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Are You in the Wrong Business?

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At business school, they teach a class called “Organizational Behavior.” During this class, you learn that there are two different kinds of people in business: Clock Builders and Time Tellers.

To run--the world needs both kinds of people-–those who create the vision (Clock Builders) and those that implement it (Time Tellers). Knowing which role you play best is essential to career fulfillment and happiness. You can’t squeeze yourself into being something you’re not. 

I am, without a shred of doubt, a Clock Builder. Yet not long ago, I played the role of a Time Teller, and it took its toll on me.

I was living in Los Angeles riding the Internet wave and making millions. Big Fish was creating online launch campaigns for television series like Lost, Desperate Housewives, Top Model, and Project Runway. We were the go-to agency for any major television event, including the Olympics and the Academy Awards.

It only took a few years of living on crushing deadlines for me to realize that I was building the wrong business. My unique talent was in creating world-class brands, yet most days I was stuck writing headlines for banner ads. I had lost my North Star--I was off mission and fulfilling someone else’s purpose--not mine.

I know how tempting it can be to let your career happen to you. Money can be a powerful distraction. But in the end, you have to measure your career not by a monetary meaning of success, but by the difference you are making in the world.

If you’ve gotten off track and strayed away from your true calling, ask yourself these questions to determine if you’re in the wrong business.

___ Do you feel you’re not working in your passion?

___ Are you undervalued or under-utilized somehow?

___ Is the culture of your workplace not a good fit for you?

___ Do you tell your friends and family, “I’m in it for the paycheck?”

___ Does your boss put you down or pass you over for promotions?

___ Is your job a demoralizing experience?

___ Do you question your own abilities, capacities, or perceptions?

___ Do you feel like all you ever do is throw in the towel?

___ Are your suggestions met with a patronizing response?

___ Is there a lack of acceptance because you look or sound different?

___ Do you dread going to the office and wish you could dash it all?

If your answer was “Yes” to two or more questions, perhaps it’s time for you to redirect your career or business toward something you are passionate about–something that you can do that really matters.

Only a few years ago, my company was at the nexus of entertainment and interactive advertising. Many of the clients we had back then are still with us today, but the projects they bring are in the Clock Builder realm. And because of this, the work is vastly more rewarding and satisfying to me.

To be in the “Right Business,” don’t strive for success – strive to create meaning.

Robin Fisher Roffer is a leading brand strategist and reinvention specialist. Founder and CEO of Big Fish Marketing, she is the author of Make A Name For Yourself: 8 Steps Every Woman Needs To Create A Personal Brand Strategy For Success, The Fearless Fish Out Of Water: How To Succeed When You’re The Only One Like You, and Reinventing Yourself: 10 Steps To Shifting Your Career Into High Gear. Learn about her Reinvent Yourself! Workshops at http://relevanceinstitute.com/

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Comments (2)

  • I'm in the process of choosing what route to take after I finish my undergrad this semester and advice like this is what inspires me to not just take any job I can find. Thanks for the pep talk.

  • I'm definitely a Clock Builder, but after being out of work for 6 months after being laid off due to a Reduction In Force, I got an offer the other day for a position that is a 100% Time Teller / Bean Counter / "Keep the Lights On and The Trains Running" type of job. In other words, they really do not want to hear any of your visionary ideas. I know I will grow to hate this job very shortly, but I feel compelled to take it because A) unemployment checks are tiny and only last so long -and- B) the longer you're out of work, the harder it is to get a new job (an utterly stupid prejudice that I do not understand). Probably not fair to the employer to accept the offer, knowing how much it costs them to bring on and train a new employee. But - these days it is every person for themselves and you do what you have to keep from losing your house...

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