This is not your parents’ business world. It’s not even your older sister’s business world. The recent recession has toppled and transformed our ideas about just about everything. Massive change is afoot and many of us are still reeling from the work-force bloodletting that began three years ago and the downfall of companies we thought we all respected.
If we take the time to examine the world that’s rising out of the ashes, we see that a major paradigm shift is occurring. We have realized that money and manipulation will only go so far, and we’ve come 180 degrees from the backbiting and dirty politics that characterized the dog-eat-dog 1980s. Inside the business world, organizations and individuals are looking inward and seeking a return to traditional human values like honesty, trust, moderation, open communication, and one-on-one relationship building.
Open the newspaper or go online and you’ll see what I’m talking about. Trader Joe’s has become one of the most popular grocery chains in the world, but its management refuses to expand if it means giving up its homey, mom and pop feel. Southwest Airlines considers customer loyalty to be more important than profitability and qualifies a customer service candidate for employment based on attitude, not experience. Stephen R. Covey, son of legendary business author, Stephen Covey, just had a runaway bestseller about resurrecting trust in the business world.
Those who wish to be gainfully employed for the foreseeable future must take this transformation seriously and adapt new ways of doing things. In this book, we're going to explore the 10 biggest myths of business success that people believe to be true even though they don't work for 98 percent of all truly successful people. The time to debunk these myths is now because they are more dangerous and less viable than ever given this post-recessionary climate of ethical scrutiny and intense competition. If adhering to these myths didn't get you places before, it really won't today, when employers want to hire people with Puritan work ethics, people who want to do their jobs well without rocking the boat too much and who are strong representatives of the organization’s culture. If you want to get ahead in this values-driven environment, putting on blinders is not an option and you can't afford to waste time. You must throw away these myths, determine what will work in their place, and immediately put it to use.
With the help of this book, it won't be as hard as it sounds. I plan to help you hone positive traits like authenticity, perseverance, and self-awareness and I think you'll see that the suggestions I and other experts provide ring true in your own experience and make more intuitive sense than most of these myths. As legendary business author Tom Peters told me once: “Really, it's about remembering the simple things your grandmother taught you, getting through the day, and helping others get through the day.” Tom was right, and so were his equally famous colleagues Dale Carnegie and Stephen Covey, both of whom amassed their life fortunes writing and speaking about these concepts.
You may find this book to be a bit different from others in its class. I wrote it because I was tired of reading silly theories and platitudes dispensed by business and career authors who sell their work by giving these myths credibility and by telling readers what they want to hear. Here is one thing you can count on: I will tell it like it is. I will be honest with you about what will render you successful in today’s business world, not yesterday’s. I refuse to give you overly provocative advice that hasn’t worked for anyone I know, like quitting your job tomorrow and starting your own business the next day, or marching into your boss’ office and announcing that he should appreciate your individuality.
Now that I've set the stage, let's get to it. These myths and their realities are:
Myth #1: Overnight success is possible.
Reality: Most people persevere for a long time and experience several setbacks before achieving an objective definition of success. This chapter will explore how to move your dream forward a little bit at a time, and how to cope when things temporarily go south.
Myth #2: Controversy will propel your career.
Reality: Being controversial usually generates attention for a little while, but people will probably not trust you in the long-term. In this chapter, we’ll talk about how to incorporate the tried-and-true values of honesty and authenticity into your daily work life.
Myth #3: Employers want you to be yourself.
Reality: While employers value the unique set of skills and experiences you bring to the table, they expect you to toe the line with respect to company rules and conduct. Here, we’ll discuss what it means to be a professional and how to be diplomatic even if someone has wronged you.
Myth #4: Being good at your job trumps everything.
Reality: You can be the most talented employee your company has ever hired, but if your contributions aren’t visible and people don’t value what you do, it simply won’t matter. This chapter will address how to spend a little more time promoting your job and a little less time slaving over it.
Myth #5: It’s best to climb the ladder as fast as possible.
Reality: Getting promoted year after year requires a near-constant vigilance as well as a laser sharp focus on work – often to the detriment of everything else in your life. Here, we’ll talk about why it’s prudent to enjoy your time as a middle manager or individual contributor and how to make the most of this period in your life.
Myth #6: You’ll get more money because you earned it.
Reality: Not everyone rakes in a six figure salary because they played their cards right. This chapter will demonstrate how compensation is about business realities, HR mandates, and office politics – not performance – and will illustrate techniques to increase yours.
Myth #7: The problem isn’t you, it’s the organization.
Reality: People job jump constantly because of this one, but the truth is, the same situations crop up in the business world over and over. In this chapter, we’ll discuss why it makes the most sense to learn self-awareness and change your own thinking and behavior instead of waiting for the company to adapt to your needs.
Myth #8: You won’t get laid off, you’re too essential.
Reality: Everyone is replaceable, and employees who consistently add value are let go every day. Here, we’ll talk about what’s really behind the decision to lay people off, and learn how to identify the signs and take steps to protect your job now.
Myth #9: If only you could leave Corporate America, everything would be perfect.
Reality: Running a business is harder than it looks, and entrepreneurship is not for everyone. This chapter will address why many people are better off working for large companies, including the hidden perks that you don’t want to live without.
Myth #10: Do what you love, the money will follow.
Reality: Just because you have a passion for a particular area doesn’t mean you will automatically make money doing it. Here, we’ll talk about ways to do what you love without going broke, and how and when to take smart risks and make measured progress in pursuing meaningful work.
Each chapter includes academic research, expert commentary, anecdotes from contemporary culture, and inspirational stories from people like you who either fell prey to a myth or had to rethink their approach, or who recognized the myth for what it was and consequently came out on top. Along the way, I’ll provide specific advice for course-correcting that you can use immediately in your work life. I hope that by the time you finish reading, you realize that a lot of what it takes to be successful is already a part of who you are, and that you absolutely have the power to cultivate the skills and attitude that will take you wherever you want to go, now and in the future. I am looking forward to taking the journey with you.
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