DiscoveredLOGIC, LLC

Management Consulting & Training


view:  full / summary

5 Skills Executives Most Seek to Improve - And How Coaching Can Help

Posted on May 11, 2018 at 4:55 PM

According to a 2013 survey by Stanford Graduate School of Business professors, 51 percent of senior executives reported they "receive coaching or leadership advice from outside consultants or coaches." Over two-thirds (68 percent) of those senior executives reported that getting outside help was their own idea. These executives realized they needed continuous improvement to compete for the shrinking number of jobs up an organizational pyramid. They likely viewed outside consulting and coaching as a competitive advantage.



Senior executives: are you in the 51% of your peer group that is getting leadership advice from outside coaching and consulting, or are you in the 49% that is not?

According to the survey, these are the five skills that executives named as their biggest opportunities for improvement. While informal mentoring and consulting can help improve those skills, many executives invest in an executive coach to get more focused and structured help.


1 - Conflict Management - 34% of senior executives believed they needed to improve their conflict management skills. An executive coach can help by uncovering the underlying reasons for conflicts by conducting 360-degree interviews with an executive's team and colleagues. A coach can facilitate meetings to surface and address conflicts in a safe, controlled way. A coach can also practice role playing to help an executive prepare for crucial conversations with colleagues and others where conflicts could erupt.


2 - Decision-Making - 26% of senior executives believed they needed to improve their decision-making skills. The independent perspective of an executive coach can help here. A coach can be a sounding board without a bias or stake in the decision. A coach can also push an executive to test their assumptions in a way that subordinates may not. A coach can also bring in outside perspectives as a brainstorming partner to help find out of the box solutions to problems.

3 - Planning - 21% of senior executives believed they needed to improve their planning skills. Talking with a coach can be a great way for an executive to translate ideas and goals in their head into options on paper. Because they bring an independent, outsider perspective, coaches can ask the questions that people on an executive's team may not ask. An executive coach can also introduce tools, templates, training, and external best practices that can help with planning. A coach can also help executives hold themselves accountable to start and finish planning in the timeline required.

4 - Listening - 18% of senior executives believed they needed to improve their listening skills. Thankfully, listening is a easy skill to understand. It just takes discipline and change management to make it a good habit. Coaches can use behavioral coaching to help executives focus on improving their listening skills. Once identified as a goal, the coach can help their executive client measure and track progress on a regular basis in stopping bad behaviors (e.g., interrupting, not paying attention) and demonstrating desired behaviors (e.g., active listening). The coach can also get feedback from the client's colleagues on their improvement in listening.

5 - Empathy - 18% of senior executives believed they needed to improve their empathy skills. Senior executives can struggle to empathize with colleagues who do not share their executive focus and mindset. A coach can identify an assessment tool that can help an executive understand how and where they perceive things differently than others. A coach can also be a sounding board and use a technique called active inquiry to pose questions to help an executive consider the impact, and perceived intent, of their actions on colleagues.

Hiring an executive coach can be a worthwhile investment for executives of all types. For those seeking to continue climbing up the ladder to CEO, it can provide a valuable competitive edge over executives who insist on a "go it alone" approach. For executives content with where they are, coaching can be a great way to make work more enjoyable ... for themselves and everyone who works with them.

7 Challenges Ex-Consultants Face in Corporate Jobs - and How to Overcome Them

Posted on April 20, 2018 at 4:15 AM

There were over 637,000 people in the United States employed in the management consulting industry in 2016, according to With annual staff turnover rates of an estimated 15-20 percent, that suggests tens of thousands of former consultants leave consulting every year to take 'real' jobs at corporations. Since the consulting and corporate worlds are different in many ways, that transition can be a big adjustment for these 'recovering consultants.' I made that transition after I left Bain & Company and learned plenty of lessons. I recently interviewed 42 other former consultants -- 19 from Bain, 4 from McKinsey, 1 from BCG, and the rest from others -- to ask them for their insights and advice. According to that survey, here are the 7 biggest challenges consultants face in corporate jobs, and advice to overcome them.

Challenge #1 - "Too Much Corporate Bureaucracy"

(67% agreed, 19% disagreed) 


Consulting work can be cut and dry. Consultants often work on projects with clearly defined goals and timelines. Bureaucratic barriers at clients are often cleared by senior executives at the client looking to get important - and expensive - consulting projects completed as quickly as possible. Once a consultant moves into a job with a corporation, they have to face the bureaucracy on their own.


Ben described it this way: “Once you are inside, the Powerpoint deck is just the first step to 'sell' a project or initiative internally. Then comes the hard part - marshaling resources, motivating a team that may not report directly to you, and moving the project forward to achieve real results.”


Arshad described the challenge this way: “Understanding who does what and how to move an organization towards a goal - that is a challenge. Consultants tend to be a bit isolated from the complexities of how to move an organization behind a novel concept or a new business direction. The key is to get the attention at the right levels to move the right pieces of the puzzle in order to get your goals accomplished!”


Glen summarized it this way: “Consultants can fall into the trap of believing that the 'right' answer and the logic and associated PowerPoint deck will always win the day. The value of gathering support for your point of view in other ways is accentuated in corporate environments.”


Recommendation - Corporate executives have to invest as much energy and thought in planning a successful implementation as consultants spend defining the strategy and business case.

Challenge #2 - "Organizational Politics are a Bigger Pain"

(67% agreed, 21% disagreed)


Politics can mean many things in an organization, but I have found corporate politics often center around Relationships, Prioritization, and Culture. Like any organization, consulting firms have internal politics, but they are capped by several factors including: the outward focus on client Relationships, the clear line of sight to revenue as a Prioritization tool, and the ability to select people for fit with the Culture. Internal politics in larger, more complex corporations can be a bigger challenge.


Regarding Relationships, Glen advised: “Anticipate that a greater percentage of your time and effort will be spent on managing / negotiating / building relationships both inside and outside your organization.”


Rick said: “Build relationships - success is no longer about just being smart and being able to communicate well, you have to pay attention to your coworkers and understand how to get things done in the new environment. I remember coming out and getting very passionate about outsourcing our data center. I put together a data driven deck and started to socialize. I quickly found out that despite what I thought was a really sound strategy, the idea went nowhere because I could not get the attention of the right people.”


Patricia said: “Know your audience--your peers, your boss, your boss's boss--and manage communications accordingly. Open, honest and direct doesn't work as effectively within a non-consulting environment.”


