We have a section on the website where I list all of the articles I read on a daily basis: What Firmsconsulting is reading. The thinking was that readers could replicate the reading of a former strategy partner at an elite firm by reading what I read.

A reader recently wanted to know why we recommend so few Harvard Business Review and McKinsey Quarterly articles. This is an interesting observation and there is a reason we recommend so few of those articles. It comes down to understanding the difference between (a) merely being able to recite the latest business ideas versus (b) being able to generate your own ideas.

Which do you think is the more important skill? This podcast explains our rationale.

Training by ex-McK, BCG et al. Partners

Receive free exclusive episodes to advanced strategy and case interview training programs, plus a chapter from Bill Matassoni's Memoir. This is the ONLY way to sample FC Insider material.

Where else can you learn from ex-partners?

Sign up to receive exclusive FC Insider episodes. Start now:

Privacy Policy


7 responses to How to read to improve reasoning

  1. Hi Baron,

    We closed off that reading section. A version of it will be coming to FC Insiders only.

    There is no optimal time since everyone is different. You should be reading to understand concepts versus measuring the time. In fact, forcing yourself to read something you are not enjoying is probably going to turn you off from consulting!

    I do not rank them. I only read WSJ and NYT and I explain this in several podcasts. It would take far too long to type them up here:-)


  2. https://www.firmsconsulting.com/podcasts/read-improve-reasoning/

    Hi Michael, thank you for the podcasts. They’re extremely helpful. I had a three questions:

    1. Is

    still active? I would still love to take advantage of recommended articles, even if they’re still from 2014.

    2. For the response to Julean (May 13, 2015), how much time per day would you recommend reading WSJ?
    I understand that “as much as possible/read everything” is a suitable answer. But I was wondering whether you had an optimal time in mind.

    3. Where do you rank the Economist in the WSJ vs. HBR vs. Mckinsey Quarterly, etc. discussion?

  3. Hi Julean,

    I think they are just okay. I find the HBR takes itself far too seriously and tends to take pride in advice which is both hard to understand and put into practice. It is wholly theoretical written with dense paragraphs, heavy jargon and eye straining exhibits.

    In other words, they overshoot the needs of the market.

    I always struggle to understand what I need to do the next morning to use the advice. Someone reading the WSJ for six months every day will know more than reading HBR for 2 years.


  4. Hi Michael,

    What is your opinion on “HBR’s 10 Must Reads?” This is an excerpt from their promotional material; “We’ve combed through hundreds of Harvard Business Review articles on change, leadership, strategy, managing people, and managing yourself and selected the most important ones to help you maximize your own and your organization’s performance.”

    My thinking is that reading these articles will provide timeless business fundamentals that will work in parallel with a strategic mindset.

    Thank you for your time,

  5. That is good advice David.

  6. I think to a certain extent this rationale can be applied to engineering discipline as well. When I design something, I always try to make a mental note to myself not to try replicate the best practice but rather creating the best practice if possible.

  7. Thanks for sharing your ideas.

Leave a reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.