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Showing up as yourself when it really counts

My niece called me for advice before her interview at Harvard Business School (HBS) as part of the MBA application process. I remembered the following three experiences and realized that what we were really talking about was being able to show up as yourself when it really counts (i.e., under stress).

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Introducing The Career Mastery Challenge

Looking back over my 24-year investment banking career, most recently as COO of Morgan Stanley Europe, I’ve come to realize that it was great preparation for what I am doing now:  sharing what I’ve learned to help smart people succeed in their careers (as...

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Leadership: Making Plays vs. Running Plays

A successful basketball coach was telling me about the difference between making plays and running plays, and how the best players do both. Sports teams have set plays – we’ve all heard the term “playbook” – and they practice them. These are about scoring. For the play to work during a game…

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The Problem With Trying

I grew up thinking of trying hard as being “a good thing”. Now, I realize that trying has a substantial dark side, and can be downright negative as a mindset. As a result, I am in favor of ceasing to “try” and starting to “do”. Here’s my thinking.

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Make “Normal” The New Normal

Reading about Gabby Douglas’ gold medal performance in the UT San Diego paper, I was struck by the Olympic team coach’s comment that she was originally seen as a “good average gymnast” and not an obvious pick for being the gold medalist. And that what they didn’t know was how well she would “handle nerves” and…

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Bloom Where You're Planted

A highly successful CEO recently shared with me his mother’s advice that has stood him in good stead from humble beginnings all the way to the executive suite:  "bloom where you’re planted". This phrase has stuck in my mind because it raised a...

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Leaders: False and True

A basketball coach recently described one of the girls on her team as a “False Leader”.  As it was a new term to me, I asked the coach what she meant. She described how Didi (not her real name) initially came across to the coaches as the...

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Entertainers in Society

My daughter’s class is learning about medieval history, and as we chatted about what life was like in those times, it struck me that the value society places on entertainers has been turned on its head. Back then, they had gladiators who were...

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Playing To Your Strengths At Work

Do you get to play to your best strengths at work?  For two-thirds of us, the answer is “no” (see the last few paragraphs of the Gallup webpage). But imagine what innovation and energy we could unleash if most of us could answer “yes”.  Now...

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Leadership Lessons from Steve Jobs

Beyond the amazing innovations he has brought to our world, there are three lessons I have learned by observing Steve Jobs, the leader, from afar. And the good news is that these don’t require being an inventive genius to be useful.

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Being Brave: Lessons from Basketball

I have been at the European National Championship Basketball tournament this week, rooting for the Great Britain Under 20s Women’s team which last year, for the first time in history, was promoted from the B League to the A League. By beating...

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