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Top 5 analogies from David Maister

David Maister is known as the 'Consultant's Consultant'. This top Harvard Business Professor has become somewhat of a celebrity in the business world by giving the definitive no-nonsense advice on how to manage people. His simple analogies put the business world into every-day perspective. Here the areas of strategy, managing, client relations and careers are covered both in articles and in videos.

1) The Fat Smoker. If you're a fat smoker, you already know what you should do to get fit and stop smoking, but choose not to do it. Maister explains that money is continuously wasted in training good managers what they already know. Strategies and mission statements of all firms are the same - what is needed is drive, courage and determination to change.

2) Earning a relationship in business. To become a genius at selling, you have to think from the other person's point of view; what would make the other person want to give something to me? By giving a long anecdote on how he met his wife, Maister explains that you have to make THEM want to enter into a relationship with you and give them a reason to want to do that, for example with networking make sure you are reciprocal in giving help as well as receiving it. Related video on 'Romancing clients' here.

3) Managing Dad.  How do you deal effectively with clients, particularly different ones? Criticism never usually goes down very well and by placing it in the realm of a family issue, Maister explains that you have to try and understand the best way to handle people and have the patience and interpersonal skills to relate to the way they want to be dealt with. To get people to accept the solutions that you offer, you have to understand the way that your clients work.

4) How do you train a pigeon? For those in the hiring position, Maister explains that, like if you were to train a pigeon, you must first draw a line in the sand and see if the participant is even willing to play. If they don't want to go the way you're going, then get rid of them - if a person doesn't get on board with the standards of your company then they will be more trouble later. Don't hire for expediency - the person has to share the energy and enthusiasm of the entire company. And to develop and improve your employees, you have to make goals that sound reasonable and fit with that expected standard, which they are already on board with.

5) Excitement. By referring to the albeit rather morbid analogy of what would you want on your tombstone, Maister makes it clear that it is only through passion and enthusiasm that good business is done.