Best-selling authors Nielsen and Tillisch have studied high performing and successful, ambitious people for more than 5 years and found common patterns of behaviour and thought. They have first-hand experience from some of the most ambitious environments in the world, having worked at McKinsey & Company and with over 30 Fortune 500 companies.

Return on Ambition reveals their insights and includes tips and lessons learned from Elon Musk, Arianna Huffington, Pharrell Williams, and Axel Hedfors, among others.


Your Return on Ambition equals the sum of your Achievements, Growth, and Well-Being. Not only do you diminish your potential by compromising on one of them, but you also hurt the two others over time. When you instead prioritize all three, they enforce each other and help you to be both successful and fulfilled in life.

The more ambitious you are, the more is at stake for you. You have high aspirations and can be driven to push yourself too hard. What were previously strengths suddenly start working against you. Instincts overwrite intentions more often than most people are aware of. Your greatest qualities can also be your greatest Frenemies.

The Return on Ambition Toolbox is a radical approach for you to get much more out of your current efforts or achieve the same with less effort.

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Nicolai Chen Nielsen

Nicolai Chen Nielsen is a Partner at the Supertrends Institute, where he focuses on the intersection of cutting-edge technology, global trends, and the implications they have on organizations and leaders. He is also the author of Leadership At Scale and a former Associate Partner at McKinsey & Company. Nicolai has lived in more than ten countries on four continents and is currently based in Italy with his wife, Samira, and their two dogs, Napoleon and Caesar.

Return on Ambition - Nicolia Tillich
Nicolai Tillisch

Nicolai Tillisch is a co-founder of Deliberate Development, a software venture, and associated with Cultivating Leadership, the global coaching firm. He has been a consultant with McKinsey & Company and was an executive with DDB Worldwide, Hutchison, and Nokia Siemens Networks. Nicolai lives with his wife, Ida, and their children, Margaux and Axel, in Copenhagen after previously residing in Dubai, London, and Stockholm.


Return on Ambition Chapter 1

Learn about ambitious people’s potential and problems.


Return on Ambition Poster

An overview of the entire book on a single page graphic.


For Coaches with Ambitious Clients

My client has read Return on Ambition. What should I do?


Keynotes & Webinars

Help people put their lives into perspective to enhance achievement, growth, and well-being for themselves and their colleague.

Facilitated Workshops

Create a life-enhancing event, or a series of workshops, to help top talent gain new awareness about their ambitions to become greater versions of themselves.

Digital Course

Embark on a self-paced 3-4 month digital program to define your ambition, understand what gets in the way, and radically improve your levels of success and fulfillment.