The Mind of a Consultant

560 560 Kamal Karanth

The book “The Mind of a Consultant” is a detailed job description for anybody wanting to make consulting their career.

Five-and-a-half million people work for the consulting industry across the world. Students in premier management institutes continuously compete to get a placement with McKinsey, Bain, BCG kind of top drawer consulting companies.

The Mind of a Consultant is a book that details the scenes inside this competitive management consulting industry and is a relevant guide to the work-life at such companies at large.

As I started absorbing this book, I read the news on Deloitte Consulting promoting 15 people as partners, and I started to wonder about their triumphs and travails. I couldn’t help but also think of all those disappointed people who could not become partners, a thought induced after reading Sandeep Krishnan’s book.

He starts with a flashback of his protagonist, who was heartbroken at not being promoted as a partner, and chronicles his female lead’s triumphs and travails.

The Mind of a Consultant, in short, is the journey of an Ivy League campus recruit who becomes a partner in a consulting company.

At various passages in this book, one feels that it’s a great digest for people who are aspiring to be in a consulting industry or for people who have just joined that industry.

However, as I completed the book, I felt it was a timely refresher for anybody who aspires to be in a leadership position across industries.

The book covers four distinct stages of a professional’s journey: Campus placement; transition to a professional life; leadership, and setbacks and mentors.

Campus placement

The detailing of the campus placement process starting from internship to PPO is an important segment. Sandeep details the preparation, mindset, and hard work required to be noticed by your future employer.

He draws our attention to the stretch and long hours that a typical consulting company subjects the interns. The evaluation criteria for placements and the dynamics of a consulting company from an intern’s point of view are well-articulated.


The book’s highlight is the transformation of the intern into a professional.

Though this transition is tailored to the consulting industry, one can easily relate this to any industry for client-facing roles. One of the key learnings are the listings of various frameworks management consultants use in their journey. Sandeep lists the various frameworks like Pestel Analysis, Porter’s Five Forces, McKinsey’s 7-S model, BCG Matrix, to name a few.

I thought one missed opportunity was to elaborate on the leading lady’s struggles in a man’s world of consulting.

It’s well known that the consulting industry takes a toll on family life, and women in leadership roles are more an exception. Though there is a title that starts as a man’s world, Sandeep doesn’t take it deeper and examine the struggles for women in a stretched working world of the management consulting industry.


Sandeep, through successful anecdotes, combines the various competencies required to be a successful leader. He lists the golden rules to lead, different kinds of leaders, dealing with failures with apt examples.

He also highlights leadership facets through Johari’s Window Framework, MBTI assessments, customer-centricity, thought leadership, financial savviness, and the importance of networking.

Setbacks & Mentors

Time and again, Sandeep highlights the role of mentors during the protagonist’s struggles. He intelligently weaves the variety of mentors whom we all possibly get help from directly and indirectly. The book brings the combined efforts of peers, spouses, supervisors, senior colleagues, ex-colleagues during various setbacks in a career journey. It seems like mentors are accessible in various contexts and forms, and the examples of mentors in the book will make you wonder how you might have ignored them in your world of work.


For people who like drama, there isn’t enough in this book; Sandeep avoids any such narrative and sticks to a reporting style that has concepts and simple reading.

It makes you feel it’s a textbook than an interesting tale of a management consultant. The book could have been a page-turner and absorbing if there were more anecdotes around the protagonist's emotions.

As the premise was set around a high-pressure work-setting of a management consultant with flashbacks loaded, it had ample scope to make it more connecting.

In many ways, the book doesn’t establish an emotional connection with the reader, and it’s rather dry in its reading.

The much-famed turf wars that partners create in consulting companies and how people get caught in the crossfire would have made for some interesting reading. It could have also brought in the darker side of working in the consulting world. So, in a way, it presents only the positive side of working in the management consulting industry.


This book “The Mind of a Consultant” aptly represents over one lakh people who work in the consulting industry in India. It’s a book HR departments of consulting companies should ask aspirant job seekers to read before joining them.

Published first on Hindu Business Line on 03-05-2021

Becoming a Leader for Life

Becoming a Leader for Life

560 560 Kamal Karanth
Becoming a Leader for Life

Ego dispeller” – that’s how I’m going to be describing ‘Becoming a Leader For Life’ as the gist of it is that leadership is not merely a title on a business card. Successful leaders hold on to the belief that leadership is a living process and no matter how high we scale the professional ladder, we are always on a learning curve; and rightfully so.

Ken Blanchard and Mark Miller clearly determines the content of the book in their introduction, “the path to increased influence, impact, and leadership effectiveness is paved with personal growth….our capacity to grow determines our capacity to lead. It’s really that simple.”

‘Becoming a Leader For Life’ remains actively effective in my life – both on personal and professional platforms. I now know that for me to remain relevant in the lives of my family, loved ones, friends, and colleagues, I would need to constantly keep myself in check with a couple of non-negotiable questions:

“Will I always be ready to face the next challenge?
“Will I consciously stop applying yesterday’s solutions to today’s problems?”
Life, they say, is a lifelong learning process and this book messages “growth” very well and you are only too ready to use the learning from it across all aspects of your life.

Sometimes conceptual books can be boring if not told well. This book is NOT. I encourage you to go pick one for yourself.

Like The Flowing River

560 560 Kamal Karanth

There are just one too many apt quotes which resonates with life and work in Like The Flowing River, I don’t know which to share with you. Let me begin by imparting a few with you:

“It is part of the human nature always to judge others very severely and when the wind turns against us, always to find an excuse for our own misdeeds, or to blame someone else for our mistakes.”

