Fri, Mar 18, 2011
According to Beth LaPierre, Eastman Kodak’s chief listening officer, personal branding is bull$%*# —as are diplomas and your professional network. She says, “It’s not about who you say you are; it’s about who you are.”
At last week’s South by Southwest Interactive conference, LaPierre led an interesting conversation that touched on many topics of interest to people who are trying to create fulfilling careers and happy lives (and who isn’t?): the balance between authenticity and having to “sell yourself” in the job market, the balance between self-fulfillment and financial obligations, and the feasibility of following your passions when those passions are not necessarily big moneymakers.
There’s an old saw that advises job seekers to simply do what they enjoy doing—that’s all it takes to succeed. The idea is that if you do what you enjoy (and do it with passion), enough money to live on will follow. And many of the people in this particular room had succeeded in life by investing themselves in their passions, so they agreed with LaPierre when she said, “Just do really good stuff, and stop trying to get to a spot. Do not try to be a specific thing. Just do good stuff.”
“Persistence matters. You just have to keep at it,” according to LaPierre.
On the other hand (and more to my way of thinking), other participants felt that this was good advice but not, perhaps, realistic for everyone.
The fact of the matter is, a person can be passionate, and work hard, and really, really want to make a living at their passion—but not quite be able to.
So while there were some people involved in this conversation who were “living their dream,” others were “happy enough” in their careers—but were fulfilling their passions outside of the office, whether that passion was art, skiing, or a family.
Something everyone agreed on was the benefit of letting all facets of your life interact and improve other facets. For instance, a human-resources manager who did community theater found professional contacts in her theater group, and found audience members among her professional community. A Web developer who was a conceptual artist in his spare time said his outside interest in art made him a better employee—and that sharing that outside interest made him more appealing as a promotion candidate at work.
What’s your story? Are you “working to live” or “living to work”? How do you find the balance? Is it always possible to follow one’s passions to a successful career? And how has your “personal life” impacted your career?
Share your thoughts in the Comments section.