The CEO of your career

I went to a New York Times talk the other day, moderated by Tom Friedman. The subject was the Global Future, which could have kept people on the dais for years, but fortunately it was only one day.. Among the comments whizzing by was how to take ownership of your career, and in Friedman’s words to ‘think both like an immigrant and an artisan.’ Take risks; you’ll need to, again and again. Craft your career in a bespoke way; your uniqueness is your value add.

The talk of managing oneself, or managing one’s career, seems almost simplistic or naive. But it’s not. In a world where many will work longer, with change that will whipsaw us all, it is imperative to think and act like the CEO of your own career.

Some people transition much better from one career stage to the next. What do they do differently? Being your own CEO requires much forward thinking, and I reckon most of those people are ALWAYS thinking ahead.They’re planning down the road 3-5 years, and how to execute their plans. Speak to any corporate CEO, and they’re likely to tell you precisely what they’ll be working on, and when, over the next 24 months or beyond. They have to think that way or they’re toast.

Those who struggle mightily with transitioning are often mired in the work today and tomorrow, not future thinking, and have not given it much thought. Speak to them of next steps, and the likely answer will be vague, ‘working hard to make sure I’m safe’, to ‘being happy’ or ‘make sure the kids get into the right school.’ All important, but not organised goals, nor for themselves.

The shift from an employer managing your career to managing it yourself can cause some to lose bowel control. But this is the world we live in. It’s exhilarating and liberating if you allow it to be. The ease of technology gives unbridled latitude to investigate industries, companies, people, profitability, contacts, connections, introductions, platforms, marketplaces. All at your fingertips.

Want to transition and create your path? Think like a CEO. Know your strengths, your markets, your PR, your competition, your budget, and what your realistic future plans are. Be comfortable with not knowing if it will work exactly. The important part is to do it, not think it over. We are judged (and judge ourselves) on action, not thought.

You are your own business, no one else’s. Do not expect an organisation to guide you anymore. Ain’t gonna happen. That’s good news, and allows you to transition to the next stage of your career-in full control and in one piece.

Written by Neal Horwitz, President of Henry Hale Maguire

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