“Work is a blessing when it helps us to think about what we’re doing; but it becomes a curse when its sole use is to stop us thinking about the meaning of our life.”

“everything you do in life will leave a mark”.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg. In “Like the Flowing River” which is compilation of tales, opinions and ideas drawn from articles published in various newspapers by Brazilian author, Paulo Coelho. In this masterpiece, Coelho, who is also my favourite author, puts to paper his personal reflections on a wide range of subjects from archery and music to and the nature of good and evil. There’s even a piece in the book which sees an old woman explaining to her grandson on how a mere pencil can show him (the grandson) the path to happiness.

Paulo Coelho is a story teller who inspires me. I suggest you let his masterpieces enter your life..


The Art of Thinking Clearly

560 560 Kamal Karanth

The Art of Thinking Clearly is an all-time favorite book of mine and something I keep reading every two years.

The Art of Thinking Clearly explains 99 cognitive errors all of us make and asks if there is a different way to approach it. Two things which stand out for me in this book

  1. The confirmation bias is the mother of all misconceptions. It is the tendency to interpret new information so that it becomes compatible with our existing theories, beliefs, and convictions. In other words, we filter out any further information that contradicts our current views.
  2. Thinking is in itself not pure but prone to error. This affects everyone. Even highly intelligent people fall into the same cognitive traps. Likewise, errors are not randomly distributed. We systematically err in the same direction. That makes our mistakes predictable, and this fixable to a degree—but only to a degree, never completely.”

For me, this is a great refresher, and a guide can keep reading it



560 560 Kamal Karanth

‘Outstanding’ gives you 47 ways to make your company exceptional! So, what else is new, you might ask? Trust me when I say that this book offers 47 insights into the “how” in a uniquely engaging manner.

I’m partial to how John Miller starts off the book. He relays the story of an email where Steve Chamberlain, an executive with Husqvarna, wrote this: “Do people fire companies? Yes they do!” The email went on to talk about how Chamberlain fired an airline that he had been flying with for years because of the attitudes and actions, (or non-actions) of the employees which suggested that not only did they not care, but it was obvious that they were not willing to make his experience a good one.

I could relate to the opening; recalling incidences throughout my employment where we sometimes fire customers for certain company values which we know will mean close to nothing if the partnership is NOT aligned to those values at their core.

A few of the 47 short chapters with titles that make each lesson crystal clear are:

  • Make No Excuses
  • Do What You Promise
  • Put People Before Policies
  • Seek No Culprits
  • Forgive Mistakes
  • Believe or Leave
  • Developing Manager

Importance of Training …and 37 more insightful chapters that highlight core principals and ideas applicable even in your personal life.
All said, even if you don’t get more than a singular take away after reading Outstanding, there is one which I guarantee you can’t ignore: you’d come to know that there isn’t a single organization out there that can boasts of doing all 47!

Necessary Endings

560 560 Kamal Karanth

Dave Ramsey, the New York bestselling author of “The Total Money Makeover” had this to say about “Necessary Endings” – “If you’re hesitant to pull the trigger when things obviously aren’t working out, Henry Cloud’s “Necessary Endings” may be the most important book you read all year.” This was more than enough for me to go out and get this book, pronto!

I believe you will agree with me when I say that in both our personal and professional lives, there are times when reality dictates that we must stand up and “end” something. Continuing it would be destructive to us or to the people that matter to us, in some way. Nevertheless, even with clear evidences, we find it difficult to pull the trigger. Am I right?

Let me give you some examples of these negative instances: –

• End a relationship that is toxic.
• Terminate the services of an employee who is a destructive marginal talent.
Leave a job or a career that you know makes you unhappy
• End a marriage damaged by repeated unfaithfulness.

Why is that? Why are we unable to put to an end some endings which are necessary? I strongly advise you to get a hold of this book to enable you to take stock of areas of your life that may need some trimming and face the fears that are getting in your way – personally and professionally.

Notes To Myself

Notes To Myself

560 560 Kamal Karanth
Notes To Myself

Since, Notes to Myself was first published in 1970, this book has sold over 5 million copies and has been translated into 10 languages. Not as impressive as The Alchemist but reviews for this is pretty steadfast and constant: it is a book which can either be comforting when you’re down or simply to reinforce how lucky you are in better times.

The Alchemist

560 560 Kamal Karanth

You’ll either endear or despise ‘ The Alchemist’ where the central theme is on spiritual truth/wisdom. Some choose to say it’s about taking risks to follow your dream while a group of others are inclined to refute by saying that it encourages a single-minded pursuit of something for selfish reasons. A quick note that the Alchemist is an international bestseller; with more than 65 million copies in 56 different languages having been sold; setting the Guinness World Record for being the most translated book by a living author, Paulo Coelho.

The Trillion Dollar Coach

The Trillion Dollar Coach

560 560 Kamal Karanth
The Trillion Dollar Coach

Who doesn’t know Bill Campbell! However, many books about high achievers have been damp squibs purely because of bad narration. But not The Trillion Dollar Coach, It gives some insights of how Apple, Intuit, and Google work internally. There aren’t too many aha moments, but The Trillion Dollar Coach remains sincere and sticks to what Bill did. Many things that are said are essential, but we ignore it all the time. Hence, the obvious still makes sense. the authors have highlighted the five primary themes around which Jim coached people

Under these five themes, authors weave their perspectives around how Jim coached people. The most critical takeaway not surprisingly is that it is all about people. They also highlight that more the emotional support you provide to people, the better the organization dynamics become. People operate better when they have psychological safety in the organizational context. For a company like Google or Apple, I thought intellectual capital was crucial. The emphasis on people, their well being family support based coaching was a great eye opener for me.