A small beaded decoration hangs in my office. It’s nothing fancy, but it has a simple quote written on a piece of ceramic:
“The best way to predict your future is to create it.”
We all see sayings like this every day—on motivational posters, posted on Facebook, maybe inside a fortune cookie. But this particular saying is ultimately why I became a business owner. When I combined my desire with my past experience, added in a great opportunity and one giant leap of faith, I ended up right where I wanted to be.
But long before I was CEO of AdamsGabbert, I was CEO of “Me, Inc.”—otherwise known as “Denise Kruse, Inc.” And if you’re a candidate looking to build the future you’ve envisioned for yourself, it’s high time you learned how to be CEO of Me, Inc. just like I did.
Much more than personal branding
Imagine you’re a CEO at a local Kansas City company. Your vision statement is hanging on the wall, you’ve created values for your employees, the company is marketing itself, you’re overseeing quality assurance, you regularly evaluate the ROI, you report to a board of advisors—you get the idea. You have to apply the same type of responsibility to your own personal career.
I’m not just talking about personal branding, either—it’s much more than that. After all, a company’s brand is just one piece of what it embodies, and the CEO must have arms around everything. Being CEO of Me, Inc. is much the same.
A lot of this starts with learning now to position your strengths in a way that matters to a company—either the one you’re working for today or the one you may be interviewing with tomorrow. If I asked you why you were a Chiefs fan, you could probably rattle off a handful of reasons without giving it much thought. But if someone asked you, “Why should I hire/promote/develop/invest in you?” many people might stumble for an answer—if they even came up with one at all.
Why is it easier to brag about a sports team than it is about your own potential?
Move to a more proactive mindset
Our Staffing Services recruiters talk to candidates every day, and I often have the privilege to meet students and young professionals yearning for advice on the best way to launch their careers. I can tell you the most successful are the ones who don’t sit and wait for others to call. They don’t wait for other people to tell them what their strategy should be, what their vision should be.
If you truly want to be CEO of Me, Inc., you need to create the future you want; you need to define it and document it. Write it down! Do you have a business plan for Me, Inc.? Take some time to figure out what you’re doing to develop your “product” and what you’re willing to invest in yourself.
Part of this is conducting a little of your own research. Ask for input from those around you, and don’t be afraid to be a little vulnerable. I know it’s hard, but it’s the only way we learn, grow and change our perceptions. Gary A. Cohen with the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business expanded on this thought in the Washington Post:
“We should always have a plan and strategy for achieving our personal and career goals. These goals should force us to stretch outside of our comfort zone, enabling us to expand this safe area where most people prefer to reside. The more we stretch ourselves and become uncomfortable, the larger our comfort zone becomes. This process should never stop … You are the one with ultimate authority over you. Falling short of this is relenting too much power to someone else.”
There’s no shortage of advice articles and to-do lists out there that promise to be the silver bullet for building the career of your dreams, but none of these tactics do much if you’re not willing to start the process in the right mindset. It’s time to shift from reactive to proactive.
For example, I recently heard a friend complain she hadn’t received a performance review in three years. She was frustrated because she had no idea what her boss thought about her performance. My first question was, “Have you asked for one?” She replied, “Well, no. That’s their responsibility.”
No, it’s actually hers. She’s the only one who suffers by not learning how she could improve (or learning about what she’s doing well). That would be like a CEO not asking her customers what they thought of the product she sells.
If you’re ready to get serious about your career future, it’s time to start creating the one you want, not waiting for the one someone else gives you.
You’re the CEO of Me, Inc. after all—you’re the boss!
(This is Part One of a series on “Me, Inc.” Look for future installments in the months to come!)
Denise Kruse is the CEO and owner of AdamsGabbert, a catalyst for growth, a spark for innovation, and a facilitator of progress. Founded in 1999 and based in Overland Park, Kan., AG focuses on staffing services, advisory services and technology services—all designed to make business better for their clients. Share your thoughts on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter!