Back To Career News

3 Career Lessons From David Bowie

David Bowie left the earth yesterday. If you're even a casual fan, you probably reacted to the news with shock. Bowie was a rare larger-than-life figure who was too big even for the title of rock star. He was a cultural force, an artist who never stopped growing and innovating, and an example of how much one person can do to change the way the world connects with art and each other. While you weren't looking, he also sneakily taught you a thing or two about how to build your best career.

David Bowie left the earth yesterday. If you’re even a casual fan, you probably reacted to the news with shock. Bowie was a rare larger-than-life figure who was too big even for the title of rock star. He was a cultural force, an artist who never stopped growing and innovating, and an example of how much one person can do to change the way the world connects with art and each other. While you weren’t looking, he also sneakily taught you a thing or two about how to build your best career.

david bowie

(Photo Credit: Beeld En Geluid Wiki/Wikimedia Commons)

For example:

Do You Know What You're Worth?

1. Create a personal brand, but don’t be afraid to change it.

David Bowie

Depending on how old you are, the words “David Bowie” might conjure up everything from the Thin White Duke to Ziggy Stardust to Jareth the Goblin King. One thing was consistent over the course of Bowie’s long career: he was never afraid to turn and face the strange.

Your personal brand might require a bit more consistency, but that doesn’t mean it should remain frozen in amber for all time. As you grow and learn, you’ll add skills to your resume and new career goals to your aspirations. Don’t forget to update the way you market yourself, as well.

2. Embrace technology.

David Bowie

Most people grow leery of new technologies as they grow older. Think about the last time you heard someone disparaging some tool – a new social network, for example – by saying something like, “I think I’m just too old for that.” Before you join their ranks, think of David Bowie in 1998, launching his own ISP when most people his age were side-eyeing America Online CDs.

“If I was 19 again, I’d bypass music and go right to the internet,” he said.

His other tech experiments included a tech company called UltraStar, which was once valued at $1.2 billion in 2016 dollars, a 1997 cybercast of a concert in which his vision exceeded his bandwidth, a CD-ROM that allowed fans to make their own video of one of his songs, and possibly the first online-only single from a major artist. (1996’s “Telling Lies,” which The Guardian notes sold 300,000 copies.)

In recent years, Bowie’s online presence shifted to vehicles like Twitter, but he (and his team) continued to embrace new ways of reaching out to his fans. That’s the big lesson: you don’t have to love every technology that comes along, but you should keep an open mind and approach new tools with curiosity, not fear.

3. Take risks, and keep going.

David Bowie

Not everything David Bowie did was a success. (Ask any Bowie superfan about Tin Machine, and get ready to lose the rest of your day.) But in his 69 years on planet earth, Bowie managed to live more lives than a cat, releasing 27 studio albums, appearing in Hollywood films and Broadway plays, innovating new ways to connect and create, and never staying in one place, artistically, for long. His last album, Blackstar, debuted just two days before he died.

If you take one lesson from David Bowie’s long career, let it be this one: keep going. Know that not everything you do will be a success, and know that it’s OK. As long as you keep moving and creating and trying new things, you’re on the right path.

(GIF Sources: Details Tumblr, Reddit, YouTube)

Tell Us What You Think

What would you add to this list? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
Read more from Jen

17
Leave a Reply

avatar
17 Comment threads
0 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
3 Comment authors
BarbmaryannTherese MRWebbsRW Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
maryann
Guest
maryann

Loved, loved, loved David Bowie. He really was not afraid to be different and I really respect that. He seems to have had a very happy, rewarding life. Unfortunately, he died too soon. “Ground Control” to David Bowie. You are missed.

VWE
Guest
VWE

Did you have any qualms about capitalizing on the death of a celebrity to drive clicks to your blog? I understand the mandate for keeping current to make your message seem relevant, but I also find it distasteful to exploit certain events. I wonder if the explosion of “content marketing” and resulting click bait tactics existed in 2001, if we would have seen bloggers and commercial content marketers “leveraging” 9/11 for their own purposes.

TEC
Guest
TEC

I liked Tin Machine back in the day…Rockers in suits and ties…whodathunk it

Janet
Guest
Janet

Just to add that Bowie was ever evolving and morphing. He was a reader and kept company with intelligent people because he believed people could always teach you something. He never stagnated in one persona. He had many personas. He experimented with his far-reaching range of talents. The unique news is that he continued to create up to the very end of life. With the Lazarus video, it is apparent he is gaunt because of the illness. However, that does not stop him from filming a creative video, singing and recording his newest album. Who else does that? This is… Read more »

Therese M
Guest
Therese M

Bowie was about showing possibilities. His love for the theatre drove him to develop the many personas that he displayed on stage. He showed what’s possible when you dare to explore the many aspects of your personality while reaching out to connect with the audience…the world at large. He saw performance as an exchange with others….a symbiotic relationship. A creative relationship. An ever evolving relationship that honors all humans and human interaction.

MB
Guest
MB

Check out this video about The Elephant Man..

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gHSQpdC_Y6E

Mark B
Guest
Mark B

I was a huge fan and we would do a set of “Bowie” in our rock band, in ’74-’77. We saw “The Man Who Fell to Earth” the day it was released. His is a “Star Man”…forever. My greatest experience was on my 24th Birthday where my buddy Bob bought us 2 front row seats to see David Bowie in the Broadway show “The Elephant Man”. What a truly impressive performance that was so authentic that I forgot it was Bowie and bought 100% into the character. If you can find any video of this performance it will show another… Read more »

Dirk Suave
Guest
Dirk Suave

Not so sure about his workplace drug use.

Barb
Guest
Barb

My husband and I were at Mohegan Sun in 2004. We did not know any artist was performing that day, and although we had seen Rodney Dangerfield and Eartha Kitt (on two separate occasions), we rarely got out of our shells to find entertainment. I am a bit more adventurous than hubby (in that regard, as he does things I do not). We happened to see Bowie’s name on a marquee and without any hesitation bought tickets for his performance. Let us just say, ‘It was not a waste of time…’ and probably THE BEST EVENT we ever attended. When… Read more »

Mizman
Guest
Mizman

Thank you for the insights! Very valuable lessons from a phenomenal talent and human being!

Mike T
Guest
Mike T

Thank you Amanda for not mentioning “Dancin in the Streets” with Mick Jagger.

Amanda
Guest
Amanda

Also, David Bowie showed that you shouldn’t shy away from collaborating with others. Some of Bowie’s most notable examples include “Under Pressure” with Queen, “China Girl” with Iggy Pop, and “Fame” with John Lennon.

Gary
Guest
Gary

Great article and great lessons to live by.

Diane
Guest
Diane

Excellent article with valuable insights. I happen to be a fan of David Bowie too. Thank You !

Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
Guest
Jen Hubley Luckwaldt

I do! Bowie had superpowers. Unfortunately, that’s harder to learn than personal branding lessons.

RWebbs
Guest
RWebbs

I meant “threw,” and you know it.

RW
Guest
RW

Remember that time the guy through the frisbee at Bowie at the Paradise, and Bowie caught it, then kept singing?… That was awesome.

What Am I Worth?

What your skills are worth in the job market is constantly changing.