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Return on Ambition

Nicolai Nielsen and Nicolai Tillisch

This book won the Benjamin Franklin Gold Medal Award and was among the five finalists for the GetAbstract International Book Award.

Nicolai Tillisch is a colleague at Cultivating Leadership, while Nicolai Chen Nielsen was previously a consultant at McKinsey & Company and is now independent.

Their motivation for writing the book came from the observation that executives’ ambitions tend to limit their effectiveness as leaders. Their striving for success hurts the chances that they will succeed and thrive.

The title emerged from the two Nicolais’ finding that 43 percent of ambitious people doubt their efforts will pay off. Metaphorically speaking, that is almost like betting decades of work on red in a single round of roulette at the casino.

The book substantiates possibilities for succeeding better in a sounder and safer way. It presents analyses and options which build on extensive research and experience from the practical application of ideas.

The language used invites any ambitious adult to read. Plenty of case stories carry the reader forward. A simple, practical toolbox offers suggestions for what to do in practical terms.

It remains an insightful source for executives and HR professionals seeking inspiration for how to support ambitious people in achieving, growing, and being well.

Published by Fast Company Press

Your ambitions are often the biggest investment that you make in life, yet managing the return in a deliberate and conscious manner can be challenging. This book will show you the way.

Rasmus Hougaard, founder and managing director of Potential Project and best-selling author of One Second Ahead and The Mind of the Leader

Return on Ambition helps readers answer three fundamental questions about their life: What is my ambition, what gets in the way of my ambition, and how can I improve my return on ambition? A must-read if you have pedal to the metal in life!

Dr. Chérie Carter-Scott, MCC, #1 New York Times best-selling author of If Life Is a Game, These Are the Rules and 20 other titles

Ambition can be a corrosive power that ultimately ruins our joys, or, with the help of this wise and practical guide, can be the fuel for forging beautiful lives of accomplishment and connection.

Jennifer Garvey Berger, cofounder of Cultivating Leadership and author of Unlocking Leadership Mindtraps and Changing on the Job

Return on Ambition reveals a truth about leadership—ambition can actually make it more difficult to succeed and, even as we do succeed, it can rob much of the joy from the effort. Return on Ambition can help anyone with big dreams achieve them and do so while enjoying the ride.

Bob Anderson, founder of The Leadership Circle and coauthor of Mastering Leadership and Scaling Leadership

With a beautiful combination of research, storytelling and practical tools, this book is a must-read for anyone open to a fresh recalibration of their lives.

Dr. Srini Pillay, CEO of NeuroBusiness Group, CMO and cofounder of Reulay, and author of Tinker, Dabble, Doodle, Try