Friday, May 2, 2008

Second-life Woman: how to make an entrance (hint: Seth Godin suggests being a Purple Cow)

One of the challenges we women face as we move beyond the full-time mothering and homemaking role into our second life (you might see this called the fourth act, too) is finding, creating and selling our new identity to our family, to our circle of acquaintances, and to prospective employers or clients. Many women from my generation, even though we came out of the turbulent ’60s, even though we have raised successful families, even though we might have a string of degrees and citations; we still think of and market ourselves as supporters of others from the shadows.

When the women baby-boomers first started to hit this section of the life road and filled their resumes and interview prep with all the supportive and caretaking they could do for their potential boss or client it was intriguing and in some cases remarkable (to borrow Godin’s term). Today that is not the case and the sheer numbers of women moving to find a job or a career or a market sector for their fledgling business have totally diluted the effect of that strategy. This is not to say that what you do or how you do it can’t be about supporting someone else’s goals or agendas, but that angle is not unique and will not get you noticed; and if you don’t get noticed you will not get chosen.

Some of you are already countering that you never get picked for anything except maybe the leftovers. Well, if you are in a marriage or a relationship, you got picked (it doesn’t matter if you did the actual proposing); if you have children, someone picked you to be intimate with (this is a family friendly space and we use euphemisms) or the adoption agency decided you were parenting material. At some point in the past you stood out and got picked over the rest of the available field. If that wasn’t what you really wanted to get picked for, then take note of how you made yourself stand out back then and the results; and do things differently this time.

If your strongest message about yourself is that you can keep your desk clean and make great coffee and keep other people on task; one it’s not unique and two the positions it transfers to are probably not remarkable. If, however, in your secret place of the heart you have this idea about something you want to do, either because you think it’s important, or you love it, or your experience tells you that the world (or somebody) needs this; then you have to find and promote (a nice way to say market) your unique qualities that make you the hands down choice for whatever it is you want to do.

None of this is new information. Seth Godin wrote a whole epistle on being remarkable in his book The Purple Cow. I have presented a slice of it here through the lens of a previous stay-at-home mom. It took me a long time to see the material in the book as pertinent to my situation because I just want to build a freelance writing business not a multi-national corporation but according to Godin the principles apply to both scenarios; and I think other former stay-at-home moms might have the same reluctance to check it out.

So, you knew there would be homework with this right? This week’s task has two parts so should you choose to play along you can do either or both parts. Part one is to either find and read a copy of The Purple Cow (try the library) or read entries on Godin’s blog expanding on the material in the book. Part two is to take a piece of paper (or two or three) and write at the top: I Am A Purple Cow and my objective is to _____ (fill in the blank). Then list all the ways you can make yourself stand out in order to achieve your chosen endeavor.

Hint: these don’t have to be pricey but some of them will be scary, and risky, and definitely outside your comfort zone; if that is not an option then your dream is doomed at the outset. It comes down to deciding whether to stay with the herd in the relative safety of the feedlot or to go for a chance to win a blue rosette at the fair (sorry my farm girl past showing up here). It might not work out but if you don’t get selected to go you will never find out.

Disclaimer: I have not received any money or consideration from either Seth Godin or Amazon for this post. This is my impression of the information in the book; your results may vary. This post was inspired by Naomi at IttyBiz in her marketing tutorial post Go Big Or Suck; who also is not paying me to say that.

Other posts in the series:

1. Mommy tracking

1a. Exit strategy

2. Dreams

3. Net worth

Women and Self caretaking


Naomi from IttyBiz said...

I'm here to certify I didn't pay you to write this. :)

G's Cottage said...

Hi, Naomi. Welcome. Thanks for visiting.