The Right-and Wrong-Stuff

How Brilliant Careers Are Made and Unmade


By Carter Cast

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“Warning: Your career might be in danger of going off the rails. You probably have blind spots that are leaving you closer to the edge than you realize. Fortunately, Carter Cast has the solution. In this smart, engaging book he shows you how to avoid career derailment by becoming more self-aware, more agile, and more effective. This is the book you wish you had twenty years ago, which is why you should read it now.” — Daniel H. Pink, New York Times bestselling author of Drive and To Sell Is Human

The Right — and Wrong — Stuff is a candid, unvarnished guide to the bumpy road to success. The shocking truth is that 98 percent of us have at least one career-derailment risk factor, and half to two-thirds actually go off the rails. And the reason why people get fired, demoted, or plateau is because they let the wrong stuff act out, not because they lack talent, energy, experience, or credentials.

Carter Cast himself had all the right stuff for a brilliant career, when he was called into his boss’s office and berated for being obstinate, resistant, and insubordinate. That defining moment led to a years-long effort to understand why he came so close to getting fired, and what it takes to build a successful career.

His wide range of experiences as a rising, falling, and then rising star again at PepsiCo, an entrepreneur, the CEO of, and now a professor and venture capitalist enables him to identify the five archetypes found in every workplace. You’ll recognize people you work with (maybe even yourself) in Captain Fantastic, the Solo Flyer, Version 1.0, the One-Trick Pony, and the Whirling Dervish, and, thanks to Cast’s insights, they won’t be able to trip up your future.



Most people think they know what they’re good at. They are usually wrong.

Peter Drucker

I had just gotten off a phone call with Randy, a colleague with whom I had worked some twenty years ago. I hadn’t spoken with him in years and, although it was great catching up, the thought that went through my mind that summer day in 2014 was “what happened?” Randy was smart, hardworking, well educated, and, after working for several strong, brand-name companies, had an admirable set of skills. He seemed to have “the right stuff.” Yet his career had stalled somewhere along the way, and I could hear the disappointment in his voice when he talked about it. What went wrong?

That conversation led me to think back to one of those never-to-be-forgotten moments that we all experience: receiving bad career news. Mine took place in the mid-1990s, during a wilting performance review, where my boss described me as “obstinate,” “resistant,” and “insubordinate.”

I was then a thirty-two-year-old marketer in PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay division in Dallas. Up until that time, I’d had a pretty good nine-year run at PepsiCo, starting off in Wichita in 1986, as an assistant marketing manager for the Pizza Hut division, then, three years later, I became a marketing manager working on the initial expansion of the Taco Bell franchise into the Ontario, Canada, market. By 1995, I was a senior product manager, working in the new products department at Frito-Lay. I’d been fortunate enough to have received several promotions in my career at PepsiCo and was told that I had senior management potential. I had developed a skill set in the fundamentals of consumer marketing and could drive results by gaining the enlistment of others, because I was empathetic and had pretty good listening skills. I didn’t feel compelled to take all the credit for accomplished work and, by and large, approached my job with a high degree of enthusiasm and a strong dose of irreverent humor. If asked, my peers probably would have said I was a hardworking, well-organized team player who was fun to work with. I was a big believer in one of Harry Truman’s adages: “It’s amazing what you can accomplish if you don’t care who gets the credit.”

Now I was sitting in my boss’s office for my annual performance review. I worried as he started the preamble, a variation of the “this is going to hurt me more than it hurts you” theme. Smelling a rat, I flipped to the back page of my review, the “money page” in PepsiCo’s review process. It gauged an employee’s future potential with a job seniority level in the top right-hand corner of the page. Unlike in past reviews, where I’d seen “L18+” (level 18 is a senior vice president; at that time, I was a level 13, a senior manager), now I read the ominous words “Hold in Place.” My ears started burning and I began to feel a strange sense of displacement, like I was out of my body, watching myself perform in a movie. I turned back to the first page of the review and tried to concentrate on what Mike, my boss, was saying to me.

Mike didn’t bury the lead for long—he came right out and told me that I was considered, by senior management, to be unpromotable and was no longer on the fast track at Frito-Lay. He laid out a list of my offenses, littering his examples with words like “uncooperative,” “resistant,” and “unmanageable” as he described my behavior in various situations, such as the time he’d asked me to work alongside an outside consultant he’d hired for assistance on a marketplace analysis to determine the size and potential of the snack market for kids. Thinking it was part of my job to do this analysis, I ignored the consultant’s requests to meet with me—a big mistake, as I was now coming to see.

Thirty painful minutes later, as he was wrapping up, Mike asked if I had anything to say for myself. I could tell he was frustrated, so I refrained from trying to defend myself. I could have told him that his insisting that I work with the consultant made me feel he lacked confidence in my abilities. I could have vented about how frustrated I’d become working within a large, matrixed organization, where decision making was slow and the approval rights unclear, and where I spent more time running the internal gauntlet to get projects approved than I did facing outward and developing new products and services that would appeal to our customers. Instead, I simply asked if I was being fired. He said, “No, but since we’re going into the holiday break, I want you to take the next two weeks off and consider—really consider—if you want to be here. I’m not sure you do, to be honest. If you decide you want to stay here at Frito-Lay, I don’t want you to work in my group any longer. You’ll need to look for another marketing position within the company.”

Over the break, I spoke with my parents about my predicament. At first, my thinking was that I didn’t want to return—although Frito-Lay is an excellent company, it just didn’t feel like the right fit for me. During the past few years, as I’d moved into middle management, I’d become increasingly frustrated by the amount of time I spent on process management and the amount of effort I had to put into “greasing the skids”—trying to influence and cater to the various power players throughout the organization. I didn’t think I had the right disposition for it. I became visibly impatient with and frustrated by the corporate bureaucracy. Although I was a good team player with my peers, when I felt the heavy hand of authority upon me, I wasn’t. I tended to try to brush that heavy hand aside, to my own detriment. Two of my signature strengths—my self-starting nature and my sense of humor—had a destructive flip side. When feeling trod upon by “the man,” I either ignored him or became irreverent, passive-aggressively expressing myself through ill-timed barbs of humor.

Although I felt it was time to leave the company, I didn’t want to depart on such a bad note. When I asked my dad for advice, he said he was amazed that I’d lasted as long as I had inside a large organization. “You’re a Cast,” he said. “We tend to have trouble working in bureaucratic environments.” My father worked independently—as a doctor who built his own surgical center—as did my grandfather, who was a free-ranging insurance salesman. I thought to myself, “You tell me that now, Dad, after nearly a decade working for corporations?!”

That event at Frito-Lay was an “aha moment” for me: Success, I started to understand, wasn’t just about working hard and having a skill advantage, being industry-savvy and highly motivated. Even smart and talented people display behavioral problems that can stall their careers. My humiliating performance review stayed with me, and, as I’ve watched others go through career jags, getting demoted or fired, I eventually felt compelled to conduct research to discover the answer to these questions: What really impedes the career progress of talented people? Why do some careers stall while others flourish?

I found that many of us are closer to career derailment than we might think. Because bosses often provide little more than sporadic (at best) and nonspecific performance feedback (in hindsight I am thankful that Mike’s feedback to me that day was crystal clear), it’s common that we aren’t made aware of a performance issue until it’s too late. The fact is that one-half to two-thirds of managers and leaders will experience career derailment. At some point, over half of us will get fired or demoted—or our careers will flatline and we won’t reach our innate potential. And I found that there are five common reasons why it happens, which I’ve expressed through archetypes—characterizations that demonstrate, in a microcosm, how and why talented people experience career derailment. I’ve done this to humanize this uncomfortable topic. If your first reaction is “none of these characters is like me,” look past their specific characterizations and into their behavioral tendencies—chances are you will find a few gold nuggets that you can address to improve your performance. For example, although I’ve never been told I was “sharp-elbowed” or an “egomaniac” like the first archetype, Captain Fantastic, there are aspects of him in me. The truth is I derailed because I was dismissive of my boss’s input and acted arrogantly.

The Five Archetypes

Captain Fantastic

These are the folks whose sharp elbows bruise you on their quest for the Holy Grail of the corner office. They suffer from interpersonal issues because of unbridled ego drive and dismal listening skills, resulting in poor working relationships with coworkers. Captain Fantastics, with their mantra of “I-me-mine” may initially rise up through the organization, but, because they alienate others, when they’re placed in broader and more complex roles that require the support of others, more often than not, like Icarus, they flame out.

The Solo Flier

Often these are strong individual contributors who are very good at executing their initiatives—Solo Fliers not only deliver the bacon, they cut and wrap it as well. They are self-starting, self-contained, multitalented achievement dynamos. But when they get promoted into managerial positions, they have difficulty building and leading teams and revert to either micromanaging or trying to do the work themselves. Their teams become dissatisfied and eventually there’s a coup d’état. The way they operate can be summed up when they communicate to others, either verbally or nonverbally: “step aside, I’ve got this.”

Version 1.0

These people, comfortable in their routines, are highly skeptical of change. They resist learning new skills that would help them adapt to the rapidly changing business environment. They resist using new technologies that could help them perform their jobs better and faster. When new management comes into their company to shake things up, they often form part of a rear guard resisting change. They may call themselves “traditionalists,” but in reality they are overly cautious. Their attitude of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” will not serve them well over time, and eventually their dinosaur-like tendencies may lead to extinction.

The One-Trick Pony

These folks are good at doing a good job at what they’re good at. The problem is they become so reliant on what they’re good at—a signature skill—that, over time, unbeknownst to them, they become one-dimensional and unpromotable. Whereas Version 1.0s resist change, One-Trick Ponies don’t realize they need to change—that they’ve overspecialized and have become pigeonholed into doing one thing for their firm. Their upward mobility stops because they’ve done the same thing over and over and haven’t had a diverse set of work experiences that provide them with a broad strategic perspective. They don’t understand how other departments function and don’t grasp the activities that drive value for their company’s business. They thought their belief that “we live in an age of specialization” led them to take the right approach, but they came to realize that their careers are now limited because of their narrowness.

The Whirling Dervish

These people run around the office like their hair is on fire, late for the next meeting and muttering to themselves about their workload. They lack planning and organizational skills; they’re often creative people with a host of ideas spewing out of their brains like a hyperactive geyser—but they have a hard time converting their ideas into action. Because they are known to overcommit and underdeliver, their boss and coworkers can’t count on them to complete their assigned tasks, and eventually people try to avoid working with them. Whirling Dervishes don’t deliver on promises, wondering, “where did the time go?!”

Necessary Conversations Aren’t Occurring

People with these traits are in every organization—from big corporations to small law firms, from educational institutions to early stage start-ups. These five archetypes cut across not only type and stage of organization, but also gender and level of seniority. As it turns out, the research on which these archetypes are based is robust and consistent. So, an important and puzzling question is: Why aren’t companies doing a better job of helping their employees identify and address these five common behavioral issues in order to reduce the rate of worker derailment? Why isn’t the topic of derailment included as part of career development conversations? The answer, to a certain extent, lies in the popularity of the “focusing on your strengths” movement. Without a doubt, the “strengths movement” is a positive development. What’s not to like about a philosophy that focuses on our upside—one based on the premise that we’re happier and perform better when we understand what we’re good at and put ourselves into jobs that leverage those strengths? The problem comes when it’s taken too far and used to the exclusion of other methods of self-examination and career development. “Accentuate the positive” has become a new mantra in many workplaces, where, according to the Wall Street Journal, “bosses now dole out frequent praise, urge employees to celebrate small victories and focus performance reviews around a particular worker’s strengths—instead of dwelling on why he flubbed a client presentation.”

