not penalized when we jump from job to job. Today’s working world is perfectly set up to become a Renaissance Worker.

    Our generation has also come to see that work is no longer designed for someone who is going to stay in one job, or even profession, for 30 years. These jobs are vanishing each day therefore, we are all forced to constantly seek out new knowledge and develop new skills just to survive.

    The benefits of diversifying your professional life

    diversify-iOn March 12, 2009, Bernard Madoff pled guilty to 11 felonies and admitted to operating what has been called the largest investor fraud ever committed by an individual. Prosecutors estimate that his 4,800 clients lost over $64.8 billion.

    Now, what does Bernard Madoff have to do with being a Renaissance Worker and personal branding? Three words: Diversify, Diversify, Diversify! Many of the people Madoff defrauded lost virtually everything because they decided to put all their money into one single investment. Then when things went bad, poof – all their money was gone!

    Today, we are told to diversify our investments and this is why people buy mutual funds instead of putting all their money into one stock. Sure, sometimes a single stock can pay off short-term, but in the long run this strategy could be extremely risky and potentially catastrophic. So when it comes to the career investment game, doesn’t it make sense for you to start diversifying your knowledge and skills as well?

    In her book One Person/Multiple Careers, Marci Alboher says that adding “slashes” i.e., having multiple jobs or professional identities, is just like diversifying your investment portfolio. This way, if the market goes south or one employer runs into trouble, a diversified career portfolio can buffer you against hard times, especially if you have other potential income streams.

    Becoming a highly valuable worker

    Adopting the Renaissance Worker life can also benefit you by making you a much more desirable job candidate. If you have many more slashes on your resume then the other candidate, you have a much better shot at landing the job because your additional skill set sets you apart and will bring added value to the organization. And if you are already within an organization, your slashes will create new opportunities and potential promotions.

    girl_scouts-300x271In my own professional life, my day job is a psychology and leadership researcher for the Girl Scouts Research Institute. However, on a daily basis I am constantly using the creative and entrepreneurial skills I developed when opening up my clothing business, am being sought for my technology skills, and am helping IT, Marketing, and Communications create a social media strategy that will increase awareness of our new Girl Scout Leadership Experience that will help usher in a new generation of girl leaders for the 21st century. So because of my diverse set of knowledge and diversified skill set as a Renaissance Worker, I add value to my organization in a way that is far outside my job description.

    How do you become a Renaissance Worker?

    To answer this question, I am going to take you back to my previous posts. They are all related to the discover phase of personal branding outlined in Me 2.0 and will help set the foundation for becoming a Renaissance Worker.

    First, you have to get a better sense of who you are and see if this professional lifestyle fits with you (however, like I said earlier, I think sooner or later everyone is going to have to become a Renaissance Worker). Next, you have to figure out what are you passionate about. I have never done a job in my career that I didn’t enjoy or feel I was growing from. If the learning curved leveled off or I lost interest, I realized that job was not for me and I went exploring for something else I was passionate about. Never settle for a mediocre job experience.

    Next you have to figure out what you were born to do and see if this aligns with your passions. As I said in my third post, there is a huge difference between doing what you are good at versus what you were made to do. Next, you have to figure out how to connect all your interest, skills, and work experiences so there is a level of synergy that all your professional identities benefit from each other. Once this is done, you can then see how to put them all under a unified personal brand.

    Do you think you will adopt a Renaissance Worker mindset soon? What value do you see it bringing to your professional life?


    Marcos Salazar is the author of The Turbulent Twenties Survival Guide, which focuses on the psychology of life after college and what graduates go through as the make the transition from school to the working world. He writes a career adventurism and psychological development blog for young professionals at www.marcossalazar.com. You can connect with him on Twitter @marcossalazar.

    Marcos Salazar is the author of The Turbulent Twenties Survival Guide, which focuses on the psychology of life after college and what graduates go through as the make the transition from school to the working world. He writes a psychology and career blog for young professionals at www.marcossalazar.com. You can connect with him on Twitter @marcossalazar.

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    Posted in Brand Mystery, Brand Yourself As, Career Development, gen-y, guest post, Me 2.0, Personal Branding, Positioning, Success Story
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