Things You Need to Get Answers on Before You Leave The Interview

Bobs

I hate fluff articles with similar titles that give you worthless tips for interviews like, “Tell me why you like working here”?”  Bah! No one cares because the answer to that question ls likely to be pure BS anyway.

At the risk of being blunt, there’s some things you need to get out of an interview, but usually don’t ask because they can seem edgy.  Still, getting this information is important.  How you get it in your line of questioning, that I leave to you.  Also you need to focus on the 2-3 questions that are most important to you personally.

What’s next in this process, and when?  Usually an interviewer will inform you of this as their way of saying, “we’re done with this interview.” If they don’t, you need to know what the next steps are and what the timing is for those steps. Timing can be important, because it tells you how important this role is.  If they want to fill it fast, it is more likely mission critical.

Who’s the decision maker? Organizations often have rounds of interviews, one with a recruiter, one with the hiring manager, sometimes a technical interview, sometimes team interviews, and so on.  Their belief is this ensures they get the best candidate; when in reality it spreads out the blame for hiring bad candidates to a larger group of people.  As such, it can get confusing as to who is the individual that actually is making the judgement call as to your joining the company.  If you don’t know this, ask!

Why didn’t this position get filled from within?  This tells you how important promotion from within is, if they provide training, etc. I asked this recently and got, “Oh, we have several in-house candidates that we like, but we always like looking in the external market.”  In other words, they may just be wasting your time because of a stupid policy. Probing at this can tell you a great deal about how the organization views their people.

What would be my career progression if I were offered this job?  In other words, how long until I can promoted and to what role or position?  Will I have freedom to change career directions, or is this seen as a niche role with little room for growth?   What I always want to know with this question is, “How much flexibility will I have with my career path?” What you want to find out is simple – is this a company that has an up-or-out approach to careers, or one that sees you as a long term asset they want to nurture and grow?

What does your company do to retain talent? Does this company even care enough to try and keep its best performers? The companies that really do care have program in place.  This is also a good question to determine if the organization you are interviewing with is one that cherishes experience, or promotes more of an “up-and-out,” mentality towards its people.

Does your company have any outsourcing initiatives or efforts to move jobs overseas?  I know of someone who hired into a job, only to find out that the seat was vacated because his predecessor had already been told the role was being moved to India.  You need to know if you are entering an environment that is harvesting jobs for outside vendors or to send overseas.  While this is not a deal-breaker on its own (the role you are interviewing for may not be impacted) it can tell you a great deal about the morale and focus of the staff.

What is your employee review process like?  The response to this question tells you something about how the tentative organization evaluates its people’s performance.   How you will be evaluated often drives the type of work you do.  Best to learn that before you are offered the position.

How many hours are there in a typical work week in this position?  Are you going to have time to have a life?  Is this place a sweat shop?  Chances are they will tell you, “it varies,” but you should probe a little further.  “So what is the high end and the low end?”

What is your turnover rate in this role?  You can give a recruiter an aneurism with this question, so I saved it for last.  This is how many people leave this job.  It tells you about the culture and the kind of longevity you can expect in this position.  If people are staying for a long time (a low turnover rate) then it is probably a pretty good place to work.

Bear in mind, the recruiter or the hiring manager may lie through their teeth in response to these kinds of questions. If nothing else, it can give you something to bitch and whine about when you discover the truth, “When I interviewed they told me I could have a career here…those bastards…”

I have been told that some recruiters might react negatively to one or more of these questions.  I try and not live my life around what upsets recruiters.  Well, do you really want to work at a place that won’t share this information with you up-front?  If nothing else, shame on you for not getting this information in your interview.

What Everyone is Thinking (but not saying) About Your PowerPoint Presentation…

PowerPoint
And we all know how things turned out for Ned Stark…

I make no small qualms that I loathe PowerPoint almost as much as I hate attending mindless meetings.  PowerPoint has reprogrammed generations of people in business to think in poorly written, vague bullet points.  While some might argue that it makes us be concise, it reality it is a crutch for people that perform crappy presentations.  Some teams actually use PowerPoint decks as reading material…I guess Word was too complex for them.  Morons.  PowerPoint is to documentation what an abacus is to a computer.