James summed it up this way: “Great soft skills go far in this new world.”


Darryl echoed that: “Most jobs require more soft skills and political savvy than analysis. Sometimes former consultants may appear a bit arrogant or aloof.”


Regarding Prioritization, Mike summed it up this way: “Consulting gives you a view of where you can find the impact. The challenge is you now need to make that impact happen which requires you to understand politics and processes. Get to know the organizational politics quickly and figure out the processes for getting work done (project prioritization process, strategic planning process, etc.).”


Regarding Culture, Jen said: “Understand that there will be a culture change, and that depending on the type of organization you end up working with, the resources and amenities at your fingertips may vary.”


Patrick advised: “Make sure you understand the culture of the company you are joining.”


Darryl said: “Understand the organization's values and make sure they align with yours.”


Noelle recommended “Get involved within the organization to reduce the outsider label and to create in-roads and recognition in other parts of the organization (corporate initiatives, fundraisers, social activities, sports teams, etc.) Seek out team-based opportunities and initiatives that occur within the company. It's a great fit and provides a consulting-like feel and gives you an opportunity to shine.”


Recommendation - All the above. Also consider getting training and coaching. Training can help build the “soft / EQ skills” required more of corporate executives than consultants. Coaching can help you understand the political landscape in your organization and how to best navigate it.

Challenge #3 - "Colleagues Don't Communicate Efficiently and Effectively"

(62% agreed, 17% disagreed)


Efficient and effective communications are core skills for consultants and they get lots of training and on-the-job experience to hone those skills. People outside of consulting don’t get that same training and experience.


Mike summed it up this way: “People are terrible at writing decks. They're monolithic data dumps that don't have a clear story or recommendation. Not only will you find going through their work frustrating, you'll also be frustrated when they ask you to add tons of irrelevant data and information to your nice, clear, simple recommendations.”


Jason said: “You have to dumb down messages. It takes longer to communicate. Standards are not the same across a company. Vocabulary is not the same.”


Thomas shared this: “Communication is the biggest thing ... whether it’s email or PowerPoint or meeting notes, management consulting is an utterly spoiling experience with respect to effective and concise exchange of ideas. Having said that, getting stuff done and talking about it aren’t the same thing so underestimating someone’s skills simply because of their bullet point marksmanship or charting acumen is a grave mistake.”


Recommendation: Invest in training your team in the communication skills that consultants learn. It will boost their performance throughout their careers. It will improve your team results and reduce your frustration.

Challenge #4 - "Not Enough Intellectual/Academic Stimulation"

(60% agreed, 26% disagreed)


Consulting firms' outputs center on ideas and analysis. Corporations typically produce more tangible goods and services. Former consultants can miss the intellectual, analytical part of the work.


David mentioned the following things he missed: “No one to really brainstorm with, fewer people that challenge your assumptions (often leading to poor outcomes as they will assume you are right even when you are not). It can be challenging to push people to make evidence-based decisions (or even gather the information to do so).”


Rick echoed the lack of evidenced-based decisions: “The lack of analytic rigor has become very clear and frustrating. We convinced the organization that they needed to do some test and learn experiments on some new product solutions. We put the test into market, but after only a week, senior leaders decided they were so excited by the concept that they wanted to roll it out to the entire portfolio (10 million +). This was before any results were back to prove the business case. It was all anecdotal and by feel.”


Recommendation - Search for others in your company or network to be a sounding board and brainstorming partner. An executive coach can also be a helpful external resource.

Challenge #5 - "Work Feels Lonely / Miss the Camaraderie of Consulting"

(57% agreed, 21% disagreed)


Consultants can feel a lot of camaraderie with their consulting colleagues. The travel and long hours of the work, combined with the fact that many consultants are about at the same age and place in life, can create strong bonds between colleagues. The corporate world looks more like the real world. People come from a wide variety of ages and interests. They may not look to their colleagues for friendship and camaraderie as much.


Recommendation - Find other former consultants within your larger organization and create a network. Take advantage of the decrease in travel to find activities outside of work to find camaraderie.

Challenge #6 - "Not a Clear Promotion Path"

(52% agreed, 31% disagreed)


Consulting firms typically have a very clear promotion path - you strive to make partner. To get to partner, you have to prove you can bring in revenue, which means you are creating your own headroom for promotion. Career paths in the corporate world can be less clear or fast. You may need to have your boss leave to get their job. Or you may have to switch departments to find the headroom for a new, bigger role.


Glen suggested this: “I would think about the level at which you leave consulting as each successive consulting promotion (e.g. - Manager, VP) roughly slots you into a corporate structure at a higher level. Also think about whether you think you want to be a career 'strategist' or are more interested in an 'operating/GM' role or 'functional' role (e.g. - Finance, Marketing, Biz Dev/M&A). Sometimes strategy is an entry door into an operating or functional role, but this may or may not be the best avenue depending on the company and situation.”


David echoed that this way: “Parachute into the highest level possible as the climb up the ladder may be long.”


Amy suggested: “Look for an area in the company which is dynamic and growing, and where you can be a part of a strong team. Find a well-positioned, appreciative boss who will bring you up the ladder with him/her.”


Bill said: “Ensure the opportunity provides ability to impact bottom line. More impact = more support and greater financial & career upside.”


Noelle advised: “Recognize that your first move/position within a company may be temporary. As executives/business units get a better understanding of your breadth of capabilities and your relationships expand, movement within the organization can happen. You may find a position that is of more interest to which your skills are better suited. As a woman leaving consulting for a more stable and consistent lifestyle to perhaps start a family, think a few steps ahead when selecting the correct role. That high-paced strategy and acquisitions job might be a great fit right out of consulting but the demanding, round-the-clock schedule might not be conducive to being a working mother. It could however be a great role to gain exposure to an organization and find the best long term fit. Even a successful former consultant who always puts in 150% can still get overwhelmed when trying to manage a new family and a constantly demanding job.”


David gave this take on when to make the jump: “Consulting prepares a young person very well for an attractive but narrow slice of the real business world. I would caution a person from staying too long in consulting because after a while that may be the only thing they are qualified to do.”


Zeeshan pointed out one nice thing about career paths in corporations: “You can progress in senior levels without having to be solely sales focused. You can start to specialize in a vertical which matters more as one get to more senior levels.”


