As if career motion is something only people who are just starting their careers can tackle.
But have you ever read the business pages?
Chances are, the company you’re currently working for has – at one time – completely changed what its business was all about.
No, I’m not talking about the massive conglomerates like Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway. Those companies have a purpose to buy bits of loads of companies, in the hopes of making cumulative tons of cash.
I’m talking about companies that started out doing one thing, and slowly built their business into something else. They’re all Mandate Nomads – so why not you?
Let’s take a look at three of the bigger ones.
We all think of Apple as a generic “tech” company, but how did they start?
By making a single computer (in a garage, no less). While we would obviously expect them to grow and expand from such humble beginnings, for twenty years, that’s really all they did. They just came up with better and better iterations of the same computer, and threw in a few software packages to make that computer seem like a more attractive purchase.
That computer is one of its lesser products. In any given quarter, Apple makes about the same money from its Mac as it does from iTunes (a software service), iPad (admittedly a different kind of computer), and basically everything else (including iPod).
Over two-thirds – almost 70% – of their revenue comes from a cell phone.
The inspiration for the original company now exists almost entirely to just further the company’s reputation. But it could drop the entire product line and still be a giant.
Did you know that Nintendo actually started over a hundred years ago making playing cards? And they stayed that way for almost a century – with a few completely unrelated ventures in the 1960s – until the 1970s when they started tinkering with video games.
The company that defined entertainment technology across three decades was “created” only a few years before it exploded in popularity.
One of the things that makes Nintendo interesting is that you could argue they never actually strayed from their original purpose.
If they had called themselves a “playing card” company, then they would have completed changed direction with the video game entry.
But if they had seen themselves as an “entertainment” company, then it would have just been a natural evolution.
Speaks to the notion of seeing your skills beyond your tasks, doesn’t it?
One of the most interesting Mandate Nomads is the French company, Vivendi. It started out as a government water company started by Napoleon’s nephew, and focused on that and only that for a century.
After a natural extension into other municipal services like waste management in the 1970s, a new and young CEO in the 1990s completely redefined what the company’s mandate was. No longer about infrastructure services, Vivendi bought liquor giant (and owner of Universal Studios) for $42 billion, immediately jumping into a realm they had little experience managing.
Oh, and that water business? They sold the whole thing off in 2000. So they now have absolutely nothing to do with how they started.
They clear a solid $3-4 billion per year.
Your Identity Is What You Want It To Be
So what does that all mean for you?
They’re giant corporations and you’re just an individual, right? Of course they can do these massive pivots: they’ve got boatloads of other people’s cash to do whatever they want.
I don’t see it that way. What I see is companies taking one success, and building it into a different kind of success. The success of the Mac became the success of the iPod, which became the success of the iPhone.
Even Vivendi’s success in the water and sewage businesses (??) were necessary for them to get into the entertainment industry. Would they have had any cash to make those purchases? If someone had cash but no experience running an organization, could they have just taken something over and made it a success?
Don’t let anyone tell you that you’re on a track that needs to run its course. That you’ve chosen a path, and that you’ll suffer if you don’t follow it to “the end.”
You can define your career any way you want.
After all: if a multibillion-dollar company with thousands of employees can suddenly change direction, why can’t a single person??
What are some of the ways you’ve chosen to redefine yourself? Tell us in the comments below!