Join getAbstract to access the summary!

House of Lies

Join getAbstract to access the summary!

House of Lies

How Management Consultants Steal Your Watch and Then Tell You the Time

Warner Books,

15 min read
10 take-aways
Text available

What's inside?

Like to meet strange people? Enjoy stressful travel? Cold food? Ambiguous assignments? If so, become a consultant.

Editorial Rating



  • Innovative


This unusual, entertaining business book covers one man’s experience working for an unnamed, but top-line consulting firm. Author Martin Kihn tells unvarnished stories about working with clients who mix ambiguous problems with political infighting. The consulting firms he describes come off as unbalanced organizations with barely functioning teams and aged political hierarchies. Then there are the bleak working conditions and long weeks of travel, described in ways that completely dispel the glamorous myth of the globetrotting consultant. Throughout, Kihn keeps the story moving and funny, even though he sometimes gets too caught up in his own cleverness. Now and then, he seems to restrain his real opinion and the resulting conclusion seems flimsy compared to his other material, but soon he gets back to deflating jargon and popping myths. Even though it is an additional rock being hurled in the hailstorm of consultant bashing, recommends this funny, informative book to anyone working with consultants or considering a consulting career.


Promises, Promises

When most people think of consultants, they think of an expensive team of experts who can solve the most complex corporate problems systematically and rapidly. With the exception of being expensive, this is a misconception. Most consultants are not true experts. Nor are they necessarily hired for what they know about a specific problem. Instead, they often are brought in to investigate and study problems.

A key part of a consultant’s aura is being considered authoritative. Sometimes this is just aura. Consultants also must be able to show unambiguous work results. In some cases, this calls for a simple presentation that does not include recommendations. Sometimes, the presentation does contain suggested courses of action, which clients often ignore.

Consulting is essentially a business for transients. Unlike most professional employees, consultants are encouraged to stay with consulting firms for about two years. This is because being a consultant is a means to an end, but not the end itself. It is part of a future chain. Ex-consultants who go to work at large corporations tend to hire their former consulting firms. It may sound incestuous, ...

About the Author

Martin Kihn holds an M.B.A. from Columbia University and a bachelor’s degree from Yale. His work has appeared in New York, The New York Times, GQ, Us, Details, Cosmopolitan and Forbes, among others, and he has been on the staff of Spy, Forbes, New York and Vibe. Kihn currently works as a strategy consultant at a top-tier management consulting firm.

Comment on this summary

More on this topic

Learners who read this summary also read

Related Channels