Remember the first time you reinvented yourself? You were probably 7 or 8 and realized that the name you were given at birth was all wrong. It did not fit at all. You had come up with the perfect fit, of course. Or maybe it is your own child that has tried to reinvent him or herself in this way. It is definitely an uphill battle, as we found out.
In this episode of The Social Network Show’s Spider Graham Series, Spider introduced his guest, Hollis Thomases, who guides others through major personal and occupational change. Spider Graham co-authored Taking Down Goliath: The Digital Marketing Strategy for Beating Competitors with 100 Times Your Spending Power and is the CEO of Trainingcraft, a company that offers online, live, and customized training services on digital marketing and advertising best practices for advertisers, agencies, media buyers and more.
This episode in brief:
• Hollis Thomases of Reinventionworks describes her own journey to finding her ideal livelihood as an aggregator and curator of all things reinvention
• How to use the many skills acquired in your past careers to forge a new one
• A lack of joy in what you do is a strong signal to reinvent yourself
• Widespread job dissatisfaction, post-retirement goals, changes in life circumstances at any age all indicate reinvention is relevant to large numbers of people
Hollis Thomases of ReinventionWorks is a believer in change. In this interview she recalls her first reinvention of herself when she left her hometown and the neighbors and classmates that she had been surrounded by for 13 years. That went well, but when she did an internship at her dream job (working for an ad agency in Manhattan) she found she utterly hated it. So, back to the reinvention drawing board! While working in communications after graduation, Hollis kept a folder with ideas and goals for how she wanted to work and the kind of career she’d like to carve out for herself.
Entrepreneurship, having her own company, emerged as a theme in those notes. Then the Internet came along and Hollis realized the need for marketing and advertising solutions. She quit her job, set up her business and within two months realized the field was not interested in her print-based solution. But she re-oriented herself and her business and is now hosting a weekly webcast in her iteration as the aggregator and curator of all things reinvention. She strives for great variety among guests and their journeys and lessons learned.
Hollis Thomases created a live event in Philadelphia that drew great interest and a good attendance. She used her experience from another of her previous identities (that of event planner) to develop the event as a pilot project to assess the viability of later-in-life career change as a business model. She included a panel of experts—people who had been through reinvention, as well as advisory service providers including financial risk mitigation experts. After the panel, there was a choice of three out of six possible breakout sessions with the panel members, then a closing keynote address. Using another skill from her previous paths, public relations and marketing, she pitched the event to reporters which resulted in coverage by the jobs reporter of the Philadelphia Inquirer. The story that ran spurred more interest among those who had not known about the event, but wanted to attend the next one.
Before continuing to speak with his guest, Hollis Thomases of ReinventionWorks, Spider discussed with Dr. J the “Why?” of responding to podcast audience surveys. Spider observed that surveys, such as ours at podsurvey.com/social, help identify interests of listeners. In turn that means that advertisers will be selected to match listeners’ interests and needs, rather than random products or services that are of no interest to you, hence simply annoying. Advertisements provide revenue to help meet the costs of producing and distributing the podcast, otherwise the show could not continue.
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Working for yourself is different from working for someone else, but not necessarily better and certainly not easier. So what motivates that move? Hollis explained that although following one’s passion is often cited as a reason for change, for her it was more the lack of joy in her daily work. Feeling miserable at work is not a sustainable condition. To make an intentional choice, rather than letting life simply serve you what it will, is to be in control of one’s destiny and the crucial first step in reinvention. To begin, Hollis suggested asking “What do I do that makes me happy, that I have talents at, and that I can make a living at?”
With some surveys indicating that 51% of the U.S. workforce are dissatisfied with their job and an increasing number of active baby boomers reaching retirement age, reinvention is a consideration for a large number of people. Major life changes and turnarounds due to profound or not so profound new circumstances can also spur a need to reinvent oneself. What do you want to change and why?
These days, Hollis Thomases doesn’t find it hard to describe herself. As a self-proclaimed “Reinventionist,” Hollis has iterated herself and her career multiple times the latest of which she has turned into her second business venture called ReinventionWorks. ReinventionWorks is a centralized multi-media and communication platform to empowering people and businesses to take control of their next future through tools, education, networking, and marketplace.
Hollis knows a thing or two about reinventing. After graduating college, she moved to Baltimore knowing no one and having no job. She had a 10-year career working for trade associations, small businesses and large corporations alike, she left it all in 1998 to start her first company, a digital marketing & advertising firm. After successfully growing that company for 15 years into a multi-million dollar business serving a prestigious client portfolio including Nokia, Johns Hopkins University, NatureMade, and Four Seasons and during which time she also became a regular columnist for Inc.com and wrote a book on Twitter, she felt it was time to move on to her next incarnation. Her pursuit of her own reinvention led her to realize the need to help others on their journeys, too, and ReinventionWorks was born.
Currently, ReinventionWorks hosts a weekly, live, free webcast called Reinvention Conversations from the Front Porch in which Hollis interviews ordinary people who have accomplished life-altering career reinventions. Last March, ReinventionWorks hosted a regional real-world event focused on career reinvention after age 45 which made the cover of the Philadelphia Inquirer’s print edition Sunday Business section (“Career Makeover”), and soon ReinventionWorks plans to host its first online-only event to bring the success of the Philadelphia event to a wider audience. When not consumed by her business start-up needs, Hollis can still be found actively tweeting at @hollisthomases and @reinventionworks and you can learn more about her on her website and connect with her on LinkedIn.
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