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The Rules

  • Business is made up of ambiguous victories and nebulous defeats. Claim them all as victories.
  • Keep track of what you do; someone is sure to ask.
  • Be comfortable around senior managers, or learn to fake it.
  • Never bring your boss a problem without some solution. You are getting paid to think, not to whine.
  • Long hours don’t mean anything; results count, not effort.
  • Write down ideas; they get lost, like good pens.
  • Always arrive at work 30 minutes before your boss.
  • Be sure to sit at the conference table—never by the wall.
  • Help other people network for jobs. What goes around comes around.
  • Don’t take sick days—unless you are.
  • Assume no one can/will keep a secret.
  • Know when you do your best—morning, night, under pressure, relaxed; schedule and prioritize your work accordingly.
  • Treat everyone in the organization with respect and dignity, whether it be the janitor or the president. Don’t ever be patronizing.
  • When you get the entrepreneurial urge, visit someone who has his own business. It may cure you.
  • 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'
  • Recognizing someone else’s contribution will repay you doubly.
  • Career planning is an oxymoron. The most exciting opportunities ten to be unplanned.
  • Always choose to do what you’ll remember ten years from now.
  • The size of your office is not as important as the size of your paycheck.
  • Understand what finished work looks like and deliver your work only when it is finished.
  • The person who spends all of his or her time at work is not hard-working; he or she is boring.
  • Know how to write business letters—including thank-you notes as well as proposals.
  • Never confuse a memo with reality. Most memos from the top are political fantasy.
  • Eliminate guilt. Don’t cheat on expense reports, taxes, benefits or your colleagues.
  • Reorganizations mean that someone will lose his or her job. Get on the task force that will make the recommendations.
  • Job security does not exist.
  • 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.”
  • Always have an answer to the question “What would I do if I lost my job tomorrow?”
  • Go to the company holiday party.
  • Don’t get drunk at the company holiday party.
  • Avoid working on the weekends. Work longer during the week if you have to.
  • The most successful people in business are interesting.
  • 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.
  • Never in your life say, “It’s not my job.”
  • Be loyal to your career, your interests and yourself.
  • Understand the skills and abilities that set you apart. Whenever you have an opportunity, use them.
  • 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

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