Fashion Your Life: Dress for the Career You Want, Not for the One You Have
Written by R. Kay Green PhD
If you want the career you don’t have, you must dress for that career. Dressing for the career you want (and not the one you have) isn’t a matter of just putting on new clothes. Rather, it’s a matter of internalizing your goals and dreams. When you internalize something, it means that you believe in it absolutely and pursue it relentlessly. Internalizing and making personal your goals, starts and ends with dressing for the career you want. That means dressing, talking, behaving, and crafting a résumé and brand image consistent with your ultimate aspirations. In essence, you have to be the whole package if you’re going to get where you want to go.
Living and dressing for the career you want is so important because success requires that everything about what you’re doing be consistent and reflective of your authentic-self and your aspirations. So much of the time, the way you’re presenting yourself is what matters most. If you want to be an entrepreneur, you have to align the way you look with that concept. If you want to be a doctor, the first step is to put your physical appearance and your mindset in line with that goal. When you dress for the career you want, you embody everything about that particular career. You internalize it. Instead of dreaming about maybe becoming something or someone one day, you literally becomewhat you are destined to become. When you truly aspire to do something, it’s not just a want; it’s a belief.
So now that we’ve established the power of truly internalizing, living, and dressing the part of what you hope to become, let’s consider a few strategies for how to make it happen.
- Repeat your dreams to yourself.
Remember those studying strategies? Whatever worked for you when you were studying for finals, that’s what will work for you when it comes time to internalize your dreams. Don’t just memorize the thought; absorb it and make it a part of you.
- Read, read, read.
Conduct as much research as possible about the career you want or the business you want to start. Read about your desired career as often as you can. Thanks to the internet, there is no shortage of information on any given career or business path.
- Go to seminars.
At a seminar, you learn new things, get new insights, develop new ideas, and more importantly, you meet new people. Many of these people are serving in the career or market of your dreams. Meeting them—actually looking them in the eye, shaking their hand, and making a personal connection—is one of the surest ways to determine how to get to your dream.
- Discuss your dreams.
Sometimes the one thing that separates the dreamers from the doers is accountability. And for many people, accountability only comes from sharing the dream with other people. Knowing that there are other people thinking about your goals and counting on you to succeed is often a tremendously motivating factor.
- Dress for your dreams.
Always use the industry as a gage. Remember, we want authenticity, not carbon copies. Use the people in your desired career field as a template, not as the final word. Your style and your preferences matter greatly. Be sure to incorporate them in your manner of dressing for the part. The ultimate goal is to be creative and be yourself while also maintaining a level of respect and believability.
- Take action.
Don’t just say that this is what you want to do. Put the wheels in motion. Too often, people share wonderful ideas about what they want to do, but fail to implement the necessary steps to do so.
- Find a mentor.
The best and most powerful way to internalize your dreams is to interact consistently with someone who lives them. Mentors are so critical in any industry. They are the people in the best position to tell you what actually works when it comes to planning your rise toward your goal. They can help you internalize what you need to internalize because they are literally living their dream.
- Volunteer wherever possible.
The thing that separates the doers from the dreamers is a matter of who is willing to work for free. Take internships. Volunteer for efforts related to the company or career you want to pursue. Do whatever it takes to experience what it is like to work in the career you want.
With competition for every industry as fierce as it has become, those who internalize will be the ones to succeed. The results will come to pass in your career, as well. You will get more callbacks from hiring companies, prospects, and customers. You will be recruited for the career of your dreams, rather than having to apply. You will begin to get feedback from everyone you work with. In the end, people will look at you differently. This won’t be simply because you have begun to dress for the role you want. It will be because you have become the person you want to be.
Dr. R. Kay Green is CEO/President of RKG Marketing Solutions, a professor of marketing and author of the new book, I’ve Been Called the B* Word… Now What Do I Do? 13 Rules for the New-Age Professional Woman; see www.ivebeencalledthebword.com, barnesandnoble.comand amazon.com.
