Companies of all sizes should be tapping into the global brain.
Ben Zlotoff had seen himself as a lifelong “Bainie.” He had worked there as an associate prior to going to Harvard for business school and absolutely loved it. “I drank the Kool‐Aid,” he would tell us. He had studied mechanical engineering in college and was eager to find a way to put his quantitative skills to use in the business world. Going to work as a junior consultant at Bain & Company seemed the perfect way to meld the two. He loved the people and apparently the feeling was mutual. They provided a steady drip of promotions, training, and increasing leadership opportunities. Ben didn't hesitate when after two years at the firm, Bain & Co. offered him a deal similar to the one Bain Capital had offered Rob: free tuition with a promise to come back after earning his MBA. “I thought I wanted to be a Bain partner,” Ben said. “That was my life plan.”
He was a few months from graduating HBS when the disconcerting thoughts started to rattle around his brain; the idle, troubling sense that maybe something was askew. He already knew he was on a steady and largely predictable path, where he wouldn't be breaking much new trail. Was this really his dream, he wondered?
It was that rumbling sense of curiosity that prompted Ben to visit us at our two‐room Bromfield Street office. We were all the same year at HBS, but in a different section. We knew Ben vaguely; we had run into ...