I had a manager once, (She-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named) who was so obsessed over PowerPoint, she was concerned about people reading them.  “What if this gets forwarded to the wrong person and they read it?”  So we had to create slide decks for this harpy-from-hell that could be understood if you knew nothing about the subject of the deck.  Seriously.  It wasn’t as if we had plans for making an atomic bomb in your basement in the decks we produced.  I have long suspected that she stupidly fretted over someone reading her material without her being in the room to bask in their praise over what she had produced.

I spend a lot of my corporate life in mind-numbing PowerPoint presentations under the guise of being productive meetings.  The majority of PowerPoint decks are mediocre at best, and at worst, they blow chucks.  I have actually started to shift to doing meetings without PowerPoint.  What I have found is that people are so conditioned to seeing the tool in a meeting that it confuses them when you don’t put up slides.  They get nervous and visibly uncomfortable – which I love.  “Aren’t you going to put your slides up?”  “Fu*k no.”  People have actually frowned at me when I tell them that I don’t want to use slides to make my point.  Presentation is an art form that has been corrupted by the evil programming elves at Microsoft.  This PowerPoint/mind-control is so sinister it could be a plot in a James Bond film.

Having vested much of my day-job in meetings under the dull glow of PowerPoint, it is time for me to impart some knowledge.  Let me share with you what people are likely to be thinking, but not saying, during your next sucky PowerPoint presentation:

  • Really?  Forty-six slides to make your point?   That many slides makes me wonder what you are really up to.   What are you hiding?  I’ll bet I can find it.  Game on!
  • Clearly what you define as important has no bearing in reality, as evidenced by your presentation.
  • You can stop reading me your slides.  If you were going to read them to me you should have just sent them to me in an email.  This may shock you but I learned to read years ago.
  • You said, “I’ll keep this short…”  and that was an hour ago. We all want to kill you and some are taking notes on how to do it.
  • We should make prisoners at GITMO sit through your presentation.
  • Pointing out that your slide is hard to read tells me you don’t care.
  • Based on your slides, you clearly worship Satan given that the devil is in the details — which is where you are taking us.
  • Your bullet points read like a drunken teenager’s text messages.  You seem to be a vowel or two short here.
  • A six-point font?  What is this, an eye exam?  Can’t you see we are all squinting?
  • If you are going to use clip art, at least don’t use 1992 quality clip art.
  • No, your graphic does NOT make your point clearer.  In fact, it achieves quite the opposite.
  • Making something bold and red insults me a little.  I know what is important.
  • When I read that slide I keep asking myself, “What is he/she trying to say?”  Even re-reading it leaves me confused.  A bit of my soul is dying inside me as a result.  I hate you.
  • I am not paying attention to what you are saying because your font choice is distracting me.
  • All of your arguments are invalid because of your spelling and grammatical mistakes on one slide.
  • Your use of graphics is making me cry on the inside.
  • Incorporating meaningless buzzwords and phrases does not help your presentation.  You’re not fooling anyone.
  • This all sounds peachy-keen – what does it cost?
  • Don’t blame the projector for your failure to organize your thoughts.
  • If I had wanted to read a book, I would have brought my Kindle.
  • It is hard to believe that we paid you to produce such a hideous slide deck.
  • This presentation is so dull, I am imagining innovative and creative excuses to leave the room.
  • I have done the math.  It is impossible to cover the number of slides you have left in the time we have allotted.
  • My four year old could have produced a better graph, and she’s limited to crayons.
  • Presentations like this is why I am on anti-depressants.
  • I wonder how much it cost us in your time and effort to put together this travesty of a slide deck?
  • Rarely has so much effort gone into presenting such a lie.  You should be congratulated – or shot.
  • I am waiting for the right moment to destroy your entire premise so that the audience will see me as the genius I believe myself to be.
  • It’s probably a bad time to let you know your fly is open.
  • If your graphic can’t fit on a slide, it’s not worth us looking at.
  • I love your material but your abuse of transitions between slides qualifies as a war crime.
  • We’re about due for someone to raise a meaningless point or analogy in an attempt to ruin the hard work you put in on this presentation.
  • If they had told me in business school that I would be doing this for a living (watching your PowerPoint) I would have pursued a liberal arts degree instead.
  • We are all silently curious…are you going to make a point sometime in the next hour or so?  Seriously, any point will do.  Just pick one…please!
  • Oh, I see you Bob – checking your watch.  We both want this to end.  Who in the hell still owns a watch? More importantly, what time is it?
  • If I could take a nap right now, I would. The fact that I am not asleep is worthy of a spot-bonus.
  • There are at least three people watching this presentation that will tear it apart just to be assholes.
  • Your illegal and unethical use of several copywrittten images only makes us hate you a little bit more.
  • Oh joy, you’re using an acronym that no one in the room knows.  You should know, it doesn’t make you any smarter.
  • Because you didn’t follow the company standard template for PowerPoint, I am ignoring everything you are presenting on.
  • It is only a matter of moments before someone questions the validity of your data.
  • My only concern with your presentation is that I wonder if I can muffle my fart – and if I do, can I muffle its smell?
  • Out of your 26 slides, there is only one that matters.  Why didn’t we just start there?
  • Do you realize that you have the wrong audience in the room (on the call) for the material you are presenting?  Do you care?
  • This presentation is all that is between me and a much-needed trip to the bathroom.  Please hurry…
  • As I watch you flip through these slides I cannot help but think that we need to improve our recruitment and hiring standards.
  • I should have had a friend send me a text so I had an excuse to leave this meeting.  Lesson learned…
  • This is an hour of my life I will never get back and will completely forget by the end of the day.
  • I can, and will, derail your entire presentation with a single question – just to prove I can.
  • My phone is vibrating in my pocket and that is much more exciting than this slide show.
  • It would be nice if you told us at some point what the purpose of this meeting is.
  • Please God, don’t let someone say that we need to have another meeting on this subject.
  • Nothing makes me more nauseous than someone saying, “I’ve run out of time, let me go through the last eight slides in two minutes.”
  • You didn’t build in time for questions?  You really thought your material would answer every stupid thing we could come up with?  Really?
  • Why are the boring presentations always scheduled for late in the day on a Friday?  Why are you always the one presenting them?
  • The colors you have chosen are making my eyes bleed on the inside.
  • It’s bad enough your slides are dull, but your droning makes me want to start cutting myself again.
  • The person you rehearsed this with lied to you…it sucks.
  • I am smiling at you only because it makes you think I care.
  • An appendix to your horrible presentation?  And it’s longer than the presentation?  This just became a homework assignment you douchebag.
  • If you’re going to deflect questions to the end – you’d better leave time to answer them.
  • Stop saying things like, “As you clearly can see…” or “This slide points out…”  Let me be the judge of what your slides say or don’t say.  Otherwise, why have me here in the first place?
  • Having our graphics team make a pretty graphic of your material is akin to polishing a turd.

 

The Cynic’s Guide to Making Your Meetings Effective

EffectiveMeetngs-page-0
My snapshot of a typical week’s worth of meetings – totally scientific.  

I have spent the better part of my daytime career in meetings, and I am no better for it. If people were compensated by how effective their meetings are, most would be living in cardboard boxes or in a van down by the river.  Even worse, most people don’t seem to care that the way they run meetings sucks.

When I was at Ford, we determined that our division lost upwards of $50k a day on poorly run meetings.  We changed that with intensive training and some simple rules.  I have learned a few things along the way, so allow me to share (in my usual snarky way)…

