Companies, careers built or lost one conversation at time

In Hemingway’s “The Sun Also Rises,” a character is asked, “How did you go bankrupt?” He answers, “Gradually, then suddenly.”

That summarizes my ephiphany after 13 years running think tanks for chief executives and more than 10,000 hours of one-to-one conversations with industry leaders worldwide: Careers and companies succeed or fail, gradually then suddenly, one conversation at a time.