Career Management Today Means Being CEO Of Your Own Career

Your Career In 1999, Peter Drucker wrote in the Harvard Business Review:
“We live in an age of unprecedented opportunity: if you’ve got ambition and smarts, you can rise to the top of your chosen profession, regardless of where you started out. But with opportunity comes responsibility. Companies today aren’t managing their employees’ careers; knowledge workers must, effectively, be their own chief executive officers. It’s up to you to carve out your place, to know when to change course, and to keep yourself engaged and productive during a work life that may span some 50 years.”

I wonder if Drucker had read Tom Peters famous 1997 article, “The Brand Called You.”  In that article, Peters made the point that we all must start thinking of ourselves as the CEO of Me Incorporated.

Futurist, Author and Career Design Expert, Dr. Helen Harkness, points out that we’re living in a new work model that she calls “YOYO,” her acronym for “You’re On Your Own.”  Obviously, yesterday’s model of working for one employer for most of your career (Harkness calls this “Womb-To-Tomb”) is passé. In that old model, management helped you develop your career. Nowadays, you have to be very self-aware of your situation and open to all career possibilities, whether internal or external to your current employer.

You also need to get mentors and support systems that range across your profession… not necessarily only from inside your own organization.

I love the story Libby Sartain told at the Launch Pad Job Club Distinguished Speaker event in October of 2009.  She related how once, when working for, she was at a conference and was approached by a younger colleague who worked for their competitor,  He asked if she would give him some advice and act as a mentor to him in his career.  She consented, and they met.  He described his situation, she gave him her insights and suggestions, and he followed through on the advice.  It won him a promotion. They stayed in touch.  Later, he reached out again when he sensed it was time for his next internal career move.  They talked, she advised, he acted, he was promoted again.

Yes, they were in the same field (human resources), but they worked for competitors.  Sartain was amazed by that, but this young man apparently thought nothing of it.  He lived in the current YOYO model, and having never experienced the reality of living in the Womb-To-Tomb model, he naturally knew the importance of managing his career like a CEO!

I’m excited by the work I get to do with those who understand that we live in a YOYO career management world.  It’s a thrill to get to help people get the clarity and the plan they need to move forward successfully, and I love that I get to encourage them to step into their own personal power.

Like a friend and former colleague of mine once said when we were discussing this YOYO concept… That is not a scary thing. That is not a bad thing at all.  To be on your own means you get to choose your next steps rather than having them chosen for you by someone else. And that can be mighty liberating!

Personal Development & Motivational Guru, Jim Rohn, said it well:  “If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much.” 


Angela Loëb helps people rediscover and use their gifts so they can bring who they are to what they do. To learn more, please

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