10 Things You NEED to Do if You Were Hired Today

The woman right next to me was alive one second, then a taxi came up on the sidewalk of 42nd Street between 6th and 7th Avenue, hit her and veered off and now the woman was lying in the street, blood everywhere. This happened on the first or second day of my work when I started at HBO. I tried to call 911 in the payphone (there were still payphones in August, 1994)  and then I had to go. The woman was dead.

And I had to go to work.

I loved HBO like I would love a parent. I wanted them to approve of me. And kiss me as I went to sleep at night.

Before I got the job offer to work there I would watch HBO all day long. My friend Peter and I would watch HBO or MTV for 10 hours straight. I’d go over his house around 1pm in the afternoon and by 10pm we would look at each other and say, “what the hell did we just do”. Everything from the “the Larry Sanders Show” on HBO to “Beavis & Butthead” on MTV. We couldn’t stop.  I loved the product. I wanted to work there.

10 Rules If You Are Hired Today:

Rule #1: Love the product.

You have to love the current output of the company. If you work at HBO, love the shows. Watch every single show. No excuses.

If you work at WD-40, know every use of WD-40. Make up a few more that nobody ever thought of. If you work at Otis Elevators, understand all the algorithms for how it decides which floors to stop on when.

If you work at Goldman Sachs, read every book on the history, study every deal they’ve done, know Lloyd Blankfein’s favorite hobbies and how he rose through the ranks.  You have to love the product the way Derek Jeter loves playing baseball.

When I started at HBO I would every day borrow VHS tapes from their library. I watched every show going ten years back. In my spare time I’d stay late and watch TV. I’d watch all the comedians. I even watched the boxing matches that initially made HBO famous. Which leads me to…

Rule #2: Know the History. When the business I started, Reset, was acquired by a company called Xceed, I learned the history of the mini-conglomerate that Xceed was created out of. There was a travel agency for corporations. I visited them in California. There was a burn gel company. I visited them and met all the executives and learned the technical details how the gel was invented. There was a corporate incentives company. I met with them to see if any of their clients could become my clients.

At HBO, I learned how Michael Fuchs (the head of HBO Sports at the time. Later CEO of HBO) in 1975 aired the first boxing match that went out on satellite. And how Jerry Levin (the CEO of HBO, later CEO of Time Warner) used satellites to send the signal out to the cable providers. The first time that had ever happened. Ted Turner had been so inspired by that he turned his local TV affiliate, TBS, into a national TV station, and the rest became history.

Rule #3: Know the history of the executives. At HBO I studied the org chart religiously. My title was “programmer analyst, IT department” and yet I was always asking around: how did John Billock become head of Marketing (he trudged around house to house selling HBO subscriptions in Louisiana when Showtime started up, for instance, decades earlier).

Where did my boss’s boss’s boss’s boss work before arriving at HBO (Pepsi). Where did the head of Original Programming get his start? (he was a standup comedian, later CEO of HBO, before being forced to quit when choking his girlfriend in a Las Vegas parking lot). It was like reading about the origins of all the superheroes. I was a fanboy and my heroes were the other executives. I wanted to be one of them. Or better.

Same thing: know all of your colleagues and what their dreams and ambitions are. Get to work 2 hours before they get to work. If they need favors, do them. You have a whole two hours extra a day. You can do anything.

Rule #4: Make your boss look good. Your entire job in life is to make your boss look good. You don’t care about yourself. You only want your boss to get promotions, raises, etc. Remember, you can never make more than your boss. So the more he makes, the better he does, the better you will do. It’s the only way to rise up. Work hard, give him full credit for everything you do. Don’t take an ounce of credit. At the end of the day, everyone knows where credit belongs. But even then, thank him for everything and direct all credit back to him (or her). Here’s how you make your boss look good:

–          Get to work two hours before him. If that means you have to wake up and go in at 5am then do it. Two extra hours of work a day is an extra 500 hours of work a year. None of your co-workers can compete with that.

–          Walk with him to his car, train, etc when he leaves work. You need to know his goals, his initiatives, his plans, his family troubles, etc.

–          And, again, give him full credit for everything. And thank him regularly for the opportunity to do the work you are doing.

Rule #5: Know all the secretaries. It’s a cliché but the secretaries run the company. They control all of the schedules. They dish out all of the favors. Take as many secretaries out to lunch as possible. Not just in your department but in every department.

