Thoughts on becoming Successful – 1/3: The McKinsey Way

Many people have over the years analyzed, discussed and conceptualized what it takes to become successful as CEO, housewife, entrepreneur or something entirely different. Of the many books, articles and blog-posts I have read I’ve taken three concepts with me that I’d like to share with you in the following three blog posts.

  1. Study from McKinsey on what it takes to become successful
  2. Best practice from 500 TED’sters
  3. The TOP-model; Talent, organization and passion

Why is success at all interesting?

I’m sure we that can all agree on one thing; we are all different – no doubt. Some a short others are tall. Some work 80 hours per week to become CEOs others want to be the best dad ever. Equal for all of us is that we all want to be happy in life. I do not believe that happiness comes without a feeling of being a success. That is why it is so interesting what it takes to become successful.

McKinsey found that a mentor, becoming a specialist and luck equals success

Some years ago McKinsey (the top management consultancy) decided to investigate why some people had more success than others. What they learned was that three factors determined success:

  • Finding a mentor early on
  • Specializing in a field
  • Luck

A mentor can guide you in career decisions in a way that your boss or you girlfriend can’t

Imagine that you aspire to take over you bosses job within the next two to three years. How do you bounce that off of him and expect him to think that it is a great idea? It can also be extremely difficult to get quality advice and sparring from you best friend or girlfriend. They are emotionally too attached to you. That is exactly why a mentor can be extremely helpful. A mentor can help you with many things.

  • Setting goals: It can be extremely hard to set your own goals when your everyday life is fast-paced. A mentor can help you set the right goals for you and help you monitor how you are doing in regard to the goals
  • Seeing things from bird’s perspective: Again – when you are doing your best to keep up with the fast pace at your work it can be difficult to get the bigger picture. A mentor can help you see the different options and follow the right career path (is you choose a mentor that has been down the same road as you)
  • Help you avoid the pitfalls: In close connection with the above a mentor has probably fallen in some career wise pitfall that you can avoid with his help
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Find your niche fast and become a scarce resource

If you look up “Scarce resource” you get a number of definitions, e.g., “A resource with an available quantity less than its desired use”. In other words it is a resource that everybody wants but only the one with deep enough pockets or the most challenging and exciting tasks will get. If you manage to position yourself as the go-to-guy within sales, direct marketing, Drupal 7 or whatever you think is the most interesting thing in the world, everybody will want to play with you. That will increase your chances of becoming successful.

Be at the right time at the right place

When the consultants from McKinsey did the study they all heard people say the same thing. I was extremely lucky. Lucky is tricky because you cannot plan for it. You simply have to be at the right time at the right place.

Feel free to add to the above – I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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