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Brain Exercise for the Frontal lobes: the McKinsey Mind

My first full-time job was as a strate­gic con­sul­tant at McK­in­sey & Com­pa­ny. A very intense 2-year learn­ing expe­ri­ence.

Their Alum­ni News Ser­vice recent­ly inter­viewed me and pub­lished this great arti­cle on Sharp­Brains. The writer does a superb job of pro­vid­ing an overview of what we do, so I rec­om­mend you read it. I’d like to empha­size the fol­low­ing quotes for any­one look­ing for jobs these days, so that “brain exer­cise” is part of the equa­tion:

  • Alvaro has some very high praise for the men­tal gym­nas­tics that the McK­in­sey expe­ri­ence pro­vides.  Giv­en that the frontal lobes in our brain (behind the fore­head) only mature in our late 20s, he says, the jobs we take in our ear­ly and mid-20s are very impor­tant not only for our career prospects, but also for our brain devel­op­ment fit­ness. This is the stage in our life where, con­scious­ly or not, we can improve our deci­sion-mak­ing, ini­tia­tive and self-reg­u­la­tion abil­i­ties, all of which lit­er­al­ly affect the phys­i­cal growth of our frontal lobes in a sig­nif­i­cant way.”
  • Join­ing McK­in­sey as a BA is lit­er­al­ly like join­ing a brain gym, Alvaro says. “The demands of the McK­in­sey mod­el. hypoth­e­sis-dri­ven prob­lem solv­ing, 80/20 sequenc­ing rule, issue tree log­i­cal analy­sis sup­port­ed by a very struc­tured per­for­mance review process, con­tributes to the devel­op­ment of the frontal lobes, where these so-called Exec­u­tive Func­tions reside.
  • It is impor­tant to con­tin­ue devel­op­ing our brains beyond our 20s, how­ev­er. Neu­ro­sci­en­tists have shown that adults retain neu­ro­plas­tic­i­ty (the abil­i­ty of the brain to rewire itself through expe­ri­ence) and neu­ro­ge­n­e­sis (the cre­ation of new neu­rons) every sin­gle day of our lives. Fac­tors such as well-tar­get­ed men­tal stim­u­la­tion and phys­i­cal exer­cise enhance these capac­i­ties, while, con­verse­ly, long peri­ods of stress and anx­i­ety inhib­it them.”

Have you had sim­i­lar expe­ri­ences with your jobs?

Some relat­ed posts:

Use It or Lose It: what is It?

What do suc­cess­ful Traders and Stu­dents have in com­mon

Exec­u­tive Func­tions and MacArthur “Genius Grants”

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