Particularly HR. HR knows all of the gossip. Knows everything that is happening. Its not so hard to do this. First off, HR gives you all of your intro material when you join the company. Ask those people out to lunch after you’ve settled in for a few weeks. If someone writes an internal company newsletter, ask that person to lunch. Ask your boss’s boss’s boss’s boss’s secretary out to lunch. Nobody will think you are going over their head. You’re asking to lunch “just” a secretary. This was invaluable to me at every company I’ve ever worked at.

Rule #6: Constantly test your value on the market. The job market is like any other market. There’s supply and demand. And you’re just an item for sale at the great bazaar. Every year you need to find out what your value is on the market. For one thing, the best way to get an increase in salary and status is to move horizontally, not vertically. Second, you don’t want to get inbred. A good friend of mine was in HBO’s marketing department for 17 years. I set up a dinner between her, me, and the CEO of an advertising agency that was hiring. The CEO was one of my closest friends. Still, she couldn’t hire my HBO friend. “She’s too inbred,” she said. “She will never be able to get the HBO way of doing things out of her head.”

When I was at HBO I was constantly talking to people at other companies. I had lunch with top people at Showtime. I knew people from all the other divisions of Time Warner. I was always asking people to lunch of breakfast. I would get offers from the banking industry. I would try to work within different divisions of HBO. Everytime I got another offer, I got another raise and promotion at HBO. Sometimes substantial (up to 35% increases). My bosses would resent me for it, but then go back to “Rule #4” and often they would get raises also.

Rule #7: Study all the marketing campaigns. In 1996 they switched their slogan to “It’s not TV. It’s HBO”. That slogan lasted for 13 years. Before that it was “Simply the Best”, then “Something Special’s On”. When they switched to “It’s not TV”, Eric Kessler, the head of marketing, gave a talk on how they came up with the slogan. All his employees were in the auditorium. And me from the IT department. Nobody else would go with me. I knew every slogan HBO ever had.

Rule #8: Study the industry. What made HBO different from Showtime. From Cinemax? From non-pay cable? From broadcasting. I ready every book about the history of TV I could find. I would go to lectures at the Museum of Radio and Television on 52nd Street (the best was a day that members of the MTV show “The Real World” gave a panel. After the panel I followed one group of other people in the audience for 30 blocks while they talked about the panel and the show. I wanted to break in so many times. They would be my new best friends. We would have parties around showings of “The Real World”. But I was too shy and eventually they all split off in different directions, leaving me alone). Jessica Reif Cohen was the Merrill analyst covering media. I knew nothing about stocks. But I read everything she wrote and would scan the WSJ for mentions of her name.

When I was trying to sell my first company, Reset. I called every company in the industry. Omnicom, Razorfish, Agency.com, etc etc. I read every SEC filing so I would know the nuances of all their deals and financings.  When I was building Stockpickr I became obsessed with the mechanics of how Yahoo Finance worked and the ways in which she (Yahoo Finance is a “she”, and I love her) delivered traffic to all of her media sources. With HBO it was fascinating to me because at one point the CEOs of Showtime, Time Warner, Universal, Viacom, Fox Sports, etc were all former executives at HBO.

Rule #9: BECOME the company. I was a lowly programmer in the IT department. We were so far from the normal business operations of the company that they even put us in a different building. But that didn’t matter to me. I WAS HBO. That was my mantra. I became so absorbed in every aspect of the company that I knew that any idea I had would be a good idea for the company. At least I felt this (not sure if anyone else did). I never said, “I think this”, I said, “We should do this”. HBO and I were a “We”. Inseparable. Until you have that feeling of unity with the company you work for, you can’t rise up. Key, though: when you have an idea, make sure you know how to execute the idea also. In detail. Ideas are a dime a dozen. And execution is worth a million dollars. And I mean that specifically, if you execute on a good idea, you’ll make a million dollars or more from it.

Rule #10. LEAVE. All good things must come to an end. From the day you start, you need to plan your exit. Not like in rule #6, “Know Your Value” where you are trying to figure out your corporate salary value. “Leave” means something different. It means you’re going to say goodbye forever. If you master Rules #1-9 at a company then you’ll know enough about the company and industry to start your own company. To either become a competitor or a service provider. And you will have built in customers because your rolodex will be filled with people from the industry. If you constantly think like an entrepreneur from the instant you walk into your cubicle on day one of your job then you will constantly looking for those missing gaps you can fill. This is how you jump into the abyss. You make sure the abyss has a customer waiting for you.

