Deep Perspective

When I was at McKinsey, one of the biggest reasons clients cited for repeatedly hiring McKinsey was: "perspective."

Clients would say that the firm helped them see their own businesses in a new way.

At the time, this seemed like a somewhat amorphous reason for spending a few million dollars in consulting fees.

However, as I started serving clients in my own consulting practice, I started to appreciate what clients meant by this.

Opportunities that were hiding in plain sight suddenly become visible for the first time.

Tough decisions that had been lingering and people had procrastinated over for years were suddenly made on 24 hours notice.

When it comes to perspective, I like to borrow a phrase from the field of neuro-linguistic programming called "framing."

Framing uses the metaphor of a picture frame as a way to describe the biases by which we view the world (in this metaphor, the world is represented by the painting that resides within the frame).

In all facets of life, the "frame" by which you view a situation makes a profound difference.

If you view lack of success as "failure," that's one kind of frame.

An alternative frame is to view lack of success as "feedback" instead of "failure" -- it's the same facts but an entirely different PERSPECTIVE.

In the last recession, I had a prospective client that was struggling financially.

They said, "We don't know what to do.  We are very good at what we do. Our clients and prospective clients agree we are better than any other providers. We have no competition."

My reply was: "Yes, you do. Instead of using the word 'competitor,' use the phrase 'alternative to buying from us.'

"From your prospects' point of view, what is the alternative to buying from you?

"Answer: Not buying a damn thing from anybody.

"In other words, the alternative to buying from you isn't buying from another company. The alternative is to DO NOTHING.

"Instead of thinking of competitors as other providers, think of competitors as 'alternatives to buying from us.' It changes everything."

I helped them change their "frame" and perspective.

They immediately replaced all their marketing materials that showed how they were better than other providers. They replaced it with materials that showed how buying from them was better than not doing anything to solve their problems.

A simple perspective change AUTOMATICALLY implies all kinds of downstream decisions and actions.

This is why Fortune 500 CEOs like it when consultants give them new "perspective" on their businesses. A simple perspective change makes hundreds of smaller decisions simple and easy.

Here's a potential perspective shift for you.

Whether or not you realize it, you are pursuing a dream.

The real question is: Are you pursuing your own dream or someone else's?

Share your thoughts with me below.

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43 comments… add one
  • Kola Olayinka Apr 21, 2016, 10:47 am

    Hi Victor,

    Hope you’re well! Great article on perspective. I have been a secret follower of your blog and I even bought your book. I graduated last year December but couldn’t get a job. Instead of seeing this as a failure, I framed it as an opportunity to start my own company built on solid principles and great culture.
    Thanks for your encouragement always!

    Kola Olayinka
    FYI: I’m still job hunting while working full time on my new start up.

  • Srikanth Yellanki Apr 21, 2016, 10:41 am

    Very well written insight, the question about whose dream you are pursuing iso DEEP.


  • Mary Apr 21, 2016, 10:25 am

    I will say both if the career I am pursuing is what I am passionate about and at the same time the service I am rendering fit into the company vision and mission. Base on that I will say I am pursuing both my dream and that of the company.

    Mary Eshiet

    • Victor Cheng May 9, 2016, 10:10 pm


      You’ve found alignment between your career and your employer’s goals. That often makes for a wonderful win-win partnership.

      It works in personal relationships as well. Compatibility. Alignment of goals and values.


  • Shikhar Apr 21, 2016, 9:43 am

    Right now I am just hustling. I do not know where I want to go, I just don’t want to be here, so I am just fighting not to be here.
    I am going for an MBA so that I can get into consulting (I am already into consulting and I don’t like it coz it sucks too much personal time). Given a choice, I would rather learn foreign language and martial arts and travel, but I can’t do that coz I need money (and girls :P).
    I have been trying to so hard not to be ‘here’ that I don’t even remember whose idea was all this in the first place :D

    Great article Victor on perceptions and frames.

  • Kenneth Lee Apr 21, 2016, 9:33 am

    From a career standpoint, too many MBA students and career professionals focus totally on what they want from employers, and not on what they can do to help employers reach their goals. Companies don’t hire so that ‘you can use your MBA’ , they hire so that you can help them attain corporate goals/take advantage of market opportunities. If you do help them, the majority will reward accordingly. Secondly, the professional must know what they want out of their career . . . how work fits into the life that they want.

    Kenneth Lee
    Sr. Graduate Career Counselor
    J. Mack Robinson College of Business
    Georgia State University
    [email protected]

  • Emily Apr 21, 2016, 9:26 am

    Hi Victor,
    Loved your thoughts on framing today, which, coincidentally, I had been discussing with a colleague earlier. Definitely insightful – thank you!

  • Isha Apr 21, 2016, 9:18 am

    What a fantastic way to put it.. The frame part is especially enlightening.

  • Cesar Ojeda Apr 21, 2016, 9:08 am

    Hello Victor, thank you for another insightful letter.

    I really agree with your point on the importance of framing, and the power of being able to choose your own frame in a conscious manner.

    When it comes to following your dreams or borrowing someone elses to follow, there is an interesting connection to the concepts of normative and descriptive values. Descriptive values can be defined as values generated from the persons own sense of identity, and is highly personal in nature. In a sense it comes “from the inside”. Normative values on the other hand, are values adopted from our surroundings (e.g. social norms, company values, religious dogmas etc). They are very important in order to create functioning societies, but since they come “from the outside” (just like someone else’s dreams), they cannot be used sustainably self-leadership and motivation in the same manner as descriptive values. Being aware of what values you have and avoiding the trap of building your life choices around normative values is something I’m sure had great impact on happiness and well-being.

    It was this awareness that made me put my Mckinsey ambitions on hold and instead try the entrepreneur path and work with self leadership full time :)

    Part of the clarity I have in this field is due to your newsletters, so thank you! I also find your wisdom to be very helpfull even if one does not wish to become a consultant.

    Cheers from Sweden

    • Victor Cheng May 9, 2016, 10:09 pm


      I wanted to acknowledge your introspective efforts, self awareness and the decision to choose your own internally guided path in life. Good luck.


  • Angan Apr 21, 2016, 8:59 am

    Hello Victor,
    Hope you’re doing fine. I just want to say you’re doing a great job for aspiring consultants, students and for humanity. Really, its great stuff here. I followed your every advise and improved my skills and went on to bag a Deloitte offer. Thanks again.

  • Sophia Apr 21, 2016, 8:48 am

    I haven’t ever replied back to your emails. The reason why I’m doing so for this one is because I just want somebody to know. The answer to your question was so instantaneous that it took me a while after to realize the enormity or depth of my answer. And the answer is- Im living somebody else’s dream and life entirely.

    Just an ordinary 25 year old Indian girl working in an average bank in India, and getting married this Saturday.

    Whose dream/life am I living? My parents. I detest them and myself for this on one hand. And on the other, I feel like I owe it to them. My dream was to be in the arts field or to be a nurse,live in my birth land of Dubai or any other country except India and get married to a man whom I had chosen on my own terms.

    Anyway Im rambling. Im not a consultant. A nobody really. But once upon a time I thought I could become like you and so I just thought I’d reply. Thanks so much for your mails,Victor. I look forward to more.


    • Victor Cheng May 9, 2016, 10:08 pm


      Thank you for your heart felt reply. You aren’t a nobody you are Sophia. You and your dreams matter too.


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