Jigsaw puzzle : Consulting?

It rained last Sunday in Atlanta. Spent a few hours working on a jigsaw puzzle in the kitchen while drinking coffee and eating chocolate. The good life. Get a good puzzle.  Sometimes, you want to do something mindless besides binge-watching Netflix. Yes, yard work is good. A 4 mile run is good. So are old-school, jigsaw puzzles. Easy ones. Attractive… Read More »

FT called consulting a curse. Seriously?

The Financial Times wrote a short scathing article on the management consulting industry here. Some valid points, but clearly a quickly assembled article with a Warren Buffett quote and visual used as a wrapper. If you are going to argue that a $133 billion industry is a “curse”, do a good job. Calling consulting a curse is 1) odd… Read More »

Get staffed: Don’t become consultant inventory

Everyone understands inventory. It’s the stuff sitting on Home Depot’s shelves. It’s the frozen pizzas in the freezer. The unsold house in the neighborhood. The empty hotel rooms and empty movie seats. Non-billable consultants are no different. Non-billable consultants should either be selling new projects, or they are inventory. It’s complex. Inventory can be tricky… Read More »

Drucker, “The question that faces the strategic decision maker. . .”

“The question that faces the strategic decision maker is not ‘what his organization should do tomorrow.’ It is, ‘what do we have to do today to be ready for an uncertain tomorrow’?” — Peter Drucker  This quote is right-on. Without writing a New Yorker-length article, 6 things: 1) Question. Leaders are in the “ask the right question”… Read More »

30+ McKinsey presentations

Curious what a McKinsey presentation looks like? Please find links to 30+ McKinsey presentations which are publicly available online. Many of these are from conferences, or governmental / non-profit organizations clients who have chosen to make them available online. Yes, Google is useful. I selected the ones which as less than 10 years old have more than… Read More »

Best practices: A tool or a crutch?

I wrote this post 5 years ago.  It is still true today.  Management consultants use the phrase “best practices” often.  Perhaps too often. You will see that magical phrase mentioned numerous times in white papers and research on these websites: Boston Consulting Group, Deloitte, PWC and Accenture.  A few pictures that help explain why a best practice can be so… Read More »

Important, not urgent

Generally speaking, I am pretty good under pressure. This can take the form of final revisions the night before the presentation, or conference calls lined up back-to-back. The endorphin gets going and you can ignore the pain. The dopamine gets going and you feel the achievement. If it’s team-based work, the serotonin gets going and it feels like… Read More »

Anti-example: 10 bad charts

Consultants are in the business of taking ambiguous problems, structuring them, and telling cogent, actionable stories. This often involves charts – yes – charts and graphs. The older crew – like me – is used to Excel, but you will also see Tableau, Cliq, and other Prezi-like craziness. First and foremost, the content needs to be relevant and accurate. Then, it… Read More »

Word choice

Clearly, eloquence has many parts – content, structure, conviction, tone, pacing, empathy, and word choice. Ah, words. Let’s not forget the words. Word inflation. Seems like we are bombarded with words constantly – most of them advertising or loose “pseudo-news”. The endless stream of facebook / linkedin “forwards” and “likes”.  So many words for such limited and often… Read More »

Bill, Melinda, Warren

I recently read the 2017 Gates Foundation annual letter.  It starts with this alarming and kitschy picture. Whoa – this caught my attention. Huge fan of Warren Buffett – for his intellect, quirkiness, and generosity. In 2006, Buffett donated $31B to the Gates foundation – the biggest gift in history. Remember, he could just as easily donated… Read More »

Consulting tip: Read the Snapchat prospectus

If you have never read a prospectus, you should. First, it’s useful. With an initial public offering (IPO), it is often times the first time outside investors are given a chance to understand how the company makes money and how sustainable their competitive advantage really is. Second, it’s refreshing. In the US, the Securities and Exchange… Read More »

Consulting tip: Blogging

Over the past few weeks, I have recommended blogging to several people. (Yes, I know how cliche it is to write a blog post about blogging). In a way, this has been my short-hand way of telling them to 1) invest in their craft, 2) develop a point of view, find their voice, 3) create remarkable content so… Read More »

McKinsey: 10 tests of your strategy

McKinsey, in a 2011 article entitled Have Your Tested Your Strategy Lately?, makes the very valid point that executives and leaders too often treat strategy as a ” procedural exercise or set of frameworks”, rather than a way of thinking through problems. Amen. McKinsey’s advice is to not look for the newest strategy fad or business guru, but instead… Read More »

What is calendly?

I was introduced to the Calendly website by a recruiter. After we emailed a few times, we agreed to have a 20 minutes live conversation by phone. She sent me a link to her calendly schedule, and it was the easiest scheduling I have ever done. Usually, scheduling stinks.  We have all experienced the email… Read More »

Sample size: What is your n?

