How I Learned to Grow By Challenging Myself
It wasn’t until my late 30s that I became aware of just how important leadership – as opposed to technical skills – is to success in business. I decided to leave a cushy and safe Project Manager position at a large consulting firm to spearhead the launch of a European-based consulting business in the US market. It wasn’t my first challenge, but it was certainly one of the more difficult ones.
From day one, it felt like I was thrown head-first into a large wave of a very cold ocean. Nothing seemed to work – clients were few and far between, and the investment costs were much higher than I previously thought. Getting a cohesive team together wasn’t hard, but then that team proved unable to step up to increased challenges.
I was staring into a void, scared to death, of the moment when my boss found out how poorly I was performing, yet not knowing how to prevent it.
Eventually, that day arrived. It was the recession of 2002, and I let go. I retrenched and went back to being a hired hand – albeit a much better paid one – and kept climbing a ladder. I more or less knew the rules, too. First, I worked for the CEO of Sony, then as the Head of International Strategy for Discovery Communications.
Five years later, I was ready to take on my next leadership role as Head of the Strategy Business at Hitachi Consulting. I had just turned the business around when it too, was devastated by the Great Recession of 2008. Fortunately, a month after leaving Hitachi, I was asked to be the CEO and President of The Association of Management Consulting Firms (AMCF). My mandate was to restore its standing within the consulting industry and save it from bankruptcy.
Working with a very committed Chairman and Board, my team and I turned the situation around. After four years, I decided I wanted a new challenge and took yet another plunge into the unknown. This time, as an entrepreneur.
It was only after two years that I was able to give a name to what I wanted to do: CEO coaching. I quickly recruited, coached, and facilitated meetings for groups of CEOs and business owners. It was like a gift from heaven.
Everything was going well until COVID hit, and my group and my confidence crumbled.
Few of my usual approaches and strengths seemed to be working for me. A carefully polished exterior suddenly went from a suit of armor to a cage. My well-honed ability to think strategically and logically deteriorated into a need to be right. Being able to work independently turned into an inability to reach out and ask for help.
I looked feverishly for answers. The first round of answers appeared in the form of a coach. He used some pretty dramatic and often highly uncomfortable methodologies to open my eyes to the truth about myself, business, and the world.
Three years later, I feel like I’m just at the beginning of the most important, intense, and empowering journey yet. Instead of wasting my energy worrying and going down rabbit holes looking for answers, I very easily renew my commitments, empathize with myself and others, and access truth and wisdom.
Most importantly, I’m able to guide my clients and members more successfully through their own journeys and bring joy and happiness to my family, friends, and the people I meet.
- President & CEO, The Association of Management Consulting Firms (AMCF)
- Chief Strategist, CEO Strategy Institute, Sony Corp
- Head of International Strategy, Discovery Communications
- Partner, Roland Berger Strategy Consultants
- Project Manager, Accenture
- Provided pro-bono strategy consulting to the leadership of the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM)
- Member of the National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD)
- Worked with Brooklyn Borough President, Eric Adams, and his team to develop and roll out a borough-wide digital technology festival to build a community around new developments in the sector and showcase Brooklyn as a major hub for technology firms
- Executive Education, Harvard Business School, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
- MBA, Finance, New York University Stern Graduate School of Business, New York, NY
- BA, Liberal Arts, Harvard College, Cambridge, Massachusetts
- English: Native speaker
- German: Full professional proficiency
- French: Limited working proficiency
- Italian: Limited working proficiency
The Great Disruption of 2020
Pushing the Reset Button on Business
How the Best CEOsDisrupt to Win
Interview at the CEO Club of Baltimore
The Four Types of Disruption
Speech at Barnes & Noble, New York City