After more than a decade of clinical practice, I began looking for a change of pace and found a new love for the business development side of healthcare. So in 2018, when I was offered a non-clinical position at a related company in California, I took it.
While that particular job was not at all what I expected –or hoped for–, taking it taught me a valuable lesson.
Despite being in the same industry, I had to start from scratch.
After years of building my personal brand, I suddenly found myself at the bottom. Nobody I now spoke seemed to know me or about me.
“But I have been in the industry for several years! I am a faculty member at the Stem Cell Fellowship… I’ve lectured on this at x and y…” I remember moaning to my wife one evening.
Turns out I had spent the previous years building my thought leadership around what I did, instead of who I was.
What I did could not carry over to my next role.
For example, think of Steve Jobs. His thought leadership was not built around the iPhone, Pixar, or even Apple. Those are all a result of who he was: a visionary leader.
He could jump from industry to industry without losing much of his audience or credibility.
In my case, I made the mistake of building my entire “brand” around the stem cell therapeutics we provided. Even more so, I focused my efforts on developing stem cell therapies for autism.
This narrow focus makes a lot of sense when marketing your clinic, but completely back-fires for personal branding.
Case in point? I boxed myself in as an expert in one specific thing, instead of as a thought leader in a broader industry.
If I could go back in time and talk to 2012’s Dr. E, I’d recommend two things:
- Investing the time to build my thought leadership. I only recently began doing this “on purpose” and not just as an afterthought. And the difference is astounding. And,
- Build it around who I am, what I stand for, and why I do what I do; not around my current role or position.
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