Dorie Clark is a strategy consultant and communication coach who empowers professionals to future-proof their careers and live their unique personal brands. She consults and speaks for clients like Google and Microsoft, writes for publications like Forbes and the Harvard Business Review, and teaches at Duke’s Fuqua School of Business and Columbia Business School. She is also the award-winning author of Reinventing You and Stand Out. But things weren’t always this way.
Before being “named one of the Top 50 business thinkers in the world by Thinkers50,” Dorie worked as a journalist, presidential campaign spokeswoman, nonprofit executive director, jazz album producer, and documentary filmmaker. That is to say, she has firsthand experience with professional reinvention, and she now uses this experience to help others reinvent themselves. Her additional areas of expertise include personal branding, communications, and management.
Clark's writing is informative, motivational, and powerful. She is the Wall Street Journal bestselling author of four books, which she wrote to “[help] others take control of their professional lives and make an impact on the world.”
Stand Out: How to Find Your Breakthrough Idea and Build a Following Around It (2015)
Reinventing You (2017)
Entrepreneurial You: Monetize Your Expertise, Create Multiple Income Streams, and Thrive (2017)
The Long Game: How to Be a Long-Term Thinker in a Short-Term World (2021)
If you have a question about building your brand, navigating your career, or expanding your network, Clark likely has an answer. As a frequent contributor to publications like the Harvard Business Review and Fast Company, she writes on a range of topics in business and leadership. A complete collection of Clark's written work is available on her site. Sample articles include:
Popular videos of Clark include her keynote talks, in which she is known for showing audience members “how to take control of their professional reputation, become recognized for the leaders they are, and make an impact.” Current videos of Clark include episodes of Better, her weekly Newsweek interview series. Each week, join Clark live or on her channel as she chats “with leading thinkers about how we can all improve our lives and level up just a little bit so that everything around us can be easier, more enjoyable, and more effective.” Sample videos include:
Dorie has been a keynote speaker for events at TEDx, Google HQ, and Harvard Business School, just to name a few. Her talks are designed to help her audience members understand “how to take control of their professional reputation, become recognized for the leaders they are, and make an impact.” Example topics include cultivating your professional reputation and thinking entrepreneurially inside your organization.
Clark has created a variety of on-demand courses, or courses that you can access anywhere and anytime while learning at your own pace. Designed to be personal learning tools, these courses typically feature video content, writing exercises, guest interviews, and additional resources. Whether you’re looking to improve your writing or build your brand, Clark has a course to help you achieve your personal and professional goals! For more about Clark's online courses, see the table below.
Rapid Content Creation Masterclass
Writing For High Profile Publications
52 More Hours
Personal Branding for Creative Professionals (requires a Creative Class membership)
Personal Branding and Professional Reinvention
Whether you realize it or not, you have a personal brand – everyone does. To put it simply, your personal brand is your reputation. It is not what you hope it is, say it is, or wish it were. Instead, your personal brand is “what other people say it is.” How do they speak about you when you’re not around? What meaning do they make of your actions? According to Clark, these types of questions are key to closing the gap between how you are currently viewed and how you would like to be viewed. To close this gap is to take control of your personal brand, and with Clark's reinvention framework, you can do so in three simple steps:
- Figure out how others perceive you (What is your current personal brand?)
- Create your brand narrative (What do you want others to know you for?)
- Live your brand (What can you do to share your unique and authentic message?)
For Clark's expert advice on tackling each phase of the reinvention process, read on!
Phase 1: Figure Out How Others Perceive You
When defining your personal brand or reinventing yourself, the most logical place to start is with your current brand. To understand your current brand, you must understand how you are perceived by others. As an initial step, Clark recommends searching your name on Google. Make a conscious effort to view the results from an objective lens and consider what someone might think of you if the only information they knew was the information contained in the search results. After all, to those who don’t know you, “you’re your Google search.”
The exercise described above is a great jumping-off point if you’re interested in learning more about your current personal brand, but at the end of the day, “it takes a village to reinvent yourself.” To change your reputation, you must be willing to ask for feedback and, more importantly, to learn from it. For this reason, Clark advises her clients to conduct personal 360-degree interviews. The goal of such an interview is to gain a holistic picture of what it’s like to work with you, work for you, or simply be around you. To conduct an effective personal 360-degree interview:
- Make a list of people whom you trust to be honest and helpful. This may include your boss, peers, employees, team members, clients, family, and/or friends (if you can, include men and women from various fields in order to help you assemble the most holistic picture)
- Ask them questions to enhance your self-knowledge (i.e., questions about YOU). Examples of good questions to ask include:
- If you had to describe me in three words, what words would you choose?
- What are my strengths?
- What are my weaknesses?
- What steps would you suggest that I take to get from point A to point B?
- What are my blind spots?
- If you didn’t know what job I have, what job would you guess I have and why?
