The Authors

Jacqueline Brassey

Jacqui is McKinsey’s chief scientist and the director of research science for the firm’s People & Organizational Performance Practice. She’s also an affiliate leader of the Center for Societal Benefit through Healthcare. Jacqui brings over 20 years of experience as a practitioner academic in leadership and organizational development and positive neuroscience in and outside of McKinsey and academia.

In addition to her roles at McKinsey, she is a fellow researcher at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, and an adjunct professor at IE University in Madrid, Spain.

Aaron De Smet

Aaron counsels leadership teams as they transform their organizations to improve performance, organizational health, speed, and agility. He is also an expert on organizational design, corporate culture, leadership development, team effectiveness, capability building, and transformational change.

Much of Aaron’s work focuses on helping large distributed organizations to achieve growth, innovation, productivity, and organizational agility. He serves clients across several industries, including agriculture, biotechnology, chemicals, energy, financial services, and healthcare.

Michiel Kruyt

Michiel Kruyt is CEO of IMAGINE, an advisory boutique helping executive teams develop future fit leadership and company vision. He had a fifteen-year career at McKinsey and Co, where he was a partner focusing on top team effectiveness, large-scale transformations and culture change. He helped many top teams around the world increase their ability to lead with impact.

Michiel has co-founded and led Aberkyn, a change-facilitation firm, now owned by McKinsey. He helped grow Aberkyn from a local start-up to a global presence with offices in Europe, India, Dubai, China, and the Americas. Before joining McKinsey & Co, he had a 15-year career at Unilever with marketing, sales, and management roles in The Netherlands, Italy, and the United States. Additionally, he serves on the Board of Urban Consciousness Center, De Roos in Amsterdam.


“Life’s full catastrophe means stressors never stop. We can all use the advice offered in Deliberate Calm.”
—Daniel Goleman, bestselling author of Emotional Intelligence

“When faced with a situation we have never encountered before, it is natural for most of us to panic. Seeing, instead, such a situation as a learning opportunity may sound unnatural if not incredulous. But deliberately facing this unknown with the use of specific behavioral steps will improve one’s adaptability, learning agility, and overall awareness. This is the authors’ promise.”
—W. Warner Burke, PhD, professor emeritus of psychology and education at Teachers College, Columbia University

“With this book, you can tap into wisdom that will help you control your responses under pressure, enabling you to stay focused and present. A must-read for anyone looking to gain the confidence to face the challenges in life.”
—Arianna Huffington, founder and CEO of Thrive Global

“CEOs and business leaders continue to face unprecedented and urgent challenges—not the least of which are the global problems of pandemics, runaway climate change, and increasing poverty—that require extreme adaptability. Deliberate Calm is a science-backed, field-tested must-read to help lead through these toughest of times and seize the multitudes of opportunities.”
—Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever, 2009–2019 and author of Net Positive

“This beautiful book could change your life. The authors offer profound insights gained from their combined decades of practice and research—brought to life through compelling stories—to present an actionable guide to leading in a world full of uncertainty and stress.”
—Amy C. Edmondson, professor at Harvard Business School and author of The Fearless Organization

“With very helpful explanation and examples, the book will make you understand that you do not have control over the external environment, but the way you respond can be in your hands, and that will bring peace and calm in your life.”
—Anu Aga, former chairperson of the Thermax Group and former nominated member of the Indian Parliament

“When in the midst of a furious exchange or panic at seeing your demons let loose, it is not helpful when someone says, ‘Calm down.’ If you had read and followed the path in this marvelous book, Deliberate Calm, you would know how to do it. The stories and messages take self-control to a whole new level with overtones of Eastern philosophy!”
—Richard Boyatzis, PhD, Distinguished University Professor, Case Western Reserve University, coauthor of the international bestsellers Primal Leadership and Helping People Change

“In a time when the world feels more uncertain than ever, Deliberate Calm will empower you to face any challenge with clarity and purpose.”
—Francesca Gino, professor at Harvard Business School and bestselling author of Rebel Talent


Three McKinsey veterans condense decades of boardroom experience and cognitive science into a guide for learning proactively and leading dynamically amid the most uncertain circumstances.

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Deliberate Calm

How to learn and lead in a volatile world
By Jacqueline Brassey, Aaron De Smet, and Michiel Kruyt
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