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Thursday, August 22, 2013



People often ask me, “Cranky, what is the secret to success in the business world?”  As one who spent 40 years toiling for a large brokerage firm, starting at the bottom and ending up above bottom, it is little wonder that I am chosen to impart the secret to success in the business world.

My qualification in answering this burning question is in watching dumbass after dumbass rise to the higher levels of management without ever having a single idea.

First let me clarify; one way to get to the top in the business world is to get an education, network yourself, ask questions, and work your ass off.  No one who asks, “What is the secret to success…” is interested in that route to the top.  They know that formula and are not interested in earning success.

Here is the other way to the top:

Number one, and I cannot overstate its importance is, YOU MUST LOOK GOOD IN A SUIT!  You can do all those things that actual leaders do to break the glass ceiling, but if you do not look good in a suit you have no chance.  Get in shape…fat fails!  Buy a suit for each day.  Invest in good dress shirts, ties, handkerchiefs, and expensive perfectly shined shoes.  If your choice is to invest in an education or an expensive impressive wardrobe…go with clothes.

Number two, act important.  Carry yourself as if you belong.  Don’t ask questions, and never answer a question if you are not sure of the answer.  Learn to respond with, “What do you think?” or “I’m busy, check with Ralph” and “You’re kidding me right?” Of course learn the all-important commands, “I don’t care how you get it done, just do it!” and “I don’t want excuses, I want results!”

Number three; never do anything if you can get someone else to do it for you.  This allows you to take credit for skillful delegating when a project is successful, while allowing you to throw someone under the bus if the project fails.  Never offer an idea at a meeting, but always voice your concern, “That sounds great Bob, but I’m concerned that if it doesn’t work it could be expensive.”  If the idea works, you were behind it.  If it flops, well you were concerned!  If anything goes wrong, such as a new computer program or a sales idea flops, be the first to question, “Didn’t anyone test that?”

Number four, learn the terminology.  I have been out of the loop for a while so these may be passé but, “Pick the low hanging fruit first” was always a good one.  “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” always sounds like such great advice and is perfect for putting some little shit who is way smarter than you in his place.  It is really another way of saying, “If it’s not my idea, stuff it!”  Always express things as from a “Perspective.”  “From a time management perspective…” “From the client’s perspective…” I don’t know why, but “From a …perspective" always sounds like you are really smart.

Last but not least, number five; keep a high profile while doing nothing.  Come in to work early, even if you have nothing to do.  Stay late, even if you have nothing to do.  Send emails cc’d to everyone at 10 pm, and 6 am. 

That is it.   The secret to corporate success as told from an observer.  Don’t let my inability to rise beyond a supervisor of 6 people fool you; I had all the right stuff.

I just never looked good in a suit!


  1. too funny! sadly too true in a lot of cases!

  2. oh laugh out loud and sigh. I am so glad to be out of that world.

    Let me tell you that women in the corporate world? ... we had to look attractive but not sexy. define sexy.

    Makeup? hair? when to say stop... and not be afraid of losing your job or never rising beyond Assistant to the Assistant to the Vice President of the Executive President of the President to the CEO of the corporation.

    whatta world. office politics. and looking good. but businesslike ... assessing skirt lengths and proper cleavage exposure ...

    men? I did love the crisp white shirts and the way they wore the suit. The WAY a man wore a suit was preferable to wearing expensive suits. As you said… act important. That one… really and truly was more important than anything. Confidence.

    I have also seen dumbass after dumbass climb the ladder because they loved to play the office politics and did it well.

    Same with our government… Congress. Keep bullshitting till even you believe it.

  3. Don't miss that life at all. All the high heels and dresses and for most of years the dreaded panty hose. I never once wanted to rise into the ranks of management - I had enough meetings in my life as it was.

  4. Sad but true. It is fun to watch some of them fail because when they do they fail big.

    It do get me as far as fast but I prefer working hard. At least in the end I can live with myself.

  5. Funny how putting on a suit, acting like a jerk and talking in jargon can make a "success" out of a dumbass. Glad not to be a success if it means I have to be a dumbass first.

  6. Where were you with all this terrific advice when I needed you?

  7. Marvelous!
    Fantastic advice, beautifully crafted and I love the punch line.....
    So why am I sobbing uncontrollably?
    Sometimes the truth is just unbearable.

  8. What letters do I use when trying to write a screaming sound?

    Reading this took me back to corporate America where I spent 15 years and my scream was a little fear as I was reading; fear that I'll be sent back. :)

    Actually, it was good here and there - and I do recognize all of what you've written here.

  9. I don't know if you meant for this to be humorous or not (it was), but you were actually spot on how the REAL business world works. But what happened to good old fashioned nepotism?


  10. This was delightfully funny, and sadly, also very true. I totally agree with you on the dress and act important thing, the way a persons carries himself and conducts himself makes all the difference in how others perceive him, even if under all that put-on is a total dumb ass. They seem to abound in the corporate world. Really want to know what's up, ask the maintenance man or the security guard, they have all the low down! :-)

  11. Unfortunately, there's a lot of truth in what you've written. Of course, an even easier route to the top is good old-fashioned nepotism. It never hurts to be related to the boss.

  12. Come early, stay late? Why not just leave your car on the parking lot so they think you are there long hours? It worked for the assistant to the traveling secretary for the New York Yankees. I believe his name was George Costanza...

  13. I remember asking someone once what there secret was (bearing in mind that she was totally inept) - she told me that she just said yes to everything - she never admitted that she couldn't do some thing - never acknowledged that she didn't have a clue what people were talking about and never took responsibility for anything - apparently it was enough to say yes with confidence and it never occurred to anyone when things went wrong that she might be at fault - wish I had that confidence ...

  14. With all this knowledge, it amazes me that you were never elected President!!

  15. Lol - so true! Especially the comment about dressing in a good suit.

  16. Haha, that is all so true! I work in stockbroking too, and I did the education and working my ass off bit, and after 10 crushing years, I reached... the lower middle. I also don't look great in a suit - that must be it!

  17. Hagy's always look good in suits!