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Passion, People and Principles

Farewell and Thanks

post # 548 — January 5, 2010 — a General post

After nearly 30 years of advising and writing about professional services, I have decided to retire. I no longer plan to consult, speak or write.

A wonderful way to mark this decision happened last month (December 2009) when the Association of Management Consulting Firms awarded me its Carl S. Sloane Award for Excellence in Management Consulting.

Previous recipients of this award include C. K. Prahalad, Tom Tierney (former CEO of Bain), Joe Forehand (former CEO of Accenture) and Henry Mintzberg – distinguished company indeed!

Together with the award I received last year from the Law School in Barcelona, Spain, in recognition of my contributions to law firm management, I am delighted to receive acknowledgement that my work has been noticed and valued.

After traveling the world almost non-stop for these past three decades, my wife, Kathy and I are delighted to begin exploring our own home town of Boston. Already we have found lots of fabulous arts events and have joined classes and discussion groups together – although I will confess that it’s a little strange being the class participant rather than the instructor! Together with playing lots of bridge, I am finding myself fully occupied.

So, many thanks to those who have followed and supported my work. Good luck for 2010 and the many years beyond.


Justin Evans said:

David, I wanted to be the first to offer a hearty congratulations, both on the award, and on your remarkable career.

I hope retirement brings a ton of happiness for you and Kathy.

Justin Evans.

posted on January 5, 2010

Michael LaChapelle said:

David, your voice will be missed by those of us in the professional services industry. You leave behind an incredible body of work that will continue to guide us in the years to come.

All the best to you and Kathy.

Mike LaChapelle

posted on January 5, 2010

clarke ching said:

Good luck to you David! Thank you sooooo much for sharing over the years.

posted on January 5, 2010

Steve Portigal said:

Congratulations! I have appreciated and valued your work and contribution and wish you all the best!

posted on January 5, 2010

James Cherkoff said:

All the best David. Many successes. Any regrets out of interest?

posted on January 5, 2010

Dennis Howlett said:

What a nice way to bow out. Thanks for all your past encouragement and insights. Have a long and happy retirement.

posted on January 5, 2010

Hans Martin Kern said:

Thanks so much for all the hard work you put into your books, website & podcasts. I have learned an awful lot reading & listening to your advice.

All the best.

posted on January 5, 2010

Rajesh Setty said:

Thanks for everything David.

You have been an inspiration for me and your book “Managing the Professional Services Firm” was like a Bible when I was managing professional services firms.

Talk to you soon and wish you and Kathy the very best.



posted on January 5, 2010

PK Scott said:

Thanks for all of your research and writing. Your books have taught me, a consulting scientist, so much about the business of professional service over the years. Best wishes to you on your retirement.

posted on January 5, 2010

Alistair MacPherson said:

Farewell David, have a happy and fruitfull retirement. If you ever change your mind, please get back in touch.

From All at Trinity Consulting Group.

posted on January 5, 2010

Kirill Dyatko said:

Dear David,

Thank you very much for your work.

posted on January 5, 2010

GordonG said:

Farewell and Thank You indeeed – for all the inspiration you have been over the years to me and others. And the awards are very well deserved.


posted on January 5, 2010

Clive Griffiths said:

David, congratulations on gaining the Carl S. Sloane Award.

You have been a great inspiration to me. I’ve learnt so much from your books and articles, all of which has added value to the consultants and consultancy practices I’ve worked with over the years.

Enjoy your well earnt retirement.



posted on January 5, 2010

Kevin Koski said:


Congratulations on your award and enjoy your retirement. Your ideas, podcasts, videos and books have opened my eyes to a whole new way of looking at clients and managing people. I have put your suggestions into practice and they have yielded amazing results. You have changed my entire approach to consulting and management. You will be sorely missed.



posted on January 6, 2010

Reid Trautz said:


You have been an inspiration for me and so many others. Your book, True Professionalism, opened my eyes to a larger picture in the practice of law. I learned so much from it including “Your billable time determines your income, but your non-billable time determines your future.”

Enjoy retirement and exploring Boston!



posted on January 6, 2010

Allen Fuqua said:

In addition to all the great services you’ve provided the law firms I have served, I will miss walking down Commonwealth, looking at your office and wondering what part of the world’s business people are being shocked into action, confronted by the importance of the client and possibly being spat upon as you get wound up.

I always knew it was going to be a great day if David Maister was on the podium or in the room.

You have taught us so much and you will be greatly missed.

thank you sir.

posted on January 6, 2010

John Flood said:

Enjoy your retirement. Perhaps you’ll find yourself teaching painting next. Good luck!

posted on January 6, 2010

Steve Matthews said:

Congratulations and all the best in your retirement, David. Your body of work will continue to speak for itself.

