career success

First Woman CEO of an Investment Bank

Last week, Citigroup announced that they are appointing Jane Fraser to be CEO. She will be the first woman CEO of a major Wall Street investment bank. Jane was actually the very first person I ever worked with at McKinsey. She was my first manager on my first engagement during my first week at the [...]

Power for the Powerless

In industry, whether your ideas get taken seriously depends on more than the quality of your thoughts. If the receptionist shares an idea and the CEO shares the exact same idea, more people will take the idea seriously when it comes from the CEO. Most people intuitively grasp that the last sentence is true but [...]

Career Security in a Recession

The entire global economy has changed drastically in just a few weeks. These highly uncertain times are causing companies to re-evaluate their current situations, opportunities, and staffing needs. As a result of these abrupt and often significant changes, there must be a massive recalculation of decisions made prior to the pandemic. That job offer from [...]

Stress = Fear

Years ago, I made the following assertion that really pissed off many of my peers. I asserted that stress is merely another name for fear. In the world of Ivy League schools and elite consulting firms, it was perfectly acceptable to admit you were feeling stressed, but very taboo to admit you’re scared. Yet when [...]

Authority vs. Influence

When most people think of power, they think of the person in the conference room with the most authority. Formal authority comes from decision-making power and control over resources. If you’re a member of the board, you have power because you must approve my operating budget for the fiscal year. If you are my boss, [...]

Problem Talker vs. Problem Solver

In life and work, there are two ways to approach a problem. You can talk about a problem, or you can solve the problem. The problem talker spends all of his time complaining about the problem. “Boss, this budgeting process is so inefficient and a waste of time.” “The way we orient new employees to [...]

Prepared for Luck

Over the years, I’ve noticed the role that luck plays in success for myself and others. I won’t lie. Getting lucky on an opportunity is great. The problem is that you can’t control when or if you get lucky. However, what you can control is whether you are prepared enough so that, when luck presents [...]

Inside a Fortune 500 Boardroom

I’ve only been in a Fortune 500 boardroom once. I will never forget it. The conference room had an incredible view of Manhattan. The boardroom table itself was a gorgeous mahogany table that seated 60 people. I’ve never seen a conference room table so large before. The table was so large that every seating position [...]

Making Mistakes

A wise person once told me, “Making mistakes is how we human beings learn.” I spent most of my life trying to avoid mistakes and then beating myself up when I inevitably made them.  In hindsight, this was terribly arrogant of me, counterproductive, and a difficult way to live. It was arrogant because to never [...]

Scaffolding

Over the years, I’ve homeschooled my kids in math. In the process of learning teaching methods for math, I came across the term “scaffolding.” In construction, “scaffold” refers to the temporary metal frame with large wood planks that surrounds a construction site. The scaffold gives construction workers a place to stand while working on the [...]

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