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When setting goals is detrimental to success

Posted by Arjun Moorthy

Mar 10, 2014 5:21:00 PM

When I applied to grad school I remember several applications asking questions like "recount a time you set a goal and struggled to achieve it" or some other flavor of goal-setting story.  I found these hard to answer because I hadn't really set many goals in my life, which may indicate why my accomplishments to date had been modest.  I suppose I just did things because they felt like they'd be fun or cool.  I thought most kids grew up the same way and wanted to believe that the goal oriented ones were from another planet.  Nevertheless, I envied those who set goals and I resolved to become more so - but never really did even years after graduation. 

 
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The fallacy of data-driven management, why yes-men exist and other lessons in politics

Posted by Arjun Moorthy

Nov 23, 2013 12:28:00 PM

Recently a colleague made a thinly veiled accusation that I was biased about an analysis I was working on and was "spinning the data."  The allegation hurt deeply because I have never consciously cooked any data to match an outcome I wanted and I sincerely believed I was working towards the truth.  I went through much of the day distraught at this attack on my credibility but a series of discussions afterwards at home helped me learn three important lessons that included some surprising conclusions.

 

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Topics: politics

Getting an A for Effort - My New Yardstick to Life

Posted by Arjun Moorthy

Aug 17, 2013 5:47:00 PM

Like most people I've had periods of time where I've gone through a slump at some jobs in the past.  I'd often reflect on my various efforts and note that they had performed uncharacteristically less well than I normally would.  I would brood far too much and soon find myself dejected and questioning my capabilities.  However, some time later, in at least one case, I learned information that certain environment variables were not aligned with my efforts.  Or, to put it more bluntly, certain folks in the organization were not aligned with my efforts and their counter efforts were at least partly responsible for my lack of success.  This isn't to say these people were against me; only against my efforts.  This could have been for a valid reason but the lack of transparency in these organizations prevented me from ever knowing the real reason. [1]
 
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Topics: career advice

When being a manager is easier than being a front-line sales rep

Posted by Arjun Moorthy

Aug 15, 2013 10:10:00 AM

A month ago my role at HubSpot expanded to include the VAR (Value Added Reseller) team with responsibility for about 30 people.  It's been two years since I managed a sizable team and during this past month I remembered how rewarding and fun it is to be a manager.  Before this change to my role I had just one direct report and was, in some respects, an enterprise sales representative with the quota of my sole report rolling up to me.  And I realize now that management is in some ways easier than being a front-line sales rep.
 
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All men are created equal - career advice from the constitution

Posted by Arjun Moorthy

Jun 3, 2013 9:08:00 AM

Recently my boss tweeted: "To change the status quo you need to ruffle some feathers.  Get over it."  A good cliche that many would agree with [1].  Yet some of us, myself included, are shy to do so and until recently I wasn't sure why.
 
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When not to hire strategy consultants - notes from ex-BCG consultant

Posted by Arjun Moorthy

Apr 10, 2013 4:26:00 PM

As a former consultant at the Boston Consulting Group I saw first hand when, from my viewpoint, our team delivered value to the client and when we did not.  Across six cases over two years I witnessed the clich├ęd excesses of management consulting as well as the benefits.  Here are some  suggestions on when not to hire consultants and when to do so; hopefully useful since such teams cost about $150,000 - $200,000 per week.

 

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Performance reviews - after ten years finally a useful appraisal

Posted by Arjun Moorthy

Feb 14, 2013 7:59:00 PM

Annual performance reviews have, for me at least, been largely useless over the last 10 years.  I can't recall a single good piece of feedback I've received in these. There may very well have been good suggestions; I just don't remember any, like I do the good advice I've received elsewhere and blogged about on this site.  This year, however, my annual review will be memorable but it's not for the reasons I expected.

 
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Vipassana: 10 days of solitary confinement and insights gained from it

Posted by Arjun Moorthy

Jan 14, 2013 10:21:00 PM

Just after Christmas of 2012 I was able to complete a long time goal of mine to attend the 10-day meditation retreat of Vipassana.  The course is secular even though its meditation technique is from Gautama Buddha.  My parents and sister had done this course in the past and experienced benefits so I wanted to find out if it could do the same for me.  Turns out I gained benefits but not ones I expected and the process was anything but a retreat.

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The most important trait to succeed in sales, and perhaps in life

Posted by Arjun Moorthy

Dec 22, 2012 4:23:00 PM

Dave Kurlan recently highlighted one of his old posts on what makes for great sales people.  Surprisingly the best sales person doesn't necessarily have the best closing skills, or prospects consistently, or even builds the best relationships.  Rather it's the person who sells consultatively - i.e. asks insightful questions.  Dave's finding, based on thousands of OMG assessments is absolutely profound, but after a while I began to think what makes someone capable of asking these such questions and why doesn't everyone do it.

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Topics: career advice

My career midlife crisis and getting from book smarts to street smarts

Posted by Arjun Moorthy

Dec 1, 2012 8:44:00 AM

A while ago I realized that every job, for me at least, follows a similar pattern.  In the first year I subtract more value than I add as I learn the job and industry.  Those around me usually don't notice this and either give me the benefit of the doubt or feed my ego with praise.  Emotionally I'm excited by the new job and the steep learning curve.

In the second year I subtract about the same value as I add but the subtractions come in one or two colossal mistakes that nearly destroy me and a part of the firm.  If my boss has the patience to keep me around, and ideally provide some coaching, I go on to become far stronger at my job.  Emotionally the second year is the most challenging as I doubt myself almost constantly.

  

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Career Advice I Wish I Knew Earlier 

Hello.  I started this blog to distribute some of the best career advice I have been given over the many jobs I've had.  I've been fortunate to work for and with some great bosses like Francis DeSouzaNancy Kamei and Rick Roberge, and some unique companies, like The Boston Consulting Group, that invest heavily in making each employee a success even after leaving the firm.

The advice and training I received here stands in sharp contrast to my experiences with some not-so-great bosses and companies I've also worked for.  I'm continualy amazed at how valuable good advice has been in my career so I hope to pass on the good advice, and insights from mistakes I've made, via this blog. 

Thanks in advance for your comments, particularly when you can improve upon the ideas posted.

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