Jeffery Pfeffer, a Stanford professor (say that out loud), often invited his friend Keith Ferrazzi to speak to his MBA students. Here’s a little about the frequent guest, who is now an independent consultant:
Ferrazzi earned his MBA at Harvard in 1992 and quickly became a star at Deloitte Consulting. Starwood Hotels hired him as its chief marketing officer at age 32, reportedly making him the youngest CMO in the Fortune 500. In 2000 he became CEO of YaYa, a marketing and entertainment company, where he more than doubled revenue each year–even during the dotcom implosion. He sold the company to American Vantage in 2003.
Ferrazzi didn’t get to where hs is by being a nice guy. He made is presence known early on in his career. When accepting his first job post-MBA with Deloitte, he had one condition: that he could dine with the CEO three times each year.
Here’s his key: while he was hired as an entry-level consultant, he behaved like a senior partner from the beginning. In these formative stages, he bragged about his accompishments and ambitions in social settings. Obviously he’s not making friends, yet people eventually came to like him or at least tolerate him so Ferrazzi would associate with them.
Here are some points to take away from the article, if you want to try this method of career advancement:
* Don’t hide your ambitions. (You first have to have ambitions.)
* Sort your acquaintances into A, B, and C lists based on their ability to advance your career and spend more time with those on the A list.
* Focus on activities you do well rather than trying to be well-rounded.
* Don’t worry about offending people on the way up.
I’m not convinced that strictly adhering to this approach without some consideration for other people will work best for all people. There are some things I can take away from the article, but I wouldn’t apply these lessons 100% of the time.
Updated January 27, 2010 and originally published May 16, 2006.