Recommendation: Realize you will probably only make the jump from consulting to corporate once. Make it count and do it right by doing your homework and getting lots of good advice.

Challenge #7 - "Pace is Too Slow"

(50% agreed, 26% disagreed)


Consulting is typically a project-based business with clear deadlines. The corporate world often isn’t. The pace can seem much slower to consultants making the jump.


Jeff advised: “Be prepared for a slower rate of decision-making and a slower moving environment. Rejoice in the fact that you get to own (or at least work on) projects from start to finish and really drive the ultimate result and beyond.”


Zeeshan summarized it this way: “Expect a different organizational clock speed.”


Jason added: “Provide extra time in your plans. Don't expect your team to work at your standards. Often you will be surprised that your standards are much higher than you need to get the job done. Don't forget that people don't have the same training that you have had.”


Surge summed it this way: “Projects and initiatives will get momentum in fits and starts, and slow down in halts and stops. So, best to keep a funnel of good initiatives to jump to the next initiative when one slows down.”


Joe added: “You need to adjust expectations from a variety of perspectives (career plan/ growth, pace of work, speed of change/ decision-making) to match those of your new employer. And after you understand the traditional pace at your new employer, then you can become an agent of change to drive your new company to perform at a higher level.”


Noelle added: “Adjust your time frame: The speed at which change and buy-in happens is monumentally slower than in a consulting environment. As a newcomer, you can be viewed as pushy or impatient if you challenge the natural rhythm. It is helpful to find well-established champions/mentors who share your perspective, who can help move your initiatives through the organization.”


Tarm added: “I came in with a mindset that I now have all the resources and knowledge to change the operations of the company. However, after pushing for change numerous times, my boss told me 'This is not a consulting firm and your stakeholders are not clients. They are your colleagues. Whilst there may be a case for change, if you push it too hard, you risk them not collaborating with you when you need them the most.'"


Kevin added: “Things move slower, but you are stuck dealing with whatever change you initiate - so it is key to realize that change, and effective change, are very different things.”


Dennis added this take: “Work moves a lot slower. You get a lot more time to pursue personal projects. Get a hobby that will provide you with intellectual challenge outside of work. Consider becoming an entrepreneur.”


Recommendation - Embrace the pace! At work, use the extra time to get depth of expertise and to build relationships. Outside work, harvest the extra time to invest in the other things in your life you have underinvested in while you were consulting.

If you have made the move from consulting to corporate, I'd love to hear from you. You can add your thoughts to my survey. You can see the training and coaching I specialize in offering to former consultants. You can also connect with me on LinkedIn and Facebook

5 Mistakes Consultants Make When Moving to Corporate Jobs

Posted on April 13, 2018 at 6:00 AM

There were over 637,000 people in the United States employed in the management consulting industry in 2016, according to With annual staff turnover rates of an estimated 15-20 percent, that suggests tens of thousands of former consultants leave consulting every year to take 'real' jobs at corporations. Since the consulting and corporate worlds are different in many ways, that transition can be a big adjustment for these 'recovering consultants.' I made that transition after I left Bain & Company and learned plenty of lessons. Over the last month, I interviewed 38 other former consultants -- 19 from Bain, 4 from McKinsey, 1 from BCG, and the rest from others -- to ask them for their insights and advice. Here are the biggest mistakes they suggested other consultants avoid when making that transition.

Mistake #1 - Offer Unsolicited Consulting Outside Your Area - Consultants develop an instinct to identify value and opportunities for improvement wherever they look. That is an asset in consulting - it helps find new projects to work on. It can be a downfall in a new corporate role, however, if used in the wrong way. Chuck, a former consultant, shared this: "You have to be careful about solving the Corporation's issues (ie, other departments issues) instead of focusing on YOUR issues in your scope of work. Other employees/leaders don't often appreciate a peer highlighting their issues. The President of a $100MM technology company gave me this advice - he was a former Accenture consultant - and it was extremely helpful - 'Don't offer ANY (!) advice for the first 6 months...just ask high value questions, listen closely and get smart.'"

Mistake #2 - Show Arrogance - Consultants often have pedigrees they worked hard to build, including top-ranked schools along with their consulting firm experience. While in consulting firms, they are used to being surrounded by other people with similar pedigrees. In the corporate world, people come from more diverse backgrounds academically and professionally. Corporate colleagues will quickly sense if a new colleague coming from consulting feels superior to them. Joe shared this: "We think we know so much. No need to prove that you are the smartest in the room, especially when often we are not." Glen shared this: "Consultants who appear to their colleagues, by virtue of their academic and professional background, to exhibit hubris/arrogance and a lack of respect for operating experience, will find it hard to build strong, valuable relationships with their corporate colleagues." Jason shared this about former consultants who focus too much on pedigrees: "Mortals don't know which firms are supposedly better than others. You may be keeping mental score in your head about the pecking order -- but no one else is -- so move on -- you don't work for a top consulting firm anymore. Stop the competition, because the senior leaders don't care as much about where you came from as you do." John summed it up well: "Check your consulting ego at the door."

Mistake #3 - Over-Rely on Analytical Skills - People can sometimes succeed in the consulting world by relying solely on their analytical smarts. Corporate roles often require more influencing skills to get the information and resources needed to succeed. Glen added "Consultants can fall into the trap of believing that the 'right' answer and the logic and associated PowerPoint deck will always win the day - the value of gathering support for your point of view in other ways is accentuated in corporate environments." Joe shared this: "The perfect intellectual answer executed with 80 % people commitment and intensity is likely suboptimal to the 80% intellectually correct answer executed with 100% people commitment and intensity. I think it takes time for former consultants to see and understand this." David added a warning that former consultants who over-rely on analytical smarts can be typecast as "the one 'data guy/gal' in the company, which can be pretty frustrating."

Mistake #4 - Under-Appreciate the Challenge of Implementation - Consulting often stops at the recommendation and business case stage and leaves implementation to clients. This can make consultants under-appreciate the difficulty of implementation. Arshad summed it up this way: "Consultants tend to focus too much on the storyline and business case and in the nth level of detail but this is not valued by corporate by and large. Use the 60/40 rule and get things going quickly and show tangible results that has direct impact on the P&L." Joe shared: "Every thing is not always a project. Sometimes you have to grind things out (execute incrementally better) on a daily basis. Unless you get this, your potential as a line leader will be pretty limited." Another former consultant shared this story: "I had a consultant join my team, and he made recommendations on how to restructure the operations, including team structure. I looked at him and said 'sounds like a logical answer, is that what you are going to do?' and he looked like a deer in the headlights internalizing he would have to be the one delivering the message on the job eliminations." Another former consultant summed it up this way: "The old saying that getting the right answer is only one-third of the work is pretty accurate!!”

