AFEW YEARS AGO a vice president of a Fortune 10 company spent a solid month preparing for his first big presentation to the chairman. For thirty days he focused his concentration and productivity time into building something he wasn’t quite sure how to build.

When the big day finally came, it was the second day of a long, two-day marathon of presentations. The time was 4:50 Friday afternoon. The vice president was so consumed with the moment and the fast-approaching culmination of all his recent efforts that he failed to correctly gauge the mood in the room. He did not notice, for example, that some of the senior officers were stirring restlessly and impatiently glancing at their watches. Even after a forgettable start ...

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