Marketing matters: from IBM to Kyndryl
Prior to joining Kyndryl as Chief Marketing Officer, Maria had a 25-year career at IBM, most recently as the tech giant’s CMO where she oversaw all marketing professionals and activities across North America, Canada and Latin America. She has held senior global marketing positions in a variety of disciplines and business units across IBM, most notably strategic initiatives in Smarter Cities and Watson Customer Engagement, as well as leading teams in services, business analytics, and mobile and industry solutions. She is known for her work with teams to leverage data, analytics and cloud technologies to build deeper engagements with customers and partners.
With a passion for marketing, business and people, and a recognized expert in data-driven marketing and brand engagement, Maria talks to Business Chief about her new role, her leadership style and what success means to her.
You've recently moved from IBM to Kyndryl, joining as CMO. Tell us about this exciting new role?
I’m Chief Marketing Officer for Kyndryl, the independent company that will be created following the separation from IBM of its Managed Infrastructure Services business, expected to occur by the end of 2021. My role is to plan, develop, and execute Kyndryl's marketing and advertising initiatives. This includes building a company culture and brand identity on which we base our marketing and advertising strategy.
We have an amazing opportunity ahead at Kyndryl to create a company brand that will stand apart in the market by leading with our people first. Once we are an independent company, each Kyndryl employee will advance the vital systems that power human progress. Our people are devoted, restless, empathetic, and anticipatory – key qualities needed as we build on existing customer relationships and cultivate new ones. Our people are at the heart of this business and I am deeply hopeful and excited for our future.
What experiences have helped prepare you for this new opportunity?
I’ve had a very rich and diverse career history at IBM that has lasted 25+ years. I started out in sales but landed explored opportunities at IBM in different roles, business units, geographies, and functions. Marketing and business are my passions and I landed on Marketing because it allowed me to utilize both my left and right brain, bringing together art and science. In college, I was no tonly a business major, but an art major. I love marketing because I can leverage my extensive knowledge of business, while also being able to think openly and creatively.
The opportunities I was given during my time at IBM and my natural curiosity have led me to the path I’m on now and there’s no better next career step than a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity to help launch a company. The core of my role at Kyndryl is to create a culture centered on our people and growing up in my career at IBM has allowed me to see first-hand how to prioritize people and ensure they are at the heart of progress in everything Kyndryl will do.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I believe that people aren't your greatest assets, they are your only assets. My platform and background for leadership has always been grounded in authenticity to who I am and centered on diversity and inclusion. I immigrated to the US from Chile when I was 10 years old and so I know the power and beauty that comes from leaning into what makes you different from other people, and that's what I want every person in my marketing organization to feel – the value in bringing their most authentic self to work every day. The way our employees feel when they show up for themselves authentically is how they will also show up for our customers, and strong relationships drive growth.
I think this is especially true in light of a world forever changed by the pandemic. Living through such an unprecedented time has reinforced that we are all humans. We can't lead or care for one another without empathy and I think leaders everywhere have been reminded of this.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
When I was growing up as an immigrant in North Carolina, I often wanted to be just like everyone else. But my mother always told me: Be unique, be memorable – you have an authentic view and experience of the world that no one else will ever have, so don't try to be anyone else but you.
What does success look like to you?
I think the concept of success is multi-faceted. From a career perspective, being in a job where you're respected and appreciated, and where you can see how your contributions are providing value by motivating your teams to be better – that's success! From a personal perspective, there is no greater accomplishment than investing in the next generation. I love mentoring younger professionals – they are the future. I want my legacy as a leader to include providing value in work culture, but also in leaving a personal impact on the lives of professionals who will carry the workforce forward. Finding a position in life with a job and company that offers me a chance at all of that is what success looks like to me.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
I've always been a naturally curious person and it's easy for me to over-commit to projects that pique my interest. I've learned over years of practice how to manage that, so to my younger self I’d say… prioritize the things that are most important, and then become amazing at those things.