From C-Suite to Me-Suite

More than 50% of U.S. workers are unhappy in their jobs. So, where do you turn if you want more? Award-winning career coach and Goizueta adjunct lecturer Donna Peters joins to discuss how to apply C-Suite principles to our whole lives to lead with purpose, planning, and power.

You’re a high performer who wants a career on your own terms. Maybe you’re exploring the best next step? Maybe you feel stuck? Maybe you want more? No matter where you are right now, you need options. When you have options, you’re in control. 
It may be time to change your mindset from C-Suite to Me-Suite. A well-planned strategy can help you answer the question: “How can I achieve the pinnacle of my career and have a life I cherish, too?”. 

Donna Peters joins the Goizueta Effect Podcast to discuss strategies for career-driven individuals who want more out of their work and life. She is an adjunct lecturer for Emory University’s Goizueta Business School’s Executive MBA program where she teaches healthy career-growing strategies. She is the founder and CEO of a career coaching organization, The Me-Suite. Her book, Options Are Power, helps high performers understand how the pursuit of their next career success, and a focus on a healthy lifestyle, are inextricably intertwined.  

This episode of the Goizueta Effect was co-created in partnership with Emory student Scott Masterson. 

The “Me-Suite” Mindset Defined 

In most businesses, the C-Suite is composed of key positions including the chief executive officer, chief financial officer, and chief marketing officer. Among top priorities, these leaders handle three core duties: They marshal the core values of the company, keep the day-to-day operations running smoothly, and stay fresh and relevant for the future of the organization. When looking to lead our fullest lives, we should be thinking as C-suite leaders.   

Peters developed this idea while on a business trip and has lived by it ever since. Like the C-Suite, we all need core values, a definition of primacy for ourselves (a sense of what is most important at any given time), a financial plan, a personal brand, relationships, an understanding of skills and strengths, and care for physical and mental health.  

Usually, a company has one executive to oversee one specific area -- we should try to think like each of those executives across different scenarios given our lives are riddled with micro and macro decisions, like a business.  

Components of the Me-Suite Mindset  

Thinking Like a C-Suite: Companies that Lead by their Core Values 

Airbnb has a core value of “accessibility of home” which creates a warm place of family-like interaction. When the refugee crisis was peaking over this last year, Airbnb started offering free housing to refugees. It was an example of how the core value of the company as a moneymaker was also being used to say, "But this is who we are. And this is what we do. I'm not changing my company and my values. I'm just applying the value in a different situation. Still staying true to the core value of the company."  

Airbnb’s decision directly aligned with its positive core values. Companies actively make these decisions since core values are the foundation holding their business up.  

Primacy: Not Everything is of Equal Importance 

When at a crossroads between choices consider asking yourself, “What matters the most right now?” For example, you may need to decide between salary and title, or salary and company reputation. You need to decide which aspects matter more to you in that moment.  
While high performers want to achieve, they often always say “yes” to everything. Primacy can provide a great guide in learning to say “no”. 
 
Developing Your Personal Brand in a Remote Working Environment  

We have a personal brand whether we like it or not and we need to own it. Develop your brand so it signals what you want to attract.  
Think about the mediums you have access to online: What does your LinkedIn profile say about you? What about your punctuality to online zoom meetings? On your screen, what’s behind you and how are you dressed while on call? It’s all up to you and there are no wrong answers if each decision is intentional.  

Relationships and Networking: It’s Necessary and More Natural than You May Think 

People often describe networking as “slimy.” Think of it as a bank account: we’re constantly making deposits and withdrawals by helping one another.  

Connections can also be characterized like a temperature on a thermometer; hot, those who will respond to you in 20 minutes with an emoji; room-temperature, people you may have just met or you connected with on LinkedIn because you went to the same university; to frozen, unfortunate relationships that are not helpful to you. Networking is crucial in creating powerful options that you can draw from. Understanding where your connections fall on the temperature scale is a great first step. 

Career Phases: The Different Career Personas 

Careers are incredibly dynamic, and individuals face different choices and challenges along the way. The Me-Suite mindset helps us understand ourselves better so that we can navigate these fluctuations and understand which persona(s) we fall under at a given time. When you look in the mirror, what do you see? 

The vast majority of individuals fall into three personas: Exploration Erica, Crossroads K.T., or Hamster Wheel Hank. Each can be described with thoughts that come to mind if one of the personas were to look in the mirror: Exploration Erica thinks, “I want more out of my career.” Crossroads K.T struggles between choices, "I must now make a big decision. I've got to decide. Do I stay inside this industry? Change industries? Do I go back to school?" And Hamster Wheel Hank may think, "I'm stuck. I don't know where to turn. I'm not sure what my options may be. But whatever it is, this isn't it." 

Throughout your career you may experience any one of these for any amount of time. By acquiring options and strategizing like a C-Suite leader, you can reach an understanding of how to address them and adapt.  

“Options are Power” 

When we feel trapped, neurological research shows that the amygdala activates a variety of negative responses. In response to the feeling that we don't have options or when we are paralyzed by choices, the amygdala increases cortisol in the body, which has a stress-inducing effect. It can impact the quality of our sleep. If it goes to extremes, it can have outcomes of anxiety and depression. 

Like an options contract in investing, options in this context give us the right, but not the obligation, to make a change in our life. Being a Hamster Wheel Hank is never a great feeling. That’s when possessing the Me-Suite mindset comes in handy.  

Assessing if your current life decisions align with your personal core values allows you to determine if you’re where you should and want to be. Likewise, if you’re at a crossroads in your career, you may consider your own personal brand and which decision aligns most with your next step.   

To ease decision-making, ask yourself the following questions: “Does what I’m doing support my core values? Does this decision align with my personal brand?” The process will reduce stress, clear your mind, and boost your decision-making skills in your career.  

To learn more about Goizueta Business School and how principled leaders are driving positive change in business and society, visit goizueta.emory.edu.  

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