I did everything wrong my first few months at HBO. I didn’t know NYC. I didn’t know corporate culture at all. I wore the same suit five days in a row until I realized nobody else was wearing a suit and I never wore one again. I didn’t have the requisite skill set to survive at my job (they had to send me to a remedial programming school despite the fact that I had majored in programming AND went to graduate school for computer science).

I was obsessed with the Internet and HBO didn’t even own HBO.com at the time. My boss’s boss’s boss would say to my boss, “get him away from that Internet stuff and onto some real work.”

One time my boss came into my cubicle and with everyone listening from every other cubicle said to me, “we want you to succeed here but you need to know more or else it’s not going to work out.”

It was very embarrassing and nobody around me would meet my eyes for the next week or so. I was the walking dead. I was sure I was going to get fired every day.

But I survived then. And every day since.


  • Andre Agassi hates playing tennis. Read his autobiography, Open (one of the very few sports autobiographies actually worth reading).

    • I’ll read it. but I don’t believe it. You don’t get to that level without at some point loving it.

    • TripleB

      Yeah, that jumped out at me as well.

      “I play tennis for a living even though I hate tennis, hate it with a dark and secret passion and always have.”


      • Anonymous

        I think that happens with a LOT of athletes. They may have loved it as a kid, or at point a, b or c….

        But at some point in their careers (especially pro athletes) they are like everyone else and end up doing it for the paycheck. Something they at one time loved, has just become “a job”.

  • txchick57

    Gawd. Reading that gave me a sick feeling in my stomach. I could not do a single one of those things.

    • Its hard. Thats why Rule #10 is most important.

    • I regularly do at least three items.

      First, as far as I’m concerned, I am my company. When someone calls the company and talks to me, for all intents and purposes, I am the face or voice of the organization. They don’t speak to my boss, or my boss’s boss, they speak to me. If I provide a bad experience, they don’t think “Man, that Josh really sucks. I don’t like working with him.” They think “Man, X Corp sucks. I don’t like working with them.” To them, you are X Corp.

      Second, I’ve loved every company I’ve worked for. Not that they’ve always been the best places to work, but the fact that I worked there invested me in their success. It may be a cognitive dissonance thing, or even Stockholm syndrome, but I end up becoming a vocal proponent of my employer. And to do that well, you need to know as much as you can about your employer. Why do they do business the way they do? What is the strategy behind the decision-making? How do they profit? How do they need to improve?

      Third, you’ve got to appreciate your coworkers. People who like you do favors for you, but more interestingly, people who do favors for you like you (cognitive dissonance strikes again!). Even in the largest, most faceless companies, you’re still working among the same faces day in and day out. You see them as much as your own family. People notice kindness and they abhor rudeness. And they don’t forget.

      (Of course I can’t find work these days, so who knows whether it’s really worth it.)

      • Russ

        Get into sales, sell a pile of stuff and then throw your rules out the window (except for value and leaving). You don’t have to be a kiss-ass when you are driving a ton of revenue to the company.

        • Its still helpful to know the history of the company, the history of the product, the marketing, the competition, to BECOME the soul of the company. I’m a salesman and, for me, sales is infinitely easier with the above knowledge.

  • Question on #4: If your boss is an absolute brick, do you still try to make him look good? When things start to fail and they’re looking to axe him do you think it’s common to look at the employees who tried to support him unfavorably?

    • Thats tricky. It depends why things are failing, it depends on the politics. But thats also why you have to build relationships throughout the company, so you aren’t dependent one person.

      • Hard Slacker

        This article is great and summarizes a lot of the lessons I’ve also learned *surviving* the corporate atmosphere. I want to add my two cents for the readers.

        First, for employers: *Challenge your staff* if you want them to work hard. The paycheque only tells them what address to show up to in the morning. Loyalty is bought, productivity is free. Never give bonuses for *hard work*. Do the highest paid work the most? No. They are paid a premium not to leave.

        Second, is for employees: “You will be rewarded for all your efforts not by your current, but by your next employer”.

        Living this advice can do you a world of good!!!

        Every bit of unrecognized effort is like going to the gym for your work ethic. The one you’re with won’t see the change, but the new employer will absolutely love the shape you’re in.

