The answers to career success.
INTRO AND MINDSET
First things first, let’s see what this section is not. This is not going to teach you to run a business, nor get better at your technical skill. Career success is almost synonymous with people skills. Office politics, networking, whatever you want to call it, these aspects are what make and break advancement in the corporate ladder at all levels. The skills here are equally as important for a cubical worker as they are for a CEO.
And here is the surprising truth that goes against what we’ve been told all our lives:
Only in rare cases will performing your job better than your co-workers get you promoted.
I got pretty upset when I realized I had to throw out basically everything I learned in school since it was dead wrong. Hard work in itself doesn’t lead to the success you want, you need to work smarter, not harder. These resources dispel the fairytale, and that’s what this site is all about.
Being successful in your career and climbing the corporate ladder is a much different game than running a business or being an entrepreneur. They are two different games, and getting promoted requires playing by a different set of rules. Here the key is social dynamics and people skills.
Like the other sections, this serves as a resource to find out more information. I can’t summarize everything here, and the original authors can put it much better than I can. Like in most cases, the order here matters as sources build on the foundation set the by the previous. None of these are fluff books, I’ve read countless business books, these are the top 1%.
Let’s set the mood right. You probably already have, but if you haven’t, you need to check out the most famous ‘people-skills’ book:
This is the foundational bible of communication. It really needs no introduction.
I consider this to be the unofficial sequel to the previous. It’s a more technical approach, with more modern examples of how to use the influence you’ve gained to take your people skills to the next plateau.
This is a great introduction to the theory of making yourself indispensable to your company. If you’ve read the sections here about Business and Entrepreneurship, then you have no desire for job security, but if you still want it anyway, this shows you how to make sure you can’t ever be fired.
Working your way up the corporate ladder and the concept of “paying your dues” to a company are such outdated ideas that I doubt they ever worked in the modern era. People who skyrocket to success, use “lateral thinking” to break “rules” that aren’t actually rules.
This is really specific, it uses the tools you’ve learned to build influence and gain favor. These are the actual, specific, tasks you can do to almost guarantee you will rise in your company. Where linchpin will make you vital, this will give you a vertical boost.
Robert Greene is one damn good author. Several of his books are part of my personal canon and make the must read lists here. Machiavelli, Sun Tzu, and Carl Von Clausewitz, all distilled into one book. When you’re on your way to the top, and when you get there, you need to demonstrate and use your power. These are tools you will use to win at life. And yes, there are winners and losers. Life is tough, you better win.
If 48 Laws of Power is going on the assault, Corporate Confidential is the defense against the dark arts. Whenever you’re dealing with your company you’re on the stage. Don’t let your guard down, whether you’re at a party or a one-on-one informal meeting. Watch your email. Don’t make waves, gossip or sound negative. HR is NOT your ally, despite what you’ve been told.
Time to re-align your mindset.
(If it isn’t already)
One of the best pieces of work deconstructing what it means to live a career. I’m talking of the infamous piece by Venkat:
“The Gervais Principle, Or The Office According to ‘The Office’”.
Notice I didn’t link it right there. Yeah, let’s read a bit about it first.
So before you run off and read it, let’s cover something first. Some words have baggage. If I use the word “selfish”, most people think it’s a negative thing. If you try to explain that people are motivated by selfish goals, many people automatically assume they’re bad guys. The reality is however, we all work towards our own goals, etc.
Venkat uses three labels to describe people in this article: clueless, losers, and sociopaths. Obviously, all negative connotations, but you need to step back and understand what those words represent, rather than immediately recoiling from the negative implications. Don’t get hung up on something unimportant.
It’s long, but some of the best career advice you’ll ever get. If you internalize anything here, this will never do you wrong.
PS: There are several shows mentioned in The Gervais Principle. Obviously, The Office, but there are even better shows if you really want to get in the mindset. Some of these, in no particular order are: Yes Minister, (then its sequel and movie), The Thick of It, House of Cards, & Boss (Kelsey Grammer).
The follow up to TGP, is Venkat’s other ebook; Be Slightly Evil
I really think he does a disservice to his work by using such high baggage words. There is nothing ‘evil’ about anything he proposes in his philosophies. There is nothing evil about being sociopathic. There is virtue in selfishness.
Role Model: Frank Underwood
Frank is the main protagonist of House of Cards and one of the best, and most entertaining, representations of a DT Personality. The show actually does a pretty decent job of showing you advanced techniques to get the outcome you want. Running plays right out of the 48 Laws of Power and The Gervias Principle.