The Right-and Wrong-Stuff: How Brilliant Careers Are Made and Unmade

The Right-and Wrong-Stuff: How Brilliant Careers Are Made and Unmade

by Carter Cast
The Right-and Wrong-Stuff: How Brilliant Careers Are Made and Unmade

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781610397094
Publisher: PublicAffairs
Publication date: 01/09/2018
Pages: 288
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.40(h) x 1.30(d)

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.

Table of Contents

Introduction: My Blind Spot and Its Trap Door 1

Part 1 The Five Archetypes 17

1 Captain Fantastic: Human Wrecking Balls Who Wreck Themselves 19

2 The Solo Flier: "Step Aside, I've Got This" 49

3 Version 1.0: Inflexible and Dated 79

4 The One-Trick Pony: Mind the (Skill) Gap 109

5 The Whirling Dervish: Overcommitting and Underdelivering 135

Part 2 Accelerating Your Career 155

6 The Right Stuff 157

7 Understanding Your Motives 189

8 You Can't Count on "The Man": The Cold, Hard Facts of Our DIY World 211

Appendix: "The Wrong Stuff" Derailment Assessment 237

Notes 245

Acknowledgments 265

Index 269

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