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Unleashed: How to Thrive as an Independent Professional

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115. Danna Staaf on squid and science writing

Our guest today is Danna Staaf, an independent science writer and the author of Squid Empire: The Rise and Fall of the Cephalopods. Danna received a PhD from Stanford University in Marine Biology and Biological Oceanography, and then rather than continuing on an academic track, she decided to become a science communicator, rather than a science generator. In this episode we discuss what makes squid so fascinating and how Danna has created a successful career as an independent science...


114. This trick increases the chances of a client calling you

If you want to be contacted about opportunities, it helps to be contactable.


113. Nitin Rohatgi's firm provides fantastic research support to independent consultants

Our guest today is Nitin Rohatgi, who is the co-founder of Enroute Consulting, a research firm based in India. Nitin’s firm supports independent consultants around the world, many of them McKinsey alums. I've been a client myself, and I’ve been very impressed by the quality of his firm’s work. With about twenty employees, his firm typically will pull together background research using secondary sources as well as ten or so proprietary data sources they subscribe to. They have deep...


112. Chris McKenna on The World's Newest Profession: Management Consulting in the Twentieth Century

Our guest today is Christopher McKenna, a Reader in Business History and Strategy at Said Business School at the University of Oxford. Chris is the author of The World’s Newest Profession: Management Consulting in the Twentieth Century, which was an absolutely eye-opening book for me, and I’d say is a must-read for any management consultant interested in the history of our profession. Here is a link to Chris's bio page at Oxford: https://www.sbs.ox.ac.uk/about-us/people/chris-mckenna


111. Michelle Welsch on founding a non-profit in Nepal

Our guest today is Michelle Welsch, a social worker by training, who is leading an extraordinary life – she has organized major events in New York City for clients including Seth Godin, and for the past five years has been running a non-profit which she founded in Nepal. Her organization, Khata Life, is focused on education and leadership, and you can learn more about Khata Life on their website: http://www.khatalife.org/ If you’d like to get involved, as an online guest lecturer, as a...


110. Rosina Samadani on managing a physically dispersed team

Our guest today is Rosina Samadani, a long-time friend who was my second Engagement Manager at McKinsey, and who provided me with invaluable advice when I was starting out as an independent consultant ten years ago. For a dozen years, Rosina ran a very successful boutique consulting firm, Capella Advisors, after leaving McKinsey. She is the founder of Truth On Call, which provides fast turnaround quantitative market research for the healthcare industry, and DocNews, which was acquired by...


109. Anish Shah, professional comedian and management consultant

So a professional comedian and management consultant walk into a bar... Actually, that's just Anish Shah getting a drink. Anish Shah is a McKinsey alum and professional comedian who does corporate gigs around the world as well as independent management consulting. In this episode, Anish shares the story of how he built his comedy career, and we’ll hear a clip from one of his performances. Check out videos on his website, https://www.anishcomedy.com/videos, where you can also sign up on...


108. How and why to travel around Europe by train

Earlier this month, I visited London, Amsterdam, Paris, Munich, and Zurich to meet up with independent management consultants. While I originally imagined I would fly from one city to another, I ended up taking the train from London all the way to Zurich, and it was fantastic. In this short episode, I share five reasons why you should take the train in Europe instead of flying between cities, and some tips from a train-riding novice.


107. Zachary Schrag on what consultants can learn from historians

Our guest today is Zachary Schrag, a Professor of History at George Mason University. Zach has been a close friend of mine for nearly three decades, and I asked him on the show to share some practical tips that management consultants can learn from a professional historian. Zach gives me some advice on how to read a non-fiction book to get the most value (hint – read the introduction and the conclusion first.) He also shares some book recommendations and discusses five core aspects of the...


106. How to pay a subcontractor

How do you pay a subcontractor? In this episode, I try to answer that question, sharing ten years of lessons learned, covering: 1) How do you actually transfer the money, covering options including check, PayPal, wire transfer, ACH, and bill.com 2) Tax implications, W9, 1099, and 'nexus issues' you need to be aware of 3) What to ask your subcontractor for in terms of an invoice 4) How to track payments to subcontractors


105. Marni Fechter on organizing "Go & Sees"

For over five years, Marni organized “Go and See” events for McKinsey, in which McKinsey clients or prospective clients would take a field trip to visit other McKinsey clients that had gone through some kind of transformation project with McKinsey’s help. On this episode, Marni shares her suggestions on what it takes to run a successful go-and-see, and the benefits to the past clients, the potential clients, and the consultant who organizes the event. After this episode, perhaps you’ll...