Mistake #5 - Manage Corporate Staff Like Consulting Staff - Consultants learn to manage others by managing other consultants. When they get to the corporate world, former consultants need to adjust their expectations and management styles to their new teams of non-consultants. Surge said it this way: "Former consultants struggle to manage 'normal' people, who are not as skilled in problem solving and clear communication." Jimmy said it this way: "Consultants get razor sharp about numbers and basic logic. Step out of consulting, and people don't necessarily have the training in that skill set. It takes some adjusting to not move so fast that people can't keep up or resent you." Another former consultant said it this way: "Lots of people will tell you that consultants will make a difficult transition especially around leading a team. Provide extra time in your plans. Don't expect them to ever be at your standards (often you will be surprised that your standards are much higher than you need to get the job done). Don't forget that people don't have the same training that you have had." David captured it this way: "One of your biggest challenges will be squeezing more out of an existing team, many of whom are content to work 9-5 and stay in the same job for many years. Gone are the days of teams that will stay all night to get something done right. Leadership becomes more important. Developing your team members becomes more important. Strong analytics and project management skills, in the absence of strong leadership capabilities, will cap you in the corporate world."

In an upcoming article, I'll share more insights and advice from this survey of 38 former consultants. If you are a former consultant who has transitioned to the corporate world, I'd love to hear from you. You can learn about the executive coaching I offer specifically tailored for former consultants here. You can learn about the training in the critical thinking and communication skills we offer to corporate teams here.

7 Leadership Lessons from the Best NCAA Cinderella Coach of All Time

Posted on March 29, 2018 at 2:50 PM

The NCAA men’s basketball tournament is beloved as madness because so many upsets happen. The most newsworthy are when a small school defeats a big school in what sportswriters call a "Cinderella story." Rarely does the same small school coach get to be the Cinderella more than once, though. Usually those coaches make an upset run because of a one-time phenomenal player they recruited. Or they make an upset run and get hired away by another school too big to be considered a Cinderella.

One coach pulled out multiple Cinderella stories. His name was Dick Tarrant and he coached the University of Richmond from 1981 to 1993, earning a 239-126 career record. In 1991, his Richmond team beat Syracuse in the NCAA tournament, the first time a #15 seed ever had defeated a #2 seed in the first round of the NCAA tournament. That wasn’t a fluke. He had led his Richmond team to big NCAA tournament upsets before that. In 1984 his 12th seeded Richmond team beat a 5th seeded Auburn team that included future NBA superstar Charles Barkley (12th seed was the lowest seed until the tournament expanded the following year.) In 1988, his 13th seeded team beat #4 seed (and defending NCAA champion) Indiana and #5 seed Georgia Tech to make the Sweet Sixteen. Tarrant must be the only NCAA basketball head coach in history to win NCAA tournament games as a 12, 13, and 15 seed.

I remember Coach Tarrant because I went to college at a rival school at the time. His team beat mine with a buzzer-beating shot in the conference tournament in my senior year to deny my team our first NCAA bid. I didn’t like that, but I had learned to respect Coach Tarrant a great deal after watching him in action for four years. Coach Tarrant is so beloved by the University of Richmond that they named their basketball court after him in 2015.

Here are seven leadership lessons from Coach Tarrant’s career as the most successful “Cinderella” coach in the history of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.

1 – He Was Promoted from Within – Dick Tarrant had been an assistant coach for three years at Richmond before he got the head coaching job. His biggest basketball job before that was as a high school coach in New Jersey. If Richmond had executive recruiters searching for candidates, he probably would not have made any list. 

LESSON -> Sometimes the future greatest leader in your organization's history is sitting under your nose as an assistant.

2 – He Was a Referral Hire – Dick Tarrant was not a random assistant hire. He was specifically brought in by the coach he ended up replacing. One of Tarrant’s high school players in New Jersey thought so highly of him that, when he got the head coaching job at Richmond 15 years later, he asked his high school coach to come down to be his assistant. 

LESSON -> If someone remembers a referral from over 10 years ago, they are probably worth interviewing.

3 – He Was a Late Bloomer – Tarrant was 50 years old when he got the Richmond job, his first (and only) as a head coach in college basketball. When asked to describe their perfect candidate, I doubt the people making the hiring decision for the coach would have said he or she is a 50-plus year old rookie. 

LESSON -> Don’t discriminate against age 50-plus candidates, not just because it's probably illegal, but because it also is short-sighted.

4 – He Didn’t Want “Interim” in His Title – When Tarrant was hired, his title was “Interim Head Coach” despite his requests not to be named on an interim basis. He realized that being named an “interim” handicapped him from the start in motivating his players, recruits, and others to buy into his leadership. What recruit wants to sign with a coach who may not be there when they arrive?

LESSON -> Unless required, shun the qualifier word “interim” and just hire a new leader on a short, renewable contract.

5 - He Proved Himself Early - Richmond beat #13th ranked Wake Forest in a home game early in his first year. Wake Forest probably considered it as a warm up game while Tarrant probably considered it as part of his job interview. Tarrant later said his parking space went from 100 yards from the arena before that game to to just outside the front door after that win. 

LESSON -> Get an early win as a new hire to prove yourself and build confidence.

6 – He Groomed His Successor – Tarrant hired Bill Dooley as an assistant coach eight years before he retired. Dooley took over for him after he retired. Dooley had played for him at Richmond years before and been team captain. Dooley served as Richmond's head coach for four years and won his conference Coach of the Year award in his first year. 

LESSON -> Good leaders set up their organizations for success after they leave.

7 – He Went out on Top – Tarrant retired as Richmond's coach after 12 seasons when he reached his early 60s. He had eight 20 win seasons, four conference championships, and 9 post-seasons in those 12 years. He never coached basketball again. 

LESSON -> Smart leaders realize they will eventually spend more time as a "former" than a "current" leader and know much of their legacy will be defined by their final years.