There are two problems with companies’ excessive focus on the positive. First, not all strengths are of equal importance. What you’re good at might not be what your firm needs you to be good at. The value placed on particular strengths often depends on the job context; the strengths needed usually vary by industry type, by job function, and by firm size and stage of development. You may have a set of skills or several strong behavioral traits that just aren’t of primary importance for your company at its particular state of incarnation. For example, you may be an empathetic person with excellent account management skills but that may not be of primary importance if you’re at an early stage venture that needs you to have outstanding selling skills to bring in new accounts.

Second and more damaging is that the overreliance on “focusing on your strengths” can mask a critical skill gap or a personal blind spot that stops a talented person’s career in its tracks. The derailment research shows that careers stall more from having the “wrong stuff” (e.g., being insensitive to others) than lacking the “right stuff” (e.g., not having strong analytical skills). Competency assessments are widely used to gauge personal traits such as mental horsepower, emotional intelligence, and decisiveness as well as job skills, such as technical know-how. The problem is, these assessments gauge the “right stuff” areas and do not examine the “wrong stuff” areas, where people are vulnerable to derailment. The reason boils down to a preference for focusing on the positive—competency development—and not addressing the negative—fixing issues that may lead to derailment. But without having these necessary hard conversations, people suffer because they’re left unaware of a blind spot or area of vulnerability instead of being able to develop a plan to resolve or mitigate it. As a result, people are not receiving the personal feedback they need to improve, and their careers are suffering. Organizations pursuing a developmental strategy focusing on strengths alone will not lead to the career ascension of their employees. Sooner or later, unaddressed developmental needs will limit the career progress of good people.

After talking to my parents and several friends and mentors and going through a decent amount of self-reflection, I decided to return to Frito-Lay. I wanted to redeem myself and also to avoid a black mark on my résumé. I was able to find work in another group, but it wasn’t easy. As I peddled my wares, I found out I’d developed a reputation with senior management for being difficult to manage. I ended up working for Stephen Quinn, who had just moved to the United States from our Canadian division. He wasn’t fully aware of my problem-child reputation, and I was thankful that he took me into his group.

After rereading my performance review and reflecting on what my now former boss Mike had told me, I realized that I needed to understand the circumstances that triggered my bad behavior and to develop practical methods to better self-regulate and curb my tendency toward insubordination. First, I looked back on all the core activities I performed in my last assignment and wrote down the situations where I became frustrated and my rebellious tendency was activated. It seemed to come out in ponderous process-oriented meetings, especially when the conversation turned to matters related to turf and power, such as departmental approval rights, or when the conversation turned to mind-numbing internal procedural steps that needed to be taken to give a project the green light. It also seemed to rear its ugly head when I was told what to do by an authority figure for whom I lacked professional regard, such as the vice president of packaging, who, in an effort to reduce the level of complexity for his team, lobbied for me to cut the “hot salsa” item from our Tostitos lineup, not understanding that it would reduce our retail shelf space in the grocery aisle and cut the sales rate across our entire product line.

After listing a handful of these “charged” circumstances where my bad behavior popped out, I realized I needed some kind of reminder—a device to help me maintain self-awareness and to self-monitor in situations that played to my areas of vulnerability. So I did two things. First, I created a screen saver on my desktop computer that said “Roark.” Howard Roark, the unflappable protagonist in Ayn Rand’s book The Fountainhead, handled the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune with aplomb. Like Ronald Reagan, the arrows bounced off Roark. He had rhino hide. I, too, needed to learn to depersonalize business feedback that came my way. Second, I found a thick rubber band and wrote “B” on it in several places. When I found myself in a glacially slow process meeting, exasperated enough to let out a little verbal steam, I looked down at that rubber band and remembered to simply breathe. Breathe slowly from my diaphragm and watch the urge to vent just pass, preventing me from saying something I might regret.