        As a young (30) professional, who has worked at Fortune 500 companies and small startups, soon after tackling the crux of the challenge of my job, I’m gone. I will not show up every day and do only the minimum just to keep my job. Lazy boomers crush our spirit and killed the economy. We want to change this world, and push what is the corporate world of today straight into the past at full effing speed. Your expectation of stability as a reward for your loyalty is a *relic*. Pay me what I’m worth or your competition will. We understand this but we are outnumbered.

        Young professionals manifesto :

        I will do great work for you, and let you take all the credit. Thank you for taking a chance on me.

        I am a “slacker”. Lazy and smart. A profitable combination.

        On the off-chance that I *do* appear to be working hard, it’s because I’m struggling.

        If I am struggling, I am not efficient. If I am inefficient, we are losing money.

        I’d work for free if I was sufficiently challenged. Don’t let me get bored.

        I will not show up on time every day. It doesn’t take me 8 hours to get my work done, and I won’t pretend that it does.

        I cannot give you a steady predictable output. I give you spurts of genius with occasional burnout.

        The “ladder” is irrelevant and I will not pay my dues to you. 5 years in one job? What took you so long to get it done? I will fight the Peter principal.

        Raises are BS. Keep your raise. Instead, lower your expectations by 3%. It will cost you less and you will get more.

        Let’s you and I make this money, work so damn hard that we are able to put this b**ch on autopilot, and leave early to be with the people we love doing the things we enjoy doing.


        • Anonymous

          Good luck if that is the creed you live by, because sooner or later it WILL bite you in the ass!

          • Ek

            I’m not sure if Hard Slacker was throwing out the Manifesto as a suggestion (perhaps as an alternative approach to the ideas in this article) or as a description of how most people in their 20s and early 30s think about their jobs nowadays. If it is the former, it probably will bite him in the ass. If it is the latter, though, I think it is pretty spot on, with the exception that a lot of young people are struggling to get by and therefore DO care about raises.

            I do think the idea in the post should be modified a bit depending on one’s own priorities in life. The problem with working so much when you are young to work less when you are older is twofold: first, habits involving work-life balance and general work ethic are tough for most people to break, and second, it could be you that gets hit by the taxi.

        • jquick99

          My Motto was always: Learn everything you can…so you can take it with you.

  • Andrew

    As usual, I don’t agree with everything you’ve written here. But I agree with most of it, and more importantly you’ve opened up some new ideas for me to add to the mix. Good stuff.

    • Andrew, please tell me: what don’t you agree with.

      • Andrew

        I agree with the premise of #4 and #9, but not to the extent that you write about.

        There are probably huge differences between working in a NYC corporate environment vs. a company that operates in the midwest where I have spent my life.

        On the flipside, I think #3 and #5 are particularly useful in any situation. Having a personal relationship with all the players in the game strikes me as a valuable asset in any group you’re involved with. And really knowing and understanding the perspective of those people who are further up the ladder than you can only benefit you. That’s great advice.

  • David Gillie

    Rule #4: Back in the late ’70s, I worked for an architectural firm. I was a low level Project Manager. My boss with the Sr. Project Manager (over all projects). He was a nice guy and pretty easy to work for if you did what you were supposed to do.
    He said the President /Owner of the company had given him the task of writing job descriptions for everybody that worked under him. He told me to go write my own job description (he obviously thought it was a BS task).
    I was back in his office in 5 minutes with a fresh piece of paper in hand. Surprised to see me back so quickly, he got a big smile thinking I had some sort of joke in mind (which I often did). I handed him a sheet of paper that had this written on it:

    Job Title: Project Manager
    Job Description: Make Sr Project Manager look good.

    He got a huge smile on his face and said “You’re the smartest guy thats ever worked for me.”
    He then went on to say, “What do you do on Monday’s after work?”
    Me: “Nothing in particular”
    Him: “Great, I want you to come over to the club with me on Monday nights to play handball.”

    I’d pop into his office frequently and just say “Hi, how you doing?” or “Hey, is there anything I can do for you?” (before he asked me to do something).

    I got a raise after 6 months. I was surprised because it wasn’t supposed to happen until after a year.
    I asked him why the early raise?
    He said, “Remember when I had that big screw up and ordered and had all the wrong lighting fixtures installed on your project? You fixed it, took 100% of the blame/responsibility and never said a word about it”? THAT is why you got a raise. And of course, losing at handball every Monday night didn’t hurt either.” (said with a wink).

