Disruptive Ideas to Reinvigorate Your Career

By Harvard Business Review
July 3, 2018

When people innovate in their professional paths, disruptive energy is generated within teams, firms and industries. Break out of your funk by doing something different.

Embracing market risk during a career is a high-percentage move. Figuring out what no one else is doing, and then doing it well, offers the greatest possibility of success, rapid acceleration and hypergrowth. However, many people don’t know what assuming market risk looks like when applied to their careers.

Try one of these disruptive ideas to accelerate your career trajectory:

Create a position for yourself using your distinctive strengths as the template. Sarah Feingold was a corporate attorney. When she discovered Etsy was launching some new policies, she offered her insights as an attorney. After being brushed off by the customer services team, she called the founder, and said, “Hey, I’m coming down for an interview. You need in-house counsel, and you need it to be me.”

Because of her willingness to embrace market risk and take on a role that didn’t yet exist, Feingold spent almost a decade as general counsel at Etsy, at the intersection of her passions — creativity and the law — in a job she handcrafted for herself.

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Innovate a product or service from within your position. In 1979, Craig Hatkoff, now a successful investor and co-founder of the Tribeca Film Festival, was fresh out of business school, working for Chemical Bank and about to lose his job. Hatkoff hit on the idea of the bank guaranteeing loans but securing actual funding for those loans from other parties, to alleviate the pain point created by the bank’s high-interest obligations.

 Hatkoff’s idea, now known as letters of credit in lieu of funding, became a crucial financial instrument for Chemical Bank and the industry as a whole — and rescued his job. Not all innovations are so widely impactful, but every organization has pain points begging for someone who will embrace risk to find solutions.

Look for opportunities outside your domain. If you’re a manager, consider unconventional hiring as a deliberate tactic to shake things up.  Lisa Aumiller is a veterinarian. She started a mobile veterinary service, which now tops $5 million in annual revenue. She consistently hires employees from fashion, chemical manufacturing, franchising and other disciplines: People who can think outside the box of veterinary medicine can offer fresh perspectives from expertise acquired in other fields.

Copyright 2018 Harvard Business School Publishing Corp. Distributed by The New York Times Syndicate.

Topics: Career Planning

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