Consultants Collective Corner: 2020 Can Be the Year You Conquer Work and Your Career

The following has been curated by Consultants Collective member, Kevin Jordan.

This edition is an eclectic mix of articles, two excellent and thought-provoking TED Talks and cultural insights and musings. I am particularly fond of the Wall Street Journal Op-Ed that provides “advice” for NASA’s star intern.

As always, happy reading and listening! 


“From friendships to salary negotiations, 2020 can be the year you conquer work and your career. Taking hold of your future begins with standing up for yourself, while also learning to navigate the complicated world of office politics. The murky friendships and bureaucracy can at times be maddening, but persevering does not only mean climbing the corporate ladder. It could also mean defining your own path.”

 “The Power of Boundaries: Sharing personal information brings people together and helps them like one another more. But in an age of self-disclosure, how do you know when you’ve gone too far—or when someone else has ulterior motives?” 

“But new research demonstrates that performing at high levels can also come with some heavy costs: It can make our peers resent us and try to undermine our good work. And there’s more: the “social penalty” that star performers suffer is actually higher in more collaborative workplaces.” 

“So if you’re still asking the question, ‘How do I become great in life?’, I would ask you to reframe the question as ‘How do I become good in life’ or even ‘How do I become decent’ and focus on developing those habits to repeat over time. Transform these habits to be your baseline…In being consistent over time, you become the outlier. Remember: great is just good, but repeatable.” 

“If you’re thinking of asking a superstar in your field out for coffee so you can learn what makes them tick — and how you can apply that knowledge to your own career path — here’s how to do it right.” 

“A low unemployment rate means more companies are leveraging data and tech for hiring purposes–and bringing people with nontraditional backgrounds into their human resources departments.”

“Underpaid and overworked as a freelancer? Freelancing vet Soness Stevens debunks the myths that could be preventing you from earning — and knowing — your full professional value.”

Advice for NASA’s Star Intern: New planets don’t turn up every day so keep your feet on the ground.
By Mike Kerrigan, Op Ed, The Wall Street Journal, Jan. 17, 2020

Seventeen-year-old Wolf Cukier discovered a new planet. The high-school senior from Scarsdale, N.Y., accomplished this last summer on his third day as an intern at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

This is a stellar achievement, for which Wolf has been rightly showered with praise. But someone ought to address the other NASA interns—let’s call them Peter and Mary. If ever the advice “it’s not a competition” was worth listening to, it’s now. Make no mistake, kids, at this point it’s a race for second-best summer intern. Can you imagine the small talk in the NASA break room on that fateful day three?

Peter: “I brought in a French press from home. Now everyone can enjoy a nice cup of coffee. People on my floor seem really happy.”

Mary: “I showed folks how two-sided printing works. It’ll save money and help the environment. Win-win.”

Wolf: “I discovered a new planet.”

Peter: “You’re killing me, Wolf, just killing me.”

So for Peter, Mary and everyone else in the space agency’s intern program, chin up and do your best. Perhaps you, too, will discover your own planet during your time at NASA. Probably not, but if you want to know the exact odds, I’m sure Wolf will be happy to figure them out for you.

Wolf, too, should try to keep his head on straight. Meteoric career success at a young age can be both a blessing and a curse. Sure, if you’ve got to peak early, it’s better to do it discovering a new planet than, say, hitting the proverbial walk-off homer. Just remember that you don’t find new planets every day. Life gets complicated; some days finding a belt that matches your shoes is victory enough.

Another thing, Wolf. Thank your lucky stars. Maybe your boss left the telescope one small turn away from the hidden planet before being distracted by a “leftover bagels in the conference room” email. One never knows.

And last, not so much advice as a question for Wolf’s mother and father, who clearly are doing something right as parents. What are you feeding that kid? Asking for a friend.

Mr. Kerrigan is an attorney in Charlotte, N.C.

TED Talks/Podcasts

“In this deeply charming and humorous talk, DJ and self-professed pirate Tom Nash meditates on how facing adversity due to disability invited patience, ambition and pragmatism into his life in enlightening, unexpected ways.”

“After being diagnosed with a rare genetic condition that deteriorates muscle, Cara E Yar Khan was told she’d have to limit her career ambitions and dial down her dreams. She ignored that advice and instead continued to pursue her biggest ambitions. In this powerful, moving talk, she shares her philosophy for working on the projects that matter to her most — while letting courage and fear coexist.”

Blog Posts (excerpt below with links to the full post)

“It’s finally the 2020s. After 20 years of not being able to refer to the decade we’re in, we’re all finally free—in the clear for the next 80 years until 2100, at which point I assume AGI will have figured out what to call the two decades between 2100 and 2120.”

“It’s to remind me how important it is to run TOWARDS something. To DO rather than plan and think and analyze and hope…To “choose myself” rather than waiting for others to choose me. Ultimately, if I choose myself it means I am choosing freedom.”

Knowledge is a great equalizer. It’s available to more people than ever before, in exchange for effort, and the person with insight has an extraordinary advantage over the one who doesn’t.”

“We could have just let it go. We could have seen it for what it was—simply an ask. And then moved on. We have that power. We choose whether we exercise it or not.” 

Arts & Culture Corner

“The latest round of Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductions were announced today, and Whitney Houston is the only woman honored. This visible problem offers yet another chance to decry the gender imbalance within Cleveland’s canonizing institution.” 

“In the past decade, the average price for a concert ticket increased 55%. What gives?”

“Playing the world’s game, on the world’s stage, under attack by a world leader, she dominated. And in doing so without fear, Megan Rapinoe became a voice for so many across the world.”

Kevin Jordan

Kevin Jordan is an International Coach Federation-certified executive coach who serves as a strategic advisor, mentor and facilitator to executive leadership teams and private clients to achieve peak performance and agility resulting in sustained engagement and value. Drawing upon a career as a leader and consultant, Kevin is able to work with clients on personal and professional development, relationship optimization and team and leader dynamics. He has deep expertise and experience developing and realizing strategic vision through a relentless focus on optimized business operations. He is also skilled at building sustainable culture and workforce engagement through the power of people and organizational partnership, as well as delivering results and value with high performing teams during periods of intense change.

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