Kindest regards,


posted on January 6, 2010

Mark Lee said:

I first came across you when I was a partner at Clark Whitehill in London in the mid 1990s. I think you gave a short talk and I was inspired. Since then I have regularly read your books, websites, articles and listened to your podcasts.

Your output has been prodigious and I have often quoted you (with credit) on slides, in talks and in articles. Oh – on my blog too. I recall specifically a piece I wrote – Are accountants as stupid as lawyers – after listening to one of your podcasts in which you berate the listening lawyers for being stupid (in the context of networking and how they prefer to spend their time seeking new work from strangers rather than from existing clients).

David – you well deserve to have a wonderful retirement safe in the knowledge that your influence will continue in the professional services marketplace for many years to come.

Enjoy yourself in good health and I hope you have many, many happy years ahead of you.

Thanks again.

posted on January 6, 2010

Brendan said:

Congratulations on your retirement!



posted on January 7, 2010

Patrick J. McKenna said:

David, words alone cannot express how grateful I am to you . . . for collaborating with me on the book; in the writing and development of our PracticeCoach® initiative; in helping me develop a program for effective strategic planning; in allowing me to provide input to five of your business bestsellers; in stimulating the birth of my web site; in serving as a sounding board on challenging client issues; and for always being there to give me a good swift kick in the ass when I needed it the most!!!

Congratulations once again on being presented an Award For Excellence from the Association of Management Consulting Firms. I think Tom Peters said it best when he commented, “David Maister is the world’s leading authority on the management of professional service firms.”

You are not the first among equals – you have NO equals!

Patrick McKenna, co-author of First Among Equals

posted on January 7, 2010

Connie Crosby said:


Thank you for your wit and wisdom over the years. You helped me make sense of law firms (if that is possible).

A well-deserved break–enjoy retirement!

All the best,

Connie Crosby

posted on January 7, 2010

Steve Shu said:


Congrats and many thanks to your tremendous contributions to business and management consulting practices.


Steve Shu

posted on January 8, 2010

Charles H. Green said:


We first met when you were at HBS writing the white papers that eventually became Managing the Professional Services Firm; that must have been around 1980-81. Some years later, you graciously offered to collaborate with Galford and myself on what became The Trusted Advisor. And of course we have shared ideas, leads and writings with each other all along the way.

You clearly became The Guru of professional services. But along the way, you were time and again the most giving of persons. You helped me in my writing and in my service offering development. You were always generous with ideas. You and Kathy have been always gracious, even helpful to my children.

In addition to all the great work you’ve done, I appreciate you for the personal qualities you have embodied. I look forward to continuing our friendship now that you have all this time freed up!


Charlie Green

posted on January 8, 2010

Paul L. Shillam said:


Congratulations on your retirement. I wish you all the best and many happy years to come.

I have been a stalwart supporter of yours for many years, thriving on your ideas in a multitude of settings. I appreciated your counsel via your web site and attending a couple of seminars where you expanded on the concepts in your books.

I will miss your straight talking approach to holding leaders accountable. Thanks for all that you have done for the “service economy”.



posted on January 11, 2010

DS Pathania said:

Dear David,

Honestly speaking, I never heard your name before. Profound apologies for that. Thanks to FT (management blog) that I ‘met’ you.

I took a fleeting glance at one of your articles..”Strategy means saying No”.

What impressed me that stark truth “Any business that tried to deliver all four virtues of quality, cost, variety and speed is doomed to failure”. Unfortunately many organisations keep trying to achieve excellence in all..unrealistic and hence unachievable.

I wish you a very happy retirement life and I would request you not to retire your website..it is a treasure trove of wisdom.



posted on January 12, 2010

SallyBeam | Self Help Friend said:

Thanks so much for all your hard work and contribution.

posted on January 12, 2010

Daniel Faintuch said:


Congratulations on your retirement.

Thank you for all your contributions to the business world.

Best regards,

Daniel Faintuch


posted on January 12, 2010

Alicia Whitaker said:


You are an original! And you have had enormous impact on the thinking of groups of people who tend to be overeducated, self-satisfied and low in emotional intelligence. (Bankers, lawyers, accountants, consultants)

The intellectual kick in the pants that your work has provided actually inspires action and change. Imagine that!

I’m sure that you and Kathy will write a new book in terms of how you define and live a “retirement.” Have you considered tango lessons?

All the best,

Alicia Whitaker (your former pupil at HBS and grateful client at CSFB)

posted on January 14, 2010

julien said:

David, just wanted to say that you have been a big inspiration to me and a lot of other people out here. I know Chris just met you but both of us continue to learn a lot from what you’ve written in books and on your blog here.

All the best,

Julien :)

posted on January 14, 2010

Suzanne Lowe said:

David, I too am one of those lucky recipients of your generosity and wisdom. I particularly admire your astute perception of the role of the individual in an organization’s ultimate success. You have artfully put people on notice that they are accountable for creating an outcome that benefits not only their colleagues, but their clients and the marketplace.