PS - Coach Tarrant – If you read this, I would love to interview you to learn more of your leadership lessons. But only if you don’t make me relive that time Curtis Blair’s buzzer-beating drive down the court ruined my senior year spring break.

Update on 3/15/18 - A family member of Coach Tarrant emailed me today to say the coach saw this article and liked it. #BestReviewEver

Update on 3/21/18 - Coach Tarrant was kind enough to let me interview him as a follow up article here on LinkedIn. You can see it here.

Coach Tarrant saw that article and contacted me to say he liked it - “Very much appreciate your fine article. You did some research, my man.” He was kind enough to let me interview him over email with 10 questions. Here they are.

1) How did you get your teams loose before the tournament game? I heard a story about one big coach coming to breakfast on final four gameday in a bathrobe to lighten things up. Did you have a trick like that?

I had no gimmick. I just emphasized the tremendous opportunity we had, that most all other mid-majors didn’t have. Let's follow our game plan. Play very hard and very smart. Our team leaders were always loose and confident and the others keyed off that

2) How did you make your players think they had a chance to beat Indiana in the first round, the year after they were the champions?

We knew Coach Knight was a totally controlled coach and probed every possession to his satisfaction. Our game plan was to shorten the game with constant defensive looks. We did a lot of different zone faces as zones neutralize superior talent, height, and depth. We changed to man to man at times too. Indiana passed 8, 9, 10 times before a shot. Therefore, they shortened the game - not us. We took our normal shots from the right player from high percentage areas. We made almost all of our free throws and had very few turnovers. The pace of the game helped us.

3) What was your gameplan to upset Syracuse, the year after they were in the final game?

We had a good offense versus zones. We thought their zone was vulnerable. We also figured they were overlooking a 15 seed. When they went to man to man defense we chopped them up, because they very rarely played that defense.

4) What do you remember about Charles Barkley, when you beat him and Auburn in the tournament? If you got on the phone with Charles Barkley this weekend while he is covering the tournament on TV, what would you ask him or remind him about that game?

Charles came up to me the day before the game, just after their workout, to ask if he and his teammates could watch us practice. I told him all practices were open to the public, so it was OK for him and his mates to watch. My managers told me later that all the Auburn players filed out after 5-10 minutes and were chuckling because we were so small and skinny! After the game Charles once again approached me to see if he could enter our locker room to shake hands with our John Newman. Charles gave me a big bear hug -- a crusher!

I would never ask Barkley about the game. I got to know Charles years later on our annual Nike vacation trip. Charles said he never ever forgot that game because, with a win he would have played Bob Knight's Indiana team. He was not fond of Knight as Knight cut Charles the previous summer from the 1984 National Olympic team for being too fat and out of shape. Barkley was the best player my teams ever played against - and that includes Ralph Sampson, David Robinson and others.

5) You are the only coach in history to win games as a 12, 13, and 15 seed. Did it get easier or harder to repeat making upsets like that?

I never gave seedings any thought whatsoever.

6) You went out on top. How did you know it was the right time to retire?

I was getting somewhat worn out trying to repeat time and again in the post-season. I was having restless nights and nearing my mid-sixties. Dean Smith called me with the same question as we were about the same age. One early morning while taking a daily jog, I decided to resign that day.

7) You were in your late forties when you left your high school coaching job in New Jersey to come down to be an assistant at Richmond for one of your old players. That was a big, brave move. Lots of people at that age would be scared of making such a big move at that age. Looking back, what advice would you give your 47 year old self?

That was a tough call, because my loved ones were not keen on the move. Mrs. T. was born and raised in Jersey City, NJ. She thought we were headed somewhere south of Birmingham, Alabama. I took a huge pay cut as I was a school system administrator. It was a big gamble. One plus was it got me back to college coaching (I was an assistant, part time at Fordham from 1965-69). We also had teenagers (ages 15, 17, and 19) and all of them would have tuition waived at a wonderful university which I could not have afforded had we remained in New Jersey. People must take sometimes risky moves in life. Mine worked out pretty well. All three kids are very successful professionals. Parents of seven. Grandparents to 3! Mrs. T had to return to a full-time job when we moved here 39 years ago so we might break even month to month. You wouldn't believe the salary of assistant coaches in late 1970’s to early 80's.

8 )  What are you most proud of from your coaching career?

I’m most proud that 47 of 48 of my recruits earned their degree. The one who missed out still might return or arrange to get his, as he is so near that degree. I’m very proud of my grads who have gone on in life professionally in so many varied ways. A dozen even selected a coaching career. We need so many high character people in coaching at all levels.

9) What would you say to the coach of UMBC after they finally broke through and became the first #16 seed to beat a #1? How do you prepare players for the next game after doing that? What advice would you give him?

It’s very difficult to come down off the high. In 1988 we were in the Sweet 16. I wish we would have stayed up in New Jersey after playing in Hartford. We came home Monday to a welcome of hundreds upon hundreds of people, a parade-like pep rally, TV interviews and more. We had two light practices to play against Temple, who had been #1 for 12 weeks and had two 7 footers, in the New Jersey Meadowlands. They were a terrific team who toyed with us. We were never in that game. My advice to a coach would be to just stay away from the media blitz as best possible. Prepare like it’s just another league game.

10) You left New Jersey to move to Richmond, Virginia. Have you found a decent pizza place yet in Richmond that compares to New Jersey?

I could not find one, nor a bakery, nor a Jewish deli, nor a Greek owned diner, nor a bagel to come close to NJ-NY! All that has changed for the better in the last 20 years. We are really cookin' here in Richmond now-- especially if you like beer!

Sources:, Wikipedia, Wikipedia,

© Copyright Victor Prince, All Rights Reserved.

7 Challenges Former Consultants Face in Corporate Jobs

Posted on February 27, 2018 at 11:35 PM

There were over 637,000 people in the United States employed in the management consulting industry in 2016, according to With annual staff turnover rates of an estimated 15-20 percent, that suggests tens of thousands of former consultants leave consulting every year to take 'real' jobs at corporations. Since the consulting and corporate worlds are different in many ways, that transition can be a big adjustment for these 'recovering consultants.' Here are seven challenges I noticed when I made the transition from the consulting world to the corporate world.

Variety of Work - When I was a consultant, I worked for a wide variety of clients in different industries and geographies. I loved the challenge of forcing myself down (or up?) learning curves each time. When I went to the corporate world, I had less variety that way. I had to refocus my energy and enthusiasm on going deep and developing expertise in my niche.

