career strategy

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 [...]

Aligning Goals with Resources

In a corporate strategic plan, it’s often easy to come up with big goals of what the company could or should do. The far more difficult part is allocating resources (people, finances, attention span) because there are never enough resources to do everything you could do. The same is true in your personal life and [...]

Secret to Achieving New Year's Resolutions

At the start of every new year, many people create resolutions or goals for the New Year. At the same time, most people also give up on these goals well before the end of the year. Having worked in industries whose sales are driven by New Year’s Resolutions, I can tell you exactly when people [...]

How to be Politically Savvy

  “Whenever there are two people in the same room, there’s politics.” – Eugene J Webb (1934-1995) Stanford Graduate School of Business Professor for over 25 years One of my former professors made the argument that anytime there are two people in a room, there’s politics. Normally the term “corporate politics” has an enormously negative [...]

Hard Work vs. Strategic Hard Work

When I was a child in school, I was taught that if you work hard, you would be successful. If you did your homework, you would get better grades. If you practiced your sport regularly, you improved and got better results. While there is definitely a relationship between hard work and better results, the relationship [...]

Confidence vs. Competence

Confidence (and the lack thereof) comes in two flavors: 1) Earned 2) Unearned Earned confidence comes from one source, and one source only: Competence You earn the right to feel confident about a particular skill or ability when you’ve invested the time to develop competence and mastery. For example, I have very high confidence that [...]

Dealing with Overwhelm

At one point or another in your life, you’re going to be overwhelmed. Overwhelm comes in two flavors — functional overwhelm (such as when you run a car engine past the red line and it blows up), or emotional overwhelm. In this case, you have two “levers” to pull to deal with overwhelm. 1) Increase [...]

Your Fault vs. Your Responsibility

I teach the people I mentor that leadership means accepting responsibility for things that aren’t your fault. The individual contributor that stays in that role for an entire career does what is asked, but no more. If something goes wrong, she says, “I didn’t make a mistake. You can’t blame me for that one. That’s [...]

The Rank Order Priority List

Most of my work involves either a corporate strategic plan or a personal strategic plan. The core of strategic planning centers around deciding on priorities and allocating resources to those priorities. A good strategic planning process is quite painful. It’s painful because resources are always constrained. This has been true in every strategic plan with which [...]

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