Become the CEO of You, Inc: An Interview with Susan Bulkeley Butler
I’m always interested in the stories of real women in business, so I was delighted to read Susan Bulkeley Butler’s book, “Become the CEO of You, Inc.”
Susan was the first woman partner at Accenture, and retired as the Managing Partner of Accenture’s Office of the CEO. She’s also the founder and president of the SBB Institute for the Development of Women Leaders.
I asked Susan to share some of her best secrets for marketing and business success. My questions are in bold, and her answers are below.
What inspired you to write “Become the CEO of You, Inc.?”
As my career at Accenture was coming to a close, many of my friends thought I should write a book. What would I write about though? I hadn’t kept enough journals to write a biography, so I did the next best thing: I wrote about my career, which, in a way, is a biography.
As the author, I take on the role of a mentor, providing advice and counsel to all of my readers. I decided that I would share – with examples – what I’ve learned over the years. Become the CEO of You, Inc. is a guidebook for a successful career.
Can you describe the “Make It Happen” model, for readers who have never heard of it?
During my career, I was in the “change” business. I helped clients become better at whatever it is they were doing.
I realized that my career was really like a business and I just so happened to be the CEO, making sure everything turned out to be successful. If I wasn’t the CEO, then who was? Others were making me be what they thought I should be, I wasn’t being who I wanted to be.
Being the CEO of You, Inc. is a huge commitment. You need to take responsibility for who you are and who you want to be. You must spend time on yourself to make things happen.
My “Make It Happen” (MIH) model came from my change experience. Here are the basic steps:
1. Define your end in mind. You need to envision what you’re doing in 2-3 years. Write an e-mail to yourself – dated three years from now – describing in detail what you see yourself doing.
2. You must realize that you can’t “make it happen” by yourself. You need a team – just like a company’s board of directors. Define your team. These people will give you advice, offer feedback, push you to take on more responsibility, build your confidence, etc.
3. Now, you need to develop your so-called GPS system to get there. What’s your destination in three months? How about six months?
4. You’ve developed your plan, now you need to work on it every day. How are you building your skills? What experiences are you getting involved with?
Remember: make things happen for you, don’t let things happen to you.
Can the MIH model be applied to marketing a small business? If so, do you have some tips for applying these lessons?
The MIH model can be applied to any business and marketing is a key ingredient. Marketing is important when it comes to letting people know who you are; what your skills and capabilities are; and what you’ve done.
The same is true for your company. You must market it so people know your company’s product, what it’s used for, and why people should buy it. Building your product is different than manufacturing your product. How you create the marketing plan is different as well. The end result is the same though: people want to buy your product.
You encourage women to “think of yourself as both a product and a commercial.” Can you explain that?
First, let’s think about your product. What is it? In reality, it’s your skills, your experiences, your education, etc. Your packaging is how you are perceived by others. Are you perceived as a manager? If so, are you packaged like a manager? What’s your attire like? It’s important to know how others perceive you.
How does this play out into personal branding?
You are your brand. For women, it includes everything from your hair to the way you speak to your abilities. You create your brand with your packaging and your commercial. Get advice on your brand so you can constantly improve it. Your branding is important to your success.
How has your attitude about marketing shifted since you first started your career?
It has changed significantly. There was a time when I didn’t get promoted when I thought I should have. I had to obtain the skills necessary to market myself, every day and everywhere.
For instance, I needed to dress for the day and realize that I needed to be presentable. I needed to be prepared all the time. Others needed to see the exceptional work that I was doing and the value that I was delivering had to be real. I wasn’t just going to be tapped on the shoulder one day and asked to become a manager. There was a process in order to get to where I wanted to and marketing was an important part of it.
What do you wish you knew when you first started in business?
I wish I knew the difference between a job and a career. We need to know that it’s up to us to make things happen. We need to ask for what we want and constantly be looking for our next career opportunity. Lastly, we need to have the confidence in ourselves to take on more responsibilities, ask for help when needed, and use our voices to ask for feedback.