I still remember one case in particular where this simple practice served me well. I was in a product review meeting for Tostitos, the brand on which I worked. All the muckety-mucks were in attendance—everyone from the CEO to the head of manufacturing to the chief marketing officer. I arrived early and quietly took a seat at the large boardroom table. Eventually, the room filled. My boss, a vice president of marketing, was standing at the front of the room, ready to kick off the session. Then, a big cheese, the head of R&D entered the room, late, walked up to me and stated quite loudly, “You’re sitting in my chair.” A question formed in my head: “Oh, is this the director’s chair? Is your name on the back of it, like a Spielberg or Scorsese?” Instead, I looked down, saw the “B” on the rubber band, and took a deep breath. Then I said, “Excuse me” and found a seat on the perimeter of the room. Prior to my poor performance review, the chances are good I would have delivered a useless and destructive retort to the head of R&D. Now I just got up and moved.

Over time, I was again considered to be a promotable employee, and I was eventually moved up from a manager to a director role, in no small part due to the counsel and support of my new boss, Stephen Quinn. He counseled me on how to deal with senior management, and he took the time to work with me on my particular area of personal vulnerability. That area was (and still is) an interpersonal issue that manifests itself in the form of a self-defeating behavior that one leadership expert, Robert Hogan, calls being “mischievous”—someone who seeks excitement, likes to test limits, wants immediate results, and doesn’t do routines well. According to Hogan’s research, there are eleven common “dark side” personality tendencies that pop out, often under pressure, and hurt us. Hogan found that a staggering 98 percent of people have at least one of these eleven tendencies. I had run headlong into a manifestation of the most common and most damaging career derailer: suffering from interpersonal issues; in my case, this “dark side” tendency of being mischievous popped out when I was provoked by either corporate bureaucracy or heavy-handed authority figures.

Twenty years after that performance review, through LinkedIn, I located Mike—the boss who’d delivered the tough message—and asked if we could talk. I hadn’t spoken to him since the mid-1990s. On a phone call, I asked if he remembered that review. Mike chuckled and said, “Oh, yes,” and went on to say,

With your review I was pretty matter of fact. We were trying to create a new vision in my group and I didn’t see you as engaged in it. You weren’t doing what I wanted you to do—instead you did what you wanted. You were this smart and charming guy who realized he could get what he wanted by being smart and charming and I wanted you to do something more. I wanted you to use your skills of persuasion to help lead my agenda. But you didn’t want to do that. So you needed to hear that message. If you wanted to stay at the company, you had to do things differently.

Back in the 1990s, senior executives at PepsiCo used an analogy that Mike cited, saying that our senior managers and leaders were “eagles who fly in formation.” I remember that analogy used to make me grimace. To me it felt demotivating and restrictive. But it became clear to me after Mike’s review that if I wanted to dig out of my hole and remain employed at PepsiCo, I had to embrace this philosophy to some extent and learn to fly straight, in formation, and not veer off the prescribed path.

Even though many years have passed since my Frito-Lay days, as I listened to Mike describe his experience working with me back then, I still cringed when he said, for emphasis, the repetitive and sardonic line about my being “smart and charming.” I lacked self-awareness back then—I didn’t understand the destructive effects that my propensity to be mischievous had on my career until I received a gut punch and derailed. But, in hindsight, Mike’s performance review was the most useful I’ve ever received—surely more helpful than a glowing one. His honest assessment allowed me to better understand my own vulnerabilities and forced me to face and mitigate them in order to progress in my career.

What Exactly Is Derailment?

Derailment occurs when a manager or an executive previously deemed to have strong potential is fired, demoted, or plateaus below his or her expected levels of performance. It’s the result, two leadership researchers found, of “a lack of fit between individual values and development, on the one hand, and organizational values and needs, on the other.” The reasons for derailment, then, extend beyond job-specific issues, such as a skill gap or lack of experiential knowledge, and even beyond interpersonal issues that impede one’s ability to manage or lead. Derailment may be the result of a lack of cultural fit between the values and motives of the individual and those of the firm itself. That was certainly the case with me. Although I did suffer from an interpersonal issue (my tendency toward insubordination in certain circumstances), it was further provoked by my having values and needs that weren’t well aligned with the cultural norms at Frito-Lay. I valued autonomy and creativity, I was not motivated by power, and I was demotivated by procedure. Years later, I took the Hogan personality tests and the assessment was that I valued “independent self-expression, innovation and unconventional thought,” was “suspicious of conventional beliefs,” and disliked environments that were “old-fashioned or conservative and emphasize procedures over understanding.” The assessment said I should seek work environments that “value creativity, imagination, emphasize the quality of product design and tolerate eccentricity.” Frito-Lay, although an outstanding company, did not fit that bill in 1995. My problem was that I didn’t know this about myself at the time.

