How to Become the CEO of You, Inc.

Climbing the corporate ladder might not be for everyone, but everyone can use secrets to business success in order to improve their lives and reach their goals.  The key to success is to set achievable goals, develop a plan to reach those goals, surround yourself with people who can help you, and – most importantly – take charge to run your life the way you want it to be ran.

Here are ten steps to Become the CEO of You, Inc.:

1. Make things happen for you, don’t just let them happen to you

Each of us only has one life to live.  We can either: 1. Take responsibility and create the lives we want to live or 2. Let others shape our lives into something they want us to live. If you let others shape your life, you’ll never attain the degree of success you’re striving for.

2. Set your goals

Every CEO has an “end in mind” for their company. So should you. Write a journal entry or type an e-mail to yourself describing what you see yourself doing in three years. Be specific, but don’t over-complicate it. For example: 1.) “I’m a manager in the financial services sector of a Fortune 500 company,” 2.) “I’m on a team, solving global issues and I’ve traveled to eight different countries in the past year,” or 3.) “I’ll work out at least five days per week.” The more specific you are about what you want to be doing, the easier it will be to develop a plan to make it happen.

3. Create your board of directors

Now that you know where you want to be in three years, you’ll need a team to help you get there. This “board of directors” should consist of people who can help you confirm your aspirations, and then help you achieve them. These people should include mentors, sponsors, industry experts, peers, etc. They will help open doors for you, get you the right assignments, give you advice, or simply be there to listen.

4. Develop an annual plan with quarterly goals

Set short-term goals and hold yourself accountable. Meet your goals for every quarter and you’ll have a successful year. Have three successful years and you’ll meet your “end in mind.” Continually revisit and reevaluate your plan to make adjustments as needed. Do this to make sure you stay on target.

5. Execute your plan… everyday

If you don’t work toward your goals each and every day, you’ll miss your goals for the quarter, for the year… and for your entire life. Take time to think about what you’re doing (and not doing). If you don’t have the skills and capabilities to reach your goals, find a way to obtain them (this might be an instance where you refer to your board of directors).

6. Focus on your product

In this case, the product is you. Always be on the lookout for ways to improve your product. Search for ways to make yourself better, whether it’s through education, experience, networking, exercise, etc. Stay up-to-date in your field and skills. If your product is outdated, nobody will want it.

7. Pay attention to the packaging of your product

Develop the presence, poise, and voice to meet your goals and effectively perform in order to be in the position you want to be in. How are you presenting yourself at meetings? How do you associate with superiors, co-workers, and employees?

8. Market yourself

Be visible in your company, your industry, and your community. Prepare for every meeting. Learn how to use your voice with passion. People need to know who you are, what you’re capable of doing, and what you really want to do.

9. Demonstrate your skills

Make people want your product. Look for ways to utilize your entrepreneurial skills and deliver value to the company and shareholders. Recalibrate as changes occur, but don’t forget to deal with the cards you have in your hand today… not the ones you’re hoping to have in the future. Remember: You can do anything you set your mind to do.

10. Take time for yourself

Regularly assess where you are today and where you want to be tomorrow. Make sure you’re heading in the right direction and moving at the right speed to get you where you want to be. If you’re not, adjust and keep moving. Don’t forget to have fun along the way!


Susan Bulkeley Butler is the CEO of the Susan Bulkeley Butler Institute for the Development of Women Leaders and author of two books, Become the CEO of You, Inc.: A Pioneering Executive Shares Her Secrets for Career Success and Women Count: A Guide to Changing the World. In 1965, Susan joined Arthur Andersen & Co. as the company’s first professional female employee and – 14 years later – was named the first female partner of the company’s consulting organization, Andersen Consulting, now known as Accenture. Before her retirement in 2002, Susan was Managing Partner for Accenture’s Office of the CEO. She also served as President of the Accenture Foundation and had a place in Accenture’s Executive Committee, the company’s principal advisory and strategy-setting committee.

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