career success

Drawing a Line

A question came up the other day during the office hours I held for members of my Inner Circle mentorship program. The question was, “Do you take on a well-paying client engagement when you disagree partly with the scope of the project?” The ensuing conversation reminded me of McKinsey’s unofficial policy of turning down multi-million [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

Lessons from my "Lazy" Daughter

When my oldest was eight years old, she decided that she wanted more money than the allowance she got from me. She thought about who else had money and noticed that her younger sisters did. She decided to figure out a way to convince her sisters to part ways with their allowance in a way [...]

Thoughts on Data Analysis

One of my volunteering goals for this year has been to train to be a volunteer emergency medical first responder. I found it quite eye-opening to go through the two weeks of medical training to become a Wilderness First Responder. (Wilderness defined as more than one hour away from a hospital.) The instructor constantly drilled [...]

Leadership = Salesmanship

My first boss in industry started a company from scratch, took it public and still runs it today. He was such a ridiculously intense person. We fought and argued every… single… day. I was his chief of staff. His job was to demand the impossible from everybody in the company. My job was to make [...]

Being the Best vs. Your Personal Best

When you’re the best in the world at something, there’s nobody left to beat. If you’re Usain Bolt, you’re (literally) the fastest human being on earth and in all of history (world record holder for 100-meter dash). With whom do you compete? If you’re Michael Phelps and have more Olympic medals than anyone in history [...]

The Big Ask

In your career, there will be a few pivotal moments when you “sell” a big idea to someone else whose decision will become an inflection point in your career. You could be “selling” your boss on the idea of promoting you, choosing you to lead a high profile project, or taking on major new responsibilities. [...]

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, [...]

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