Guest bloggers

Move over Martyrdom: A Working Mom’s Tips to Sanity

I want to introduce you to my friend and colleague Maggie Tomas. Maggie is an outstanding career center director and skilled advisor. I asked her to begin contributing to this site because I think she has a distinctive voice when … Continue reading

Posted in Guest bloggers, How do I manage my career?, Working Moms | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Clarity: Your actions speak so loudly, Part 2

reflection of manakinLast post we discussed being honest with yourself and whether you see yourself clearly. The next logical question then is, “do you understand how the world sees you?” Understanding our own motivations, actions, successes and missteps is important. We often fail to understand or forget how powerful a message we are sending through our actions. To repeat Mr. Emerson, “your actions speak so loudly, that I can’t hear what you’re saying.”

My father used to observe that as a leader, he couldn’t see into people’s hearts. All he could see was what they did. I think that’s exactly right. His point was that trying too hard to discern “intent” or “the content of people’s hearts” can be really challenging. Continue reading

Back in the saddle…

back in saddleEveryone hits a lull or loses focus on things they care about. For me, the blog has gone on virtual hiatus since I took a new role as Assistant Dean of MBA Programs at the Carlson School. I’ve had a weekly goal to get something posted every week for two years. And got a grand total of 4 posts up last year. That’s the same number I posted my last year at 3M when I ran a global business, we had our 3rd child and both my parents died. So not an impressive showing. It’s a great example of competing priorities, loss of momentum and a variety of other themes.

In the last few months a few things have changed. My partner and I agreed to shut down our start up, my job while crazy has become more “predictable” in year 3 and as I’ve reflected in my planning for the year I really miss the time, thought and feedback I get when I’m writing. I’m also a big new year’s resolution guy. So this year, my plan is to post 2x per month with something original. We’ll see how it goes.

As always, if you have any post ideas please send them along or post a comment. Also, if you have ideas for “renovations” to the site, please also offer them. Looking forward to 2015!

Career Exploration Part 1: Build Alternate Realities to Explore

fish bowlsAuthor’s note – As usual, this post started small and has become a multi-post monster. What began as the concept of “alternate realities” that I often use as a frame for discussing how to move forward in a career search blossomed into how to think about exploration more broadly. So we’ll spend a few posts in the coming weeks on some core ideas and a methodology for how to systematically lay out and begin building future opportunities.

Ever wonder how some things just work out professionally for a friend or colleague? Have you thought about why interesting opportunities seem to pop up for them, often times “non-obvious” ones? Are you looking to find more fulfillment but are reluctant to just jump into something you don’t understand? Continue reading

Learning Through Failure

paper trailI think in life, it’s important to try to do things you might “fail” at. Whether it be trying a new personal skill (for me lately skiing) or a new idea at work.

I was reminded of this and how our culture doesn’t necessarily strike the right tone on this recently as my two boys debated a t-shirt.

My son Teddy (5th grader) was recently wearing a t-shirt with the caption “helping kids fail since 1998”. His 3rd grade brother Sammy tenderly observed how “stupid” that t-shirt was. A very sophisticated exchange ensued. Sam’s basic point was “I don’t fail” and “Why would you brag about failing?” Teddy got very animated in explaining the irony of the caption and how science works, but Sam was not going to be moved.

Setting aside the brotherly “love” involved, the boys were arguing a fundamental point both about how we view and run our lives and also how we work and lead. Continue reading

Career Management: Painful Lessons


Sometimes we learn from warm, positive reinforcement. Sometimes we get direct, clear feedback about what needs to improve. And then there are the times when you get indifferent silence. What follows is a brief example of learning that painful lesson and taking something away from it.

I just ran into a student who thanked me for one of these painful lessons that I inadvertently taught them.

The student in question is a very nice guy, had seen me give a few talks about management consulting and the Consulting Enterprise I used to run at the Carlson School of Management and knew a few of my students. He had connected with me personally and through those friends and I’d agreed to meet to discuss the Enterprise and careers in consulting. Continue reading

Success Destroyers: Failure to Commit

200517785-001I see a lot of people get hung up trying to get career decision making “just right”. This is usually an obstacle to success, particularly early in your career. As the saying goes, “the perfect is the enemy of the good.” Here are a few thoughts on why and how to get unstuck.

Reality #1 – Not choosing is choosing: Make no mistake, deferring choices is often passive decision making. A friend of mine refers to as “the fallacy of infinite possibilities”. In it, we wait and wait for just the right thing but in the end are left without much because while we waited…life happened. Opportunities pass by. Windows close.  I see many people let “good” opportunities pass by waiting for “perfect” ones. Maybe I’m not enough of a dreamer, but in my experience you often don’t even know enough early in your career to know what perfect looks like. Which leads to… Continue reading

Leadership Podcast

For those of you who listen to podcasts while puttering (for me it’s on the elliptical machine at the club), I thought this recent Harvard Ideacast (Ideacast 133  – What business leaders can learn from today’s military) on leadership was interesting. It focuses on how the military currently works to develop a leadership culture. It is by one of the authors of the Frontline Leadership blog at Harvard Business Publishing online.

The observation I found most interesting was Colonel Tom Kolditz’s observation that leadership is not a skill or a role, rather it’s an “identity”. It has more to do with how you see yourself and the implications for how others then perceive you. There’s some nice discussion about leadership and followership, the idea of leaders needing to focus on followers needs to build trust and cohesion etc. Worth a quick listen.