    Moral of the story: Likability weighs equally with talent.

  • I’d like to see you write the same article from the employer POV. The one thing that absolutely rang true, is everyone leaves. Doesn’t matter how much you bend over backwards to educated them, flexible scheduling, or pay raises – eventually they leave. We have learned that the hard way after investing quite of bit of time and effort into someone we were grooming to take over as a regional boss.

    Now we view everyone as replaceable. The day they are hired, we know we have limited time. We are very careful to watch vacation usage….9 times out of 10 employees plan a vacation once they know they are quitting, surprisingly before their vacation plans they have dental appointments mid day. (duh) Their production plummets, their office demeanor changes, they stop looking you in the eye and it becomes very obvious what is going on.

    At hiring, we ask our employee to be honest about leaving. They all agree. To date we have had only 2 people follow through with that level of integrity, you know honoring their word. Those two people are still in touch and we maintain excellent business relationships. The others….who knows, who cares.

    • Patd

      I always enjoy your posts…your sense of humour abounds…I read all your posts….
      I am not an employer as you…
      however I opine that they (new employees) can be “ego-centered”…
      I dont know the age bracket you are referring to…I am assuming it is under 30….
      I just posted on another blog of James…on the opposite side of the proverbial coin…
      We spent $$$$ as every parent does…to educate ..if you are a parent I’m certain you do as well…
      it was never my intent…to send my offspring out into the world ….
      to be annoying/egotistical and unproductive….
      if you ever run into my children….
      fire them STAT….
      They weren’t raised that way….:)

      • Thanks Patd.
        It is the younger age bracket that I am speaking about, but we have had trouble with old dogs too….I find it’s an individual trait, and not something you can change. I would bet money your children will do fine….eventually. They have to learn what a good work experience/environment is, usually after experiencing a bad one and making a few errors.

        My children are all in college. I hope they maintain some of what we taught them. I like to think they will, but I don’t really know.

        ….I’m not ready to watch them struggle in the real world….

  • David Gillie

    Let me spin your Rules #1,2,& 3.

    I ultimately ended up in sales. I didn’t “love” my product, but I knew it very well (with all the corp and development history). In fact, by knowing it well and also researching the competition, I realized it really wasn’t any different, better or cheaper than the competition. How the hell could I sell “About the same”?

    I changed my perspective of the “customer buying the product” to the “customer buying from ME”. THAT was something that I could sell. Treat the customer like a friend… don’t aways “pitch the product”… help them find whats best for them (even if it isn’t your product)… be totally honest with them… take responsibility for mistake… be humble…and above all else,LISTEN.
    Ultimately, the customer comes to realize that pretty much all the products are basically the same… so they buy from the person they LIKE and TRUST. A casual, friendly, honest relationship with customers netted me Top Sales Nationally and ultimately to promotion of Regional Director of the East Coast.

    Again, as I wrote about Rule #4, Likability weighs heavily.
    And, James, when I saw your presentation in Orland back in Feb, the audience was like warm putty in your hands. They LIKED you, they enjoyed your company and yes, you gave them good insight, but they would have opened their wallets to you as opposed to all those schmucks hard pitching their newsletter.

  • Allibaxter


    If you don’t know Jack Colletti, the two of you should definitely meet:

  • CD

    I couldn’t get past the line of the woman being killed by the taxi. People in NY go to work after that? Jesus. No wonder I never wanted to visit. Cold, Hard.

  • Clay

    Interesting that you didn’t say anything about co-workers or adapting to the/their culture. Co-workers become colleagues, friends, peers, future employees or bosses and your future industry network. Rule 4 Make The Boss Look Good & Rule 9 Become the Company, as you describe them (following boss to car, inability to separate self from the company) could alienate co-workers, create office politics, and slowly eat away at the day to day working environment and eventually your desire to keep going into work every morning.

    Great post. With this kind of knowledge, why do you think you were/are such a bad employee and that you would never hire yourself?

    • Great point and I should’ve included it.

      • James, you glossed over Clay’s Q! I am intensely curious how somebody who, by his own account, was so profoundly out of place in a handful of your gigs, could write this wise and affable advice. It doesn’t square, at least in any way I can imagine.