Often, prior to failing, people who derail were successful and considered talented up-and-comers. Derailment often afflicts talented managers who are either unaware of a debilitating weakness or interpersonal blind spot or arrogant enough to believe that developmental feedback doesn’t apply to them. Talented managers and leaders, as we will see time and again in the stories that follow, are often “knocked off the fast track” due to a lack of self-awareness around an interpersonal issue or a key skill gap and an unwillingness, once confronted with it, to adjust their behavior accordingly. It is often hubris—not lack of talent—that causes people on the rise to fall.

Getting things done through others—the essence of leadership—requires a combination of technical skills (being proficient in areas important to the success of the business), intrapersonal skills (especially strong self-management skills, which are driven by self-understanding and self-control), and interpersonal skills (the ability to develop and foster strong relationships and gain the enlistment of others). People may derail due to a lack of technical, job-related skills, but more common reasons have to do with intrapersonal or interpersonal issues that impede them from enlisting people to accomplish goals. A revealing part of my research included conducting a survey of one hundred derailed managers and then executing follow-up interviews with a subset of the derailed population. My research found that “a lack of self-awareness” and “difficulty working with others” were the top two reasons that these one hundred people experienced a career derailment event. As the late, great management expert Peter Drucker said, as in the epigraph to this Introduction, “Most people think they know what they’re good at. They are usually wrong.” Or, as Robert Hogan, Joyce Hogan, and Robert Kaiser, three often-cited derailment researchers, write, “Derailment can almost always be traced to relationship problems.”

There are of course times when people derail because of personal circumstances, such as health problems, or personal priorities, such as a reluctance to relocate or the desire to improve their work–life balance. Although these are critical aspects of a person’s career equation, they are of a personal nature and highly individualized and hard to address and generalize at a macro level. Because of that, my focus in this book will be primarily on derailment as it occurs inside the walls of the office.

