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Agony and ecstasy for young lawyers

For some time, I’ve suggested that law schools provide a cautionary tale for the rest of us.  With many graduates loaded down with big debt and with few prospects for taking jobs that actually require the degree, some schools are beginning to think the unthinkable – should they consider closing?   They may not have a choice – students aren’t stupid, and to go deeply into debt for a degree... read more »

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Fun interview in the Australian

While I was in Australia earlier this month, I had the opportunity to join The Australian for a neat video interview.  We talked about the end of competitive advantage, the role of power in organizations, and the importance of networking. read more »

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Sounds Like the Return of Ron Johnson

Interesting to read that Land’s End – the middle of the market retailer – is now being led by CEO with upscale fashion aspirations.  She prefers New York to the Dodgeville, Wisconsin headquarters, wants to move the brand upscale and refers to some of the company’s traditional offerings as “ugly.” Lands End is up against the same phenomena that have bedeviled J. C. Penney’s and other middle market retailers.  But... read more »

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The Time is Ripe to Revisit Women in Leadership

These days, I’m spending a lot of time on matters pertaining to women in leadership.  If you’d like to get an overview of some of the research and the remedies that can be offered, check out this free webinar. read more »

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Staring down a disengagement decision at Yahoo!

Yahoo and its CEO of three years, Marissa Mayer, have been in the news a lot lately. While Yahoo’s checkered history and frequent changes in leadership have not done the company’s reputation any favors, it still has assets that could be valuable. With investors becoming impatient, Yahoo is apparently in play in a big way. Fortune reports that Starboard Value Fund’s Jeff Smith has launched a proxy fight against Yahoo and is... read more »

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The perils of an incomplete change process

Some people really do change the world.  But all around us, we see evidence of change efforts that began with great promise but ended badly.  In a recent New York Times column, Tom Friedman speculated on the effects of digital communications on simultaneously facilitating the ability of social movements to ignite, but hampering participants’ capability to form lasting new structures that replace the old ones.  I recently walked through a... read more »

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What a startup can learn about customer needs from a medieval practice

In a recent article over at Fortune, I explore what Transferwise, a fast-growing new startup has rediscovered:  an enduring customer need that is currently featuring in the migrant crisis, Hawala.  The practice of Hawala originated centuries ago when traders were concerned that they would be waylaid by bandits along their routes of travel.  So they worked out a trust-based practice in which a party in one location would receive a payment, and a trusted... read more »

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Hacking your budget

I was recently asked by a reporter from U. S. News and World Report to offer some advice for people who are trying to start the New Year on a good note by getting their personal budgets in order.  You can read that article here.  A few other tips that didn’t make it into the final article are: Use underutilized resources.  Most of us have stuff that has value sitting... read more »

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Secrets of the Superbosses – catch up on Syd Finkelstein’s latest book

Lorne Michaels. Ralph Lauren. Alice Waters. George Lucas. Larry Ellison. Miles Davis. And a dozen others. Business leaders and creative icons with tremendous track records who all have something else in common: they helped develop the best talent in their industries, who in turn helped them become the legendary successes they are today. Based on ten years of research and hundreds of interviews, Superbosses describes what these exceptional leaders did,... read more »

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More on the “tightrope” effect

In a previous post, I’ve mentioned the “tightrope” that professional women are often forced to deal with.  Too friendly and approachable?  You’re “nice” but not taken seriously.  Too aggressive and insistent?  You’re … well, we all know the terms.  I was at a meeting yesterday in which one of the “ahas” was that it is nearly impossible for women to figure out where they stand with respect to the tightrope... read more »

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Learning to navigate the teaching tightrope as a women

An interesting column by Adam Grant and Sheryl Sandberg made me think of some of the ups and downs of learning to teach in an environment where most of the people around you are men. One of the first things you learn pretty quickly is that your range of acceptable behavior tends to be narrower. Be too assertive, and we all know what those women are called. Be too nice... read more »

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Networking parasites – this one struck a chord

Margaret Morford published an excellent piece in the New York Times about how people can avoid becoming what she calls “networking parasites“.   She picks up on a number of things that would-be networkers should be careful to avoid.  A few others that she didn’t mention are: The ‘I’d like to pick your brain’ request Not that this is bad, after all, a lot of us are in the knowledge dissemination... read more »

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New Women’s Leadership Course to be Launched in June

Anyone who has been following the coverage of women in the workplace, for example, this series in the Wall Street Journal, knows the general story line.  Professional women enter workplaces in numbers roughly equal to men, but with each rung of the career ladder, there are fewer and fewer, until the number of women representing the very top leadership of large corporations is a tiny fraction of the total.  Explanations for this disparity have... read more »

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Now in development: Mastering Corporate Entrepreneurship On-Line

What if you could take teams of people or individual contributors with an innovation mandate and have them go through a state of the art, hands-on and very applied journey through the essence of innovation in the convenience of an on-line format? Part executive development program, part coaching program and part real-time learning, the vision for Columbia’s new Mastering Corporate Entrepreneurship Course is just that. It’s been a huge project... read more »

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Implications of the Unicorn Economy

In my most recent newsletter, I suggested that businesses would do well to anticipate the consequences of a valuation bubble bursting in Silicon Valley with so many private companies valued at more than a billion dollars, with few signs that the investor spigot is going to turn off anytime soon.  I ran across this great article by Mark Littlewood of Business of Software conference fame that adds additional support to... read more »

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