life as a consultant

The Key to Success

You’ll find the video above interesting for two reasons. First, it’s a video presentation by an old friend, and former McKinsey colleague Angela Duckworth. By background she had degrees from Harvard and Oxford before landing at McKinsey. We had many 3am bonding sessions sitting in the hallway of the McKinsey NYC office waiting for presentations [...]

How to Sell an Idea Effectively

In consulting or any professional service type industry, the “thing” you sell and provide to clients is intangible. Your advice, your guidance, your analysis really comes down to conveying an idea from you to your client. Unlike a tangible product, you can’t touch, taste or even smell an idea. When a client or a boss [...]

Math Never Lies, But it Often Misleads

I’m often fond of saying that: Math Never Lies, But It Does Often Mislead Let me give you an example to illustrate this point. Let’s say you use math to analyze a client and discover they generate $100 million in profit. Is this good or bad? It’s a simple question. From a math perspective, all [...]

The Uncertainty Arbitrage

There is a simple principle the underlies the relationship between client and consulting firm. It is something I call the Uncertainty Arbitrage. While uncertainty is self explanatory, if you’re not from a finance background, the concept of arbitrage may be new to you. In its usual context, arbitrage is a financial trading strategy design to exploit goods that are [...]

How to Deal with a Credit Hog

Following is an email I received from a F1Y who has encountered what I see as a big problem in the first three months at the firm. Question: Like many of your mentees, you are the reason why I have my current job at [XXXX], a boutique management consulting firm in [U.S. state].  Coming from [...]

The Thin Line Between Success and Failure

One of the most profoundly important concepts in business (and in managing your career) is the idea of the Decisive Advantage. The concept applies to any endeavor that involves competition — and more importantly deciding whether or not to even bother competing. It is this latter decision that most people rarely consciously consider. This is [...]

Strategy vs. Operations Consulting

Question: I came across your website and was wondering about Strategy vs. Operations consulting. It seems Strategy is more about growing the company whereas Operations is about making the company more efficient. Would you say that Strategy Consulting is harder to get into/ more prestigious than Operations? Are similar skill sets needed in both? My Reply: [...]

Management Consultant with an Accent?

Question: Cosentino’s book has a brief but thoughtful section on international students which centers around communication skills. I’m an American citizen but grew up in a South American country. I immigrated to the U.S. when I was 17 and still have an accent, though mild, after 10 years. My English grammar and vocab is well [...]

Entering Consulting as a Seasoned Executive

Question: I stumbled upon your site via a local headhunter’s interview brief – fascinating trove of information in a world that I’ve touched but not lived in – a.k.a. management consulting.  On the other hand, I’ve been a general manager/head of operations for some highly specialized technology companies.   So this smallish consulting firm is [...]

McKinsey Reputation Management

If you’ve been following the news, Rajat Gupta, the former managing partner of McKinsey, has turned himself in, in response to allegations of insider trading. What a black eye for the reputation of the firm. I’m sure there are a few hundred McKinsey partners who are absolutely livid about this. It’s one thing to say [...]

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