Be exceptional

During a taxi ride back from my office in New York City, the driver asked me, “So what do you do?”

When I told him that I was a consultant, he asked, “IT consultant?”

I hastily corrected him, “No, no… I am a strategy consultant.”

In those days, IT or technology was not considered cool. In fact, many of my classmates at Wharton joined an MBA just to transition out of technology into finance or marketing.

On the other hand, ‘strategy consulting’ was the cool thing to do once you joined a firm like McKinsey, BCG, or Bain.

Fast forward a decade, and today, McKinsey has become partly a tech company 🙂 The Firm hires data scientists and tech guys in droves. I am almost certain they get many more tech projects than strategy ones. And I am very glad that McKinsey showed this agility.

We tend to rank order everything in life, including professions. Some day ‘strategy’ is above ‘tech’. Another day ‘tech’ appears to be above ‘marketing.’

But the real world does not recognize any hierarchies.

So when you choose a career don’t get overly driven by perceptions – they keep changing.

Chances are that if you are exceptionally good at something, people will line up for you. Be exceptional, and ‘cool’ will chase you instead of you chasing ‘cool.’

– Rajan

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