Less Ordinary Careers – The CEO of Me Ltd.

Less Ordinary Career Perspective – We Are All Entrepreneurs

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How can you create a successful and fulfilling career in the 21st Century?  The traditional post-war model of a job for life and relying on a company to provide for retirement has rapidly crumbled over the last couple of decades.  We’ve all been impacted by revolutions in technology, logistics and communications that have created a global economy.  Many leading thinkers argue that the traditional definition of a career is dead including Reid Hoffman, CEO of Linkedin:

“I actually think every individual is now an entrepreneur, whether they recognize it or not. . . . Average job length is two to four years. That makes you a small business. . . . You are the entrepreneur of your own small business. How do you get to your next gig? How do you do your career progression? All these things now fall on the individual shoulders.”

This change of mindset challenges us to be much more active in managing our careers.  It is important to assess the rewards of our current role and ensure that they are the best ones for our personal small business. The revolutionary changes in the world mean we have more career options than ever before.  If your current role is not giving you what you need, it might be time to start considering the next direction to take your enterprise.

As an individual entrepreneur, the first step in making a change is to understand which rewards are most important to us.  Career rewards include:

  • Financial reward – work allows us to earn money which provides short term quality of life and the opportunity to plan for the long term
  • Balance – certain roles require more personal commitment of time, and energy to be successful, others leave more time for other personal priorities
  • Benefits – different roles allow us to work full time or part time, be more or less flexible in location and hours, take more or less vacation, provide healthcare and other services or not and provide other perks
  • Meaning and fulfilment – choosing work that provides personal fulfilment and feels meaningful and important can provide huge personal satisfaction and pleasure
  • Culture – we can choose whether to work in a big or small organisation, whether we are part of a hierarchy or flat structure, and many other considerations

Think about what is most important for you with your work? Traditionally, work has sometimes been seen as a means to an end – a pay cheque that allows us to put a roof over our head and if we’re lucky enjoy some of the better things in life.  As a personal entrepreneur, you get to choose how to employ your talents and time and what rewards you get for that.

My personal choice was to take a less orthodox path and to start my own coaching business, leaving a good job in the corporate world behind.  This has certainly meant a short-term sacrifice of financial reward, and benefits.  In return, I’ve found work to be truly meaningful and been able to create a flexible working culture I love.  At the time of leaving the corporate world, it felt like a risky path, however the immediate benefits and the long term potential rewards outweighed the risk for me.

As in my example, the choices you make about the rewards of work come with accompanying risks which need to be assessed as you take control of your career path.  However, Reid Hoffman believes that the reality of these risks has changed:

“But I think that one of the key things — the reason why I think risk tolerance is important is because what happens is people delude themselves they’re not taking risks. They say, oh, I’m going to get a job at, you know, Hewlett-Packard or I’m going to get a job — and that’s not risky. Well, look at current economic climates. Everything in life has some risk, and what you have to actually learn to do is how to navigate it. And people who take risk intelligently can usually actually make a lot more progress than people who don’t.”

As the CEO of Me Ltd. you have a choice about where you employ your talents.  Taking time to realistically identify the short-term and long-term rewards and the associated risks can really help to make smart choices.  The key lesson is that you need to be actively planning the direction of Me Ltd. as the world changes.  By doing so, you give yourself the best chance of having a successful and fulfilling career in the 21st Century.

What do you think about the idea of everyone being a career entrepreneur?

How do you manage your personal business?

What are the rewards you look for from your work?

What risks are you most concerned about?

Please take a minute to comment on this article.  If you’d like to think these ideas through and are ready to take control of your career, please contact pbolton@colosseumconsulting.com or carly@carlygoldsmithcoaching.com .

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  1. August 18, 2009 at 2:16 am | Permalink

    Hi Carly,

    I never thought about this concept that you expressed in your article. I worked in corporate america for 25 years and I really did not think of my self as a CEO even though I always had some sort of business which I did in parallel. I do see how in this new economic situation that we are all in how we need to reconfigure how we think and as a CEO be open to all opportunities. We must use our talents to create the type of life we want. We all can no longer depend on jobs as in times past, I think that to be financially successfull we must always have several income streams.

    I hope that your article help other renew their minds.

    Best regards,

    LaVone Mason

  2. Kat
    August 18, 2009 at 9:04 am | Permalink


    Exactly!! That’s definitely what I have learned over the past 18 months… Build in flexibility to your life, both in how you use your time and in your ability to learn new things – you never know when you’ll need it.

    When you’re caught in a rut in a big corporate job, then don’t think that it’s the best place to stay because it’s safe – it’s not.

    Don’t think that the only route to success or “benchmarking” your progress in life is having a comparable job to everyone else – it’s a road to discontent.

    It’s so refreshing to break out!

    Not looking back,

  3. Phil
    August 18, 2009 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    Kat – thanks for the post. Its great to hear that you are breaking out and seeing your life and career from a fresh perspective. Its amazing how different the world looks when you follow your passion. Keep reading and spread the word!


  4. Phil
    August 18, 2009 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    LaVone -

    What an inspiring post – thank you so much. This article articulates something you’ve known all along – that careers are really about finding the right experiences for us. I hope you’ll continue to find innovative ways to use your talents and plan for your future.


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