The first 100 days

A while ago I applied for a new job—an internal gig. This week was interview week and while it wasn’t out of the ordinary, it was a bit grueling considering the lack of sleep I’ve been getting, thanks to the new baby. The interview is conducted at two locations and pretty much takes a whole day—fortunately travel between the locations was only about 45 minutes. There are a couple of one-on-one interviews, lunch and a couple of group interviews. Kinda wears you down after a while. Haven’t heard anything about the results and probably won’t until next month. I’m not holding my breath, though—I figure I’m a bit of an underdog in this race.

Anyway, since I figured I was the underdog, I decided I needed to whip up the best “personal marketing” plan I could. I recruited several colleagues, including my boss and boss’s boss, to forward nice letters about me to the hiring manager. I deconstructed the job posting and did a color-coded comparative breakdown as well. But the best thing I did, in my view, was a single-page strategic agenda for the first 100 days on the job. Since the new gig deals with an area of higher education that I’m unfamiliar with, I couldn’t really make an actual strategic plan, so it ended up being an agenda. A meta-plan.

This wasn’t an original idea. I read a book called You’re In Charge—Now What? during the week preceding the interview, and that inspired the 100 day agenda. Though the book was primarily targeted at CEO-types, there was plenty of crossover wisdom for those of us a bit lower on the food chain. I thought the book had some excellent ideas, but the stories they tell are a bit repetitive after a while. I liberally marked up the book and made lots of notes. The last section of the book has the actual 100 day strategic agenda that Gary Kusin used when he was a finalist for the Kinko’s CEO spot. That multi-page, and very impressive, document provided the creative impetus for my one-page example. It was particularly helpful in prompting me to think a little harder about the new job and what it might entail—I think that extra preparation helped a bit during the interview, but it definitely informed the document which I passed around to every person in every interview setting. I’m hoping the agenda gave me an edge, but time will tell.

If you’re interested in what I did, here’s a cleaned up generic strategic agenda as a Word doc (fixed link) and also a copy as a pdf document. I’m curious to hear what folks think of the idea, and whether you’ve done similar things.

Some supposedly related reading...

29 Responses to “The first 100 days”

  1. regina Says:

    Really good idea to do what you did. These are the kind of forward thinking and non-traditional approaches that candidates need to take to make sure they differentiate themselves from the other candidates. It of course already shows hiring manager and others how you would approach and tackle other situations, etc. Good luck and keep us posted on outcomes!

  2. chris Says:

    The “First 90 Days” from HBS press is excellent as well.

  3. Bert Says:

    Good luck on the job quest, Bren! The idea of what you’d be doing in the first 100 days is a very proactive move. Most people would walk in and wing that part or simply verbalize it. The fact that you put it in writing shows that you’re ready to hit the ground running. This is a strategy that I’ve used in the past with success.

  4. Phil Gerbyshak Says:

    Great work! Taking knowledge you’ve applied and putting it to action, and then sharing it with your community of friends is seldom done, and even more seldomly done well. Please do keep us posted on this. Sounds like you are a man with a plan and making it happen! Best wishes!

  5. Rosa Say Says:

    A slight departure from this post Bren, for I couldn’t let the day go by without wishing you a Happy Father’s Day - with aloha! I know this one is a special one for you with Asher now in the ‘ohana. Bask in the love.

  6. Matthew Says:

    This is an interesting idea and might actually solve a problem I often have. It’s also a little risky to do this during the recruitment process, particularly where the position you are applying for is a stretch to your skills (and frankly it wouldn’t be worth applying for a job that wasn’t a stretch). It will work great for me, however, where I’ve already been put on a project and I just need to communicate the agenda rather use it to secure the position.

    I do a lot of work which I call ‘capability engineering’. This work basically consists of trying to build new capabilities in existing organisations (whether I personally have the related skills or not). This is a managed process of introducing the right people, skills, technologies, and process to the organisation so it has new capabilities.

    The problem with introducing new capabilities is that the organisations management often doesn’t understand the capability itself, or the capability engineering process. This means if you produce a capability specific plan it is often misunderstood or ignored. The greatest barrier to capability engineering is existing management practices.

    Bren’s generic approach to the strategic agenda might actually solve that problem for me. I can still do the capability specific planning; but I can include that explicitly in the plan. The first 15 days can be generic for each of my engagements. The next 70 days is transition activities described in terms of capability-specific skills, process, and technology. That last 15 days of the plan can be described entirely in capability specific terms and focus on mentoring the rest of the organisation in using the new capability.

  7. Management Craft Says:

    “It’s mine to win!”

    Bren over at slacker Manager offered this excellent post called, The First 100 Days, which is about he approached his application and interview process for an internal promotion opportunity. I love how he has taken the bull (the interviewing process)

  8. Lifehacker Says:

    How to differentiate yourself at a job interview

    Job applicant Brendon Connelley had an excellent strategy at his last interview to distinguish himself from the pool of candidates: he prepared and handed all his interviewers a single-page written agenda for his first 100 days on the job: [The…

  9. K8t Says:

    Would you actually hand this to someone in an interview or just use it for reference?

  10. Bren Says:


    I actually handed out the agenda to everyone I met with that day. Around 20 people or so… It also provided some pretty good discussion starters–a nice side benefit, since any discussion driven off the agenda was essentially driven by me.

