For nearly a decade we’ve lived what Charles Dickens penned as “the best of times and the worst of times” in his 1859 novel: A Tale of Two Cities. Americans are recovering from one of the worst economic recessions since the Great Depression of the 1930s; major corporations have collapsed; people are being devastated by job loss, prolonged unemployment, home foreclosures, overwhelming debt, loss of their entire life savings, and suffering with the highest rates of stress, anxiety, and depression that America has seen in decades. Economists and business analysts have characterized this as the Era of Disruption.
Additionally, companies are faced with increased competition, accelerated change, and overwhelming complexity. It’s in times like these that we see a clear distinction between good and great companies who reinvented themselves and were prepared for this season of disruption, and those that barely survived, became irrelevant and ultimately ceased to exist. Companies such as Blockbuster, Borders Books, Harold’s, Circuit City, Linens ‘n Things, Lehman Brothers, Kodak, and many others either filed bankruptcy and/or went out of business because they were not poised or positioned to navigate through these waters significant change.
The Pizza giant, Dominos, is a great example of reinvention. After consumer surveys revealed that their pizza tasted like cardboard, they went on national TV to admit that their product needed an overhaul. Subsequently, they introduced a new recipe and brand campaign. Lego, whose profits soared in 2009 to 63% when sales across the country were tanking did so by expanding to Asia and increasing sales in Europe. Of course, a blockbuster movie and a celebrity endorsement from David Beckham who admitted that he was building a Lego Taj Mahal added an increased boost to their sales and brand. Starbucks continues to reinvent itself. Not only are they still opening stores in new markets such as China and Europe, but they now enjoy a strategic partnership with the “brand queen” herself—Oprah Winfrey, and launched the Oprah Chai Tea in 2014.
There are many other examples, but if these companies can reinvent themselves in this era of disruption, why can’t we as individuals do the same? As a success and leadership coach, and author of the bestselling book, Reinvent Yourself: Strategies for Achieving Success in Every Area of Your Life, I am intimately aware of the number of individuals who are at a crossroad in their lives and experiencing the effects of the global recession listed above.
If Companies Can Reinvent Themselves, So Can We
In examining the strategies that successful companies employed in reinventing themselves, below are six key traits that they possessed and that we can apply to our own lives:
- They recognized that redefining what success looks like was a necessity. “What does success look like in your life?” is one of the first questions that I ask my coaching clients. Chances are, your definition today is different than it was 10 years ago, and what you thought was important then, is no longer a priority. As ‘life’ happens and we experience defining moments (good and bad), we have to constantly redefine what success looks and be willing to adopt new mindsets, skill sets, and strategies that enable us to shift with the vicissitudes of life.
- They were clear about their purpose and they stayed true to their mission and vision. Unfortunately far too many individuals can’t say the same. I ask this question of audiences around the world, “how many of you know your purpose and are living it?” Less than 25% of the hands go up. To identify your purpose, think about where you are the most gifted; what you would do if you knew you wouldn’t fail and you had the money to do it; and what you are most passionate about. Knowing your WHY brings meaning and fulfillment.
- They knew when to reprioritize their goals. As your definition of success changes, so will your goals. They should be aligned with your purpose and reviewed frequently for adjustments. If you want success in every area of your life, I suggest setting goals each year towards five key areas: Family/Household, Financial, Health/Wellness; Professional and Career Development, and Spiritual Enrichment.
- They consistently rebranded themselves. Whether you believe it or not, all of us have a brand. Your brand is ‘who you are’ and ‘what others know/say about you.’ It’s how you present yourself and the impression and aura that you leave. In essence, it’s your communication skills. This is particularly important in your career because hiring, promotions, new assignments, and performance decisions are made based on what others know about you. If you don’t know your brand, ask your friends, colleagues, co-workers, and your direct supervisor and start reinventing your brand.
- They made the tough financial decisions while also making great use of their corporate assets (physical, financial, and talent). This couldn’t be a more appropriate time to reestablish your financial management plan [i.e., budget], or to create one for those who have never done so. Examine spending habits and investments to determine where to make adjustments. Identify multiple ways of utilizing your gifts and talents to make money, and learn from the mistakes that may have contributed to the financial losses you suffered during the recession.
- They built and capitalized on strategic relationships and alliances. It’s been said that “your network, can determine your net worth.” Evaluate your inner circle to determine whether you are surrounded by N.I.O.P.s (negative influences of other people) or O.Q.Ps (only quality people), and establish diverse and mutually beneficial relationships that will enable your success.
Reinventing yourself is not just another buzz word, nor is it a fad. It is a journey, and a real solution to the realities of life that both organizations and individuals will inevitably face. Those who respond proactively and intentionally will be better positioned to enjoy the best of times even when the worst of times hit. And those who do not, will become extinct.