A Brand New Day — Reinventing yourself and your career

March 2022 View more

NMAG1012_SmallFeature_MAINThe sluggish job market is forcing many people to refocus their career and their lifestyle.  Many people, some by choice and others by necessity, are re-branding who they are and what they do for a living.

Fit for change

Nicki Anderson has always had a strong interest in fitness since losing 50 pounds, nearly 30 years ago. Since then, she has turned her passion for fitness into a successful and rewarding career.

Anderson started out selling memberships at a health club. When she was let go from that job, she turned her attention to writing for the Daily Herald and a children’s magazine. That’s when she rediscovered her true passion. “I saw an Ad for a health club trainer. I did some research. Went to school and started an in-home training business,” said Anderson. Within seven years, her business sky-rocketed and she was servicing clients all over the Chicago area.

From there, Anderson opened Reality Fitness in Naperville, a health and fitness studio designed to work with obese people in private training rooms. “It’s a lot of work, but when you’re doing something that you love, it’s not work, it’s fun,” said Anderson.

As a mother of four living in Naperville, Anderson has reinvented herself throughout her professional life. Not only has she been a stay at home mother, a personal trainer, a fitness lecturer, a writer, she is also currently a fitness contributor for Naperville Magazine and regularly competes in marathons. “If you want it bad enough, you will find the time to do it,” said Anderson.

“You have to define your own success. It’s not just about the money. You have to define what you love and be true to yourself and never undervalue yourself,” said Anderson.

Anderson credits a lot of her success to her supporting husband. “I have been fortunate to have the support of my husband. If I need to work early or stay late, he’s there to help out. I realize that’s not the case for everyone,” said Anderson.

Anderson is now transitioning to another stage in her life. She recently sold her business, Reality Fitness, to a friend and is exploring her next move. “I will be doing more volunteering and consulting with my fitness business as I look for the next opportunity,” she said.

Anderson says if she had to do it again, she wouldn’t do anything differently. “Every mistake has taught me something. They are building blocks to my life. In life, you have to take the good with the bad.”

From Corporate America to Resale Empire

After nine years in the corporate world as vice president of marketing for a healthcare association, Elaine Krieger was suddenly laid off and forced to find a new career path. “I’m blessed that I was fired. I tell that to people all the time, that getting fired is not necessarily a bad thing,” said Krieger.

For Krieger, being terminated from her corporate job, opened new doors of opportunity. While shopping at a resale store, Krieger picked up a dress that was $3 and was wowed by the concept. “What a value I thought. I didn’t realize it was resale since I had never bought used clothes,” said Krieger.

Krieger researched the resale store concept and six months later opened Once Upon a Child. “It was so different than the corporate world. I was the store manager,” said Krieger. She now owns 16 resale stores—five Plato’s Closet, five Clothes Mentors, two Once Upon a Child, two New Uses, and two additional stores opening soon. “My role has changed from store manager with seven employees, to chief financial officer with 250 employees.”

“In my 13 years, I have fired, hired, cleaned toilets, fixed vacuums, negotiated leases, ran sales, fixed credit card machines and much more,” said Krieger. “The day doesn’t stop at 5p.m. When you own your own business, you are responsible for it 24 hours a day.”

For many people transitioning careers, or reinventing themselves, having a strong support network is key. Krieger relies on several business mentors. However, her biggest supporter is her husband, Doug Krieger, Naperville’s city manager. “Doug has been terrific. He balances me out. I’m the risk taker and he’s the thinker. Together, we make a great business partnership and we are still married!” said Krieger.

Krieger was awarded the Small Business Entrepreneur of the Year in 2011 by the U.S. Small Business Administration. “I love my stores. I love my staff. I love my customers,” said Krieger.

 The reinvention process

Jan Marino, a Lisle resident, was also among those unemployed and forced to reinvent herself several times in her professional life. With so much experience reinventing herself, she founded High Gain Companies, a personal branding and career management company.

“I’ve downsized, rightsized, oversized, and undersized, so I know firsthand what it takes to completely change course. I’ve learned that the process is never ending and takes longer than you think it will. Having a plan and executing your change plan is essential for success,” said Marino.

Marino says the first step to reinventing yourself, is to start doing it now.

“If you never start, you’ll never change,” said Marino. “Begin with little changes.
Ask yourself ‘What small change could I make today that would get me started?’” said Marino.

 Developing your personal brand

“We are all in sales whether we like it or not. We are selling our expertise and experience in a global market. We want to show our value. The best way to do that is to develop your personal brand and showcase yourself through your (social media) network, Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube,” said Marino.

Marino wrote several books on career change and personal branding. Her newest book, “Take Back Your Career”, uses a sports theme to explain how the career game is played today.

“Today’s career game is truly a contact sport. Remember that YOU are the product, so personal branding and marketing are essential,” said Marino.

 Strategies for success

There are three main strategies for success, according to Marino. First, find a need, fill it, and do it better and more economically than anyone else in the marketplace. Secondly, discover what makes your heart sing. “Several of my clients have discovered that they wanted to give back to the business community. Through volunteering, they now mentor and teach,” said Marino.

Thirdly, make a difference in the world. “Get involved and make changes that are important to you. Get out of your comfort zone and forget about playing it safe,” said Marino.


Personal Branding Tips

*Source: www.takebackyourcareernow.com

• YOU are the product

• Determine what makes you unique and marketable

• Create a vision statement for yourself

• Be prepared to reinvent yourself every five years

• Set daily goals and celebrate reaching them

• Learn to network like a pro

• Listen more than you talk

• Don’t burn bridges

• Look for the best in everyone

• Show up everyday