IMPORTANT NOTE: This case study series is a self-initiated interpretation and analysis by me, the blog author. Dorie Clark and Michael Ovitz were neither consulted nor involved in how I developed the following analysis.
Do YOU Think You're Too Old To Reinvent Yourself After Age 50?
Author and frequent Harvard Business Review and Forbes contributor, Dorie Clark would say you're wrong. And, she's right on the money.
Dorie Clark's book, Reinventing You is one of my favorite MUST-READ business books of 2013. Reinventing You is a GREAT investment for your professional career. Dorie's book is a personal and professional development GIFT.
Reinventing You After Age 50 Case Study: Michael Ovitz
Instead of a traditional book review, I'm applying Dorie's thoughtful teachings to a successful real-world, high-profile career reinvention after age 50: Michael Ovitz, Owner of Broad Beach Ventures LLC.
Before There was Ari Gold and Klout, There was Michael Ovitz. Mr. Ovitz personified and defined Hollywood business clout and influence. For younger Social Media ReInvention Community Members, Michael Ovitz as the co-founder and leader of Creative Arts Agency (CAA) became Hollywood's most powerful talent agent. Mr. Ovitz was THE Hollywood powerbroker -- ask David Letterman.
CAA's stellar client list and and Ovitz's unique skills and strategic vision in "packaging" actors, directors, screenwriters, and other CAA talent as "solution offerings" (similar to how management consulting firms position their service capabilities) differentiated CAA and propelled his Hollywood influence.
Today, Mr. Ovitz No Longer Plays Hollywood Power Broker. From 1995 through 2002, he publicly experienced high-profile, professional setbacks. To say his detractors and former competitors delighted in these failures is an understatement.
I Admire and Respect Mr. Ovitz's Resilience in Reinventing Himself. For the past 11 years, he's shifted and focused his unique talents, assets, and energy to the technology world. According to David A. Kaplan's October 2013 Fortune Magazine article, Ovitz Does Silicon Valley, Mr. Ovitz methodically reinvented himself as a top advisor to Silicon Valley technology companies.
This post is first in a series of six (6) about successful career reinvention after age 50.
The aforementioned Kaplan-Fortune article provides examples of Michael Ovitz's latest career. In this post (and the next five), I will talk about linkages I see from Mr. Ovitz's 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:
- Status -- You Can Take It With You
- Shift Your Behavior
- Develop Validators
- Leverage Symbolic Actions
- Go Where The Action Is
- Building Your Portfolio
Lesson 1: Status -- You Can Take It With You
Maximize the Halo Effect of Your Unique Competive Advantage. In Reinventing You's Chapter 9, Reintroduce Yourself, Dorie writes about the "halo effect" (as described by Jeffrey Pfeffer, Stanford Graduate School of Business and author of Power: Why Some People Have It--And Others Don't):
"It's a psychological phenomenon known as the 'halo effect." "If I think you're good in one domain, I think you're going to be good in other domains, as well. There's the presumption that talented people have this set of generalized abilities."
That 'durability of reputation'--across both time and situations--makes it essential for you to be strategic about how you're perceived from day one. "You need to do something to build a very good reputation, a personal brand, and that will help you not only in your current place but in other places, as well."
The secret, then is to leverage both your past experiences and the confidence that you've derived from your accomplishments. After all, other people take their cues from you, so when you're introducing your new brand, assume that others will welcome your contribution.
Michael Ovitz's Unique, "Halo Effect" Competitive Advantage: CEO and Executive Chairman Level Access Across Multiple Industries. The Kaplan-Fortune Article describes two examples of how Mr. Ovitz leverages his lifelong business connections and maximizes his former Hollywood mogul / dealmaker / powerbroker status to open C-Suite doors previously closed to young, Silicon Valley entrepreneurs.
1. Peter Szulczewski, CEO of Wish.com: The October 2013 Fortune article describes how Mr. Ovitz assisted Szulczewski when he ran into problems with initially securing the company's domain name.
The company had an uninspired name, ContextLogic, and its beta website was the forgetable wishwall.me. Wish.com wasn't available.
Ovitz saw immediately that the domain name was critical. "I can help with that!" he (Ovitz) told Szulczewski, and, with his big swinging Rolodex, within weeks tracked down the owner of wish.com. It was a French subsidiary of Barry Diller's IAC. Szulczewski handled the actual negotiation -- he won't disclose the price -- but Ovitz war-gamed tactics beforehand.
2. Peter Thiel, Venture Capitalist, PayPal co-founder, and Chairman of Palantir Techologies on the breadth and power of the the Michael Ovitz business network (also from the Kaplan-Fortune article):
"Michael can get us in to see any CEO in the U.S.," Thiel says. "The Valley has this excessive insularity. But he has cross-sector relationships in New York, L.A., and other places." Thiel says Ovitz has a preternatural ability to 'learn things quickly and then communicate them to the outside world."
Since the dotcom implosion of the late 1990s, he (Thiel) says, too many new companies in the Valley have 'retrenched,' de-emphasizing relationships with other businesses and institutions. Consulting Ovitz, whose network Thiel calls 'second to none,' has been a way to overcome that inclination.
More 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.
During this reinvention period and today, Mr. Ovitz shuns his critics and naysayers. Tenacity and mental toughness are critical to a successful career reinvention (at any age).
Professional Reinvention After 50 is ABSOLUTELY Possible. Michael Ovitz proves it. Dorie Clark's Reinventing You shows us how to do it.
Our Turn. Here's a link to the landing page for Dorie's free, Professional Reinvention Self Assessment. Let's take inventory of ourselves and ask:
- What are our unique competitive advantages?
- What makes us different from others in our current field (and the new domain we want to break into)?
- How can we help others, what doors can we open, and who are the unique connections in our business networks so we can maximize our individual halo effects?
Those unique competitive advantages can help us "work our magic."
Just like Michael Ovitz ...
Please stay tuned for the next post in this series on Reinventing You After Age 50. Lesson 2: Shift Your Behavior is scheduled for a Friday, January 17, 2014 publication.
Tony Faustino is a marketing and corporate strategist. He writes about how The Internet reinvents marketing strategy for organizations and individuals in his marketing strategy blog, Social Media ReInvention. Follow his tweets @tonyfaustino or circle him on Google+.