Randi Zuckerberg Explains Why You Should Embrace Your Reinvention
Most entrepreneurs have faced failure. It's how you respond to that failure that defines you.
Excerpted from Pick Three by Randi Zuckerberg. Copyright © 2018 by Zuckerberg Media Inc. Reprinted by permission of Dey Street Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.
It can be difficult to reinvent yourself in your career. Sometimes no matter what you do, no matter how hard you try, you just keep hitting wall after wall after wall. After I left Facebook, I had moments of crippling insecurity when I worried no one would care about me if I was no longer tied to one of the hottest global companies. Would I ever be anything except for somebody’s sister?
A few weeks ago, I was on CNBC discussing an exciting new project I was launching, something that has absolutely nothing to do with Facebook whatsoever. Yet, the anchor introduced me by saying, “Mark Zuckerberg’s sister is here in the studio with us today.” So, I replied, “Sorry, I haven’t legally changed my name to ’Mark Zuckerberg’s sister’ yet, so please just call me Randi.” It’s taken me a few years of moving to a different coast and having several successes all on my own, but now I truly have the confidence to embrace my personal reinvention.
Most of us are somewhere in the process of reinventing ourselves. Perhaps that’s why you’re reading this -- to learn how to better restructure your career, rebrand your life, shift gears. The world is changing so quickly that people who dedicated their entire careers to one company now suddenly find themselves out of a job when their company goes under. People who chose what would normally be evergreen, “safe” jobs are now seeing that no position is truly safe in the tech era. The world is full of motivated, ambitious people who have been forced to become Work Renovators.
Take Reshma Saujani, the founder of Girls Who Code. I first met Reshma in 2010, when she was running for Congress. In fact, the first political campaign I ever donated to was Reshma’s! Even though she didn’t win that election -- or her following run for New York City public advocate -- Reshma’s passion for community leadership and change shone through, and I was proud to support a young woman running on such an ambitious platform. It would have been easy to get jaded after losing two elections in such a short period of time. I mean, a regular person can hit a brick wall and face public rejection only so many times before they give up, but, luckily, Reshma is not a regular person. She stuck with her decision to give back via public service and was able to reinvent herself in one of the most masterful pivots I have seen: as the founder of Girls Who Code, a nonprofit that teaches programming to young women in order to increase the number of women working in computer science. A true Work Renovator in every sense.
Reshma pivoted her career after her two-time defeat. She jokes that it wasn’t really even a choice. When I spoke with her she said that each time she lost a campaign, Girls Who Code got bigger, growing with every setback. Although her mission was always to launch GWC, her initial plan was for someone else to run the organization while she spent her own career working in public service. “But I guess that was never God’s plan, or anyone else’s plan,” Reshma admitted. “When I lost my public advocate race and got shut down on getting computer science into every classroom, I said, ’F you. I’m going to do this on my own and build this massive movement.’” Where many would have backed down, Reshma instead reached even higher, using the pain from her failures to create something larger than anyone had expected. Years later, Reshma says she can finally admit that losing the election was like a gift. While, of course, she was disappointed and had to reconcile that she might never have the life in politics she had always dreamed of, she still felt that at the end of the day, she could hold her head high because she tried. She went for it.
The vast majority of people would have been too scared to even step into the ring.
I speak to many successful people every week on my SiriusXM show, and most of these entrepreneurs have faced failure, rejection and disappointment. It’s how you respond to that failure, how your inner Work Renovator starts rearranging the pieces, that truly defines you in that moment. Reshma’s experiences helped her redefine what success means to her, and that success now means running an incredible organization that creates opportunities for girls that wasn’t available before.
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