Developing an inner management team

I have a strange personal relationship with McKinsey…in many respects, I think they’re amazing.  I trace a good deal of my better consulting traits (partially the way I structure analysis, partially the way I present myself) to working with a ton of McKinsey “alumni” early in my career.  If I were ever to work for a gigantic consulting company, I’d do my best to get in with them.

Of course, on the other hand, I decided not to work for any of the big consulting companies, and there are good reasons for that.  Perhaps a story for another day…this preamble is all to say that I pay attention to the “Insights & Publications” section of the McKinsey site, and you should check out this article from the March McKinsey Quarterly by Nate Boaz and Erica Ariel Fox. Read more

Trust meditations

There’s this video, making the rounds on social media.  I love it for two reasons: first, I love watching slow motion acrobatics with beautiful people. Second, I kind of dig the new age calm of the narration, entreating me to learn to trust.

Take 3 minutes of your day and enjoy the eye candy and relax.  Then, when it’s over, go ahead and shake it off, smile to yourself, and say “Hooey!  This is hooey!” Read more

Mailbag: The Question of Cupcakes

Q: I just joined a board for a local nonprofit.  I’m a great baker and want to make a good impression on my fellow board members.  Can I bring cupcakes to a meeting?  We’re not talking sloppy homemade stuff – it’ll be homemade, but Martha Stewart quality, which is why I think it’ll add to my superwoman credibility, but my roommate disagrees.

A:  What are you trying to say with these cupcakes?  Sadly, a nice gesture of bringing food to a board meeting (or work in general) is far from harmless or innocent…though your pastry snobbery doesn’t make me feel like you’ve got pure and innocent intentions in the first place.

Cupcakes.  When a woman bakes for a group of professionals, it’s overshadowed by decades of passive and subservient women being forced to fetch coffee or tend to a home instead of being respected as professionals.  It doesn’t matter who you are, that history comes into the room with you like an uninvited guest.  When you make the decision to bake – or not – for your colleagues, at work or on a board, you have to stare that guest in the face and decide how you will co-exist with him. Read more