Career Success

Your ability to be the smartest person in the room is highly dependent on your willingness to be the dumbest person in the room. Note: The rooms in these two situations are typically not the same room! In public work life, I often feel bemused by the amount of attention I get for my achievements. [...]

In life, the rich get richer, the successful get more successful, and the powerful get more powerful. Separate from the debate of whether this is a good thing or not, most agree there is a tendency for these things to happen. The question is, “Why?” And, why does it matter to you? When you’re rich, [...]

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the idea of power. For the entirety of my career, I’ve operated in the world of power. At first, it was the world of Fortune 500 boardrooms. I was in my first boardroom at age 22. Up until that point, I had never seen a conference room table [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

One of the ways to have power and influence in an organization is to become a trusted advisor to someone in a position of power. This usually involves providing immense value to your client, members of your professional network, your boss, your peers, or peers in other departments that are one or two levels above [...]

Warren Buffett’s right-hand man is Charlie Munger. I’ve read transcripts from several of Munger’s speeches, and I really love the multidisciplinary way he approaches investment decisions. When he cites the idea of market niches as a way to build a durable competitive advantage, he borrows that concept from the field of ecology. In nature, it’s [...]

In industry, whether your ideas get taken seriously depends on more than the quality of your thoughts. If the receptionist shares an idea and the CEO shares the exact same idea, more people will take the idea seriously when it comes from the CEO. Most people intuitively grasp that the last sentence is true but [...]

The other day, someone asked me about how to be more emotionally resilient in the face of obstacles and failures. While being completely immune to disappointment isn’t realistic, I do think it’s possible to reduce its impact on your life by 80% to 90%. My working process is that all disappointment comes from… expectations. If [...]

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