career growth

The Unforced Error

In some sports, they track a statistic known as an “unforced error.” I’ve always found this concept intriguing. When a competitor does something exceptional and beats you, that’s a “forced” error. It’s when your opponent hits a nearly impossible cross-court groundstroke to win the set. It’s when you throw the batter your absolute best pitch [...]

Scaffolding

Over the years, I’ve homeschooled my kids in math. In the process of learning teaching methods for math, I came across the term “scaffolding.” In construction, “scaffold” refers to the temporary metal frame with large wood planks that surrounds a construction site. The scaffold gives construction workers a place to stand while working on the [...]

Signaling Effectively

I’ve always been fascinated by turn signals on cars. It’s such a simple thing. You make the left light blink on the rear of your car to signal to others that you intend to change lanes or make a left turn. I’m fascinated by the dynamics around what happens when signals aren’t sent or when [...]

The Blame-Oriented Corporate Culture

Something just went wrong; really wrong. What’s the first instinct you and others have? In many company cultures (and in many family, marriage or parent/child relationship cultures), the first order of business is to decide whom to blame. Much of corporate politics (not to mention governmental politics) is based on this principle. “I don’t want [...]

Career Growth = Perpetual Discomfort

In a recent article, I wrote about How to Tell Someone They’re Totally Wrong. It was in response to my comments about music and learning how to write songs. That discussion and the flood of emails I’ve received (with very polar points of view) has probably been one of the most controversial topics I’ve written about [...]

Succeeding at the Edge of Discomfort

When you look at the top performers in every domain, all of them share one thing in common. They live their lives at the edge — at the edge of discomfort. All growth comes from this edge. It’s a thin line between success and failing. This is especially apparent in the weight room. I’ve been [...]

The Emergent Career Strategy - Practical Considerations

I recently wrote an article about the difference between Planned vs. Emergent Career Strategies. The career plan is one you create at the beginning of your career when you have the least amount of information. The emergent strategy sometimes reveals itself in the process of pursuing the original career plan. New information emerges that was [...]

The Deep Flaw in MBB Strategic Planning

When I first started recruiting for consulting jobs, an interviewer at Bain shared a story (arguably a legend at this point) about how Bain (or it might have been McKinsey) was asked to advise Motorola on whether or not they should enter the mobile phone market. As you might know, Motorola eventually dominated the pre-smartphone [...]

Master then Break the Rules

When you first learn a craft, it’s useful to learn the rules. As you master the rules, it’s useful to break the rules. The difference between learning, mastering, and then breaking the rules comes from understanding why the rules exist. Rules, rules of thumbs, or conventions exist around problems in a field that recur frequently. [...]

How to Wield Power

At Stanford, I took a class called Power & Politics. My professor said, “If you put two people in a room together, there’s politics.” As much as I disliked the answer at the time, I’ve come to appreciate that it is true. Politics occurs when different people with conflicting needs try to each get what [...]

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