Marketing Your Art the Right Way

Selling Art, Not Selling Out

Cracking Creativity Episode 18: Dorie Clark on Her Journey, How You Can Reinvent Yourself, and How You Can Stand Out

Dorie Clark is a marketing strategy consultant, speaker and contributor to the Harvard Business Review, Time, and Entrepreneur. She authored the books Reinventing You and Stand Out, and is also an adjunct professor of business at Duke’s Fuqua School of Business. In this episode, Dorie talks about how she went from working on Howard Dean’s political campaign to being a business consultant, how you can reinvent yourself, and what you can do to stand out.

Here are three important lessons you can learn from Dorie:

1. The Path to Success Is Never Linear

Dorie did not start her career as a marketing strategist. She worked her way there. Before she ever started advising businesses and teaching business courses at Duke, she was a journalist, political campaign strategist, documentary film maker, and head of a non-profit.

It was only after going through this journey that she found her calling. Instead of accepting the fact that you can’t change your status in life, figure out how you can change it instead.

The way to do this is through experimentation. While making the documentary, Dorie discovered she was much more comfortable with words than she was making videos. The only way she could have discovered this was by trying it first.

By experimenting, you can discover what resonates with you. Try things until you find the thing that lights you up inside.

2. You Can Reinvent Yourself

Through her journey, Dorie was able to reinvent herself multiple times until she found what she wanted to do. If you want to make a career change or you want to change how people perceive you, you must first discover your brand.

The problem is, it is hard for most people to know what their brand is. We know far too much about ourselves to know what our brand is. Dorie advocates asking half a dozen people close to you “If you only had three words to describe me, what would they be?”

This will give you a good idea of how others perceive you. If they chose words you don’t want to describe you, you must determine how to close the gap between those words and the words you do want to describe you.

3. How to Stand Out

In this noisy and competitive world, the only way to become successful is to stand out. Dorie wanted to systematize a process for talented people to be recognized and heard.

For Stand Out, she spoke to thought leaders such as Seth Godin, David Allen, Robert Cialdini, Daniel Pink, and Tom Peters. She also spoke to regular professionals in a variety of fields. Through this process she discovered the three things people can do to stand out.

Build a Network

This starts with building one one one connections with trusted people. This allows you to gain feedback from people you respect.

Build an Audience

Once you have a network of trusted people, you can build an audience. You can only get so far communicating one on one, so you must communicate your ideas publicly.

Build a Community

If you have ideas that people resonate with, you can leverage it through a community. Ambassadors of your idea are the most powerful asset you can have in order to stand out. When your ideas are bigger than yourself, you will stand out.


  • writes business books Reinventing You and Stand Out
  • how do you stand out at your company or in your field?
  • teaches business school at Duke and does speaking/consulting
  • first job was as political journalist, got laid off after a year
  • weren’t any jobs to be had at the time, so she had to reinvent herself
  • spokesperson for presidential candidate, ran non-profit, created documentary film which led to book
  • never thought about being an entrepreneur until she ran the non-profit
  • presidential campaign
    • worked for Howard Dean as deputy press secretary and later New Hampshire communications director
  • documentary film making was a 3 year journey
  • working on political campaigns is a powerful experience
    • many things are easy in comparison to working on one
    • for a year, she worked 7 days a week, 8am-9pm on weekdays and 9am-6pm on weekends
    • they have many crises  which force you to look a few steps ahead
    • knowing things that can go wrong allows you to prepare

“As long as you know what can go wrong, then it enables you much better to be able to prepare for preventing that from happening.”

  • documentary film making has become much easier since the rise of high speed internet
    • video is becoming a much bigger piece of everything
    • used to be much harder to make
    • having visual communication skills is helpful
    • takes a lot of time to create even small pieces of video

“You have to experiment. There really is not a good way of knowing how you’re going to feel about something before you actually do it.”

