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How to survive in the corporate world

I have worked in the corporate environment for the past 10 years and I felt I should share some tips on how to survive and succeed in this environment.

Before we move on to the specifics, I should point out that I have failed miserably in the corporate context and I have been a complete disaster in playing the corporate game so please bear that in mind as you read on.

1. Kindness

There is no room for kindness in corporate world so if you live by the principle of treating people how you would like to be treated you will need to park that until you leave the office. In corporate world you will need to display selfishness, narcissism and a willingness to walk all over whoever you can in your attempt to climb up the corporate ladder.

2. Crystal Ball

Having a crystal ball will come in very handy because in sales you are expected to know exactly what you will be selling weeks in advance. The ability to look into the future is not something that corporations will teach you so you’d better pull your socks up and learn it for yourself!!

3. Doing tasks to keep your boss in a job.

This is probably one of the most important aspects of survival in corporate world! If you want to be successful in the corporate hierarchy, you will need to spend a large proportion of your working time completing work created by your boss so that he/she can justify their own existence within the corporation. This work is usually completely irrelevant to the larger good of the company but is a perfect way of killing time you could have spent in more productive ways. It is, however, important to do this work as if it was more important than what you were employed to do and if you can do it with a smile on your face, even better!

4. Smile or Die!

Ok I stole the title of this from Barbara Ehrenreich’s book (which in my view is a must read) but if you want to succeed and survive in the corporate context you are required to remain positive at all times. In fact this is far more important than skills and intelligence! You may actually be better off if you were to park your intelligence at home, because questioning the status quo is a big no no in the corporate world. You were not employed to think, you were employed to do whatever you were asked to do! Trust me on this, I have been forced to listen to phrases like “I want to see lots of energy and positive attitude” on a daily basis!!

5. Stab your colleagues in the back.

This is a very useful skill to have in your ascent up the corporate ladder. You may lose some self respect in the process but surely that is a price well paid for a job title that your ego can be proud of. There are various ways of doing this;

You will need to be alert and on the lookout for colleagues making mistakes and when they do, you email them pointing out the mistake and copy their boss in on the email. This is the perfect way of earning brownie points from your peers! Don’t worry about the consequences of your back stabbing efforts because in corporate world “failure is not an option!” and if you can help your boss weeding out these failures, you are on your way!

6. Making a difference.

This is of no importance whatsoever unless making a difference translates into more sales. If you are in a client facing role, your job is not to listen to what the client wants. Your job is to sell them as many products as possible and if you fail at that task then you will be required to pester them on a regular basis until they finally sign on the dotted line.

7. Work – Life Balance.

If you really want to succeed then you will have to forget about the life part of the work-life balance, there is no balance! Your contract may state that you are required to work during the hours of 9-5 but you need to understand that this is just a technicality! In reality, there are no limits to the number of hours you work. In fact you could boost your climb up the corporate ladder by demonstrating your willingness to give up on life altogether for the greater good of the company. A good way of doing this is by sending emails from home, preferably late at night and on weekends. The best time to do this is between the hours of 10-11pm, which shows dedication, but more importantly, make sure you copy your boss in on the emails.

As I mentioned earlier, I have been a complete failure at playing the corporate game and as a result of that I was asked to resign from my position which I did last Tuesday.

I may have failed at playing the corporate game but at least I have stayed true my own beliefs and I can go to sleep at the end of every day, safe in the knowledge that my focus remained on the needs of my clients instead of the desire to satisfy a sales target!


poker without cards

I have made numerous attempts to write a review of Poker Without Cards and have come to the conclusion that it is a task much harder than I first anticipated. I will, however, make another attempt in the hope that this will do it justice as I feel that anyone who reads it will benefit greatly! But please don’t take my word for it!

A Joseph Matheny (Is he real?) has written the intro to Poker Without Cards and is of a different opinion.  To quote the final line of the introduction: “Since you have gotten this far I suppose you are going to read the transcript. Far be it from me to try and stop you.”

I failed to follow his advice and did read it. In fact, I have so far read it 4 times and always found it difficult to let go of it.

Have I been infected?

The first time I read it I was somewhat bewildered and baffled at what this particular transcript was all about and yet I found it difficult not to carry on!