104. Michael Brennan is simplifying forms so fewer people go hungry

Michael Brennan is the former CEO of the United Way of Southeastern Michigan, and now the Co-Founder and CEO of Civilla, a Center for Social Innovation rooted in human centered design to help courageous leaders tackle some of the toughest social issues. Michael decided to devote his energies to fixing a problem in Michigan: The entry point to Michigan's public benefit system is an application that is over 40 pages long. With over 1000 questions and more than 18,000 words it is the longest...


103. Jeanne Martinet on The Art of Mingling

Our guest today is Jeanne Martinet, the author of The Art of Mingling: Fun and Proven Techniques for Mastering Any Room. I’ve always been a pretty strong introvert and never enjoyed mingling-type events very much – until I read this book about fifteen years ago. The book was eye-opening for me, and while I would not say that I’m good at mingling, the techniques in this book at least help me survive and even enjoy myself. So it was a huge amount of fun to speak with Jeanne and discuss the...


102. Joshua Sharfstein on surviving a public health crisis

Our guest today is Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, the author of a fantastic new book titled The Public Health Crisis Survival Guide: Leadership and Management in Trying Times, published by Oxford University Press. This book is a great read for any leader, not just those in public health, since the lessons are so broadly applicable, and the stories are so fascinating. Also recommended for consultants who want to know how to advise a client through a crisis. Josh is a physician and a public health...


101. Ethan Raisel on The McKinsey Way

Our guest today is a hero of mine, Ethan Rasiel, a McKinsey alum and the author of The McKinsey Way and The McKinsey Mind. I read The McKinsey Way before I got interviewed by McKinsey – it helped me understand the Firm, and, well, I got an offer. In this episode, Ethan shares the story of how he got the idea for the book, how he did the research, and the reaction of the Firm.


100. Jessica Rhodes on podcast booking

Our guest today is Jessica Rhodes, who runs a firm called Interview Connections. They help their clients get booked as a guest on podcasts. Let’s say you want to raise your visibility by being on someone’s show. Jessica’s firm will come up with a list of podcasts that would be a good fit for your expertise and the audience you are trying to reach. And then they work to build relationships with hosts so they can get you booked as a guest. Their website is https://interviewconnections.com/


99. Tiffany Pham is a mogul, and so are you

Tiffany Pham is a mogul, and she wants you to be a mogul too. Tiffany is the Founder and CEO of Mogul, a platform reaching 18 million women per week – users can read trending content, take courses, solicit advice from other members, find job opportunities. Visit onmogul.com Mogul organizes an annual conference called Mogul X, billed as the modern millennial classroom, and the next one is this Saturday, September 8 in New York City – topics include Finding your mentor, finding your purpose,...


98. Wissam Kahi on Eat Offbeat

Our guest today is Umbrex member and Booz alum Wissam Kahi, who’s been a close friend of mine since we sat together in the same cluster at Columbia Business School. In parallel with running his successful consulting practice, Wissam, together with his sister, has started an amazing social enterprise called Eat Offbeat. https://eatoffbeat.com/ Eat Offbeat delivers authentic and home-style ethnic meals that are conceived, prepared and delivered by refugees resettled in NYC. Eat Offbeat was...


97. Nayla Bahri on how to recover from a career setback

Nayla Bahri is a former Dean of Students at Columbia Business School who has a PhD in Adult Learning and Leadership. Nayla interviewed professionals who lost their jobs during the Great Recession, and studied their future trajectory. After that setback, some truly flourished, and ended up far better off than before they got fired. Some managed to get back to a similar role and their career plateaued. Some got derailed and didn’t really recover. Nayla sought to identify the factors that...


96. Louis Hyman on the history of temp labor in America

Louis Hyman is McKinsey alum and Associate Professor of Economic History at the School of Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University. In this episode we talk about his new book: Temp: How American Work, American Business, and the American Dream Became Temporary. The gig economy is not a new phenomenon – this book explores how we got to where we are today. It weaves together the stories of Manpower,Inc. McKinsey & Co., the Bracero program that legally brought seasonal farm...