Do you have something to say?

I'm still going down the McKinsey rabbit hole today and I'm listening to this podcast with Bill Matassoni, who was a McKinsey senior partner for almost 20 years, focused on building McKinsey’s reputation and protecting its brand, which included publishing the McKinsey Quarterly. It contains a few insights on how the firm built its reputation by avoiding advertising and embracing PR in (for the time) innovative ways.

There's a great passage where Bill talks about the time he was asked to draft a policy regarding public and private speeches. McKinsey was obviously highly solicited to give them and it was time to draw a line: which one would they say yes and no to.

So he drafts a policy and shows is to Marvin Bower who comments that the policy is fine but that it's missing something at the top:

The first thing to consider is probably whether you have something to say to these people.
— Marvin Bower

This quote is as true today as it was 20 years ago. Conferences, workshops, and industry events are multiplying and much like content on the Internet, there's more supply than demand.

I see professionals accepting invitations to speak, turning around to friends/colleagues to brainstorm on what they should say, outsource the content development to employees/interns/students and get help from other people to write the speech.

Did you really have something to say to these people?

It's OK to say no if you don't have anything to say.

p.s. I totally understand the irony of this reflection on a personal blog ;-)