Career tip: What is an informational interview?

Of the many things I learned in MBA, the “informational interview” is one of those gems that remains relevant a decade later. Information interviews. They are simply low-expectation, business meetings with (relative) strangers to find out more about an industry, company, or opportunity. It is a win-win: The interviewee has the opportunity to be generous – with their… Read More »

Retirement tip: rental properties 101

Note this post is about rental properties – not about consulting. That said, all consultants and professionals making $$$, need to start putting money away to get yourself retired? It’s actually a question that I ask most all of my friends, and even acquaintances: “What are you doing to get money working for you (assets) so you can… Read More »

Bain: Founder’s Mentality

Founder’s Mentality is a simple and elegant framework from Bain that describes how companies lose their way as they grow. The path from start-up to global juggernaut is not a straight line and Bain research shows that only 1 in 9 companies show sustainable growth for 10+ years. They call it the growth paradox – growth creates complexity and complexity kills growth. As consultants – I… Read More »

Consulting basics: What is a SOW?

A statement of work (SOW) is a phrase you will hear almost daily in your life as a consultant. It’s a client-facing document that outlines what the consultant is proposing to get done on a new project or phase of work. This is particularly important why? Because new projects are the lifeblood of a firm’s utilization, profitability, and career… Read More »

Corporate training: $70 billion largely wasted?

Corporate learning and development is a huge market. Training magazine estimates here that it is approximately $70 billion annually for companies with more than 100 employees.  While that is a huge number, it feels about right. All of this training takes the form of L&D headcount, outside consultants, training tools, travel, and other education spending. They estimate… Read More »

Case interview advice from Bain

It’s consulting interview season which means well-groomed MBAs are sitting across small tables with consulting firm partners and senior managers in something called a case interview. For those readers from consulting firms – you know this fire drill – and probably remember it fondly like Marines who remember “hell week”. Case interview advice. For those in the throes of case interview for full-time… Read More »

Review: BCG 2016 M&A Report

2015 was a blockbuster M&A year. Lot of big name deals as companies re-position themselves and push for growth in a slow-growth, low-interest rate environment. Good times for investment bankers and due diligence big 4 firms. BCG 2016 M&A report here. 2016 has slowed down. BCG notes that 1H 2016 is down 27% YoY, but still flat compared to 10-year average. Remember, this… Read More »

Billionaires part 2: The Bad

Too many billionaires? That can be bad: Ruchir Sharma is an investment strategist for Morgan Stanley who focuses on emerging markets. He uses a 10 point system to evaluate the investment-worthiness of countries, and the billionaire index is one of them. He makes a simple but logical macro-economic argument against having a large % of a country’s wealth… Read More »

Billionaires part 1: The Good

Billionaires are more common than ever. Ruchir Sharma- Morgan Stanley global strategist – notes in Rise and Fall of Nations (affiliate link) that the number of billionaires increased from 1,011 to 1,826 between 2009-2014. That is a 80% increase in billionaires over 5 years.  If the number of “billionaires” were a stock, it would been a great investment. As… Read More »

Review: PwC Global 100 Software Leaders

PWC released their 4th report on top 100 global software leaders here.  Of course you will see the major bulge-bracket software companies (Microsoft, Oracle, SAP, EMC etc), but you will also see a lot of names that you may interact only tangentially.  For example, companies like Kronos (timekeeping), Workday (HR software as a service), Concur (expense… Read More »

Review: 2016 BCG Global Challengers

In sharp contrast from the last post about slow global growth, BCG writes in their 10th annual report about emerging market companies that are killing it. BCG notes that the top companies – i.e. highlighted in this report – are growing revenues at 3x the market with above average margins. The old days when multi-national firms… Read More »

Are emotions contagious in the workplace?

Yes, they are. Emotions are contagious. Lots of research on this topic and a great TEDx talk here by Brandon Smith showing that, yes, emotions do exist at work and play a much larger role than you might think. I am a huge believer that culture trumps strategy and the importance of leaders in setting the direction and an environment of… Read More »

Invest time in people, experiences, assets, and writing

Grandpa-sounding advice coming your way. Here is a thesis for you to test out.  Do you agree with this statement? There are 4 smart ways to invest time: people, experiences, assets, and writing because all these things get more valuable over time. In the age of immediacy and instant access, your relationships, memories, passive income, and point of view will be unique to… Read More »

World’s worst question: “Are you sure?”

