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How to Reinvent Yourself in 3 (Not-So) Easy Steps

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The last few years have been hard for a lot of people. The Great Recession, the Great Reset, whatever you want to call it. Times like these cause a lot of  change, at a macro and micro level. We’ve watched whole industries radically change. And I love talking about that change here on this blog. But it’s easy to overlook or forget the impact that change has on the individual.


I’ve had an interesting career path. This was just the last 10 years:

Retail Manager >> Restaurant general manager >> Mountain bike tour guide >> Skateboard shop owner >> PR intern >> Partner at a grassroots marketing agency >> MBA student/graduate >> Launching a startup >> Social media manager at HP >> EIR at a VC firm >> Social media consultant

I’ve learned a lot over the years but one of the most valuable skills I’ve learned is how to reinvent yourself. I’m not just talking about evolutionary career changes but revolutionary, disruptive, life altering career changes.

Big changes can be scary and very difficult. You have to learn a whole new field. Your livelihood and identity are tied to your job. When I was at HP I watched a lot of my coworkers get laid off. These were employees who started working for HP right out of college and spent the next 30 years working on nothing but LaserJet printers. When they were laid off they had almost no marketable job skills.

I don’t blame HP or any of the other companies who make the same decisions everyday. Blaming a big company for laying people off is like blaming a restaurant for going out of business. To me “job security” means being able to find employement or employ yourself. The illusion that your employer is responsible for your career no longer exists.

So for those of you who find yourself in the need for a little reinvention I thought I would share with you my three tips for reinventing yourself. There simple but not easy.

Go Native

Going native means you go all in. This is not a spectator sport. You don’t get to watch from the sidelines. You don’t get to pretend.

Anthropologists (of which I often count myself) know that it’s all about sub-cultures. Every career is really just a different sub-culture.  You need to completely submerge yourself in the culture of that profession. Read everything you can get your hands on. You don’t have to understand it all but you have to learn the vocabulary.

I hated vocabulary in school. I hated it because it was always presented as route memorization completely out of context. There is very little difference between almost any profession, it’s 90% vocabulary. We’re almost always talking about the same things, we just use different vocabulary. Vocabulary is one of the defining tools of a culture. It’s how we know who’s in and who’s faking it.

When I bought the skateboard shop I read every skate mag I could get my hands on and watched every video I could. I made a point to learn the names of every trick - which is not easy to do from those videos, good thing slow motion is so popular in those videos.

When I started in “new media” six tears ago I made sure to read as many blogs as I could and always stay up on the vocabulary.  Even if a lot of it is BS.

Follow Your Passions

Life is way to short. If you’re reading this you most likely live in the developed World and there is no reason to do something you are not passionate about. You either need to find something about your job you can be passionate about or find a new job. You cannot reinvent yourslef unless you are passionate about what you will become.

Don’t chase money or opportunity. Chase your passions and money and opportunity will present itself. This will also lead you to proactive reinvention not reactionary reinvention.

Be the Best in the World

Being the best is not a 9-5 job. 40 hours a week is part time. Being the best is a choice you have to make everyday. But being the best in the world means creating your world. You can’t be the best of someone else’s world. Be the best in the World at being you. When I was at HP and the layoff were starting people used to ask me if I was afraid. When I very confidently laughed off the question and people questioned me further, my answer probably wasn’t reassuring to my coworkers:

“If you don’t think you could go out there today and find a job, why would your current employer want to keep you?”

The trick of it is, you get to define the “world” but you don’t get to define “best.” You get to define exactly what you want to be (your world) but your customers, coworkers, employees, friends and family (your mom doesn’t count) get to define whats best.

The New You

That’s it really. To summarize this entire post in one sentence: If you want to reinvent yourself you have to submerge yourself in something you care deeply about with the single goal of being the very best at it.

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About Tac

Social media anthropologist. Communications strategist. Business model junkie. Chief blogger here at New Comm Biz.

  • http://topsy.com/www.newcommbiz.com/how-to-reinvent-yourself-in-3-not-so-easy-steps/?utm_source=pingback&utm_campaign=L2 Tweets that mention How to Reinvent Yourself in 3 (Not-So) Easy Steps — Topsy.com

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Tac Anderson and others. Tac Anderson said: How to Reinvent Yourself in 3 (Not-So) Easy Steps http://bit.ly/973C1N (new post) [...]

  • Jill

    Fabulous post Tac. I have several good friends that I am going to forward it to immediately. P.S. that’s some haircut! LOL.

  • S8ronin

    Jen and I enjoyed the insight…is there a way to go from bald to shaggy? =) one of your best posts yet…

  • http://www.newcommbiz.com tacanderson

    Thanks Brian. For me to go back to shaggy is just a matter of time.

  • http://twitter.com/researchgoddess Amybeth Hale

    Agree with Brian - one of your best posts. I especially enjoyed the line “If you don’t think you could go out there today and find a job, why would your current employer want to keep you?” People think companies owe them something - companies owe individuals nothing more than what individuals owe the company. It's also important to remember that companies do not exist to provide us with good jobs, good benefits, and good retirements. They exist to be profitable and provide a living for either the owner(s) or the stockholders. Keeping this in mind makes tough times more bearable. And also will encourage people to sharpen their skills and stay relevant. Thanks as always for sharing!

  • http://ztoryteller.wordpress.com/ Owen Richard Kindig

    I feel like a Tac Anderson fanboy the last 2 days but, really, man, you've been on a roll lately and I'm resonating with you!

  • colleencarrington

    Great insights, Tac. I really enjoyed this post.

  • colleencarrington

    Great insights, Tac. I really enjoyed this post.

  • http://twitter.com/EricBurgess Eric Burgess

    Yes, Tac. Yes. Awesome post. Love the skateboard reference.

    BTW - my undergrad was in Cultural Anthropology.

  • Justin

    Thank you for this post. It’s good to read something that feels real and cuts through the bs that is so pervasive on the net. I’m inspired.

  • http://www.newcommbiz.com/what-you-can-learn-from-hunter-s-thompson-about-getting-a-job-in-social-media/ What You Can Learn From Hunter S Thompson About Getting A Job In Social Media | New Comm Biz

    [...] written before about how to reinvent yourself. In that post my first suggestion was to “go native” and focus on learning the [...]

  • http://infosourcer.com/?p=184 Why reinventing your personal brand is a really good idea « Infosourcer's Blog

    [...] story” and your skills can benefit the company. Tac Anderson, who wrote this blog post “How to Reinvent Yourself in 3 (Not-So) Easy Steps“, wisely states: Blaming a big company for laying people off is like blaming a restaurant for [...]

  • Sadie

    Ah, see, I needed to read this. I’ve had so much happen to me since I graduated college, and I’ve only realized these past few days that I really don’t want to work with animals as a PROFESSION, I’d rather do it as a volunteer, and I really want to put a lot of my effort into indulging my creative side. I’ve always wanted to be a writer, I’m pretty good at drawing if I do say so myself, and finding out more about photography gives me a thrill I didn’t expect. So going into the arts just makes sense, but it’s so not the same as Biology. When it comes to working with animals, you have to sell what experience you have, while in the arts, you have to sell yourself to a client, basically. This gave me courage to try to reinvent myself. Thanks for this post.

  • Marvrmillr

    I needed to read this today, Thank you for the post

  • http://www.SmallweBusiness.com Paul

    I like the “reinventing yourself” idea. It’s about shifting paradigm from a job searcher to a personal career manager. In a corporate world, a job is something handed over to us by our employer, whereas a career is your personal belonging. Employers will look for a candidate to fill up a job opening but you will search a job that matches your career path.

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