The format of Poker Without Cards is a transcript of the recording of a conversation between a Dr William Fink and a Howard Campbell, which takes place during 7 sessions in which Dr Fink is trying to understand what led his patient, Richard Wilson (Bucky) to be admitted to his mental hospital!

Well, that is the very basic of it and is really nothing more than the skeleton. It is the content of the conversation that takes you on what I can only describe as a “Mind Journey” and if you manage to read the whole book without giving in to the urge of googling certain stuff then you have done far better than me, who failed that part miserably. To take that a step further, I compiled a reading list based on the stuff referenced in Poker Without Cards (Call me insane!)………..

However, had it not been for this wonderful book I would never have read Viktor Frankl, Kurt Vonnegut, Robert M Pirsig, Robert Cialdini to name a few but then again perhaps I have indeed been infected by reading this book. In other words, I have woken up and there is no going back to sleep.

Is it time for you to wake up too?

I’ll let you make that decision for yourself and if you decide you want to experience it for yourself pokerwithoutcards.com is the place to go.

When help is not helpful

About a month ago I went to the doctor for the first time in over six years. In fact, when I tried to book the appointment I discovered that I had been de-registered from that particular practice through lack of contact on my part so I decided to register with another doctor closer to where I live now.

The event that convinced me that perhaps it was a good time to get help was breaking down in front of my boss during a performance review, which at first felt extremely embarrassing followed then by being told off by my inner critic for being weak and to toughen up and get on with it.

The performance review, as a result of my sobbing nature, took a different turn and thankfully she was very understanding and I got the feeling she wanted to help. As part of my employment benefits I have access to what is often known as employee care programs through which I have access to various advice and helplines. One of these is confidential counseling. She told me that I was not the only one within her team to have experienced difficulties and that two other people in my team had taken advantage of the counseling service. I did call them a few months prior to this event and was told to first consult a doctor (which I failed to do – largely due to procrastinating on it). The woman I spoke to did say that she would call back a week later to and a telephone appointment was scheduled but never happened so I lost a little faith in that service. However, since I didn’t stick to my end of the bargain I am holding no one to ransom!

She then proceeded to tell me some of the help my other two colleagues (She obviously didn’t tell me who) had received through this service, all of which sounded mostly like some of the self help stuff I had already read through before without much success. The one thing that made me lose all faith in that particular service was when she told me that one of my colleagues had been advised to go and buy a copy of………..are you sitting down???……….If not please do……


I nearly fell off my chair at this point! The initial shock of that comment did, however, change my state from an anxious mess to a slightly more controlled person, which is the only positive effect “The Secret” has ever had on me!!!

My boss had never heard of it at which point I decided to give her some background information on some of the people featured in what can best be described as nothing other than a massive marketing exercise with no value for anyone other than the people featured. I am not convinced that any of that registered in her mind though.

At this point she remains determined to try to help, for which I was grateful, but this is where someone else’s idea of help may not prove very helpful to the recipient of it. I am not questioning her motives to want to help nor do I want to seem ungrateful. However, her approach to helping was listing down a number of practical steps and actions I could take to help me make my life at work a little easier. I am beginning to see it more as a growing to do list with more tasks for me to do, although in fairness there were some good ideas and tweaks in there.

The diagnosis at the Doctor was Anxiety & Depression, which did not come as a surprise at all. I do respect the fact that he did not try to just force anti depressant down my throat and when I explained my reluctance to medication he instead referred me to a counseling service covered by the National Health Service.

Anyway, the reason why I feel that help from people close to you can sometimes be less than helpful is because of their idea of what might be helpful. I am very fortunate to have friends with whom I can explain what “normal” people will refer to as irrational thinking or behaviour and know that I will not be misunderstood or judged in anyway because they have experienced similar feelings or thoughts.

The problem I sometimes have with help offered by friends and family that have not experienced these feelings is the fact that when all I need is someone to listen or simply say a kind word they attack it from a very practical point of view with endless suggestions and advice all of which is perceived by me as more tasks to do and more pressure on me to again become “normal”.

I know that they are desperate to help and perhaps the endless advice and suggestions is a way of alleviating their own frustration of not fully knowing how they can help in the first place.

Sometimes all it takes is to listen and try to understand without the need to come up with a solution.

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