career strategy

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 [...]

“Blue Collar” Sales and Selling

Most people who get an Ivy League MBA do so to get a coveted job at a consulting firm, investment bank, or in industry. They aspire to be a McKinsey partner, a Goldman Sachs partner, a startup CEO or a leader in industry. Many get an MBA to avoid the most “blue collar” of professional [...]

Achieve More by Doing Less

In school, success is simple. Do your homework. Study hard. Get good grades. The better your grades, the greater your success. The path to success is simple and clear. In the working world, the parameters of success are quite different. In school, the more you do, the more you succeed. In the business world, the [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

I'm So Awesome...

When it comes to building a personal brand, many people get confused about how to do it right. There are two ways. The first is to tell people how amazing and awesome you are. Here’s an example. “Did you know that I’m an amazing human being?” “I’m so awesome…” “I’m smart, good-looking, and successful.” “Here’s [...]

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