- Analyze the feedback. Pay attention to “what [people] say, and also what they don’t say” and look for patterns. Although it can be easy to obsess over a single comment, try to focus on the comments that were made consistently – these are where the most valuable answers lie
Phase 2: Create Your Brand Narrative
Once you better understand your current personal brand, it’s time to ask yourself if the way that you’re currently perceived is the way you’d like to be perceived in the future. Since effective personal branding hinges on having a clear core message, this means you’ll have to get clear on the message that you want to send. To determine your core message and, in turn, create a vision for your brand, Clark recommends reflecting on (1) your difference and (2) your “war stories.”
If Clark had her own dictionary, she might define “your difference” as the experience or skill that sets you apart from others, the thing employers are most interested in, or a form of career insurance. Ultimately, your difference is what matters in the workplace because our world does not reward fitting in as much as it rewards standing out. For this reason, do not let your identity be a source of fear or concern. Instead, let it excite you, because the thing that sets you apart naturally empowers you to “add the most value” to teams, projects, and organizations.
Like your difference, your “war stories” can also help you “get clear on your brand.” According to Clark, war stories are the stories that you often find yourself coming back to. They are meaningful experiences, and they are memories that remain vivid years after you make them. As you recall these stories and memories, pay special attention to the “thread that connects them.” This thread is an indication of how you derive meaning in your life, or what you find meaningful and why, and it is vital to shaping your core message/creating your brand narrative.
Phase 3: Live Your Brand
Your personal brand can set you up for long-term success, but only if you live your brand on a consistent basis. To live your brand, (1) consider small ways to share your message with others and (2) put yourself in a position to recognize and capitalize on opportunities as they present themselves. Over the years, Clark has seen countless professionals miss the same opportunity time and again. This “perennial missed opportunity” is the one that stands before you when someone asks, “How’s it going?” or “What’s new with you?” When someone asks you a question like this, they have essentially given you an opportunity to “implant your brand” in their mind, and Clark would encourage you to take it. Instead of responding with a mere “I’m fine” or “Nothing new,” make sure your answer incorporates your career narrative, or what you want people to know you for. After all, today’s professionals are pulled in more directions than ever before, so it is imperative that you take primary responsibility for guiding how others see you.
Any professional knows that networking can be (and often is) intimidating. We all want to make connections, but we all fear seeming or feeling like a user. If this predicament sounds all too familiar to you, Clark's networking advice can help you reframe the networking process, turn interactions into opportunities, and make authentic connections like a pro.
First, don’t network to gain something; network to gain friends. While career advancement is a goal that many of us have, this should never be your sole reason for reaching out to someone. If it is, they will more than likely sense it, and the relationship you could have developed will vanish before it even begins.
Second, be yourself. Authenticity is powerful, especially in the world of networking. As you expand your network, Clark encourages you to be confident in your uniqueness, show that you are human, and remind yourself that everyone else is human too. Additionally, follow these tips to make connecting more authentic.
- Figure out what you have to offer, and don’t be ashamed to self-promote
- Join fewer groups and dive deeper within them. This will produce more genuine connections than joining too many groups and merely involving yourself at a surface level
- If you are introducing colleagues, make sure you speak with them separately beforehand. If you don’t, you may end up caught between two frustrated parties and harm your own relationships
- No asks for a year. Clark's rule of thumb is to avoid asking someone for a favor until you have developed a genuine connection/friendship. After all, it is crucial that people feel as though helping you was their idea; not something they were coerced into doing
Third, do networking your way. Before you dive into expanding your network, consider:
- What types of events you may enjoy (and what types of events you may not)
- Whether the people at an event are people whom you would enjoy meeting, talking to, and learning from
- Whether the timing of an event is optimal for you and where you are in your career
- Creating your own events (This can make for a more comfortable and authentic experience for some, because having more control over the place, time, guest list, etc. gives you a better idea of what to expect)
Fourth, research the people you’d like to connect with before you reach out to them. By searching for commonalities and mentioning them when you reach out, you will show the other person that you genuinely care about the relationship. This will also help you make a more authentic connection right off the bat.
Fifth, follow up. According to Clark's research, this is where most people fall short in the networking process. Often times, these people fall short because they focus so much attention on the initial connection that they forget to nurture the relationship in the future. To combat this pitfall, Clark suggests setting a schedule and sticking to it. Decide how often you want to reach out to various people in your circle and do your best to stay in touch. This will help you deepen your relationships and develop connections that last in the long-term. (Note: The frequency of reaching out may change or vary from person to person as your career shifts and your relationships evolve. According to Clark, this is perfectly fine, but letting your connections fade is not!)
Sixth, don’t give up on connecting with powerful people merely because they may seem out of reach. Clark can assure you that there is no such thing, and she suggests you do the following to get noticed by influential figures:
- Start a blog or podcast where you can interview others, connect, and create content. This is an opportunity to gather advice, and it gives others a platform to share their ideas
- Interact with the posts of influential figures on a consistent basis (i.e., retweet them, comment on their posts, and/or mention them in your own)
- Brainstorm ways that you could be of value to them
- Stand out by making yourself interesting (compelling people like to meet other compelling people!)
- Publisher summaries for Stand Out, Reinventing You, Entrepreneurial You, and The Long Game
- Approved PR and press materials, available on Dorie Clark's website