And, you have managed to do this with such a wonderful blend of in-your-face honesty and personal self effacement.

I will miss your collegial guidance. But I know you will continue to thrive in your next endeavors. Please always feel free to reach out to me if ever I can be of help to you.

posted on January 15, 2010

Glenn Whitney said:

Dear David,

You have been a fantastic source of insight and inspiration. I thank you most sincerely for your brilliant mind and generous spirit. I, and others in our profession, will benefit from your ideas for many decades to come.

Best regards,

Glenn Whitney

posted on January 18, 2010

Ian Brodie said:

You’ve been an inspiration and source of insight for so many people over the years David. We’ll miss not only your teaching, but also your generosity in sharing your work, and the engaging way in which you did so.

Enjoy your retirement.


posted on January 18, 2010

Doug Stern said:

Life used to be so simple. I’d tell my clients to read Dale Carnegie and anything by David Maister.

Now what?!?

Anyway, thanks for all you’ve done. Congratulations and best wishes for many years of happy and healthy retirement!


posted on January 18, 2010

David (Maister) said:

I REALLY appreciate the wonderful support expressed in these comments (and in the emails I have received.)

As you might imagine, they give my heart a warm glow!

posted on January 18, 2010

Gebi Küng, Switzerland said:

Dear David

All the best for you and Kathy also from Switzerland; it was every time truly inspiring and rewarding meeting you.

Best wishes


posted on January 21, 2010

Ben McConnell said:

“Managing the Professional Services Firm” was a very important book for me in the 1990s, and I still refer to it years later.

I can’t believe you’re retiring, but I can certainly appreciate why. Hope you enjoy the new adventures of your life. Thanks for all of the important work you contributed.

posted on January 29, 2010

Andy Mann said:

In an ocean of sameness your books and especially podcasts were simply better. They (you) tell it like it is and give practical, useful and sensible ways to run any professional business.

Should you tire of the Boston snow, I’d happy invite you to Turks and Caicos for a visit.

posted on January 29, 2010

Sean Larkan said:

Dear David – in my 20 or so years in managing partner roles of PSF firms in 3 different jurisdictions, and more recently in my consulting practice, your writing and commentary has been a massive source of help to me and my clients/colleagues – it has always been clear, pulled no punches and I believe will still make sense and be quoted way into the future. All the very best to you as you ease into a new chapter in your life.

best wishes


posted on February 1, 2010

JamesArthus said:

First of all congratz on winning Carl S. Sloane Award for Excellence in Management Consulting ….. thx for your guidence for all these days and have a good life ( retired life ).


posted on February 1, 2010

Katy said:

Congratulations! You have been an inspiration to me and I hope you enjoy your retirement! Best wishes and thank you for your contributions to the field!

posted on February 1, 2010

Martyna Bizdra said:

Dear Sir

I have just found your blog through a friend’s blog and I am interested

Congratulations on your persistence and achievements, especially that your face has this great smile on

I will be coming over to learn from you

And most important: Bon Voyage for your new life !

Martyna Bizdra

posted on February 5, 2010

Damian F Beccar Varela said:

Dear David,

I have recently learned about your retirement. I wish to you and your wife all the best. However, let me tell you I believe many of us in the Latinamerican lawfirms shall feel very lonely in our struggle to survive as independent firms in a world that is becoming more and more dominated by the giant lawfirms based in the Northern Hemisphere. Hopefully you shall be thinking in that sujetct matter and let us know your conclusions in not a too distant future.

Best personal regards,

posted on February 8, 2010

Michael Platt said:

David: Please allow me to add my name to the long list of admirers and well-wishers who have been fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to know you over the years. It was shortly after the initial publication of Managing The Professional Services Firm that our paths first crossed, and I’ve been a student and admirer of yours ever since. I have always appreciated your counsel, your ideas, your insights, and your openness to help in any way. Kelly and I wish you the all the best in retirement, and wish you well in pursuing and enjoying all of your passions that may not have been realized during your decades of flying around the world. (Does that include Kathy allowing you in to her kitchen?)

All the best,

Mike & Kelly Platt

posted on February 9, 2010

Rose said:

Hi David

congratz for winning Carl S. Sloane Award for Excellence from Association of Management Consulting Firms. Have a good after retirement life, bye.

posted on February 15, 2010

Thea Foster said:

Haiku for David Maister He talks, stops and says

“Questions comments insults” and

We pause and ponder

There are times I wish

“Strategy means saying no”

Had not been written

So “Marketing is

a Conversation” tough say

all the introverts

Thanks David for all the ideas

posted on February 23, 2010

David (Maister) said:

Thanks for the Haiku!

posted on February 23, 2010