  11. Mike Says:

    I believe that the PDF reads 15 days, 70 days, 15 days down the left hand side. Was that meant to say 15, 70, 100?

  12. Bren Says:


    Nope, 15/70/15 is correct. It equals 100 days. First 15 days, next 70 days, final 15 days.

  13. Says:

    links for 2005-06-24

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  14. Says:

    gotta get a job!

    SlackermanagerAnyway, since I figured I was the underdog, I decided I needed to whip up the best ?personal marketing? plan I could. I recruited several colleagues, including my boss and boss?s boss, to forward nice letters about me to the hirin

  15. Ryan Says:


    Great post. Users of my site,, have talked about using a similar approach during interviews. Most often we call it a 30/60/90 day action plan and have even shared templates similar to yours. Thanks for making the pdf and word templates & for providing such good info.


  16. Pete Says:

    Great post. I’ve done something similar - a 30/60/90 day plan that includes as much detail as I can offer considering the limited knowledge I have about a position. Another thing I do that helped me get my current position is a SWOT Analysis (Stregths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) based on the bullet points in the job description and how they pertain to my particular skills. First, I list all of my strengths and weaknesses and match them to the items in the JD. Matches for S and O result in +1 each, and -1 for W and T. The total score should come out positive. If not, I know I’m not a match for the job, or I’m positioning myself improperly for the position. And yes, it’s tricky to list weaknesses like that. However, I think that it shows that you know yourself and areas you need to work on, and that you’re confident that those things can be overcome.

  17. 800-CEO-READ Blog Says:

    His 100 Day Plan

    Bren at Slacker Manager talks about how You’re In Charge — Now What? inspired him to develop a 100 Day Plan for a position he was interviewing for. The part cool is he shared his plan with each of…

  18. 800-CEO-READ Blog Says:

    His 100 Day Plan

    Bren at Slacker Manager talks about how You’re In Charge — Now What? inspired him to develop a 100 Day Plan for a position he was interviewing for. The cool part is he shared his plan with each of…

  19. 800-CEO-READ Blog Says:

    His 100 Day Plan

    Bren at Slacker Manager talks about how You’re In Charge — Now What? inspired him to develop a 100 Day Plan for a position he was interviewing for. The cool part is he shared his plan with each of…

  20. The Gerbil Speaks! Says:

    1 Classic Book & 2 New Blogs for Kindred Spirits

    I don’t usually blog about other blogs, well except for the FC Now for yesterday’s post. But, I just discovered two new blogs that I felt compelled to share if you are:
    A job seeker
    Report into a middle manager and want to learn what your managers…

  21. Ann Marie McGinley Says:

    What a great idea! I’ve been looking for creative ways to stand out in an interview. This one is great. Not only is it different, but it’s a benefit to the company (which, of course, if exactly what the company is looking for!)

  22. Management Craft Says:

    Some People Try Harder

    Subtitle: Hang me from the vigas! I have often said that great managers do what others don’t or won’t. Interestingly, when I talk about this in meetings or seminars, everyone shakes their head in instant agreement. They all think they

  23. dyabbs Says:

    Wow guys…i couldnt have said it better myself.
    I completly agree with the posting above me.

  24. scott Says:

    so did you get the job?

  25. Bren Says:

    Scott: Yeah, I got the job. Follow up post is over here:

  26. Inside Conversation Says:

    Blog Evangelist

    I want your help. I want to develop a position within my organization that is focused on the functional usage of blogs and other web 2.0 applications. I see this position as part Marketing (along the lines of Seth and

  27. Frankie Z. Says:

    Lots of links here don’t work.

    Could be an interesting site, otherwise.

  28. Gary Slinger » When You Go To The Interview Says:

    […] 3. Your 90 or 100 day plan. I “stole” this idea from Bren’s Slacker Manager site. He originally wrote about it here, , and followed up on it here, along with the observation that he’d got the job he’d interviewed for. . This is the only thing that I’m writing about here that I haven’t done personally in earlier interviews in my career. I can say quite definitely that I’ll be doing this for my next interview, whenever that may be. I think it’s a great idea. I’m going to also observe that for the last few years, I’ve been a hiring manager, and sat in on more interviews than I can remember, either as the primary interviewer, as part of the technical screen, or as part of an overall interview panel, and no-one has ever offered up one of these plans in a session I was in. It would have stood out, quite definitely. I want that when I go interviewing again. So, read Bren’s posts – and read the comments on them as well, and then have a think, and try it yourself. […]

  29. Failure to launch (or how to lose a great job in 6 months or less) » Project Syndicate Says:

    […] If, for your own twisted reasons, you wish to set some kind of a speed record for hire-to-fire, you’re going to want to set up your scenario properly. It is very important, therefore, to find a healthy organization and trick them into hiring you. I’m defining “healthy organization” broadly as one that is slow to hire and quick to fire. Generally speaking, they’re slow to hire because they are trying very hard to find the right person for the job. With enough practice and materials, you can probably fool them into thinking you are that person. There are ample resources to help you with this, from resume polishers to headhunters, all the way to the 100 Day Plan. I won’t spend time on this part except to say that getting into the right organization will help expedite your round trip. […]

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