Sean M. HACKETT, Ph.D.

“The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts.”

– Marcus Aurelius

“The real heroism of leadership involves having the courage to face Reality — and helping the people around you to face reality. It’s no accident that the word ‘vision’ refers to our capacity to see. Of course, in business, vision has come to mean something abstract or even inspirational. But the quality of any vision depends on its accuracy, not just on its appeal or on how imaginative it is.

Mustering the courage to interrogate Reality is a central function of a leader. And that requires the courage to face three realities at once. First, what values do we stand for — and are there gaps between those values and how we actually behave? Second, what are the skills and talents of our company — and are there gaps between those resources and what the market demands? Third, what opportunities does the future hold — and are there gaps between those opportunities and our ability to capitalize on them?”

– Prof. Ronald Heifetz

‘The primary mission of journalism is the accurate description of Reality.’

– Ross Douthat

‘If you are focused on all the reasons why something cannot be done, then you are operating with a mindset known as Failure Mode. Alternatively, if you are focused on all the things you need to do to overcome the obstacles blocking the path to achieving your objectives, you are operating with a mindset known as Success Mode. [Please choose Success Mode].

– D. McCauley, COO

“everything will be all right. and even if it won’t be, we’ll have the consolation of having lived honest lives.”

– Alexei Navalny

“The essence of digital transformation is to become a data-driven [or data-informed] organization, ensuring that key decisions, actions, and processes are strongly influenced by data-driven insights, rather than by human intuition. In other words, you will only transform when you have managed to change how people behave, and how things are done in your organization. Nobody is truly a leader if they are in charge and keep things as they are. Leadership is always an argument with the past, with tradition. It is the essential task of leaders to create a bridge between the past and the future, and in that sense digital transformation is not an exception to the rule, but the name we give to the today’s bridge.”

– Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, PhD.

‘The nation’s technological ambitions are being stifled by its laws, systems and customs…. The country has moved too slowly to loosen rules on emerging technologies, stifling companies and industries in areas where they might otherwise be global leaders.’

– Karen Makishima, ex-Minister of Digital Agency

“To put it bluntly (as I have argued before): Japan is slowly going out of business; its population is shrinking and it resists immigration. This cannot continue indefinitely. What is significant about Japan’s situation is that it’s shared, to a greater or lesser extent, by most of the world’s advanced countries. Birthrates are depressed; economies are expanding slowly, if at all; and debt burdens are high and often growing.”

– Robert J. Samuelson, Journalist

“Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power.”

– Lao Tzu

“We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.”

– Anaïs Nin

“The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.”

– F. Scott Fitzgerald

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”

– Benjamin Franklin

Portfolio of Activities


At HACKETT LABS my focus is on teaching, researching, advising/coaching, and engaging in service activities at universities.


At MDI.TOKYO my focus is on delivering world-class Executive Education and Professional Learning & Development experiences to company employees and groups.

“Only by externalization, by entering into social relationships, can we develop the interiority of our own person.”

– Jurgen Habermas

“Only by externalization, by entering into social relationships, can we develop the interiority of our own person.”

-Jurgen Habermas

“There are people across the country who deny evidence, invent their own facts and live in their own fantasyland.”

– David Brooks

“Above all, don’t lie to yourself. The person who lies to himself or herself and listens to their own lie comes to a point that they cannot distinguish the Truth within, or around their self, and so lose all self-respect and all respect for others. And having no respect they cease to love.”

– Fyodor Dostoevsky

“The best moments in our lives are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times… The best moments usually occur if a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile.”

– Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

“The whole purpose of reasoning – of logic – is to arrive at the Truth. Not to pursue the Truth would be absurd. Truth is what gives meaning to all our endeavors.”

– D. Q. McInerny

“You can ‘prove’ anything empirically… if you ignore enough data and/or variables. [But, that is not the same as arriving at the Truth].”

– N. Taib

“though the world does not change with a change of paradigm, the scientist afterward works in a different world.”

– Thomas Kuhn

“This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose you consider a mighty one, the being a force of nature rather than a foolish, selfish clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.”

– George Bernard Shaw

“The wicked leader is he or she who the people despise. The good leader is he or she who the people revere. The great leader is he or she who the people say, ‘We did it ourselves.'”

– Lao Tzu

“People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own soul. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.”

– Carl Jung

“I ask that you believe that you have a soul. That there is some piece of you that gives you infinite dignity and value. In any moral situation, if you treat the other person as if they have an infinite soul, I believe that you will treat them well.”

– David Brooks

“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

– Maya Angelou

“At their best, universities serve as escalators for social mobility, educators for democratic citizenship, stewards of fact and expertise, and forums for ‘purposeful pluralism’ — the expression and contest of ideas” + a committment to intellectual excellence and courage.

– Ronald Daniels, What Universities Owe Democracy + Bret Stephens

“It’s not tax money… We simply use the computer to mark up the size of the account.”

– Ben Bernanke, Ph.D. (on how the Federal Reserve injects money into the economy during times of crisis)

“Most people simply aren’t aware that the Fed doles out money using nothing more than a computer. To buy financial assets, or lend to a bank, the Fed simply keystrokes ‘digital dollars,’ formally known as bank reserves, into existence. It does this not just in an emergency but each and every day.”

– Stephanie Kelton, Ph.D.

“All models are wrong, but some are useful.”

– George Box, Statistician

“Marketing is the process of connecting the product, service, or experience with the customer’s job-to-be-done in a way that achieves product-market fit.”


“We suffer more in imagination than in reality.”

– Seneca

In the 21st century the dominant strategy is “to establish first mover advantage, grow your market, and become the global market leader as quickly as possible. In accounting terms, this means: Grow revenues instead of managing costs.”

– Vijay Govindarajan & Anup Srivastava

‘It is a form of hubris to believe that a wicked problem will simply yield to the cleverness of the virtuous would-be problem-solver.’

– George Will

“Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.”

– William Bruce Cameron

“May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.”

– Nelson Mandela

“Forgiveness allows us to let go of the pain in the memory; we can have the memory but it does not control us. When memory controls us we are then the puppets of the past.”

– Alexandra Asseily

“Leadership is about making others better.”

– Frances Frei, HBS

“The SESC and Tokyo Prosecutors’ Office have guaranteed a long trial that will hinge on highly nuanced debate over the precise nature of whether the act of buying shares at the end of the day constitutes stock manipulation under its legal definition of ‘price-fixing’, and the provability of intent. Both of these, say legal experts who have been involved in other cases, would normally be enough to deter prosecutors. Instead, they have doubled down in a way that has put the future of one of Japan’s biggest financial brands in doubt…. One trader died after intense questioning. “


It’s easy to love someone who presents as vulnerable. It’s harder to love those who manifest their pain with rage and snarls.

David French