Sample size. This is a phrase every consultant should know and (kinda) understand. Consultants are in the business of 80/20 rule, and smartly deducing insights from a sample of structured data (read: excel), qualitative interviews, observations, benchmarks and other KPI.  We often look at samples to see what it can say about a larger population (statistics… Read More »

Consulting tip: How to make decks for other people

Over my career, I estimate that I made 700+ presentations.  Some were executive summary or update presentations of 5-10 pages. Some were financial and operational reviews. Some were full-scale consulting engagement read-outs (e.g., 40+ pages).  They were all top-shelf and required enormous time / effort / love. Many of them were also for other people.… Read More »

Top tier consulting compensation = good coin

Charles Aris is an executive recruiting firm based in N Carolina that specializes in placing top-tier consultants into industry. They are good at what they do. Take a look at their 2017 strategy consulting compensation study here. Rigorous methodology. In true consulting firm, their survey has a large sample size (900+ data points) from more than… Read More »

BCG report: The most innovative companies, 2016

BCG recently published its 11th annual global survey of the most innovative companies here (PDF, 1.1Mb). It’s brief (20pg) and not controversial. It highlights a few case studies – J&J, Cisco, BASF and Under Armour. See the list of top 50 companies. Consultantsmind opinions in red. No surprise you see FAANG companies (Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, Google).… Read More »

Chilling out with The Economist

The Economist has a blog called Graphic Detail, which excels at showing complex ideas simply. Engaging, thoughtful, and often surprising.  Some recent graphs: 1) High blood pressure globally, not just affluent countries here          A recent study in Lancet largely dispels the myth that high blood pressure is a rich country’s problem; it’s prevalent… Read More »

Consultant’s cruise: ocean views

Took a 7 day cruise through the Eastern Caribbean. Highly recommend. So healthy to experience the wide-open ocean for several days. Great perspective – how big the world is, and how thankful we should all be. Enjoy your holidays. Related posts: Consultant’s long weekend – Arizona Loyalty Points: Thank You Client Links

McKinsey’s $125B savings plan for the Pentagon, Ignored

So this morning there was a fantastical headline in the Washington Post here: Pentagon buries evidence of $125 billion in bureaucratic waste What the hay? Isn’t this a Ben Affleck movie about a government cover-up? No, it’s an internal report created by the Defense Business Board, “a federal advisory panel of corporate executives, and consultants from… Read More »

Consulting tool: Finviz.com #1: How to screen stocks

Finviz.com is a great way to filter stocks and generally get smart on specific industries. While there are multiple tools on the website, will focus on something call the screener. As you can see here and below, there are 60+ filters (industry, country, P/E, operating margin, dividend %, beta, EPS growth rate) you can apply… Read More »

Slideology 2: Use diagrams to tell stories

This is the second section review of Duarte’s Slideology (affiliate link). This agency has become a sensation after they did Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth presentation and also a famous TED talk here. Chapter 2  – Create ideas, not slides. I will largely skip this chapter as the idea of brainstorming, understanding the WHY, sketching out… Read More »

Slideology 1: Making bad slides is easy, and it will negatively impact your career – Duarte

Slideology is a book from 2008 about PowerPoint. It is well-structured, thoughtful, and a massively influential book in the “presentation business”.  It makes a whole lot of sense to me and is quite easy-to-read. Nancy Duarte has been doing this for 20+ years and makes some crazy good points. After listening to a podcast interview,… Read More »

How I Built This Podcast – BCG and Beer

If you are like me, you love listening to successful people tell their stories – for their confidence, ingenuity, fears, failures, heroism, goofiness, and ultimately success. We see a little of ourselves in them and experience the art of good story-telling. So, listen to this NPR podcast called How I Built This – where they interview Jim… Read More »

McKinsey Report: Thriving in the New Abnormal, NA Asset Management

The global asset management business is huge. There are lots of billionaires and lots of people like you and me who have our wealth with pensions, 401K, and in stock/bond mutual funds. With the incredibly loose monetary policy (read: printing money), it is no surprise that global assets under management (AUM) have done well. In fact, they had… Read More »

McKinsey: How big is the gig economy?

McKinsey & Co published a very authoritative 148 page study here (3.8Mb pdf) arguing a fairly simple (perhaps obvious) fact; the number of people freelancing is larger than you might think (20%+) and growing quickly. For those who already do project-based solo work this is non-news. We all know ex-consultants, Uber drivers, photographers, web-sign designers, caterers, eBay arbitragers, mortgage attorneys, and real… Read More »

Anti-FOMO book: The ONE thing, by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan

This book is all about focus. It is like the Pareto Principle to the extreme. The authors argue that by narrowing your focus to ONE thing in each area of your life, you will be happier, more successful, and find things easier. It turns out that pseudo multi-tasking, and not thinking about what is most important in… Read More »

Consulting tip: study charts, tables, graphs

Consultants see patterns. It’s a core part of our job to analyze data, separate the signal from the noise, and interpret the patterns. Some are better than others and it’s a talent that takes time to turn into a skill. Find good presentations and study them. Like an craftsman who can appreciates solid work, geek out on graphs and analyses.… Read More »

What is FOMO?

Fear of Missing Out (FOMO). Yes, we all have it sometimes. Social anxiety. It’s that nagging fear you that you might be better off – somewhere else, with someone else, doing something more fun. It’s that high-school sense of peer pressure to not be left out of the group. It’s that hint of jealousy and benchmarking to see how you’re doing… Read More »

Consulting tip: Minto’s Pyramid Principle

Repost. This is from 4 years ago and covers the Minto’s pyramid principle – one of the most important concepts in executive communication and logical structuring of arguments. This is really big at all the big 4 and big 3. It is the scaffolding of management consulting thinking. My revised thoughts (2016) shown in red color. Consultants must structure… Read More »

Grit matters more than talent

Grit is a casual word which means “resolve” in English. Endurance with a mission. Doing something difficult and not giving up. It is the opposite of complacency or indecision. Clearly, people with grit are going to be more successful – because by definition, they are not giving up. That said, how important is it? Is it more important that… Read More »

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 »