We are often so enamoured by SuperStars and their ‘overnight successes’ that we wish we too could become like them.
However, many of these celebrities took the long route and made many mistakes before realising what they were meant to be.
Likewise, learn to be patient, adaptable and tenacious! Never give up!! Here are some highly motivating real life examples of Famous People who successfully pivoted over into different careers.
Did you know that before becoming owner of her own media empire, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, she was actually a stock-broker thoughout most of her early twenties?
It was said that she was one of the few female brokers in New York but when the oil-shock of the 70s hit, there simply wasn’t any business anymore, and she decided to pivot into something different, using her passion.
She bought a 19th Century farmhouse and started refurbishing it. She then started a catering business that was very unique – she would prepare the food for her clients, but instead of delivering them in standard steel catering containers, she would serve them in typical kitchen cookware – the kind found in your home.
This gave her client’s guests the impression that the host had cooked them herself and their guests would marvel at their hosts’ culinary skills. Her business grew from catering, to event planning, to writing cookbooks, and then, her own cooking show. Today, even after her prison stint for insider trading, Martha Stewart is still worth close to US$400m.
A serial career-pivoter, Arnie first came to America not being able to speak a single word of English. Although he was a famous body builder, he leveraged his experience from his hometown in Austria, and started a bricklaying business in California in 1968.
At first, he did not succeed, but with a stroke of marketing genius, he positioned his company as “Specialty European Bricklayers” (whatever that means!) and charged a premium to his clients – and business boomed!
Despite having won the Mr Universe Contest 6 times, he was still not happy just being a ‘muscle-head’ entrepreneur. He relied on his network of publicists and friends and ventured into acting, with his first breakthrough role in ‘Conan The Barbarian’. After making a name for himself as an Action superstar, he was still hungry for more career excitement and in 2003, pivoting on his fame and reputation, became the Governor of California.
Arnie has proven to us that even at a later stage in your life/career, changes are still possible as long as you pivot on your strengths or passion.
You have probably heard that the creator of the world’s best-loved child-wizard series, “Harry Potter” was a jobless, divorced mom who considered herself a failure in every possible way.
She even suffered several bouts of depression (which she allegorised as ‘the Dementors’ in her books) and was a total wreck before she decided to follow her passion and began writing her first book, “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone”.
It didn’t help that the twelve publishing houses rejected her manuscript, saying that it was ‘not interesting’ and ‘would never work’. However, she had a lucky break and small publishing house decided to publish a mere 1,000 copies for a first run, of which half was distributed to Public Libraries (according to Wikipedia, these rare collectors’ items are valued between £16,000 and £25,000 today!).
How did she manage to pivot herself from the abject despair of being a ‘failure’ to one of the world’s richest authors? Well, she did have a lucky break…but she also knew her strengths (writing) and passion (story-telling), so she leveraged on those to make a career switch.
As you can see, many famous (and not so famous) people have made mid-career switches – some even at a very late stage in their life. So, if you are contemplating a similar move, don’t be afraid. It’s not impossible!
Reach out to us if you are considering a Career Pivot! We can help make Superstars out of you!
Adrian Choo is a Thought Leader, Author and CEO/Founder of Career Agility International, a global Career Strategy Consulting firm. A C-suite Mentor, he is a much sought-after speaker and can be heard on radio 91.3FM every Thursday morning where he shares his latest ideas on Career Dynamics. He helps mid-career executives to find CareerClarity™ and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.