This is my least favorite expression in all of consulting. “Are you sure?” Built into the question is a lack of trust, glibness, superficial concern with accuracy over meaning, and honestly, a bit of disdain. It’s a superficial question. It’s the kind of question that is asked out of (bad) habit and does nothing to really add… Read More »

Sadly, 20 email tips

Surprisingly, many people use email poorly. They write long-winded email essays that are ambiguous, and often copy too many people. These sloppy people create more confusion, frustration and rework. In this case, more communication is actually worse. Email tip: Take 15 seconds to think before you send out emails.  What am I trying to say, am I sending… Read More »

Consulting tip: Watch videos on LEAN

Lean. Toyota Production System. These are words and concepts that any business person should readily know and understand – even if you are not an operations consultant. Process improvement initiatives built on these concepts take out billions of dollars of waste every year – from every industry. A typical LEAN consulting project will easily take out $1-5 million of waste –… Read More »

Leading by example, with data entry?

Yes, this morning I did 4 hours of data entry.  Yes, data entry.  Our project was in a time crunch and we had major issues getting good operational data, so we begrudgingly took some print outs and manually typed them into excel. Yikes.  Yes, we did look at other OCR (optical character recognition) methods like ABBY,… Read More »

Peter Drucker Quotes: “Time”

The Effective Executive by Peter Drucker is a a classic.  Written 40+ years ago, and still enormously relevant.  You can find pdf online for free or buy it used at Amazon for $2 (affiliate link).  A steal. Great quotes from Drucker (shown in blue italics) on the subject of time: Time is THE most valuable resource. Effective executives know… Read More »

Review: Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends 2016

Deloitte 2016 Global Human Capital Trends was released here (5.6Mb). It is a 124 page manifesto of well-organized thinking on how the workplace is changing, what employees want, and how the old way of thinking about human resource (read: people) just does not work. In real consulting style, the survey is rigorous – interviews and surveys of more… Read More »

BCG: New CEO’s Guide to Transformation

The title of the BCG report sounds serious, but its a bit of a gem – easy to read and understand.  Download here (1Mb pdf). Boils down to three points: Successful CEOs need to plan the transformation before they start work Transformation is expensive, need to fund the journey with cost takeout There are 10 types of transformations; see… Read More »

Consulting tip: How to make a good survey

Consultants should use surveys more often. They are cost-effective, seemingly impartial, easy to use, and provide data in the “touchy and feel-y” areas where data might be hard to find, collect, or quantify. Bain, PWC, BCG, Deloitte all use surveys; see the links at the bottom of the post. Even on this website, readers reply to surveys to… Read More »

What is deliberate practice?

It takes more than 10,000 hours. Malcolm Gladwell popularized the idea that people have to practice for 10,000+ hours before becoming experts. At the time, this dispelled the idea that it is just raw talent or genius at work. No, he concluded, it takes lots and lots of practice to be excellent at something. When listening to the most recent Freakonomics podcast here entitled How… Read More »

Consultant’s gripe: US education is a mess

Many of my friends have school-age children and they worry about their kid’s education. Sadly, they have a lot of reasons to be worried. For all the recent innovation, changing business models, and dedication of some teachers. . . US public education is a mess.  Every few years, more than 470,000 students in 65 countries… Read More »

Rough consulting week: Embrace the suck

Last week was brutal. Was glad to just make it through the days without disappointing people or making too many mistakes. I had 32 different conference calls, a boat-load of work, a dentist appointment and planning for my mom’s 70th birthday. Apparently, the military uses an expression which was entirely appropriate last week: “Embrace the suck“,… Read More »

Rolling Stones in Cuba: Glasnost

Written 07/08/2016 Looks like 8 airlines were given clearance to fly to Cuba here. Written 03/26/2016 Cuba Glasnost. This is HUGE news for the US, Cuba, and the world. The United States severed diplomatic ties with Cuba and had a trade embargo for 50+ years. While only symbolic, President Obama’s visit and the concert by the once-banned,… Read More »

“That’s What Google is For”

Over the last two weeks, this scenario has repeated itself a few times.  A junior consultant I am working with hits a simple roadblock and instead of reflecting on the problem and hunting out an answer, they pull the brakes and reply, “I don’t know how to do that.”  Hmm, I held my tongue for 3… Read More »

Review of 39pg McKinsey Presentation

McKinsey & Company do great work. On this blog, I have written about their leader, culture, high-visibility assignments at the CIA, and Department of Corrections. Overall, have enormous respect for the work they do, and the way they have built their practice. By any measure, they are monolithic at what they do.  So, now I would… Read More »

20+ Consulting travel essentials

I travel a lot.  Like most management consultants, I am a road warrior. According to Marriott.com, I have stayed 152 nights last year. Perhaps 10% of that is from my wife who also uses my rewards number, but needless to say, lots of hotel, plane, car. Funny sidebar – a friend was NOT traveling one… Read More »

