The Right – and Wrong – Stuff

The Right – and Wrong – Stuff

How Brilliant Careers Are Made and Unmade




  • Applicable
  • Concrete Examples
  • Engaging


More than 50% of employees eventually have a “career derailment” when they get demoted or fired, or their careers flatline. They derail due to a lack of self-awareness, an inability to fix their blind spots or a misalignment with corporate culture. Executive Carter Cast illustrates employee behavioral problems in five archetypes. Cast has fun covering the “wrong stuff,” and listing each type’s potential reform. He shows you how to leverage the skills your firm needs, understand your motivation and become your own advocate. 


A career derailment occurs when strong performers get fired, demoted or otherwise stall.

More than half of all employees get fired or demoted at some point, or face a career flatline. Derailment can happen for various reasons, but the root cause is usually that an employee’s individual values don’t align with corporate values.

However, derailment also can spring from more than just a lack of alignment, like a lack of skills or knowledge. Employees can make up skill and knowledge deficits, but in some cases, an employee’s personality might not be a good workplace fit. Before derailing, many employees are productive and successful, but they eventually stumble because they remain unaware of their troublesome traits, so they don’t improve.

Avoid derailment by recognizing whether you fit one of five career archetypes and making the necessary changes.

Be aware of five archetypes that exist in all organizations and cut across gender, job descriptions, ethnicity and seniority lines. Companies fail when their leaders don’t conduct the uncomfortable conversations necessary to keep...

About the Author

Carter Cast is venture partner at Pritzker Group Venture Capital and a professor at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.

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