Project Teams to Standing Teams - As a consultant, I worked in many different teams, each formed around a new client project. Since client projects end, that meant my teams changed often, giving me the chance to work with many different partners, managers and others in the firm. I enjoyed the challenge and change of getting new colleagues and bosses all the time.

Communication Styles - As a management consultant, I was taught to think and speak in a concise, "answer-first" style centered around forming and testing hypotheses. I tended to speak fast. I imagined how ideas would look in a chart or slide. I looked for quick conclusions and used shorthand phrases like "the 80/20." When I got to the corporate world, my new teammates who were not accustomed to my 'consultant-speak' could find me to be impatient, over-analytical, and hard to understand. I had to learn to use different communication styles to connect with people who think differently than me.

Work-Life Balance - One of the reasons I left consulting for the corporate world was to get more balance in the work versus non-work parts of my life - particularly by reducing my travel days. At the same time, I enjoyed the fast pace of work in consulting, which was fueled in part by the long working hours everyone was expected to put in. Whenever I thought the pace of work in the corporate was too slow, I had to remind myself that some of that was a deliberate choice in defining work-life balance.

Defined Promotion Track - The traditional promotion path in consulting is well-defined and perpetual. If a consultant can prove they can do the job of a partner - particularly by bringing in new business - there will likely be headroom to get promoted. In the corporate world, I saw that getting promoted might mean waiting until my boss moved onward or upward. If I wanted to find a faster path to promotion, I might have to shift to a different role or organization.

Clear Expectations - In the project-based world of consulting, I found expectations and results to be relatively quick and clear. I had my research and analysis to do on a deadline. My analyses and recommendations were presented to the client. The client hopefully liked my work. For consultants like me below the partner level, that often meant I could close the door on that project and focus on the next. In my corporate roles, I found my definition of success to be more continuous - e.g., "are my monthly metrics where they need to be?" I also found them to be less directly-controllable because of external forces, like competitors and suppliers, that I had to work through.

Camaraderie - I found the camaraderie in the consulting world to be very tight. When I started, I was part of a cohort of new hires right out of college or graduate school. We were mostly all around the same age and stage in life. Most of my social life then was spent with friends I made from work. When I got to the corporate world, my colleagues came from all ages and stages of life. I found myself forming fewer social friendships at work because many of my colleagues were focused on family and other commitments outside of work.

I found consulting to be a fantastic way to start my business career. The lessons and skills I learned in consulting have served me well for the rest of my career in both the corporate and government sectors. In my executive coaching practice, I specialize in helping former consultants who have transitioned to the non-consulting world.

Three Bullets and an Asterisk - What will Your Leadership Legacy Be?

Posted on January 27, 2018 at 11:15 PM

The legacies of Presidents of the United States are often summarized by up to three bullet points and an asterisk in Wikipedia. The bullet points are their main accomplishments. Franklin Delano Roosevelt's legacy is summarized this way in Wikipedia: "brought the United States through the Great Depression and World War II to a prosperous future," and "permanently increasing the power of the president at the expense of Congress." Wikipedia balances out Roosevelt's legacy with a few 'asterisks' this way: "Critics have questioned not only his policies, positions, and the consolidation of power that occurred due to his responses to the crises of the Depression and World War II, but also his breaking with tradition by running for a third term as president. Long after his death, new lines of attack criticized Roosevelt's policies regarding helping the Jews of Europe, incarcerating the Japanese on the West Coast, and opposing anti-lynching legislation."

If Wikipedia summarized your performance in your current job or your career with "three bullets and an asterisk," what would they be? Viewing yourself through that mindset can focus you on the most important things that will help you build the legacy you want.


First, identify the three big results you want to achieve in your role. Instead of focusing on a progression of job titles, think about the results you want to get in those jobs. Lyndon B. Johnson offers a useful presidential example here. Wikipedia summarizes Johnson's main results as "historic legislative achievements" in successfully enacting his political agenda into many, significant new laws, such as the Civil Rights Acts, the Clean Air Act, and the Social Security Act.


Then focus on downsizing, or deleting, the asterisk on your legacy by addressing the biggest, controversial item in your area. It may mean tackling an important, but not urgent, problem growing on your watch to nip it in the bud before it becomes a stain on your legacy. It might mean making a change in behavior you know that offends other people. The big asterisk on Johnson's legacy, according to Wikipedia, was "his lack of success in the Vietnam War."


Start controlling your future legacy today. Focus your time and energy on pushing your few, biggest goals, through to fruition. Tackle the biggest thing in your area of responsibility that may turn into the negative "asterisk" on your career. Your legacy is forever - why not start working on it today? 

7 Useful Sites I Discovered in 2017

Posted on December 23, 2017 at 4:50 AM

Here are seven websites/apps that I started using in 2017 that have proven quite useful and are not yet universally-known. These sites helped me (1) find non-standard airfares, (2) learn a new language, (3) find someone to film an event, (4) reduce my email inbox clutter, (5) create an animated video for my website, (6) see all my travel options between air, rail, bus, and car, and (7) see all the libraries that have a book available to borrow. Perhaps they can help you. (Air travel) - I have been using almost exclusively this year to find airfares. Kiwi finds good deals because it stitches together flights across airlines in a way that other sites don't. It combines segments between discount airlines that don't code-share, like Southwest, and other airlines. It means you can avoid busy, and expensive, traditional airline hubs to connect. For example, on my last trip to Europe, I flew Southwest Airlines down to Orlando, Florida and then picked up Eurowings to Germany from there. That flight was actually two tickets, meaning I had to go out through security and check in again to connect, but the savings were worth it. (Language Learning) - If you are trying to learn a new language, I highly recommend Duolingo, which is a phone app. I'm using it and have found it much better and more addictive than other programs I have tried. It's free and is a great example of "gamification" where it motivates users by making it feel like a video game and giving lots of feedback along the way. Find it at or in the app store on your phone. (Event Filming) - I had to find a videographer to film an event this year, so I wanted to find an online marketplace where I could solicit bids. While the paid search results for "event video" were dominated by wedding videographers, I found to be good for my need. I got several bids from local firms and chose one based on the research I was able to do, thanks to the site. I've been happy with the result. (Email Management) - I signed up for this year to consolidate a lot of emails I get into a daily rollup. It is useful for emails that fall between spam and "must see," such as newsletters you sign up for that occasionally have something quite useful but just come too often. (Animated Video) - I needed to create some animated videos for my websites this year and I found to do them. I have had two animated videos made using them and been quite satisfied with the quality and the value - under $70 for a 90 second video. (See example.) I just had to write the script and they did the rest. They were also good about incorporating my feedback as edits. You can choose from many artists on the site after seeing their work and ratings.