My Purpose


  • "This relatable career manual should inspire plenty of white-collar professionals to work on serious self-accounting, take responsibility for their own mistakes, and form support teams of friends, managers, and mentors."—Publishers Weekly
  • "Solid, positively delivered advice for job seekers and job holders everywhere."—Kirkus
  • "Warning: Your career might be in danger of going off the rails. You probably have blind spots that are leaving you closer to the edge than you realize. Fortunately, Carter Cast has the solution. In this smart, engaging book he shows you how avoid career derailment by becoming more self-aware, more agile, and more effective. This is the book you wish you had 20 years ago, which is why you should read it now."Daniel H. Pink, author of Drive and To Sell Is Human
  • "Talent and drive aren't enough to prevent your career from derailing. After spending years exploring what causes people to stall or fall off the ladder, Carter Cast offers a book that's honest and actionable. Think of it as a mirror to help you see your blind spots."—Adam Grant, New York Times bestselling author of Give and Take, Originals, and Option B (with Sheryl Sandberg)
  • "Do your career a favor and read Carter Cast's new book. It's practical, thought-provoking, and funny - and it might just stop you from derailing when you least expect it."—Dan Heath, co-author of best sellers Made to Stick, Switch and Decisive
  • "Carter Cast breaks the mold for professor/practitioners with The Right and Wrong Stuff. The book reveals a unique set of 5 career detailed archetypes which ring true, clear tips for accelerating your career, and page-turning stories of career success and failure."—Dr. Geoff Smart, Chairman & Founder of ghSMART and New York Times bestselling author of Who
  • "This insightful and lively book is a pragmatic 'must-read' for all those aspiring to the C-suite. Carter brilliantly translates his grounded wisdom and classroom mastery onto the written page."—Sally Blount, Dean, Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University
  • "People tend to assume that careers are just about trajectory. They're really about knowing your strengths and weaknesses, then finding environments where you can adapt and flourish. Carter's insights are based on real-world experiences. This book will help so many people to have the right career conversations to build their own Right Stuff."—Gary Briggs, Chief Marketing Officer, Facebook
  • "The most neglected fact in business is we're all human. Carter's brilliant, candid exploration of how self-awareness can make you a better leader should be required reading for managers at all levels of any organization. Know your blind spots and you'll have a very bright future."—Chip Conley, Hospitality Entrepreneur and Bestselling Author
  • "Carter's ability to demystify and shine a light on why talented people stumble is a gift to anyone trying to progress in their career. Carter's blend of no-nonsense, practical advice delivered with a good dose of humor makes The Right and Wrong Stuff a leadership book you'll actually enjoy reading while you are learning something."—Laila Tarraf, former Chief People Officer, Peet's Coffee
  • "In The Right (and Wrong) Stuff, Carter Cast offers an insightful exploration of the primary ways high potential professionals can get off track in their careers and then provides a road map to success for those who are willing to put in the work. I highly recommend it anyone who is serious about making the most of their career."—Mike Gamson, Senior Vice President, Global Solutions, LinkedIn
  • "In The Right (and Wrong) Stuff, Carter Cast has managed to combine a wealth of personal leadership experience in some of America's best-performing companies with some serious research into what makes for a successful career. Add a big dose of humility and humanity, and the result is a field guide to building your skills and leading your career that you need to have at arms-reach. It will become a dog-eared companion on your journey to career growth and well-being."—Brock Leach, former CEO of Tropicana and Frito Lay North America
  • "For anyone, at any level, that really wants to understand and traverse the 'leadership journey' (including the inevitable ups and downs), Carter Cast delivers it in his first book in an honest, transparent manner. He is one of a very few practitioners and professors that can truly change your life. Knowing him has changed my life."—Harry Kraemer, Jr, former Chairman and CEO of Baxter Intl, Executive Partner, Madison Dearborn Partners
  • "In The Right and Wrong Stuff, Carter provides valuable insights for both individual career development and organizational effectiveness. His broad range of professional experiences, situational awareness and interest in people and their development, gives him a perceptive and unique perspective."

    John Fleming, CEO, Global eCommerce, Uniqlo
  • "Are you playing the right role at work? It may just be that the golden parts of your personality are precisely what are causing shadows to fall on your career. Carter Cast is a wise guide on how to get in sync with what the team around you is expecting from you."—Seth Godin
  • "What about you could hurt your career? A blind spot? A skill gap? Carter Cast helps you to answer this in The Right and Wrong Stuff. He's a refreshingly original voice on a tough topic. His book will make you think differently about managing your career."—Marshall Goldsmith, The Thinkers 50 #1 Leadership Thinker in the World

On Sale
Jan 9, 2018
Page Count
288 pages

Carter Cast

About the Author

Carter Cast, a professor at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, was selected by his students three years running to receive the Faculty Impact Award. When not teaching, Cast is a venture partner at Pritzker Group Venture Capital, where he invests in early stage technology companies such as the Dollar Shave Club and Honest Company. He is a lead mentor for TechStars Chicago, one of the country’s leading technology start-up accelerators, and has been featured in “The Accelerators,” a Wall Street Journal forum in which start-up mentors discuss strategies for and challenges of creating a new business.

Cast’s writings have appeared in the Wall Street Journal and New York Times. He has been a guest on shows on Bloomberg, CNN, CNBC and Fox. Prior to his academic and venture-capital career, Cast was the chief executive officer at During his tenure, became the third-highest-volume e-commerce company, behind Amazon and eBay. Before his career at Walmart, Cast was an officer and part of the launch team for Blue Nile, Inc., the leading online diamond and jewelry retailer, now a publicly traded company. Prior to that, he was vice president of product marketing for Electronic Arts, launching products such as The Sims. Cast started his career at PepsiCo, where he derailed early on before recovering to become director of marketing in the Frito-Lay division.

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