EE204: Business Management for
Electrical Engineers and Computer Scientists

Personal Brand


  1. Managing Oneself (HBS course materials)
  2. Creating a Personal Brand

Reading Summary

Throughout history, people had little need to manage their careers--they were born into their stations in life or, in the recent past, relied on their companies to chart their career paths. But times have drastically changed. Today we must all learn to manage ourselves. What does that mean? As Peter Drucker tells us in this seminal article first published in 1999, it means we have to learn to develop ourselves. We have to place ourselves where we can make the greatest contribution to our organizations and communities. And we have to stay mentally alert and engaged during a 50-year working life, which means knowing how and when to change the work we do. It may seem obvious that people achieve results by doing what they are good at and by working in ways that fit their abilities. But, Drucker says, very few people actually know--let alone take advantage of--their fundamental strengths. He challenges each of us to ask ourselves: What are my strengths? How do I perform? What are my values? Where do I belong? What should my contribution be? Don't try to change yourself, Drucker cautions. Instead, concentrate on improving the skills you have and accepting assignments that are tailored to your individual way of working. If you do that, you can transform yourself from an ordinary worker into an outstanding performer. Today's successful careers are not planned out in advance. They develop when people are prepared for opportunities because they have asked themselves those questions and rigorously assessed their unique characteristics. 

Discussion Questions

  1. Answer the following questions posed in the section "How Do I Perform?" from the reading:
    1. Are you a reader or a listener? How do you learn - by listening, reading, writing, or hearing yourself talk?
    2. What is your preferred role working with others? As a subordinate, team member, alone, or as a coach or mentor?
    3. How do you produce results? As a decision maker, adviser, or implementer?
    4. Do you perform well under stress, or do you need a structured and predictable environment? Do you work better in a large organization, or a small one?
    5. Will these work styles change over the course of your career?
  2. Do you agree with the 18-month timeline for planning ahead, proposed on p. 8 of the reading?
  3. Identify a key decision in your life at this moment. As a starting point for implementing the feedback analysis framework from p. 3 of the reading, write down what you expect will come out of this decision in the next 9-12 months.
  4. Using the "Creating a Personal Brand" slides, fill out your personal brand statement.