Dorie Clark on Playing the Long Game in a Short-Term World


August 31, 2021

Have you ever felt like the future was out of your control? That anything could come for your job security, or being able to provide for yourself or your family?

The number of people out of work hit record highs last year. This made people’s theoretical fear of spiraling out of control an undeniable reality. Dealing with this meant trying to get a leg up. Maybe with the perfect morning routine, a mindfulness practice, or a standing desk. Life hacks and get-rich-quick schemes lure the vulnerable and down-and-out into believing they can fix structural issues in barely any time. 

Dorie Clark, in her new book The Long Game, teaches us how to flip the formula. The summary tells all: “We need to reorient ourselves to see the big picture so we can tap into the power of small changes that, made today, will have an enormous and disproportionate impact on our future success. We need to start playing The Long Game.

Dorie’s a consultant, author, speaker, and professor at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and Columbia Business School. Named the #1 communication coach in the world, the New York Times describes her as an “expert at self-reinvention and helping others make changes in their lives.” 

Top 3 takeaways from my conversation with Dorie Clark

When Dorie talks about the long game, she means being in ‘ready’ position for whatever the world throws at you. Entrepreneurs have to do this every day. Working a 9-to-5 life at the mercy of big business makes these fears actual nightmares for people. “Those employees are at a far greater risk than any entrepreneur because when you are working for yourself, you have diversified revenue streams. You have multiple clients, you may be doing multiple things, and that diversification mitigates your risk in the marketplace. If one thing changes or if one thing goes away, you’re not going to be crippled.” 

Self-reliance keeps the boat afloat. Part of beating the fatalistic voices in your head comes from thinking ahead. What can you do now to prevent disaster later? “We can’t be reactive forever if we actually want to be successful in carving out the life that we want for ourselves. We need to pull ourselves back and stop reacting and say enough. Are you out of luck if you do choose to work for someone else? Nope. “I am a big believer in people developing side gigs, because that is how we protect and insulate ourselves from uncertainty.” 

What advice does Dorie have to get going fast? The 20 percent rule. “It encourages employees to take up to 20 percent of their work time and devote it to a more speculative activity that is outside of the bounds of their regular job description. This is how things like Google news and Gmail are created...You are not going to lose everything because your 20% time project did not work out. But 20% is enough time that over a period of months or a period of years, it’s substantial enough that you can make some big progress in moving forward.” 

Interested in hearing more of Dorie’s infinite wisdom? And how she put it all into practice and wrote her own Broadway musical? Check out any one of the killer courses she offers, the five books she’s published, and the coaching services available on her website.

Watch our full conversation to learn more about what it takes to crush the long-game.

About Carla

Carla Johnson Innovation Creativity Speaker Author

Carla Johnson helps leaders who are often paralyzed by traditional thinking. They suffer from slow growth, an eroding competitive advantage, low employee engagement, and depleted investor confidence. Their teams lack purpose and progress and constantly battle a resistance to change and new ideas.

As the world’s leading innovation architect, Carla’s spent 20 years helping leaders shatter limits and discover undiscovered possibilities. Through years of research, she’s developed a simple, scalable 5-step process that teaches people how to consistently produce inspired ideas that lead to uncommon outcomes.