In this world of plant closings, offshoring and general economic upheaval, I’ve become a big believer in the value of developing your personal brand. Part of developing that personal brand is clearly communicating who you are and the value you provide those who associate with you.
Another big component to personal branding? Finding your micro-niche. With the world shrinking daily, you can choose to become to the best "left-handed sheepherder with a BA in Mathematics". Aggregate a good enough image nationally and locally through effective performance and marketing, and bam! There’s probably a big enough market, if you’re number one in your niche, to be a career.
Don’t believe that? What if I told you that athletes like Tiger Woods, Dwayne Wade, Peyton Manning, Donovan McNabb, Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley, as well as hundreds of other world class athletes, come to Birmingham, AL to get surgery and advice necessary to save their careers?
Birmingham? It’s true, they come to see a world class niche guy and personal brander name James Andrews. From the article on Dr. James Andrews at Fast Company:
"For more than three decades, Andrews has been a leader not only in spurring cutting-edge research but also in pioneering and refining operations and therapies that return athletes to action. Along with free agency and TV, this evolution of sports medicine has transformed sports from pastime to megabusiness. Andrews Sports Medicine and Orthopaedic Center in Birmingham functions as a powerful lever, a multimillion-dollar enterprise that affects multibillion-dollar leagues.
If you could assemble a superstar, Frankenstein-style, from Andrews’s patients, it would have repaired knees from quarterbacks Peyton Manning and Donovan McNabb; a hip from dual-sports sensation Bo Jackson; shoulders from Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley; and elbows from the New York Yankees’ Andy Pettitte and the Chicago Cubs’ Kerry Wood. "I’ve always liked fixing people," Andrews says. "I want to get these athletes back to doing what they did before."
In baseball, Andrews is best known for performing ulnar-collateral-ligament reconstruction, the career-saving elbow graft called "Tommy John surgery" (named for the first patient, in 1974, the fine Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher). Although Andrews didn’t invent this clever fix, which replaces the torn ligament with a tendon, he has done it more often than anyone else — 2,500 times and counting — and performs the hour-long procedure nearly 300 times a year. Since his first in 1980, Andrews has fine-tuned the diagnosis, surgery, and rehabilitation, establishing a recovery rate of 85%. "A lot of players think it’s 100%," he says, "but nothing is."
Andrews, 66, seems like an unlikely character to play such an outsize role. His regular-guy manner suggests a pickup truck and bass boat. His office uniform isn’t a white doctor’s coat but a Sunday-best suit and tie. For all his digital-age ingenuity, he doesn’t do email. He greets both high-school athletes and Major Leaguers, "Hey, big man."
So, here’s the big thought. In this digital world, if James Andrews can develop a micro niche and have all-stars come to Birmingham to see him, don’t you think it’s possible for you to live where you want to live, figure out the niche that you can fill, and get career satisfaction at the same time?
You want the niche. You need the niche. You’ll find it at the intersection of your interests, passions and years of hard work.
Find the list of All-Stars who have come to Birmingham to seek the guidance/knife of Andrews here…
Kris Dunn is a Partner and CHRO at Kinetix, a national RPO firm for growth companies headquartered in Atlanta. He’s also the founder Fistful of Talent (founded in 2008) and The HR Capitalist (2007) – and has written over 70 feature columns at Workforce Management magazine. Prior to his investment at Kinetix, Kris served in HR leadership roles at DAXKO, Charter and Cingular. In his spare time, KD hits the road as a speaker and gives the world what it needs – pop culture references linked to Human Capital street smarts.