#284: How to Have a Good Day in Finance & Accounting with Caroline Webb

Our Guest Mentor:                                                        

Caroline is CEO of How to Have a Good Day, a firm that shows people how to use insights from behavioural science to improve their working life. Her book on that topic (“How To Have A Good Day”) has been published in 14 languages and 60+ countries. She is also a Senior Adviser to McKinsey, where she was previously a Partner.

The BBC has described Caroline’s work as “helping people keep their heads in a complex world.” She does this by blending her experience in management consulting with her training as a coach, combining pragmatic work to strengthen her clients’ handling of professional issues with deeper personal work to enable them to achieve their goals in a more sustainable and inspiring way. An economist by background, she makes extensive use of behavioral science (behavioral economics, psychology, neuroscience) to help her clients discover how to be at their best – and how to bring the best out of their colleagues in turn.

During her 12 years at McKinsey, Caroline specialized in helping leaders drive positive change in their organizations and teams. She co-founded McKinsey’s leadership practice, and designed the firm’s approach to transforming senior team dynamics and improving personal effectiveness. She also founded and remains faculty of McKinsey’s flagship leadership development course for senior female executives.

Before that, Caroline spent the 1990s working in public policy as an economist at the Bank of England. Her work there included working closely with the Monetary Policy Committee, global economic forecasting, and institution building in post-communist Europe. She is a Founding Fellow of the Harvard-affiliated Institute of Coaching and has degrees in economics from Cambridge and Oxford Universities.

 Key Quotes From the Episode:

“Once you decide to focus on what you love, you start to see opportunities you would otherwise have missed” [8’24”]
“When people are encouraged to play to their strengths, you see higher productivity and performance” [09:35]
“Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we were as analytical about ourselves as we are about the numbers in front of us?” [12’06”]
“There are really predictable things we can do to be more effective, and they’re not that hard” [12:27]
“Less is more. Taking breaks will make you more effective” [12:43]
“You’ll make better choices and see new insights if you just get up for 2 minutes” [13:42]
“We only perceive a part of reality at any given time.” [16:38]
“When we come in with a strong prior, it is going to shape what we perceive. We think we’re being totally objective but we’re not” [18:16]
“Before I say ‘never’ or ‘always’, I ask ‘what if this is not true? What could I be missing?” [18:27]

 (Other resources and how to connect with Caroline below).

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Key Points From the Episode:

  • Figure out how to do more of what you love and you’ll have more impact in your career
  • Taking breaks improves the quality of your insight and decision-making
  • Find a personal routine and set team norms that remind you to check your blindspots

Time Stamped Show Notes

[03:33] – Caroline shares her career journey. She was an economist that first worked in the public sector in central banking, then worked at McKinsey & Company for 12 years, then started her own coaching firm and wrote a book, How To Have A Good Day.

[05:07] – Diverse background working in public and private sectors, large and small organisations.

[06:37] – Taking a structured approach to identifying strengths to guide career choices.

[09:13] – Evidence that playing to strengths boosts productivity and performance.

[12:04] – Being analytical about oneself, not just the numbers, to be more personally effective.

[14:23] – Studies show best decision comes after taking breaks, because your brain is less tired.

[15:43] – Our brains are constantly filtering information around us, and we miss a lot of it.

[17:14] – Learning the skill of acknowledging your blind spots and deliberately checking them.

[19:42] – Finding your own cross-check sentence to remind you to look for alternative perspectives.

[21:09] – Setting team norms that improve the diversity of perspectives, including the ‘pre-mortem’.

[23:17] – Resources to help understand how to apply behavioural science at work.

[24:23] – Caroline’s best advice ever received.

[27:08] – Best way to connect with Caroline.

[27:59] – Caroline’s parting thoughts on optimizing ourselves.


Resources Mentioned:




How to Have a Good Day: Harness the Power of Behavioral Science to Transform Your Working Life by Caroline Webb https://www.amazon.com/How-Have-Good-Day-Behavioral/dp/0553419633



How to Have a Good Day: The Essential Toolkit for a Productive Day at Work and Beyond by Caroline Webb https://www.amazon.co.uk/How-Have-Good-Day-Productive/dp/1509818243



You’re About to Make a Terrible Mistake: How Biases Distort Decision-Making and What You Can Do to Fight Them by Olivier Sibony https://www.amazon.com/Youre-About-Make-Terrible-Mistake/dp/0316494984


More resources can be found at: https://howtohaveagoodday.com/resources


Connect with today’s guest:

Facebook  : facebook.com/CarolineWebbAuthor

Twitter : Caroline_Webb_

LinkedIn : linkedin.com/in/carolinewebbsevenshift



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