December 2019 – “The First Year” in Review

The first newsletter of 2019 went out in February. And there followed monthly deliveries except for September (oops!). While I played around with the format over the year, I pretty much kept the content to about ten entries every time.

I thought there might be some value in knowing the most popular entries of the year (or doing what everyone else does). So here they are:

Progress at the top is constrained by a “broken rung”

The biggest obstacle women face on the path to senior leadership is at the first step up to manager. For every 100 men promoted and hired to manager, only 72 women are promoted and hired. This broken rung results in more women getting stuck at the entry level, and fewer women becoming managers. Not surprisingly, men end up holding 62 percent of manager-level positions, while women hold just 38 percent.

The case for fixing the broken rung is powerful. If women are promoted and hired to first-level manager at the same rates as men, we will add one million more women to management in corporate America over the next five years. (McKinsey’s Women in the Workplace 2019)

It’s a big world out there

Millions have taken to the streets not only in countries like Egypt and Iraq, but also in places like Chile and Hong Kong. And don’t forget France and Lebanon.

Is there any discernible common denominator? “To express anger at the entire political system, rather than having a clear political agenda or even identifying with a political party.” (Axios)

Using cameras to do metrics on workers

Video surveillance that “uses machine learning to analyze footage of restaurant staff at work and interacting with guests. It aims to track metrics like how often a server tends to their tables or how long it takes for food to come out. At the end of a shift, managers receive an email of the compiled statistics, which they can then use to identify problems and infer whether servers, hostesses, and kitchen staff are adequately doing their jobs. “It’s not that different from a Fitbit.”” (Wired)

The top 10 emerging technologies in 2019 according to Scientific American.

Among the top 25 cities for U.S. job seekers based on competition for jobs, earnings potential, the reputations of local companies, and unemployment rates included cities of varying sizes. New York City is not among the top 25. (Indeed)

Rock groups face the same challenges as any business: how to make a group of talented people add up to more than the sum of its parts, and how to keep the band together. There are four different models: The Beatles, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, R.E.M., and the Rolling Stones



Out of curiosity and somewhat in jest I tried to run a tally of “the year in numbers”. The list is not exhaustive nor is it precise. Please consume with the proverbial grain of salt.

  • Worked with 450+ managers, either in groups or in one-on-one coaching conversations.
  • Read 33 books, 100+ research articles and papers, and somewhat assiduously read the 8 publications I subscribe to as well as the 100+ RSS feeds that flow into my reader.
  • Saw 50 movies (half on Netflix, half in theaters), binged on 11 series, attended 5 concerts and 3 museums
  • Attended 5 birthday parties and 2 weddings.
  • There were 2 births in our extended family and 1 graduation.

Favorites of 2019


Thanks for reading! And thank you for your comments and suggestions as well as the conversations that have ensued. As long as the newsletter serves its original purpose and leads to enlightening conversations, I will continue to publish it… in 2020 and beyond!

As always, you can share your thoughts and send me suggestions for material by hitting Reply.

My best wishes for a happy and healthy new year!