career growth

Study Market Demand

While most people see me as a teacher, I see myself as a lifetime student. One of the many things I study is market demand. When my kids and their friends all talk about a product, I get intrigued as to why they like it. When I’m walking around town and see a long line [...]

That’s Not My Job

In a lot of big companies, you’ll hear a lot of people say, “That’s not my job.” The world is constantly changing. The problems that companies face are constantly changing as well. When an unexpected problem pops up in a company, most people see the problem and declare “that’s not my job” (to solve that [...]

Powerful Friends

When I was at Stanford, the most successful students were the smartest ones. Fast forward 10 to 20 years, and the most successful people I know aren’t the smartest people I know. However, they often are the most connected. They have many friends in positions of influence and power. This works both within a company [...]

Even Bad People Have Good Ideas

Over the last few years, I’ve noticed a dramatic decline in the number of conversations that involve critical reasoning and independent thinking. I’m very concerned by this trend. One obvious place this has occurred is in American politics. I have friends across the full spectrum of political beliefs. I am shocked at how many debates [...]

The "Horizon Problem"

When I mentor people, they often ask me for my thoughts about specific career choices they are considering. Invariably, the questions fall into two categories. 1) How do I succeed in a pre-structured career path (e.g., making partner in a consulting firm)? 2) How do I succeed in forging my own path that isn’t pre-structured [...]

You Must be a Doctor...

The oddest thing has been happening to me over the last 10 years. One out of every three times I visit a healthcare provider, someone at the doctor’s office or hospital asks me if I’m a medical doctor. I’ve had emergency room physicians, triage nurses, physician assistants, and x-ray technicians all ask me the same [...]

Leaders vs. Followers

A leader leads. A follower follows. The difference between a leader and a follower is the willingness to be wrong. When you’re a follower, you ask the leader what to do. When you do this, you will never be “wrong.” If the leader’s decision turns out to be wrong, your hands are washed of any [...]

How to Be Insightful

In a meeting, you’ll notice the some people’s ideas automatically get taken seriously while others do not. This dynamic occurs due to two reasons — one obvious, one less so. First, some people come up with bad ideas — ideas that are impractical, logically incorrect, or deeply flawed. These ideas should legitimately be discounted. But, [...]

Intentionally Over-Qualified

You can approach a job in one of two ways: 1) Do the minimum expected to not get fired. 2) Do the maximum possible and massively exceed what’s expected. Keep this thought in mind for a few seconds as I introduce a different concept (then integrate the two). There are two ways to think about [...]

Margin of Error

I find it useful to learn from other disciplines. If you want to stand out in your field, borrow ideas that are commonplace in other industries, professions, and domains, but unusual in your field. I’m not the only person who has come to this conclusion. Warren Buffet’s business partner, Charlie Munger, strongly advocates multi-disciplinary learning. [...]

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