December 24, 2016 reinierh

The ‘next’ you

So you want to become an entrepreneur? Stop doing what you are already good at, and start telling people what you will be good at.

Activating your network is key to launching new initiatives, it’s about getting the word out there so people can help. You may need to leave your day job. You may want to do something totally different. You may have a radical idea that no one really understands. But often your biggest supporters have pigeon-holed you already, because they know (the old) you.

Now let’s say you are a graphic designer, and you want people to think of you a sustainability consultant. How do you make the switch? How can you break free and start something really new? This is what Jochem Duyff and I were discussing in a recent working lunch – how can you get people to see you in a different light?

Plant new triggers in their heads.

Potential customers, ambassadors, mentors — anybody who can help get your initiative off the ground — all need a simple way to understand who you want to be. Call it your personal positioning. It’s helpful if all these people have a simple way of comparing your needs to what they come across in their life. Triggers than signal ‘think of me’ in certain situations. It’s your job to put those triggers in their head.

Storytelling is the basis for getting your message of renewal across.

Explain the switch in a simple way – ‘I want to achieve this, to solve this, it’s important to me because of this, and this is how I need help from you.’


  1. It starts with you, how you think about yourself. Are you a graphic designer or a sustainability consultant? Start introducing yourself this way, start talking about this, and tell a story that stays close to you.
  2. Keep the story simple, distinct, and repeat it. Identify what triggers you want to embed in people’s mind. Practice the story any chance you get. Sharpen it, shorten it, and keep repeating it.
  3. From strength to strength. Find how you can leverage your existing expertise in a new way, leverage it to build a new strength.
  4. Stop doing the things you used to do. To truly transition it must be in word and action. Stop being a designer, and spend all your time starting to be a consultant (or whatever your aim). If you keep doing the things you are good at, then you have no time for the new skills you need to learn – and everybody just keeps thinking of you as the old you.
  5. Make a hard break. When the time is right, draw a hard line. Shock people if you have to, and shock yourself.

 ‘Be the change you wish to see in the world’

Mahatma Gandhi

If we all keep being our old selves, we can only change incrementally. Every once in a while we benefit from a big change – to grow, to experience, to step into a greater version of ourselves. I think the start of this journey is connecting a story with how we act, so that others can be a part of that change too.

I plan to follow this piece up with a step 2 – how to actually build the knowledge, authority and organize your activities so you can make a transition. Storytelling is but the first step!
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