How to be productive

Succeeding as a Management Consultant How to be productive


We receive many emails with questions about how to be productive. In this podcast, which builds on other points about this topic we have previously made, we discuss 6 areas to consider.

(1) Time management,

(2) Managing obstacles,

(3) 90% rule,

(4) When to work,

(5) Focus and

(6) Why to work.

Point 6 is particularly important. Many of the things we do at Firmsconsulting are never started with the intention to generate profits, and some never will. We maintain 3 iTunes channels, more than most firms, and we do it because we enjoy it and want to share our vast knowledge as partners. That is one of the most important lessons, which we will discuss today.



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10 responses to How to be productive

  1. Thank you Nauruz and Michael!


  2. Hi Nauruz,

    Yes, I have seen the reviews and may watch it. I sincerely doubt any show on TV will teach someone about the mechanics of a field to a sufficient degree. It will likely educate about just one facet.


  3. Michael,

    Since you mentioned movies, what do you think of the TV series “Billions”? I am sure you have heard/watched/read about it. If you did, do you think the series are too artificial (appealing to people’s stereotypes as House of Lies did) to be informative and educational for someone interested in asset management?

  4. Hello Ryan,

    Yes, if you listen to all the podcasts and read all the articles than you will know I have covered my life in extreme in detail. Maybe too much detail.

    The point on limiting access was deliberate. It was a strategy to make it a premium privilege if corporate clients met us. It works. You will see more about that this year.


  5. Michael,

    I really enjoyed this podcast because it really showed the progression of FC. I remember from earlier podcast you mentioning the Executive Education program along the lines of “We don’t advertise that we do it, in fact we won’t even acknowledge we are doing it.”

    Also, the reason everyone probably wants to meet you Michael is because you’re shrouded in mystery. You mentioned what firms you worked at one time in all the podcasts (to my knowledge), its pretty hard to find any information on google about you. At least for listeners like myself, we likely likely feel like we know you but then realize we have no idea what you look like. It makes getting the idea of meeting you very special.

  6. Hi Femi & Nauruz,

    Good question Femi. And Nauruz is right.

    Think of a 2×2 matrix. On one axis you have useful work and non-useful work. On the other axis you have inspired and not inspired. I have to do much non-useful work and I do it when I have bored, tired and generally uninspired.

    The trick is to only do the important things when you are really firing on all cylinders, whenever that may be, and you cannot always plan when that will be. I tend to be very, very productive when I have a cold.

    The sweet spot is doing important things when you are inspired.

    Of course, you can trigger inspiration via certain stimuli like music, environment, food etc. But the rule is that one must do important things only when one is ready to do it. The rest of the time, just do the things that you have to do. Like taxes.

    Nauruz, I will look at putting up my diary on the website. This year we will be traveling a lot, so it is a good idea.


  7. I think what Michael meant was that given the large number of hours one can spend non-efficiently (watching TV, not sleeping at night etc.), you have to be very committed to doing something when you happen to be inspired, e.g., it’s late night, you are in a bed, an idea pops out in your mind – get up and work on that idea, spend many hours on it.

    This doesn’t mean you should work only when inspired, there are still things that we have to do regardless of our inspiration, this just means, yes, I spend a lot of hours inefficiently, it’s just who I am, I accept it, but oftentimes, when I’m inspired, I really deliver.

    To put it in the words of that Dos Equis beer guy: “I am not always productive, but when I am, I’m damn productive, and typically inspired”. Michael, is this more or less fair description of what you meant?

    Michael, would it make sense to put somewhere on the website the calendar of FC visits to different cities? You send sometimes annual city visit plans over email, I thought it might be helpful to have that info on the website.

  8. Hi Michael,

    Can you please clarify the fourth point? You said “Work when inspired to work.” I must say this is not the first time I have heard you say this. In fact, you mentioned it in a previous podcast where you talked about movie directors being a source of inspiration for you and not necessarily business figures.

    The source of the conflict relates to how I have been trained and I believe there will be a few people here who were raised in similar culture. We were trained to do what we have to do, whether the inspiration is there or not. This tradition was often reinforced with biblical scriptures depending on the religious leaning of your teacher, professor, guide etc. i.e. “Preach in season and out of season.”

    Can you please clarify possibly by juxtaposing with this other school of thought that says you have to do what you have to do whether you feel right about it (inspired) or not? “Work when inspired to work” appears ideal to me and the immense benefits are self-evident. However I also find that we may spend protracted sessions away from the work that we have to do if we only work when inspired. Has this been an issue for you? If so, how do you resolve it?

    I look forward to reading your guidance.


  9. Hello Newton,

    You need to be relentless and ruthless in removing them. You will be surprised how much can be done when you organize your life around eliminating obstacles. Most people try to eliminate obstacles without making material changes to their pattern of work/life.


  10. Hello,
    I agree with you second point, there will always be obstacles to productivity. But how do you manage those obstacles to productivity?

    Thank you,

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