        • Well, I left out the part where for the first few weeks of any job I’ve had i’ve one by one took out to lunch all of the colleagues in my group. I would also invite their families, when possible, over to my place where I would cook dinner. I would figure out other ways to bond (poker night, etc). That’s why I say I should’ve included this point as its important.

          • thanks a lot for such an informativearticle) it appeared to be very useful for me) and i even didnt expect it))) and also this discussion in comments made it more complete) so thanks to everyone)

  • Ross

    Agree and have lived 1 through 9 in some stage. However, once I stopped doing 1 and 4 I knew I had to pull a 10. It is amazing how many people spend so much time working up an organization yet fail to realize its the working across and down that builds your power base. It also has the risk of making you a target. Nothing gets rivals and superiors more antsy than a well respected, well connected person that executes when they cannot.

  • Patd

    James A…..
    an underlying theme of this post IMHO…
    is to keep your “ego” in check….
    at least for the initial time you become a member/employee….
    it makes Total sense to me….
    kids today ….graduating from XYZ Unniversity…..
    are taught just the opposite….(I know that of which I speak)…..

    I am/would be at a loss to tell them how to reconcile this info….
    and it hasn’t worked out for my daughter….
    she was hired by a major Nasdaq tech co. as a financial analyst….
    and she discovered the ‘disconnect’ very early….

    since I am of the philosophy of self-employment…(for better or worse)….and I have Never worked for a major corp…I had nothing to contribute to her dilema…
    Thanx as always….

    • I know what you mean. Having hired many young people. Its a tricky balance that requires youthful energy and confidence, but also maturity to know when to suppress the exuberance that you can conquer the world without paying dues.

      Perhaps the only advice is no advice. Failure is a fine option for youth. And eventually that helps them tune the beautiful musical instrument that is their ego. Finely tuned, it can produce a masterpiece. You’re just there to turn the pages while they play. You’ve done a good job, Pat. Continue to live by your own example is all you can do. And be there for her with love when she comes to you. And she will.

      • Patd

        You have no idea how much this reinforcement means to me….
        Parenthood is Not an easy path….and it is painful watching them “fine-tune”
        your girls are soo fortunate….to have you as a father…

  • Kjp712

    Never take a Secretary to Lunch.Make sure the invitation is for Dinner.

    • Timmy E.

      When you have only 30 minutes for lunch, and dinner is usually after work hours, this would count as cutting into your personal time. Plus the fact other people are seeing you are taking people out for lunch, which can upset the apple cart so to speak, and fuel jealousies that you must ignore as much as be aware of.

  • Steven L Goff

    This sounds an awful lot like your requirements for an assistant or handbook for working for ya at Formula One?

    If thats the case, I must tell you that you were politically incorrect in this line here> “So the more he makes, the better he does, the better you will do. It’s the only way to rise up. Work hard, give him full credit for everything you do. Don’t take an ounce of credit”…………could you ever work for a woman James? or have ya?

  • So, kiss lots of ass, suck up every chance you have, and overwork yourself? Got it… Oh, then leave, because that totally makes sense…

    • It actually does. but hopefully there’s two extra things you’re leaving out:
      A) you love what you do
      B) you don’t work so hard in the long run. thats the key.
      C) at no point will you do things that make you unhappy if you do it right.

  • Guest

    James, appreciate the piece. Thanks.

  • Anonymous

    I’d say everything except the be there 2 hours earlier is a good thing… Unless you are getting paid for those extra hours all you are doing is sacrificing your personal life for the company. Effectively they are hiring you for a 8 hour work week and you are providing 10 instead (remember 24 hours in a day, 8 hours of sleep, that gives you 8 hours for work and 8 hours for yourself)… Now I’m not saying do favors or anything or spend some extra time from time to time but there has to but if it becomes a habit it could be a problem. There may even be company policies preventing people from coming early or staying late to prevent labor disputes.

    • Its about working hard when you’re young to you can work less and less as you grow older.

  • bh

    is it just me, or is your whole life about work, being promoted, and getting raises? Do you ever go a minute, hour or day without scheming to get ahead? I find it exhausting to be fake…doesn’t anyone else?

    • Edie Spencer

      1) James is in NYC. That is life in NYC- I grew up in Bed Stuy, and this was life for everyone there- from the wannabe rapper to the RN practioner who wants her own office.

      2) It’s not his whole life- he has talked his writing style and being a parent.

