The First 90 Days: Critical Success Strategies for New Leaders at All Levels

reminiscences of a stock operator pdf

The First 90 Days: Critical Success Strategies for New Leaders at All Levels


Frank Voisin is the author of the popular value focused website Frankly Speaking, found at

The First 90 Days Proven Strategies for Getting Up to Speed Faster and Smarter

By Michael Watkins

The First 90 Days: Critical Success Strategies for New Leaders at All Levels

Today I am reviewing The First 90 Days: Proven Strategies for Getting Up to Speed Faster and Smarter. Read my other book reviews here.

The premise for The First 90 Days is that career transitions are critical times for managers to make an impact on a new organization (or a new part of your current organization), and success in the first few months largely determines overall success in the role. This is significant for investors given the turnover in the finance industry over the last few years.

The basic structure of the book is as follows:

  • Prepare Yourself (take a mental break)
  • Accelerate your Learning (plan to learn and find the best ways to do it quickly)
  • Match Strategy to Situation (assess what type of transition situation you are going through)
  • Negotiate Success (working well with your new boss)
  • Secure Early Wins (get started!)
  • Achieve Alignment (be the organization’s architect)
  • Build Your Team (working well with your subordinates)
  • Create Alliances (working well with your peers)
  • Manage Yourself (personal leadership)
  • Accelerate Everyone (spread change)

Rather than summarizing each section, I’ll highlight a few key takeaways that I found most interesting/useful.

STARS: the approach you take to your transitional period and the resources you need will depend on the type of situation you are managing (STARS: Start-up, Turnaround, Accelerated Growth, Realignment, Sustaining Success).

Conversations: The quality of conversations you have with your new boss and employees will impact your success in your new role. Watkins suggests attempting to cover each of the following topics in the first conversations with your new colleagues

  • Situation – Where are we, how did we get here, what is working, what isnt working
  • Expectations – what needs to be done, what does success look like, how is performance measured
  • Resources – what do you need (resources, help)
  • Style – how do you prefer to interact, how are decisions made
  • Personal Development – strengths, development areas, training needs

Building Virtual Teams: I have worked with virtual investment teams in Canada, Australia, and Israel, and I know many of you are working with virtual teams as well. The following can help build virtual teams:

  • Bring the team together in person (early on) if possible
  • Establish communication norms (channels, meeting times, response times)
  • Create interaction routines (agendas, regular meetings)
  • Celebrate success together so people don’t feel disconnected

This book was packed with practical suggestions for how to successfully navigate through new scenarios. Given how hectic changes can be, it is worth reading in advance!

If you’ve read The First 90 Days, leave your thoughts below.

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Author Disclosure: This book was provided by the publisher for review.

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About the Author

At twenty years old, Frank opened the first of what would eventually become four successful restaurants while completing concurrent undergraduate degrees. He later sold these businesses and returned to school to complete concurrent JD and MBA degrees. During this time, he wrote and passed the three CFA exams. Frank takes a value perspective in his commercial real estate endeavours, hunting for unloved and undervalued investment opportunities to add to his investment group’s portfolio. Frank has traveled extensively and lived in Auckland, London, Toronto, and is currently living in Hong Kong with his wife, Danielle, a successful entrepreneur, MBA, author, blogger and international manager for one of the largest global financial institutions. Frank splits his time between consulting and searching for new value investments.

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