  • In Reinventing You there’s a story of a woman seeing career counselor
    • knows she wants to be a floral designer
    • counselor has her do day long job shadowing a popular florist
    • while apprenticing, she found out she DIDN’T want to do it
  • how journalism helps her when writing books
  • for books she: picks interesting people, interviews people up front, takes transcripts and reorders them, then writes it out
  • 2 months for interviews, another 2 for draft, and four rounds of edits
  • Reinventing You – for people who want to make a change
    • finding out what your brand is
      • It’s hard for most people to know what their brand is
      • we know too much about ourselves
      • what is most important? most significant?
      • first, you must gather reactions of people
      • reach out to 6 people and ask “If you only had three words to describe me, what would they be?”
      • gap between what people are telling you and what you think of yourself
      • what are the words you want people to use to describe you? how do you get them to see you in new way?
      • live out your brand, make sure you are sending the right messages
    • three words that people used to describe Dorie:
      • curious – about people/new things
      • fun  – fun to be around
      • intelligent
    • example of doing three word exercise live in Israel

“How do I want my current brand to be different than it is and what are the actions then that I need to take to ensure that that message is coming through to people? “

  • Stand Out – doing things you love
    • how do you stand out in a noisy world?
    • systematize process so talented people can be more successful and be heard/recognized
    • people she profiled were people she admired and wanted to learn how they became successful
    • Seth Godin, David Allen, Robert Cialdini, Daniel Pink, Tom Peters
    • also spoke to regular professionals in variety fields
    • unexpected things
      • the work ethic of successful people
      • Dan Pink – emails back every fan that writes him (I can confirm this is true)
      • Angela Lussier – walked out of job with $2,000 in bank
        • needed to start business fast
        • cold contacted libraries
        • most said no
        • one said yes and asked how many she wanted to do
        • agreed to do 16 workshops
        • contacted other libraries that said no and asked if they wanted her to come in
        • ended up doing over 500 workshops in a year
  • what people can do to stand out
    • building a following is 3 step process
    • 1. building network – one on one connections with trusted people
      • get and give honest feedback
    • 2. building audience – communicating publicly
      • share ideas so people who don’t know them can find them
    • 3. building community – audience wants to connect around you and your idea
      • ambassadors for your ideas are most powerful
  • building community
    • not every idea can have a community around it
    • idea needs to have relevance and utility to lives of your audience
    • technical aspect – what are you doing to make it easy for people to connect with each other
    • Eric Ries – Lean Startup Conference and Meetups
  • building her audience/community
    • when she moved to NY she organized dinner gatherings and invited new group of people to it
    • allowed her to get to know people enough to build connections
    • doing podcast interviews, blogging, writing books
    • has meeting for business authors – helps build community through comradery
    • Jayson GaignardMastermind Dinners
    • getting started – start small
You can't just assume that having a good idea is going to be sufficient for you. Click To Tweet

“You can’t just assume that having a good idea is going to be sufficient for you. You have to take more control. You have to really make an effort to ensure that your contributions will be recognized.”

“I really wanted to talk to regular professionals and to people in a variety of fields so that I could try to understand, what are the commonalities. Whatever your field is, what is necessary to do to have your idea recognized and heard?”

  • favorite thing to do is speaking
    • gratifying in the moment
    • you know when people resonate
  • tries to have a balanced portfolio – used to get majority of money from consulting
  • balancing everything she does
  • on teaching and how she structures her classes
  • writing for Harvard Business Review
    • decided she wanted to write for larger publication
    • sold bike to woman who worked at HBR
    • was able to take contact and meet editor
    • led to first book based on blog post
  • writing for Forbes and Entrepreneur
  • morning routine
    • makes Indian Chai tea by hand and reads New York Times cover to cover
  • resources/tools for creativity
    • voice memo and notes functions on her phone
    • virtual assistants – enables her to offload time consuming tasks
    • Michael Michalko – Thinker Toys, Scott Anthony/ Stephen Shapiro on innovation, Scott Belsky – Behance/Adobe – how creative people can be more effective
  • creative people
    • John Lee Dumas – Entrepreneur on Fire – conceptualized podcasts differently

“My definition of creativity is people undertaking a task in a way that adds something new or liberates their mind and feels stimulating to them.”

“Even if people have baggage around the idea of art, that they couldn’t possibly make art, you can always be a creative person.”

“Regardless of whether you are a quote, unquote, professional artist. Regardless of what you perceive your level of talent to be, you can inject creativity into your every day life.” – Free 42 Page workbook available there

Dorie Clark on Twitter

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