Libro 43/52 :: The Firm by Duff McDonald




As we near the end of the Libro 52 Challenge, this book scored the highest among the 2013 offering: 9.50

Buy this book with your gift cards….




No – this isn’t the John Grisham thriller that was made into a movie with Gene Hackman and the pre-couch-jumping Tom Cruise.


This is a page-turner too, but this is better.

The Firm: The Story of McKinsey and Its Secret Influence on American Business is a full-blown history of McKinsey & Co., the premier business consultant on Earth – and maybe “the most influential private organization in America,” according to McDonald.


That’s tough to argue with as McKinsey advises nearly 70% of the Fortune 1000.

(Yeah. 70%.)


Reading about the development of the McKinsey culture was fascinating – starting with the vision to solely work with Executives at the highest level within Client companies. Business gurus helping CEO’s maintain their jobs and reputations…

And why wouldn’t a CEO select McKinsey if he’s in the market for a consultant? McKinsey alums include Lou Gerstner of IBM, James McNerney of Boeing, Tom Peters and Chelsea Clinton.


In fact, McKinsey has produced more CEO’s than any other company in history. But for all its success, McKinsey has some fantastic flameouts.




Jeffrey Skilling, former CEO of Enron, was a McKinsey genius. The Firm was paid millions annually as a permanent fixture inside Enron, yet they slipped out the backdoor unscathed as Arthur Anderson was decimated when the Enron house of cards came tumbling down.


McKinsey & Co. was hired by Dwight Eisenhower to help him reorganize the White House.


And yet… McKinsey’s former #1, Rajat Gupta, was nailed for insider trading as he was passing along Goldman Sachs secrets during the economic train wreck of 2008.


Screen shot 2013-12-27 at 11.01.04 AM


The most resonant story characterizes the familiar knock against consultants: If you can’t do, then consult. 


An early McKinsey Client, Marshall Field & Co., thought so much of founder James O. McKinsey’s advice (including the prescription for massive layoffs) they asked him to formally head the company and implement them.


James O. McKinsey left his namesake firm.

He would not only advise, he would do.


It did not go well.


McKinsey himself acknowledged the considerable chasm between advising others on what they should do… and actually doing it himself.


Bottom Line: Fantastic read. If you want to learn how to develop the Perception of Value, this is as good a place to start as any. McDonald succeeds in making the history of McKinsey read like a Grisham thriller. Buy this now.



Bradley Hartmann is El Presidente at Red Angle ( His Libro 52 writing has fallen off recently, not his reading. He’ll share his thoughts on his final books in the next 3 days….


LIBRO 52 Challenge YTD

1. Kennedy/Nixon by Chris Matthews

2. Poke the Box by Seth Godin

3. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn 

NA. Buy-In by John Kotter and Lorne Whitehead

4. Education of an Accidental CEO by David Novak

5. Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller

6. Blood, Brains and Beer by David Ogilvy

7. Lyndon Johnson :: Master of the Senate by Robert Caro

8. 1776 by David McCullough

9. To Sell Is Human by Dan Pink

NA. Profiles In Courage by JFK*

10. Write It When I’m Gone by Tom DeFrank

11. FDR by Jean Edward Smith

12. The Cluetrain Manifesto by Locke, Searls, Weinberger + Levine

13. One Click by Richard Brandt

14. Persuasive Presentations by Nancy Duarte

NA. James K. Polk by Walter Borneman

15. The Greatest Generation by Tom Brokaw

16. The Illustrious Dead by Stephan Talty

17. The Thank You Economy by Gary Vaynerchuk

18. Adventures of Johnny Bunko by Dan Pink

19. Thunderstruck by Erik Larson

20. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

21. Ctrl Alt Delete by Mitch Joel

22. Down & Dirty Pictures by Peter Biskind

23. Makers by Chris Anderson

24. Tales from Q School by John Feinstein

25. The Business of Belief by Tom Asacker

26. 18 Minutes by Peter Bregman

27. Drive by Dan Pink

28. Enough by John Bogle

29. Contagious by Jonah Berger

30. Lexicon by Max Barry

31. Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

32. A Very Short Tour of the Mind by Michael Corballis

33. The No Asshole Rule by Robert Sutton

34. Choose Yourself by James Altucher

35. The Halo Effect by Phil Rosenzweig

36. Inside The Box by Drew Boyd and Jacob Goldenberg

37. The Power of Less by Leo Babauta

38. Wild by Cheryl Strayed

39. Big Data by Viktor Mayer-Schonberger and Kenneth Cukier

40. The Authentic Swing by Steven Pressfield

41. Trust Me, I’m Lying by Ryan Holiday

42. Black Irish by Stephan Talty

43. The Firm by Duff McDonald

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1 reply


  1. Top 5 Books of 2013 :: My Next Book…. « the red angle

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