This guest post is written by Ed McManus, a longtime friend, writer and "jokesmith". His extensive experience on the corporate battlefield is the basis for this advice he shares for those graduates ready to enter the corporate world. A bit of skepticism, and a little humor mixed in with solid advice is exactly Ed's style.
Another college commencement season and nobody asked me to speak. Why not? I fought the corporate wars for 40 years, survived 3 acquisitions, 4 mergers, countless reorganizations, an estimated 50,000 business and sales meetings, and took notes. Snubs notwithstanding, I will share with the young my Revealed Great Truths about the business world.
What’s your game plan? What’s success? What matters most: country, money, power, fame, family, church, friends, and in what order? It’s your life.
Establish your own priorities. Just remember: it’s easier to get a new job than a new family.
Every organization has the same goal: To perpetuate its own existence, increase its influence, make money, and grow. They reward people who contribute to this goal, and neutralize those who don’t. All other organizational goals are further down the list. There are no exceptions.
When a firm succeeds, it’s not always the people who made it succeed that get rich. When a firm fails, it’s not always the people who made it fail that get hurt. Put everything in writing. Companies merge, acquire, reorganize, and go in and out of business. As you age, you’ll find that how hard you worked and how long you were there is less important than the deal you signed up front. Say, “Yes, I trust you. It’s just good business to write it down.” Then write it down and have everybody sign it.
Don’t confuse courtesy with interest. People with good manners will hear you out, suggest they will get back to you, and disappear. Ask questions. “When may I hear from you?” Follow up. If there’s no chance, know it today. A sales VP once told me: “Nobody ever lost an order by asking for it twice.”
Get a mentor. There are few ladders from one management level to another, and they are narrow and congested. Someone higher must pull you up. Find a mentor whose values you share, and work loyally; be trustworthy and competent. People promote in their own image. It might as well be you.
Follow policies and procedures, but watch what the boss does too. You don’t have identical perks and privileges, but it helps to know how the boss thinks.
When the time is right, try for some of the action: Equity. Stock is good, if you believe in their future. A bonus is good any time.
Network. You make calls, to get calls. You’ll learn more from interaction with peers and seniors than from any HR manual. Say, “The coffee’s on me.” Ask, listen, and never betray a trust.
Pursue your beliefs and don’t take “no” as an answer from anyone who isn’t authorized to say “yes.”
People often use policy instead of judgment, and everyone is authorized to say “no.” It’s a screening process. Ask the boss. A company can do anything legal that it wants to do. Policy is just what they prefer on a daily basis.
If you start your own business, pick one you understand. Add value. Don’t sell the same stuff as everybody else, only cheaper. Someone is always cheaper. Look to the great family fortunes and learn. There are many paths to success: Henry Ford did it with automobiles. Bill Gates did it with software. The Wrigleys did it with chewing gum. I like a business model like Wrigley’s: many people give you a little money each. No one can leverage you. You’re in control.
But wait! There’s MORE! A lightning round of bonus thoughts:
Rich and lonely is only marginally better than poor and lonely… keep your values intact…just before making any major decision ask yourself this key question: “And what happens then?”… don’t con yourself; sooner or later you’ll catch up with you… listen and don’t be defensive…stay healthy…
you may love an organization, but an organization can’t love you back…
it’s all about people & performance… remember Watergate: If the deed doesn’t bring you down, the cover-up will… don’t confuse activity with accomplishment.. It’s not just how you start out, it’s how you end up too.
Oh, yes, very important: Don’t act like a jerk.
When it’s over, pass on what you’ve learned and leave something for the next guy. If you use money to keep score, play Monopoly. People don’t get hurt in Monopoly.
You’ve read the books, heard the lectures and got the T-shirt. Now, your real education is about to begin. Get out there – and survive.
© Copyright 2016: The Jokesmith - Reprinted with Permission.
First published HERE.