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When I was at Stanford, I took a class on social hierarchies. I remember thinking it was fascinating how social hierarchies influence perceptions of self and others. At the time, I had very little experience with social hierarchies outside of the academic arena. In high school, seniors (fourth-years) were revered and freshman (first-years) were lucky [...]

When you’re CEO, you’re in this paradoxical situation in which your direct reports often know a lot more than you do in their functional areas. This causes many first-time CEOs to stumble. After all, how do you manage someone who knows more than you do? While this is a subject worthy of an entire class, [...]

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 [...]

Over the years, I’ve paid a lot of attention to teaching methods. I’ve done so in my role as a teacher in my work and also as a parent. One thing I’ve come to appreciate is the value of learning the fundamentals of any domain. Whether it’s math, how to swing a baseball bat, or [...]

Let’s take a look at the following two sentences: I can’t do that. I can’t do that… yet. Only one word separates these two sentences. But, they have profoundly different meanings.  The first sentence, “I can’t do that,” implies a permanent state that can’t be altered. By adding the word “yet,” as in “I can’t [...]

Sometimes, your decisions do not have the positive outcome you wished for. It’s tempting to think that a bad outcome = a bad decision. This is an inaccurate over-simplification. It’s true that some decisions are outright mistakes. Other times, a decision is merely a judgment call. Being rude and disrespectful to your clients is always [...]

Like a scientist uses an experiment to test a hypothesis, a consultant uses a framework called an issue tree. An issue tree lays out a set of logical conditions that, if proven correct, prove the hypothesis correct. The term “issue tree” comes from the way this framework looks when diagrammed on paper – like a [...]

One of the things I tell my kids (that they hate) is that life isn’t always fair… deal with it. Sure, life should be fair. But, it often is not. Some people die well before their time. That’s not fair. Some people win the DNA lottery whereas others don’t. That’s not fair. Some people get [...]

In some sports, they track a statistic known as an “unforced error.” I’ve always found this concept intriguing. When a competitor does something exceptional and beats you, that’s a “forced” error. It’s when your opponent hits a nearly impossible cross-court groundstroke to win the set. It’s when you throw the batter your absolute best pitch [...]

Success = Being good at something. Satisfaction = Doing something that’s personally meaningful to you. The two are not the same thing. There also is not a causal relationship between the two. Success does not automatically bring you satisfaction. Most people assume such a relationship when that’s not always the case. The key driver of [...]

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