Rome2Rio (Travel) - I travel a lot, and I have come to appreciate as a very useful site in figuring out transportation options between two points. I particularly like that it looks for all options - planes, trains, buses and more - and compares costs and times. It then links you to each option to book tickets, where you can make sure the timing works for your dates. (Books) - Did you know there is a website where you can see what is physically on the shelves of libraries around the world? If you are an author like me, gives you a fascinating view to see where your books are stocked. It doesn't cover the holdings of 100% of public libraries in the world, but it is impressively extensive. You can also click through into a library that has your book to see if it is checked out. I have a new book - The Camino Way: Lessons in Leadership from a Walk Across Spain - that came out this year, so I created this interactive map on my website to show all the libraries that have it in stock for people who want to borrow it.

By the way, I don't receive any compensation from these sites. I'm just sharing them because I found them helpful and thought others might too.

Leadership Lessons from Nelson Mandela on Robben Island

Posted on November 26, 2017 at 12:25 AM

Before he was elected as South Africa’s president, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela spent 27 years in prison, from his mid-forties to his early seventies. Eighteen of those years were spent on Robben Island, a former island leper colony turned into a brutal prison. Instead of breaking him, that ordeal shaped Mandela into the extraordinary man that emerged when his country needed him to save the peace and deliver democracy. (Mandela is so beloved in South Africa, his image graces not just some, but all of their paper currency.)

Here are 5 of the leadership lessons I learned this month when I toured Robben Island.

Each One Teach One – Mandela realized that the front-line guards at Robben Island were often young and poorly educated, while Mandela and his fellow political prisoners were typically highly educated. Mandela used this advantage to build a more equal relationship with the guards. He focused on a strategy he called “each one teach one” – each prisoner was responsible for teaching a guard basic skills they were lacking. The prisoners executed this strategy in the limestone mine that they had to manually toil in each day. They turned the crevice in the mine intended to be a bathroom into a classroom where they tutored guards in skills like reading. By doing so, Mandela realized that the guards would begin to see the prisoners as humans, not just as prisoners, and give them more respect.

Avoid Divide and Conquer – The management of the prison had a policy to provide different levels of food, supplies and treatment to prisoners based on their race. Mandela and his fellow black political prisoners received the least. The strategy of the prison was to create dissension between the prisoners. Prisoners with advantages would want to curry favor with the guards to keep those privileges, while prisoners with the least would feel envious of those with advantages. Mandela saw through this strategy and it probably strengthened his resolve for equality among all races.

Pick the Weakest Link in Unjustice to Attack First – Robert Sobukwe was another political prisoner on Robben Island. He was considered so dangerous he was held in solitary confinement in a house built especially for him. Sobukwe was feared because he had led the revolt against the Pass Law. Sobukwe had deliberately picked that law to protest because he realized that there was no way to enforce it if masses broke the law at once. If masses of citizens turned themselves in for not carrying their pass, the jails were not big enough to hold them all, meaning police would have to force some change in the implementation in the law. Once the people put a dent into one part of the whole legal system of apartheid, they would get confidence to challenge the rest. (Sadly, the protest Sobukwe led resulted in the Sharpville Massacre, where police killed 69 demonstrators.)

Honor Your Predecessors – Mandela realized that he was just one part of a line of brave leaders who pushed the fight for equality and democracy over the goal line. He continued to pay respect to his fellow leaders, such as Sobukwe and Steve Biko, who had not survived long enough to see his election to the presidency.

Record Your History – Mandela wrote his journal and smuggled it out by hiding it among the trees and tomato plants he tended in the prison yard. Mandela realized that the lessons he was learning needed to be passed on to others. The lessons would not only inspire others in his day to take action, but would also ensure that future generations would not forget the ordeal it took to earn the freedom they enjoy.

The Arc of History Bends to the Good – While the whole experience seeing Robben Island overwhelmed me, one image had a surprisingly big impact on me. It was a picture of the steps leading to the cell block where Mandela and other political prisoners were held. In his 18 years in captivity in that cell block, I wondered how may times Manedela and other prisoners limped up these stairs after a day of manual labor in the limestone pits, headed for the cell without a bed or plumbing. I wonder how those men would feel to see a wheelchair accessible lift installed on those same steps today. How far the future of their prison becoming a World Heritage Site set up to tell their story must have seemed to them as inmates. How remarkable they were to make that future happen.

-> Like this post? Follow me on" target="_blank"> and/or" target="_blank"> to get a note in your newsfeed when my next monthly blog is posted. 

5 Leadership Lessons from Manager Mistakes in Baseball's Post-Season

Posted on October 6, 2017 at 12:55 AM

Major League Baseball managers have a demanding job. They can make hundreds of decisions in every game, ranging from setting the lineup and batting order to which types of pitches to make. Their good decisions are rarely noted. Their mistakes, however, are visible to be criticized by every fan and pundit. That is most true in Major League Baseball’s post-season playoffs, where a single mistake can end a season. Here are the seven types of mistakes managers often make in the post-season that are most remembered.


1. Letting a Weak Performer Stay on too Long – Pitchers wear down with each pitch they make and typically are not asked to throw much more than 100 pitches in a game. Some mistakes in playoff history center on a manager leaving a pitcher in too long when a new pitcher with a fresh arm would potentially give their team a better chance to win. Perhaps the most famous example of this was in Game 7 of the 2003 American League Championship Series. Boston Red Sox manager Grady Little left ace Pedro Martinez in pitching in the eighth inning, longer than critics thought wise. Martinez ended up blowing the lead and the Red Sox lost the game, and the series, to the Yankees. The next year, the Red Sox won their first World Series since 1918, distracting Red Sox fans from dwelling on this decision. They did it under a new manager, however.


Have you ever seen a manager in your workplace fail to replace a weak performer in a timely manner?

