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Five career transition tips for Jay-Z, Jimmy Fallon and you

Five Career Transition Tips for Jay-Z, Jimmy Fallon and You

Sending shockwaves across the nation, news of career transitions by two of New York City's most prominent entertainers recently made headlines. First came news that rapper and entrepreneur Jay-Z was adding sports agent to his long list of job titles, representing New York Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano. The move coincided with the introduction of Roc Nation Sports, the newest arm of Jay-Z’s management company, Roc Nation. Next, NBC confirmed that Jimmy Fallon will be taking over the hosting duties of “The Tonight Show” in spring 2014. The news had been widely rumored and included an announcement that the show – which is currently shot in Los Angeles – would be moving to The Big Apple.

Both Jay-Z and Fallon will have big shoes to fill in their new endeavors. Jay-Z replaces Scott Boras, who Cano fired as part of his move to Roc Nation Sports. Coveted by players for his negotiating prowess, Boras has a reputation as one of the toughest and most successful agents in sports. Meanwhile, Fallon takes over for Jay Leno. Aside from a nine-month stint from June 2009 to March 2010 when Conan O’Brien temporarily took the reins, the long-jawed comedian has served as the host of “The Tonight Show” since Johnny Carson signed off in 1992. Since that time, “The Tonight Show” has consistently performed at or near the top of the late-night ratings.

While you might not be asked to replace an industry icon, negotiate multimillion dollar deals, or host the most successful program in late-night television, advice for Jay-Z and Fallon in their new roles could be just as useful in your own career transition.

1. Accept Help

If you’re in the midst of a career change, look to family, friends or colleagues for advice. Why? Because chances are they’ve been in your transitional shoes before. A 2012 report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that the youngest baby boomers – those born between 1957 and 1964 – held an average of 11.3 jobs between the ages of 18 and 46. A mentor can also be an invaluable resource, guiding you through new challenges, offering advice based on experience, and establishing industry connections.

Even Jay-Z is relying on help with his new venture, as Roc Nation Sports has teamed with Creative Artists Agency (CAA), a talent agency that represents more than 800 athletes. Jay-Z has been temporarily licensed to represent professional baseball players, but the bulk of Cano’s representation, for now, will be handled by Brodie Van Wagenen of CAA.

2. Set Personal Goals 

When making a career change, it’s important to assess your personal values to decide what you really want from the transition. This can include determining the talents you want to develop, your ideal work environment, bottom-line business goals, the kind of challenges you want to take on, and the amount of compensation you’re willing to work for. A 2012 study by The Conference Board found that less than half of respondents were satisfied with their jobs the previous year. Deciding on your personal goals in advance can help you avoid an unfavorable situation down the road.

“The Tonight Show” has been filmed from Los Angeles since 1972, but Fallon had decided early on in the negotiations that his succession of Leno would involve moving the show to New York City. Despite playing a die-hard Boston Red Sox fan in the movie “Fever Pitch,” the Brooklyn native has become a New York City fixture. He was a “Saturday Night Live” cast member from 1998 until 2004, and began hosting “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” in 2009.

3. Create a Plan

Career transitions are often unpredictable, but mapping out a plan can help you overcome obvious challenges and navigate any unforeseen obstacles. While it’s difficult to expect the unexpected, following a budget and staying on top of your financial situation can ease one of the most common problems that arise from a career change. Aside from finances, make sure you proactively identify and address anything that might hinder you in you from achieving success in your new position.

Part of Jay-Z’s plan might involve eliminating any conflicts of interest. For the time being, the entertainment mogul is concentrating on baseball, steering clear of a potential conflict that could arise from his role as a minority owner of the NBA's Brooklyn Nets. However, that could be easier said than done when it comes to representing Cano, as Jay-Z himself claims in one song that he “made the Yankee hat more famous than a Yankee can.”

4. Dig Deep

Any change, whether personal or professional, requires you to look forward and commit yourself to something new. A career transition involves work, and can often be accompanied by a steep learning curve as you step into unfamiliar territory and develop new skills. Of course, the change could mean that expectations and responsibilities will increase, but immersing yourself in your new role can bring about professional growth that you might not have expected.

Fallon will face immense pressure when he takes over for Leno, and the expectations have already been clearly laid out for him. “We are purposefully making this change when Jay is #1, just as Jay replaced Johnny Carson when he was #1,” said Steve Burke, chief executive officer of NBCUniversal, in the official press release. “Jimmy Fallon is a unique talent and this is his time.”

5. Have a Safety Net in Place

Even the most well-planned and carefully executed career transition can fail, leaving you in a tough situation. Saving up a six-month supply of living expenses can help you weather the storm, giving you enough time and cushion to get back on your feet if things don’t work out. While it might be difficult to envision anything but success, preparing for failure can go a long way toward ensuring your peace of mind during a career transition.

Don’t burn any bridges on your way out the door, because you never know if you’ll have to reverse course someday. While you might be eager to make that move up the corporate ladder or into a new career, remember that if things seem too good to be true, then they just might be. The entertainment world is no different in that respect. Of course, Fallon can look to Leno’s last successor, Conan O’Brien, for evidence that transitions aren’t always as smooth as you might expect.

Whether you’re shifting gears into an entirely new career or simply moving up in your current profession, all the preparation in the world can’t guarantee a successful career transition. Time will tell whether Jay-Z becomes the next super agent, or Fallon ascends the throne as the new king of late-night television. However, following these tips can help you prepare for the new and unpredictable path that lies ahead.