Before I started soaking my feet in "building my brand", I didn't really think past my 9-5. Yes, I read books, listened to podcasts here and there, and engaged in passionate discussions about SaaS, etc. But I never thought about doing more than just climbing the ladder.
So when I say it's not just building your brand, what I mean is that working on being more vocal forces you to think bigger.
I see it all around me. People post on LinkedIn and next thing you know, they've started a side project.
For example, Jared Orr (great guy!). I saw a few of his posts on LinkedIn and a few months later, he created his very own project, The Customer Success Whisperer. Or Ankit Aggarwal, he's very active on LinkedIn and within other CS communities. After fielding so many questions about CS and getting started in CS, he created his own Podcast, The CS Mentor. There's a long list of people who have ventured into starting something new and it's inspiring!
These are side projects today, but who knows what they'll become in the future. 2020, as crappy as it was, introduced me to a phenom named Dorie Clark. Dorie is a professional speaker, teacher, author, and coach. She's written for Forbes, Time, Harvard Business Review, and has worked with big shots like Deloitte and Google. Impressive, I know 😉
After bumping into her TedTalk (YES, she's given a TedTalk) about future-proofing your career, I started connecting my own dots. Without knowing it, I was future-proofing my career by working out loud and I was also thinking bigger. No, I don't just want to be a VP one day, I want to run my own company. I want to speak (and get paid to speak), write articles on Forbes, write a book, teach a class... so many things!
After being totally fired up by Dorie's talk, I read her book Entrepreneurial You. Apparently, you don't just show up to a stage and ask to be a speaker. There's a lot of work that needs to be done –– in high visibility –– to get to a place where you can be that speaker or that top expert in your field.
If we look at "Customer Success" and it's growth over the last years, we'll see a theme: it's blowing up 💣
So these side projects, being vocal externally, guest writing on articles, being interviewed on podcasts, and showing up to 1:1 conversations feels small right now. But where can they take you down the road?
I'll leave you with this cheesy quote...
“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”
– Chinese Proverb
Plant your tree today!