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Ambiguous Victories

1. Business is made up of ambiguous victories and nebulous defeats. Claim them all as victories.

2. Keep track of what you do; someone is sure to ask.

3. Be comfortable around senior managers, or learn to fake it.

4. Never bring your boss a problem without some solution. You are getting paid to think, not to whine.

5. Long hours don’t mean anything; results count, not effort.

6. Write down ideas; they get lost, like good pens.

7. Always arrive at work 30 minutes before your boss.

8. Be sure to sit at the conference table—never by the wall.

9. Help other people network for jobs. What goes around comes around.

10. Don’t take sick days—unless you are.

11. Assume no one can/will keep a secret.

12. Know when you do your best—morning, night, under pressure, relaxed; schedule and prioritize your work accordingly.

13. Treat everyone in the organization with respect and dignity, whether it be the janitor or the president. Don’t ever be patronizing.

14. When you get the entrepreneurial urge, visit someone who has his own business. It may cure you.

15. Never appear stressed in front of a client, a customer or your boss. Take a deep breath and ask yourself: in the course of human events, how important is this'

16. Recognizing someone else’s contribution will repay you doubly.

17. Career planning is an oxymoron. The most exciting opportunities tend to be unplanned.

18. Always choose to do what you’ll remember ten years from now.

19. The size of your office is not as important as the size of your paycheck.

20. Understand what finished work looks like and deliver your work only when it is finished.

21. The person who spends all of his or her time at work is not hard-working; he or she is boring.

22. Know how to write business letters—including thank-you notes as well as proposals.

23. Never confuse a memo with reality. Most memos from the top are political fantasy.

24. Eliminate guilt. Don’t cheat on expense reports, taxes, benefits or your colleagues.

25. Reorganizations mean that someone will lose his or her job. Get on the task force that will make the recommendations.

26. Job security does not exist.

27. Children are a source of truth and ideas. The best icebreaker to use in intense meetings is one I heard from a six-year-old: “Raise your hand who’s mad.”

28. Always have an answer to the question “What would I do if I lost my job tomorrow?”

29. Go to the company holiday party.

30. Don’t get drunk at the company holiday party.

31. Avoid working on the weekends. Work longer during the week if you have to.

32. The most successful people in business are interesting.

33. Sometimes you’ll be on a roll and everything will click; take maximum advantage. When the opposite is true, hold steady and wait it out.

34. Never in your life say, “It’s not my job.”

35. Be loyal to your career, your interests and yourself.

36. Understand the skills and abilities that set you apart. Whenever you have an opportunity, use them.

37. People remember the end of the project. As they say in boxing, “Always finish stronger than you start.

Richard A. Moran, Never Confuse a Memo With Reality, (New York: Harpercollins Publ., Inc., 1994), Reader’s Digest, October, 1993, pp. 112-114.