2. Letting a Strong Performer Leave too Early – On the flip side, some other mistakes are taking effective pitchers out too early. In Game 6 of the 2002 World Series, San Francisco Giants Manager Dusty Baker pulled his pitcher Russ Ortiz in the bottom of the 7th inning. Ortiz had shut out the Anaheim Angels through the first six innings and was sitting on a five run lead. After the change, the Angels rallied to score six runs in the next two innings to win the game and force a Game 7, which they won.


Have you seen a manager in your workplace let a star performer leave your team too early?

3. Creating a Distraction through a Reorganization – One of the biggest decisions managers make is the order in which the players will bat. The position in the batting order impacts a hitter in many ways, ranging from how many times they are likely to get a chance to bat, how many outs there will be left in the inning, and whether they will have runners on base to hit in. In the 2006 American League Division Series, Yankee Manager Joe Torre made a remarkable, newsworthy change by dropping his superstar slugger Alex Rodriguez to eighth in the batting order – a spot usually reserved for one of the weakest hitters. Rodriguez had not hit well in the first three games in the series, but he was in the middle of a five year streak of winning the AL MVP award three times in five years. The demotion generated a lot of buzz that may have distracted, or disheartened, Rodriguez and the team. Rodriguez made a rare, and costly, fielding error in the game. The Yankees lost that game, ending their season. The reorganization of the batting order may not have directly caused the loss, but it didn’t seem to help their batting.


Have you seen your organization distracted by an arbitrary reorganization?

4. Letting a Team Get Too Comfortable with Past Success – Some of the most dramatic stories in World Series history are about an underdog beating a heavily favored opponent. Upsets can be blamed in part on luck, but preparation and focus usually play a role as well, and that is the manager’s responsibility. One of the biggest shocks in World Series history came in 1990 when the Cincinnati Reds swept the heavily-favored Oakland A’s. The A’s, the reigning World Series champions, seemed to be looking past the underdog Reds. Perhaps the biggest World Series upset before that came in 1960, when the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the legendary New York Yankees on a walk-off home run by Bill Mazeroski. The Yankees had thumped the Pirates 16-3, 10-0, and 12-0 in their three wins during the series, but they had let the Pirates squeak by with 6-4, 3-2, and 5-2 wins to reach Game 7. The Yankees had the Pirates down 7-4 in the bottom of the eight inning of Game 7 but failed to close the door for the win.


Have you ever seen a manager let their team get too comfortable with past success and not focus and prepare their team for new challenges?

5. Steering through A Potential Crisis – Bad luck happens to teams in baseball games. In the pressure-filled post-season, bad breaks in luck have even higher stakes. Good leaders steer their teams through those to prevent a bad break turning into a crisis. One of the most famous bad breaks in baseball post-season came during Game 6 of the 2003 National League Championship Series. The Chicago Cubs were at home, leading the Florida Marlins 3-0 and just 5 outs away from reaching the World Series for the first time since 1945. Then a fan interfered with a foul ball that potentially could have been caught and put the Cubs one out closer to a win. The resulting confusion and fan furor that play caused rattled the Cubs. When play resumed, the pitcher cratered, throwing a wild pitch and giving up several more hits. The shortstop made a rare fielding error. The Marlins ended up scoring 8 runs in the inning. The Cubs never recovered and lost the game and the series. Critics blamed Cubs Manager Dusty Baker for not making a pitching change and other moves that could have got his team back and focused on closing out the win.


Have you ever seen a leader fail to stop a bad break growing into a full-blown crisis?

Baseball managers make many decisions that are subject to intense public scrutiny, especially during the postseason. Perhaps that is why the average baseball manager’s salary – often said to be $1 million a year – is more than the average business manager’s salary.



The "Icebreaker" Gone Horribly Wrong that Turned Into a Gift

Posted on September 6, 2017 at 1:10 AM

The year was 2002. When the new Vice President (VP) arrived at my Fortune 500 company, we had an “off-site” meeting to introduce him to his new team. He was a big shot partner from a high-powered consulting firm who was going to ‘take us to the next level,’ according to corporate communications. As a mid-level manager, I was one of the 15 or 20 people who made up his ‘skip level reports’ – or fancy corporate language for “my boss’s boss.” We each introduced ourself, described our role, and then answered a few innocuous icebreaker questions to include a personal touch. I forgot what the other questions were, but one got burned in my mind.


“What was the last music album you bought?”


In a moment of immature bravado, I decided to be funny with my answer. “I know the last album I acquired was Yankee Hotel Foxtrot by Wilco, but I don’t remember the last time I’ve been to a music store since Napster came out.” Even though I wasn’t a Napster user, I guess I wanted to impress him with how internet-savvy and musically hip I was for a mid-level manager. I also was trying to look cool and funny to my peers.


“My brother helped make that album. He was in Wilco.”


I am not sure what reply I was hoping for, but that definitely was not it. At first, I thought he was joking right back at me. But he wasn’t smiling. I later found out he was serious. And unauthorized, free downloading of songs via Napster was not a funny joke to musicians in those days.


Wilco was famous by 2002, so the odds that Wilco’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot was the newest CD in my collection were not that long. But what were the odds that our new VP was the brother of Wilco guitarist Jay Bennett? If I could remember the exact date and time of that meeting, I would play that number combination in the Mega Lotto every time.


I don’t remember what happened in that meeting after that. I was in shock after making a self-inflicted, career wound. If there were a contest for “worst first impression with the new VP ever,” I would have won.


After the meeting, the new VP pulled me aside to smile and let me know he was not offended. He was as surprised as I was by the coincidence. From that conversation, we figured out we had similar tastes in music. We later found out we both had a passion for bicycling too.


Fast-forward 15 years later, and the VP and I had dinner this week. Our initial awkward connection had blossomed into an enduring friendship, powered by social media and a surprise meeting or two at airports. We reminisced about our time working together. We also talked about the documentary film project about his brother that we were both following on Facebook. (Jay Bennett tragically passed away in 2009.) When he told me his story about being at a Billy Bragg concert and hearing Billy dedicate “California Stars” to his brother Jay, we both got teary-eyed.


I learned a lesson from this experience. Whenever I have a conflict with someone at work, the good news is it means we share some common passion. We may not agree on how to address the issue, but we can agree that we both care about the issue. We can go back to that common ground to get the relationship back on track. In this story, our common interest in a music group caused an awkward moment at first, but we ended up building on that shared interest to form a lasting friendship. Looking back, I’m glad I fumbled that icebreaker.