Category: Fun

Review: McKinsey- Digital America’s Tale of the “Haves” and “Have Mores”

McKinsey published a 120 page report on the digitization of America here (2.6Mb). Some critics might argue the two main arguments are a bit obvious: 1) digitization drives productivity and 2) those gains are shared uneven across industries, companies, and people. It is a story of the digital divide – the “haves” and the “have mores”. On the surface… Read More »

Profile of Success: Dave Ramsey

Dave Ramsey. This is a famous radio host from the United States who I listen to regularly. He only talks about financial planning and money management – but he can be just a polarizing and crazy as the other “shock-jock” radio personalities. He has been doing 2-3 hour radio shows since 1992, so it is almost 20,000… Read More »

Review: The 2016 Deloitte Millennial Survey

Deloitte surveyed of 7,700 millennials globally here. The respondents were folks born after 1982 with college degrees, working in large organizations (100+) across 29 different countries. You work with millennials everyday – anyone under 33 years. As I have lots of opinions (nice thing about having a blog), see my comments in green. “Remarkable absence of loyalty” This is how… Read More »

McKinsey gets phase 2 on NY jail project for $7M

McKinsey & Company is a premiere management consulting firm with a long legacy of influential alumni, thought-provoking research, top-shelf billing rates, and legions of ivy-league smarties.They get called in to solve difficult problems – everything from corporate mergers to changing the organizational design at the CIA here. So, it is only with a bit of humor and… Read More »

Accounting 101: What is depreciation?

In my mind, depreciation has two meanings – the common sense definition most people know intuitively, and the financial accounting definition which dictates how costs of fixed assets are spread out over many years. Note – if you are CPA, feel free to call me out on things I describe incorrectly. All feedback welcome. 1) Common sense… Read More »

Consultant, what are you doing to get retired?

I look forward to retirement. Who doesn’t? I recently went on a road trip to Key West and Sarasota Florida. Seriously, 80 degrees in December with a breeze? Walking on the beach watching while drinking mojitos? Debating whether to buy scallops or tuna at the fish market for dinner? Choosing between waffles and french toast for breakfast? Here… Read More »

Consulting tip: Listen to Freakonomics Podcast

For those who know me, I am a huge fan of podcasts. Great story-telling and content, delivered for free, wonderful use of your time. If you intellectually curious, travel a lot, and don’t listen to podcasts or audiobooks, uh, I don’t understand you. Made a list of great planet money podcasts here. Freakonomics – created by the same people… Read More »

Category: Fun

Consulting tip: Use Waze

I am a huge fan of Waze. For those who have not used it, it’s a basic map app which tells you the most efficient route to your destination, which factors in traffic and construction. This simple 45 second video will give you a good taste for it here. For those who feel this is similar to Google… Read More »

Category: Fun

Consulting travel: Red eye home

Consulting travel. This image tells a story.  Red eye. Business class. The good with the bad. Welcome to consulting. Strange life.  UBER driver #1. On the ride to the airport, I struck up a conversation with my UBER driver, who works at a local casino. After chit-chat about blackjack strategy, he gave me a deck of cards from the casino where… Read More »

Category: Fun

McKinsey interview: Sheryl Sanderberg

Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, is awesome. Too many reasons to mention, but a good thumbnail will be this 9 minute interview with McKinsey here. Yes, is not your typical person – her CV looks like the gold standard – Harvard, Harvard Business, McKinsey, chief of staff to the Treasury secretary, Google, then COO of… Read More »

Consulting tip: Subscribe to Fast Company

I read Fast Company.  It is a iconoclastic magazine which is easy to read, fun, and honestly, pretty cheap at $1 per month per magazine at discount mags. It is their 20th anniversary, this editorial here talks about their predictions for the next 20 years. Lots of to think about. My comments in orange color.… Read More »

Consulting templates: Visualize what you want to say

PowerPoint. Over the last 20 years, there are very few days when I have not worked in PowerPoint. Sad, but true. Even when I am not creating one, I am often reading investor relations presentations or analyst reports. Pay attention to strong presentations. Collect them. See how authors structure data. Yesterday, I worked with my team on a… Read More »

Uber is uber

Uber the taxi-technology company started in 2009 as a novelty for its co-founders and friends. Now it has a market valuation of $51 billion, has 1M active drivers, and operates in 330 cities. Read a Fast Company article here which is focused on the founder – Travis Kalanick – and what an intense, contrarian grinder his is. Major drive, early start-up… Read More »

Category: Fun