career strategy

Conflicts of Interest

In a world of competing agendas, it’s inevitable that you will have a conflict of interest with a client, colleague, or boss. This is particularly true in consulting firms, law firms, and investment banks. Conflicts of interest come from having more than one role or relationship in a particular situation. Here are some examples: A) [...]

The Critical Path

In the world of project management, there exists a useful concept knows as the “critical path” for a project. A critical path is that part of the project which has the fewest available resources that also has the most downstream dependencies. In other words, it’s the step in the project that prevents many other later [...]

Managing Career Risk

Ever since working at McKinsey, I’ve been fascinated by the financial services industry. In every other industry, you know what your costs and revenues were this year, and at the end of the year you can calculate your profit. However, in a sense, this is not the case with many financial institutions.  When your homeowner’s [...]

Managing your Weaknesses

When it comes to managing your career, you need to be aware of your own weaknesses. A weakness that’s known can be worked around. A weakness that you’re not even aware of will sink your career. If you aren’t sure of your weaknesses, simply ask your boss, colleagues, and staff for feedback on what you [...]

See, Think, Do

Several years ago, one of my clients taught me a great framework to describe how to be influential with others in the workplace. It’s a communication approach you can use to manage direct reports, manage colleagues, and even to manage your boss. The framework involves three steps: See Think Do If you can alter how [...]

How McKinsey Partners Solve "Cases"

There’s a joke within McKinsey on how to solve a case. Here’s the case: A client is considering entering XYZ market segment because their core market is shrinking. What do you do? Candidate / 1st Year Consultant: “My hypothesis is they should enter the market. For that to be true, four key factors must be [...]

Career & Life Game Changer

One of the biggest revelations I’ve learned about relationships (professional and personal), I picked up years ago from McKinsey. It was such a simple yet transformative concept. Here’s the story. At McKinsey, when I worked with a new client, I would conduct a round of initial introductory meetings with each member of the executive team. [...]

Excelling at High Stakes Interactions

All communication has three components: The words you say; The tone of voice (e.g., vocal inflections, cadence, pitch, speed, pauses); Your body language (e.g., facial expression, cross of arms or legs, posture, eye movements, breathing patterns). In general, for very simple interaction with no emotional significance between two people, most people communicate literally. That is, [...]

Too Good to be Ignored

Many people manage their careers by figuring out how to get ahead without actually earning it. This confuses me. While there are legitimate shortcuts to getting ahead (such as learning from a mentor, building a network of collaborative contacts), ultimately it really helps if you’re really good at what you do. To be more specific, [...]

Risk Exposure vs. “Good” Outcomes

If you jump off the roof of your house and survive uninjured, was that a good decision? Or phrased more appropriately, was it a risk-free decision? Intuition would tell you that you were exposed to risk, even if you didn’t get hurt. I first learned about risk from McKinsey’s Financial Institutions practice. I spent a [...]

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