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 »

Trust without clear expectations = fail

Trust, but verify. This is a Russian proverb that US President Ronald Reagan learned and used frequently when speaking about the Soviet Union and nuclear arms reduction verification in the 1980s. I use it quite a bit too – and when delivered with good comedic timing – it can be quite funny. Trust people. But don’t be so naive to… 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 »

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 »

Morgan Stanley – expect slower and lower global growth

Driving back from lunch today, listened to this podcast interview of Ruchir Sharma here, global strategist for Morgan Stanley, manager of $20 billion of assets. Well-spoken, very clear point of view about the world economy after the 2007 crisis: It is a new normal of slower, and lower growth – in part driven by population slow… 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 »

Time quotes from Tolstoy, Jobs, Wooden, Buffett, Dickinson

I turn 45 this year and honestly, my 40s > my 30s > my 20s. When people say, “Aw, I wish I were ____ years old again”, I honestly, don’t get that. Enjoying the journey too much for that kind of romanticism. That said, I do think a lot about time and really enjoyed these… 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 »

Brazil: What do management consultants say about Brazil?

What’s going on in Brazil? Yes, the Olympics. But also an economic recession/depression. According to the Economist, this is the biggest economic slump since the 1930s here. This is a problem. GDP falling. Look at the GDP growth rate over the last few years.  Clearly you don’t have to be an economist to see that the economy is… 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 »

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 »

Consultant’s gripe: Why is the US tax code 9,000 pages?

April 15 is tax day in the United States for individuals. There are other tax days (e.g., March 15 for corporations), but yesterday was the day most people know – and loathe. People take off work, look for receipts, download bank statements, and answer questions from self-service software like TurboTax. “The hardest thing in the world to… 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 »

Pandora – great music, pretty terrible business

I listen to Pandora every day. On my computer, on my Roku, on my Amazon Echo, in my car, basically everywhere. It’s also a fun short-hand way to ask people what they listen to. My buddy turned me on to Carla Bruni, and it’s my “go-to” station. Yes, the ads are annoying, but not bad enough… 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 »

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 »

Whether you are a lion or a gazelle: when the sun comes up, you’d better be running

This is a quote first attributed to Dan Montano in the Economist, but was popularized by Thomas Friedman in The World is Flat.  Here is the full quotation here: Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning a lion wakes… Read More »