    • I think iTs just you. Check out the other articles on this blog. In this article I’m just trying to give my perspective on an area many people find important

      • Falon

        Why is everyone so hard on you, James? I really enjoy your postings and your writing style. I also appreciate your forthcoming honesty, even when it applies to your own shortcomings and mistakes. While I may not arrive at my job at 6:00 am every day, I can still appreciate your point of view =)

        • Ek

          I actually think James has a lot of good advice here, but people are missing those points because they are focusing on the assumption/suggestion of a lifestyle that prioritizes work and money much more heavily than most people do (or should). For example, I thought the main points were:

          1) Find a career that you are passionate about, both in terms of the general field and your specific employer (1, 2, 3, 7, 8, and 9)…I mean, it struck me as a little odd at first to do all this background research into the history of one’s employer, but then I realized that I have acquired a near-encyclopedic knowledge of rock music, professional sports teams I follow, and the plotlines of tons of books, video games, movies, etc. without ever having been paid to do so, and the same is true of most of you with whatever your hobbies are. This is good advice, although I don’t think it addresses the reality that many people, no matter how hard they try, cannot parlay any of their major passions in life into a job that pays enough to live on (that could be a future topic for discussion).

          2) Get to know the people you work for and with (3, 4, and 5, plus his later suggestion that you get to know your co-workers)…again, good advice, although I think it is good advice more because it is fulfilling to have a sincere investment in other people’s lives and not because it will help you get ahead in the future (honestly, it will help more if you have a sincere interest anyway; a lot of people can tell pretty easily when someone is being fake and most people cannot stand that crap).

          3) Don’t have irrational loyalty to your employer; be willing to leave for a better offer; and don’t be afraid to strike out on your own once you have the necessary network and skills (6 and 10)…that’s good advice too.

  • Ohwolfman

    You’re a fool. Perhaps if you lived in “Mad Men” times, things would be different. These days, no company is loyal to you, and you should have no loyalty to any company. The bottom line is that the company is looking to boost their bottom line and if they find some kiss-ass fool who is going to walk side-by-side with their boss to their car and give an additional 500 hours of free labor to the company, they hired themselves a sucker.

    I played your game when I was in my 20s. You know where it gets you? No where. As soon as I changed my perspective and became “Nick Inc.” and cared about MY bottom line and started telling these companies what fools they were if they let someone with my experience slip through their fingers, they listened to me, the paid me what I demanded and they got the quality and amount of work I promised.

    Hey, I might be hiring a motivated kid like you. How’s $8/hour?

    • I’m not sure if you are talking to me or not but I’ll respond: I 100% agree with you. Read the other posts on this blog. Or finish this particular post where my final advice is LEAVE the job you have.

      • Dismoeds

        I don’t think you do 100% agree with Ohwolfman, or you wouldn’t have quoted Gandhi at my response.

        • Well, maybe you dont understand what Gandhi said. Maybe none of us know anything about anything at all.

          • Dismoeds

            It’s getting metaphysical, and I’m afraid that’s where I leave a discussion.

  • Steven L Goff

    Johnny Paycheck – You can take this job and shove it!


  • Wes

    Inspiring and entertaining as always Mr Altucher. Thanks for the great blog!

  • Carl M

    What a load of BS! My god – who walks their boss to their car – this is not a high school date people. This has to be the worst advice I have ever read!

    • Does this chat client allow a person to like their own comment?

      Just wondering.

    • Well, whether or not its an employee, employer, colleague, competitor, customer, client, I always do everything I can to understand their goals both for work and life. thats the key to successfully engaging them and having both parties mutually profit. And, btw, it works in dating and marriage also.

  • Henryallen Allen

    Hello, I want to have only good friend but now. If u want to be as friend please send me your account and then we will be good friends.

  • Dismoeds

    ha ha, arriving two hours before your boss. Sorry but I would rather have a life; and if your boss’s approval depends on this tactic, then you have the wrong boss

    • For me, when i enjoy what I do (and right now its mostly as an entrepreneur/writer/investor) working an extra 2 hours is what i love doing and all the world around me bends to allow it to happen.

      As Gandhi once said, “I have no time at all, so I need to meditate an extra 2 hours a day”.

  • Anonymous

    I hope this is one of those where someone experiments on people or trying to spark discussions by putting negatives. It’s not like that at all in enterprise world, if it would I would stay away from it as far as I could. There is one valid point there – to learn from others.
    Other than that I wouldn’t follow one single piece of advice from here – this is not the way to success.
    I was thinking about moving to NYC for a bit but if work life looks like this over there I would never do it.

