Look Forward, Not Back, to Ensure Success — Anouk Pappers

Inspiration And Insights
4 min readSep 28, 2022

I recently read an article, “3 Ways to Become Indispensable and Future-Proof Your Career”, about the challenges executives face striving to stay relevant and at the top of their fields in today’s turbulent times.

Consider some recent data quoted in the article:

• Fifty percent of U.S. firms surveyed recently by PwC say they plan to reduce overall headcount within a year.

Equally daunting:

• Automation and technology will replace 85 million of today’s jobs by 2025, according to data from the World Economic Forum.

Those who “future-proof” their careers though, as communications coach, author, and Duke University professor Dorie Clark put in the article, can achieve long-term success, despite disruptive industries and an unpredictable economy. The trick is to play the long game and to make “ourselves respected enough and known enough that we are pulling opportunities to us.”

As a brand ambassador who’s been working with executives for many years with just that goal in mind, Clark’s recommendations resonated with me.

Clark said to envision where you want to be in five years — and then chart your course, and all the steps along the way, NOW. Figure out the jobs you need on your resume and the people whose connections will matter most, to make those dreams real. And then commit yourself with a laser focus to getting those jobs and meeting those people.

And then finally:

Position yourself squarely in the spotlight as an expert in your field. When you make others in your industry — people outside of your current organization — aware of you and your expertise, they will come to you, rather than the other way around. If that next round of layoffs comes your way, being well-known and well-regarded in your field will pay dividends fast.

While I know the value of a personal brand, I also know that building one takes time and focused effort. Most leaders are committed to excelling at their current jobs, so making time to talk about themselves and spending the energy to create awareness outside of their immediate organization, are tasks that often fall by the wayside.

Clark agrees: “A common problem that many women have is that they focus on their job at the expense of their career,’ she says, explaining that many high-performing executives work so hard for their current company that they forget to make time for their larger personal brand.”

That’s a trade-off that will hurt in the long run. Leaders must spend time now building the future, the career, that they envision for themselves.

So how to build recognition in your field? Clark recommends a “three-step formula of content creation, social proof, and network.”

I couldn’t agree more and I would start by clearly defining your personal brand. Once you’ve identified where you want to be in five years, you need to determine what your key differentiators are. In other words, what makes you stand out from the rest? That will help you decide what two or three topics you should focus on. The next step is then to consistently create and publish relevant content. By boosting your online presence you will raise your profile and establish your credibility and expertise.

Not sure how to start or don’t have enough time? Contact us. We can work with you to get — and keep — you on the right track to achieve your future goals.

Read the full article here.

As a brand anthropologist Anouk Pappers has been storytelling for brands since 2002. In the course of interviewing over 900 CEOs, CMOs and business owners — and publishing 15 books with the best stories — Anouk noticed that 90% of the people profiled were white men. She then decided to focus on working with women executives and leaders from underrepresented groups to tell their stories and build their online narratives. Her company, Signitt, enables these people to create and maintain strong online presences, which positions them for the next step in their professional lives.


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