Blog

In watching the recent U.S. presidential inauguration, I couldn’t help but notice 22-year-old poet Amanda Gorman. I think her poem recitation and public speaking performance serves as an example of many concepts I’ve taught in my writing over the years. I had never heard of Amanda Gorman before hearing her speak, so I had zero [...]

When McKinsey client CEOs are asked why they value McKinsey, the word “perspective” comes up a lot. While I remember hearing those words regularly as a consultant, I’ve more recently come to appreciate what those CEOs meant. Perspective is looking at the same information everyone else is looking at, but seeing a different picture than [...]

I first heard of the phrase “cascade of errors” from a friend of mine who was a private pilot. As part of his desire to be a competent and safe pilot of private planes, he regularly read after-action reports of every airplane crash in the United States. His thinking was that crashing an airplane had [...]

Adversity comes in two flavors. The first is a hardship due to an external factor often outside of your control. This is a crisis that occurs due to circumstances or something external that impacts you. COVID-19 and the related economic contraction is a good example of externally driven adversity. The second type is an internal [...]

I was brushing my teeth this morning while doing hamstring stretches with one of my feet propped up on the bathroom counter. I do this every time I brush my teeth. I do this because it’s part of my physical therapy back pain prevention routine. I do it to offset the impact of sitting at [...]

Over the arc of my career, I’ve done extensive work in professional development. This work included learning an endless list of strategies, tactics, and skills. When I look back over that time, the parts that I have valued the most are things I call “first-order principles.” A principle is a rule of thumb that’s timeless [...]

Over the last two years, I’ve been active in my local emergency response volunteer community. I’ve participated in several mass casualty training exercises (e.g., earthquakes, plane crashes, collapsed building structures). In several of those exercises, I had the opportunity to train in the role of incident commander (IC) and other leadership roles. It was a [...]

As I’m writing this email from just outside Seattle, there’s a ton of smoke from the forest fires that are all over the western United States. It looks like the end of the world. Between the pandemic and terrible air quality, it’s not safe to be indoors with others and now it’s not safe to [...]

Today, I want to introduce you to (or perhaps remind you of) the concept of the minimum efficient scale. Let’s take a look at what this phrase means. First, the word “scale” refers to size. In the software startup world, “to scale up” means to “get big fast.” In economics, economists talk about “economies of [...]

Last week, Citigroup announced that they are appointing Jane Fraser to be CEO. She will be the first woman CEO of a major Wall Street investment bank. Jane was actually the very first person I ever worked with at McKinsey. She was my first manager on my first engagement during my first week at the [...]

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