Bobby Umar is an inspirational speaker, a branding & speaker coach, and a leadership influencer with an impressive list of achievements under his belt. To name a few – he is a 5x TEDx speaker; was named one of Inc. Magazine’s Top 100 Leadership speakers; he is the founder of DYPB – Discover Your Personal Brand (North America’s largest event dedicated solely to personal branding); he is a best-selling author; he is a Huffington Post contributor. With over 500,000 followers, Bobby uses his social media community to advocate for authentic connection and leadership.
Q: How did you end up in your current career path?
A: It took me a decade to figure out where I am today. I was an aerospace design engineer; I was in the performing arts; I did an MBA and then went into corporate brand marketing; I taught on the side, and did a bit of coaching. I was a jack of all trades, master of none. This used to be a big problem for me growing up because the personal assessments I did would never be able to pinpoint a specific career path for me. This is why personal branding is so important. If we can figure out what makes us unique, then we can really figure out how to make the most out of who we are.
I remember very vividly. It was 2006, I was working at the corporate world back then as a marketing professional. I was always a hard worker and I never minded putting in the extra hours. I was focused on making it into a director role, while climbing up the corporate ladder. I’ve always worked long hours and it did not bother me until the last couple months of my employment.
I started getting very exhausted during the middle of the day. I would lose my focus. forced to go home and rest. Around the same time, my wife and I were thinking of starting a family – we were having trouble. We had meant to see a doctor to find out why but it was all pushed to the back burner because of work. The next thing I knew, I experienced a panic attack at work and eventually, I forced myself a few months later to see a doctor. The result of that doctor’s visit explained many things – I had diabetes. It also explained why I was constantly exhausted and out of energy at work. It was a very difficult time for me.
Knowing that, I went to my company, explained my situation and asked to work “normal” hours (I suggested about 50 hours/wk). To my surprise, the company sent me an exit package 3 weeks later. This really opened my eyes. I started asking myself if my past efforts were worth it. Why are all these things going horribly wrong? What is it that I actually want to do in life? What am I doing with my life now? Around the same time, my wife had caught E.Coli and ended up in ICU for a week. During the two months that I stayed home and took care of her, it gave me time to think things through.
The Turning Point
Before I have always made decisions based on what I was good at. I got into engineering because I was good at math and physics. I went into the performing arts because I showed some talent for singing and comedy. I got into marketing because I was interested in influencing and understanding people. I learned from my parents early on that engineers make a lot of money and that it would enable me to make a living and provide support for my family. This incident forced me to rethink how I’d like my life to be.
Two things happened next:
- I started listening to people about what I am good at
- I started listening to my values
I reached out to my support group – my four best friends and I asked them: “hey this really isn’t working out for me. What do you think I am good at? How should I go with the next step?”
They said, “why don’t you go into public speaking?”
This is interesting because I had previously done several volunteer sessions in the corporate space where I facilitated team building events and got really positive feedback. At the time, I brushed off suggestions to do it full-time when people complimented me and pointed out how good I was because I was too fixed on my goal of succeeding in the corporate world. Years earlier a motivational speaker had suggested I do speaking because he said I was great at making an emotional connection. Yet I ignored that too. But after my best friends brought it up, now it really made me think and look into that possibility.
I have also narrowed down the personal brand elements and values which drive me:
- People and Social Capital
- Nurturing and helping others
- Performing and Presenting
- Persuading and Influencing
These set of brand values narrowed down to a dozen paths that I might be passionate about, including coaching, teaching, public speaking.etc. I decided to give public speaking a shot and my new career carried on from there.
Follow Bobby Umar on:
Patreon (for career development support): https://www.patreon.com/bobbyumar