Lesson 2 of 6: Reinventing You After Age 50 Case Study — Michael Ovitz and Shifting Your Behavior

Mother of Reinvention

Reinvention After Age 50 is Possible


IMPORTANT NOTE: This case study series is a self-initiated interpretation and analysis by me, the blog author.  I want to make it clear that neither Dorie Clark nor Michael Ovitz were consulted or personally endorsed this case study and how I’ve applied the analysis to the valuable teachings in Reinventing You.

You’re Not Too Old to Reinvent Yourself After Age 50

Reinventing You Book ImageThis post is second in a series of six (6) about successful career reinvention after age 50.

In this post (and the other five), I talk about linkages I see from Michael Ovitz’s career reinvention after age 50 to six (6) of Dorie Clark’s Reinventing You principles from Chapter 9: Reintroduce Yourself and Chapter 10: Prove Your Worth.

The bullet point highlighted in blue is the Reinventing You principle analyzed in this post:

  • Shift Your Behavior
  • Develop Validators
  • Leverage Symbolic Actions
  • Go Where The Action Is
  • Building Your Portfolio

Note: The following analysis references examples from the October 2013 Fortune Magazine article: Ovitz Does Silicon Valley by David A. Kaplan to describe Michael Ovitz’s career reinvention in the context of Reinventing You’s valuable teachings.

Lesson 2: Shift Your Behavior


Change or Chance Dice

Change or Chance?

Changing Behaviors Can Augment Our Career Reinvention Process.  For example, some people may mean need to become more proactive in making business connections by reaching out and inviting them to lunch or an early morning cup of coffee.  For others, it may mean putting together a campaign to submit and pitch articles to industry publications so to build a thought leadership reputation in a new industry community.

The behavioral change will be different for everyone, but following through is important. Here’s a direct quote from Reinventing You:

Small tangible signals are only part of the battle, however.  The biggest challenge is changing your behavior to reflect your new goals and reality.


Change MuralFrom Hollywood Dealmaker and Power Broker to Trusted Advisor and Business Coach.  Mr. Ovitz now leverages his wealth of Hollywood client advisory experiences to counsel growing Silicon Valley startups and their young executives.  He’s not directly involved in “making the deals” for the entrepreneurs he now advises. But, he coaches, prepares, and reassures these entrepreneurs so they can successfully execute deals, negotiations, or other key (and sometimes unfamiliar) business activities required for company growth.

Here are examples from the Kaplan-Fortune article:

Managing Growth.  At Anki, a consumer-robotics startup, the CEO says Ovitz has advised him during some late nights about ‘psychological transitions’ as his company grows.

Pitching Wall Street.  At Formation 8, a flush new VC fund focused on Asia, Ovitz has explained to the three investment partners how to hone their image and brand for Wall Street types.  “Michael knows that world too,” says Joe Lonsdale, one of the young Formation 8 partners.  “He can show us how to ask them for a favor, but how not to push to hard.”

Telling Your Company’s Unique Story and Providing Reassurance.  Ovitz serves as a guru to other prominent people in the tech world, including Tony Bates, the president of Skype, and Brian Chesky, CEO of Airbnb, the home-sharing network.  Ovitz coaches them on culture and storytelling.  He picks them up when they have bouts of doubt.

Closing Thoughts

Things Can ChangeMore Than a Decade Before Reinventing You’s Publication, Mr. Ovitz Successfully Applied the Book’s Valuable Principles.  His focus, street smart savvy, and resilience are why Michael Ovitz successfully continues “working his magic” after age 50.  That’s why personal branding or personal reputation management is especially important for 50+ year-old professionals.

Shun The Naysayers and Critics. Mr. Ovitz did. Tenacity and mental toughness are critical.

Professional Reinvention After 50 is More Than Possible.  Michael Ovitz proves it can be done (and he’s approaching 70).  And, Dorie Clark’s Reinventing You shows you how to do it.

Our Turn: What Behaviors Do We Need to Shift?
  Changing and executing these behaviors may make us uncomfortable. These may include trying new things that may not work. But, taking intelligent risks is an important part of career development (and reinvention).

  • Why not, submit some of your best blog posts to certain publications to become a contributing writer / editor?
  • Why not, directly connect on email, Twitter, LinkedIn, (or another social network) to a renowned business author or respected business leader (especially if you can provide her/him something of value)?
  • Why not, make that phone call or send that email to a potential, new business connection inviting them to breakfast, coffee, or lunch?  Maybe, you have something that can help advance that person’s career (i.e., a LinkedIn connection, a blog post supporting that person’s book, thousands of engaged Twitter followers, etc.).

If you proactively built your personal brand or online reputation, you hold differentiating personal assets.  Maximize those “soft assets” and don’t underestimate their power.

If It Makes Us Nervous, We’re on the Right Track.  The worst that can happen is any of the above (or all of the above) say no.  But, all it takes is one “yes” …

… and that “one” may lead to something life-changing and magical.


If you enjoyed this post, here’s the link to the first post in the series.  Please stay tuned for the next post in this series on Reinventing You After Age 50–Lesson 3: Develop Validators is scheduled for a January 24, 2014 publication.  


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2 thoughts on “Lesson 2 of 6: Reinventing You After Age 50 Case Study — Michael Ovitz and Shifting Your Behavior

  1. it all about you and your mindset.. as long as you determined to succeed you will with persistence..no matter what you will reach your destination..time to re-invent your thought process and align to the new ways of working and changed environments..

  2. Koshy, I couldn’t agree more. Attitude is Everything when you’re trying to reinvent yourself. You have to be willing to learn and develop new skills. Exposing yourself to new ideas is also key.
    You’re very kind to write your comment – Thank You for stopping by.

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