career success

But, I Deserve It...

In school, you get the grade you objectively earn. In the workplace, what you get isn’t as objective. In many cases, you get what you convince someone else to give you. Want that promotion? You need to convince someone. Want a raise? You need to convince someone. Want a budget for your project? You need [...]

Conflicts of Interest

In a world of competing agendas, it’s inevitable that you will have a conflict of interest with a client, colleague, or boss. This is particularly true in consulting firms, law firms, and investment banks. Conflicts of interest come from having more than one role or relationship in a particular situation. Here are some examples: A) [...]

Do No Harm

When a medical student becomes a doctor, he or she is asked to take the Hippocratic Oath. The oath comes from a 2,500-year-old Greek medical text that requires new physicians to abide by a code of conduct.  This code includes its most famous phrase, which is loosely translated as “First, do no harm.” In essence, [...]

Feedback Loops

One of the most useful management tools is the feedback loop. Feedback involves some mechanism that provides you with data on whether your actions are focused toward your objective. When you’re off track, a well-designed feedback loop gives you some kind of indicator. When you’re on track, the same feedback loop provides confirmation to give [...]

Overcoming Imposter Syndrome

Imposter syndrome occurs when the skills required for your job exceed your inaccurate self-perception of your abilities and worthiness of the job. You know you suffer from imposter syndrome when you feel like you aren’t good enough to keep the job you have or are constantly worried you’re going to lose it. Imposter syndrome occurs [...]

The Critical Path

In the world of project management, there exists a useful concept knows as the “critical path” for a project. A critical path is that part of the project which has the fewest available resources that also has the most downstream dependencies. In other words, it’s the step in the project that prevents many other later [...]

Demographic vs. Situational Gravitas

When I was at Stanford, I took a sociology class focused on the topic of status. It was fascinating. The big lesson learned from that class is your social status determines a large part of your influence. Things like ethnicity, gender, height, and educational achievement determine how others perceive the validity of your ideas. For [...]

Confidence vs. Ignorance

Many of my students have been told that they need to have “confidence” and “fake it until you make it.” I only half agree with this sentiment. I think it is important to be confident. This is especially the case when you don’t know what you’re talking about. Instead of faking competence, I encourage you [...]

Unforced Errors

The sports of baseball and tennis include references to a concept called an “unforced error.” This means a player makes a mistake of his or her own doing (as opposed to being “forced” into the error by an opposing player’s efforts). When I hold office hours for members of my mentorship program, I often get [...]

Force Multipliers

Warren Buffet’s business partner Charlie Munger strongly supports the idea of multi-disciplinary learning. In his speeches about business success, he cites concepts from ecology (the concept of protected niches), physics (the concept of critical mass), and psychology (the concept of human biases). I also have learned a lot from studying multiple disciplines and industries. What [...]

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