    • Jake, I’m not sure where you work but why wouldn’t you want to understand the history of the company, the history of the industry, the bios of the execs you work with, and develop ideas to improve the company, while making sure credit is given out to others. The advice above has worked for me both as an employee AND as an entrepreneur. Trust me, it works and I’ve seen it work for many others.

      • Anonymous

        Ok, maybe I should have be more specific. While studying other peoples, company’s history, industry etc is good, walking people to car, doing personal favors and so on is not. As well working for any company isn’t about making your boss successful and let somebody take credit for your good work. It is about doing and thinking in ways that make’s profit for company, build up it’s image or making their customers happy.

        • I agree that making profit for the company is the number one priority: hence the knowing the company history, understanding historically the branding, the industry, etc is critical.

          But politics is politics. For you to flourish, your boss needs to flourish. Your colleagues need to like you, the secretaries need to like you, etc.

          Both paragraphs above == success.

  • dudehouse

    Sounds like advice on how to be a corporate yes-man and complete pussy.

    • Thats not my advice at all:
      A) not my point #10, plus my post “10 reasons to quit your jobs today” (found here: http://www.jamesaltucher.com/2011/04/10-reasons-you-need-to-quit-your-job/)

      B) if you want to succeed at your job I assume you have a passion for it (which wil conflict with yes-man)

      C) if you follow the advice above (history, BECOMING the company, etc) then believe me you will be saying “no” to CEOs of your company a lot more than you will be saying “yes”. Again, you will BECOME the soul of the company, which may digress from the path the current execs have for the company. As long as you avoid arrogance and as long as you deeply understand the history of the company, its execs, and the industry

      In other words, its the exact opposite of what you are suggesting.

  • bh

    advice on how to have no life…and a singular focus on getting ahead in the corporate world. 500 hours which could be spent with friends and family…this is beyond ridiculous. I hope nobody has such “passion” for their work…and zero passion for friends, family and loved ones. Not to mention down time and hobbies…or vacations.

    • Well, eventually thats why I have step #10. You have to pull this off when you are young. Else, resort to my post: “10 reasons you need to quit your job right now”. This post is written almost as part of a series:
      “10 things to do if you were fired today”
      “10 things to do if you were hired today”
      “10 reasons you need to quit your job”
      “How to exploit your employer”
      “The easiest way to succeed as an entrepreneur”

      Together, they work. At least from my own experience.

  • Guest

    Interesting, from an IT perspective. As you mention, most IT personnel don’t do this kind of thing. There’s a very strong industry mindset that no matter what the employer does or who it is, you’re more an IT person temporarily assigned to company X than you are a part of company X.

    IT personnel are also famous for mindsets which recoil in horror at the prospect of filling their brains with personal details of anyone, and in particular anyone nontechnical – which includes executives. We’d much rather memorize the features on a new chipset or spend a week coaxing a 1% performance improvement out of something that only gets used on alternate Tuesdays. People are regarded as faceless, replaceable cardboard cutouts with endless computer problems, not sources of information.

    As mentioned elsewhere on this thread, the very thought of things like this can actually make some of us feel ill. The IT view of the world is that everything is made of clockwork of various complexity, and the sheer squishiness involved in things like sales, marketing, managing, and climbing the greasy pole is inherently repellent. If it’s not written down in a manual somewhere, it can’t be trusted.

    I’ll admit, though, after fifteen or so years in IT, I have started to get some amusement from whipping up some tiny program or procedure for a manager which cuts hours off their week or significant percentages from their costs, just to see their reaction. Admittedly, I think it’s more because it allows me to show that the IT department can be really useful (and, yes, smarter-than-thou) than because of any desire to get in good with the manager, but it’s a start.

  • Aaron

    I would just like to say I read your first article today, and I can’t stop reading – I haven’t pinpointed the reason, but these articles resonate with me. In saying that I have a ton of ideas, however I am not very accomplished at the “execution” phase. Which by reading your site is the piece that matters. Do you have any articles to work out the execution “muscle”?

  • I love the blog!  Your reference to Agassi is ironic.  Apparently he hated tennis

  • natalia holman

    No wonder you chose yourself James.The way you describe working for others corrodes the soul.I’m glad you got out in time