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Working Identity: Unconventional Strategies for Reinventing Your Career [Paperback]

Our Price $ 21.25  
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Item Number 411766  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   224
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.34" Width: 5.5" Height: 0.61"
Weight:   0.75 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Publisher   Harvard Business School Press
ISBN  1591394139  
EAN  9781591394136  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
This book presents a powerful model for career reinvention that reverses conventional wisdom. It includes fascinating case studies of personal and professional reinventions - from literature professor to stockbroker, from psychiatrist to Buddhist monk, and from investment banker to fiction writer, among others. It gives readers a new way to understand change in their lives. Career change is not a step-by-step linear process - it's crooked and takes much longer than we think. Nor is change the result of one big event. Rather, many small steps add up to a successful change.

Buy Working Identity: Unconventional Strategies for Reinventing Your Career by Herminia Ibarra from our Christian Books store - isbn: 9781591394136 & 1591394139

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More About Herminia Ibarra

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Herminia Ibarra is an expert on professional and leadership development. She is the Cora Chaired Professor of Leadership and Learning at INSEAD, the founding director of The Leadership Transition executive education program at INSEAD, and the author of Working Identity: Unconventional Strategies for Reinventing Your Career (Harvard Business Review Press, 2003).

Herminia Ibarra was born in 1961.

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Product Categories
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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Not very much to the book...  Nov 25, 2008
There is honestly not a lot to this book.

The fundamental contribution made is "Do stuff, and see how you feel about it -- don't think about everything you could do, and plot out a detailed plan, before even considering switching. You can make mistakes."

As opposed to the "Well, spent a lot of time thinking about what you'd like to do. Figure it out yet? No? Well then go back and think some more." approach that is supposedly all so common today.

This, interspersed with a lot of stories of people who are in their late 30s and 40s switching from jobs whose titles all sound fairly irrelevant to me (me being a 24 year old ex-software engineer searching for something more interesting to do with my life). I guess having worked 3 years in the same sort of job (plus a 4 year degree that says 'go write code'), I'm not nearly as invested as the people who have been doing what they've done for 20 years...
"Follow Your Passion? Not In This Masterpiece!"  Nov 10, 2008
If what you're looking for is a book that will detail how to "follow your passion," this is the wrong book for you. Ibarra starts her research from scratch and challenges much of the conventional wisdom.

Most people who are considering a career change never seem to take the final step. Their approach to career change is ready, aim, fire--with a great deal of aim--pondering, deliberating and cogitating that continues for years, resulting in the absence of fire--forever a virgin, failing to consummate. They hold on to their past, paralyzed, and fearful of the loss of security and income for a career that may be a big question mark.

However, those few who take the step are glad they did it. Some enjoy the excitement of a start-up after what they see as the frustrating predictability of a major corporation. Others thrive on the challenge of a broader role in another company, after years in a corporate silo that had brought disappointment after disappointment. Still others affirm the transformation of finding an alternative career that really fits their life--after too many years of unfulfilling work. (With two transitions under my belt over 45 years, and a third on the way, I celebrate reinvention.)

Even the most conservative statistics support the need for Ibarra's book. Career statisticians will tell you to expect 3 career changes in your life, and 12 - 15 jobs as corporate loyalty recedes into history and technology drives evolving skill sets.

Rosabeth Kanter's endorsement is apt: One of those rare and wonderful books that combines deep knowledge drawn from careful research with practical ideas that can be put to immediate use.

The book grew out of questioning how people change careers in this new economy. Ibarra's research supported by the conception that changing careers amounts to changing identities. History reminds me that reinvention is the American career model. No one assumed more personas, played more roles, was more mobile, cosmopolitan and worldly than Ben Franklin, the most American of the founding fathers--the master of reinvention.

Ibarra's social-psych research is focused on people aged 32 to 51, with the majority midcareer--ages 38 to 43--individuals with enough experience to know themselves. The selection includes a motley crew of MBAs, lawyers, physicians, university profs and IT professionals. Her methodology focuses on the transition from one career to another, comparing and contrasting personal cases to surface the characteristics of career transition. The result is the creation of a new theory of career change. This new thinking is desperately needed, largely because all the previous insights are built on the "one career" career--prior to the technology revolution.

Among the more fascinating and critical new insights to career change she presents are two: *Act your way into a new way of thinking, rather than think your way into a new way of acting. *The biggest error when trying to change careers is deciding on the destination before taking the first step.

With at least fifty books on career change in my personal library, this is the one I go to first for friends and clients.
Refreshingly adult  Oct 31, 2008
Countless self-help guides to switching jobs or careers assume you've got just one true identity in life, and therefore, just one true purpose. Your task is to look so deep inside yourself that you discover this purpose. It's a little like the old notion of a soulmate - that out of all the billions of people on this planet, only one can be our true love. You plow through these sorts of books doing endless exercises, ranging from the conventional (Briggs-Meyers) to the unconventional (list your top 10 most enjoyable memories). Once you nail your personality type, or your "genius," or whatever it is that supposedly makes you unique, you're home free - or so the books assert.

"Working Identity" is refreshingly different; one might even say refreshingly adult. Ibarra, formerly on the faculty of the Harvard Business School and now a professor at INSEAD, a business school in France, notes that the real way most of us change careers isn't through introspection, but experimentation: going back to school part-time, for example, or slowly building a freelance practice on the side, or hanging out with people in the line of work we're interested in to see what it feels like. This sort of dabbling and detouring, says Ibarra, is a healthy reaction to our possessing not a single "true" self, but many selves, among which we're constantly choosing.

For my full review, see
Keeping Your Head When Others Are Losing Theirs  Jul 12, 2008
So many of us feel lost in these shaky economic times and troubling globalizing trends that foster paranoia and sometimes very rational fears about job in/security. Ibarra offers helpful advice about finding ways to uncover "what's next" for you in the professional domain. She doesn't subscribe to the fashionable belief that there is just one treasure within you that is the work you were meant to do, like so much psycho-spiritual literature out there. Rather, she urges readers to experiment, even to play with their identity (always-in-a-social-context) before making the big switch to something radically different.

Ibarra returns to these two themes, again and again: (1) "Our working identity is made up of many possibilities: some tangible and concrete, defined by the things we do, the company we keep, and the stories we tell about our work and lives; others existing only in the realm of future potential and private dreams." and (2) "Changing careers means changing our selves. Since we are many selves, changing is not a process of swapping one identity for another but rather a transition process in which we reconfigure the full set of possibilities. These simple ideas alter everything we take for granted about finding a new career. They ask us to devote the greater part of our time and energy to action rather than reflection, to doing instead of planning."

Our work identity is just one site of information about who we are and who we can's never fixed nor is it an object to be discovered once and for all. I strongly recommend this book for anyone wanting a quick fix or a Seven Step Guarantee for Success after Job Loss -- this will bust that ersatz model wide open.

For those who want to see my vocational clarity guide book--something with lots of unconventional exercises--don't hesitate to check it out:
Polishing the Mirror: 90 Days to Vocational Clarity
An insightful and refreshing book  Nov 4, 2007
While I'm admittedly not in what the author declares as the intended audience of the book, I've still found it to be very insightful. The intended audience being those who have invested significantly in training for and carrying out a career in a specific field and are now considering switching. As a current member of the military who intends to move into the business world after 5 years, I was refreshed by the author's encouragement to explore potential selves instead of locking yourself into what you "should" do based on the results of some introspection or a personality test.

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