2/18/2018

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A Beginner's Guide To Investing
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A Funny Thing Happened
All You Need To Know About The Music Business
An American Dreamer
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Becoming Your Best
Be Obsessed Or Be Average
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Boombustology
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Business Adventures
Call Me Ted
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Chinatized
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Common Cents
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Connected
Conspiracy Of The Rich
Create Generations Of Wealth
Debt Free
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Due Diligence
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Elon Musk: Invent The Future
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Finance And Accounting
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Follow To Lead
Forward Budgeting
From Rags To Riches To Faith
Full of Bull
Full of Bull (Updated Edition)
Game Over
Generation Debt
Get Real
Give Yourself The Answers
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I Am: The Power Within
I Need A Job Badly
I Hate People!
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Invent It, Sell It, Bank It
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Ladies "Let's Talk"
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Lean In
Letting Go Of Your Bananas
Make Your Money Go Further
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House of Lies
How Management Consultants Steal Your Watch And Then Tell You the Time
by Martin Kihn

The Gentle Art of Feeding Back-or, a New Way to Grow & Hate Yourself

It's very difficult to tell if you're serious or not," says the woman, feeding back. "I'm always serious," you say. "See what I mean?"

After a year you are sent to Feedback Camp. It is in the woods in New Jersey and, like most woods in New Jersey, right next to a large highway. Cars hurtle past your talk circles; they infiltrate the corners of your bed. The purpose of Feedback Camp is never quite clear, but you suspect it has something to do with teaching you to work well with other people. It is a mandatory week in the woods for all (surviving) associates ... and it is by far your worst week with the firm.

By far. "My name is important to me," says the man in the military reserves, suppressing a quiet rage. "Of course it is, Jim." "My name is Jason."

The title of this week is "Consulting Team Skills," and you were supposed to have taken it shortly after joining the firm. In fact, it's supposed to be completed within six months of your start date, but things occurred. For instance, half the firm was fired. And all training programs were suspended. Morale among the lower ranks inexplicably began to plummet and so the partners decided to do what they presumed everybody did in moments of self-doubt: They hired a consultant. That consultant haunted the halls for a few weeks talking to the war-wounded and the battle-weary ... and she reported back that what everybody needed was not an end to the madness, no, what they all needed was a week in the woods of New Jersey with their top-tier colleagues from around the world telling one another in excruciating detail just exactly what it is about them that makes them so difficult to work with.

What they needed was Feedback Camp. "What I wish," says the woman who talks too much, "is that you would talk more."

"About what?" "I just want to let you know that I'm feeling that you're not exactly hearing what I'm saying." "I'm hearing you." "What I'm feeling is I doubt it." "Can I give you some feedback now?" "It's not your turn."

"Well one of my feedbacks is you're hung up on whose turn it is-"

"Guys," says the moderator, a Mormon who makes you want to avoid Salt Lake City, "take a step back. Breathe. Center." There's a moment-just a moment-when nobody talks. Ah ...

It's inculcated in the business school-bound that industry is all about "team work." In fact, it's so often used it's elevated to a single word: teamwork. You've got to work as a team. It's all about the team. You're only as good as your team. The team is more important than the individual. What's your role in the team? Which team are you on? You've got to report to the team; check in with the team; have team dinner, team lunch, team debriefing in the airport lounge.

It sounds strange to you, the first time you hear it: "We." A partner said it in a meeting your first or second week at the firm. He was walking past the team room, on his way to a different team meeting, and he steps in and gets to asking what your team is up to; so your team leader briefs him, and the partner asks a question about the client, which goes something like, "Do we have any capacity in Asia ...?"

We?

He means, of course, we, the client, the company that hired us. We are we. It's routine by now-this convenient linguistic fiction that we are actually employees of the companies we serve. There is no us and them; there's only us and us. The team. So ingrained is this usage, top-tier consultants even slip into it with the client.

"What we need to focus on," your principal says to a client in Dearborn one time, "is getting more value-added content onto the handsets."

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