  • Have an agenda. I recently got back to this.  You don’t have write War and Peace – just a line or two about what the meeting is about.  Are you driving for a decision?  Then state that.
  • Start and end on time. People eventually get the idea that you are being effective. I never start more than two minutes after the scheduled time.  Sorry dude, that’s just how I roll.  Either be there or not – but this train is rolling out of the station.  Starting and ending on time is showing respect to people.
  • Don’t stop to catch someone up. That just burns time.  If that person needs to know what they missed, talk to them one-on-one later.
  • If you don’t have the right people in the meeting – then kill the meeting. If someone says, “We really can’t do it without Joan’s input,” then say you’ll reschedule with Joan.  Corollary:  Invite the right people to the call to begin with.  Don’t invite the whole world.  Invite the minimum number of folks needed to meet the objectives of the call/meeting.
  • Don’t read your PowerPoint deck. It is hard to believe, but most of the people on the call attended school and can read (though sometimes that is questionable with senior leadership.) Your slides should reinforce what you have to say.  And the fewer slides, the better.
  • Document the decision or summary of the meeting. One sentence can do it.
  • Silence does not mean agreement. Whoever the idiot was that first said, “If you’re silent I assume you’re agreeing,” clearly doesn’t understand people.  Sometimes I am quiet because I can’t think of non-swear words to convey my shock and awe at the raw stupidity of what I have just been told.
  • Engage everyone. If you invited people to the call you must want to know what they think.  If they are being quiet, ask them what their perspective is.
  • Facilitate your meeting. There are some people who are just blowhards.  They babble on-and-on just to wear out everyone else.  Keep the meeting on point.  Feel free to time-box discussions.  “We’re going to allow 15 minutes for debate on this subject.”  Personally, I like cutting people off when they are on some rambling tangent – but I’m partially evil.
  • Acknowledge people’s contributions. “Thanks Stephanie – that was a good point you raised.”
  • Schedule your call for the smallest amount of time necessary. We’re all busy.  Don’t schedule an hour for something that should take 20 minutes just because you’re paranoid that Mary is going to pontificate her perspective.  Surprisingly you can get most things done in the time you allot if you run your meeting right.
  • If you check that phone one more time I will break your fingers. You’re not in the meeting to play with your phone.  Shut it off or stuff it in your pocket.

Most of this stuff falls into the category of, “common sense,” but let’s face it, that is a rare commodity in most offices.  Share this with the guiltier members in your team.  There’s a chance they will get a clue and even if they adopt two of these suggestions, you’re ahead of the game.

Want more snarky ideas for work?  Check out my book – Corporate Rules – The Cynic’s Guidebook to the Corporate Overlords.  

 

Three Myths of Leadership:

Falling off Ladder
Another risk of picking the low hanging fruit…gravity.

Leaders sometimes hand out quips or one-liners to explain their actions or thinking.  I would like to take this chance to pop everyone’s misconceptions regarding three of these lines.  One is “We’re going after the low-hanging fruit,” the second is the myth of herding cats and the third is the proverbial “running up the flag to declare victory.”

My grandfather owned a nursery and orchard so I became “familiar” with picking apples in my youth.   When your grandparents are farmers, you do a lot of manual labor as a kid and I’ve been told it builds character.  I must have a lot of character if that’s the case…but I digress…

When I first heard someone talking about “picking the low-hanging fruit” it simply didn’t ring true with me.  First off, the low hanging fruit is often not really ripe because it’s in the heaviest shade of the tree near the bottom.  Second, when I picked apples, I learned quickly to start at the top of the tree and work your way down.  The fruit was riper at the top and your basket got heavier as you picked more, so it made sense to work your way down.  If you start with the low-hanging fruit you have to carry your ever-increasingly heavier basket up the tree, leaving you with the worst fruit and doing more work.  The smart picker starts at the top and works down.  Picking the low-hanging fruit is more work and the fruit is often really not ready for picking.

Myth busted.  Picking the low-hanging fruit is not really the smartest way to go.  Start at the top and work your way down…that’s the best course of action.

Someone commented recently that, “Getting everyone organized on this project is like herding cats.”  I’m not a cat person but I chuckled at the line because I remembered that the best way to get cats moving in unison is to open a can of cat food and start walking.  Rather than herd them, you simply have to lead them with food (an incentive).  Herding cats is not the way to move them.  Leading cats…that’s the ticket.

Myth dispelled.

The third myth is one I hear from time-to-time:  “Let’s quickly run up the flag and declare victory.”  I am a military historian, (No kidding, I write books in this genre) and there’s a real good reason you don’t run up the flag and declare victory.  First, victory is fleeting…it is fluid and often based on the moment in time.  While you perceive a victory now, it may quickly be turned against you.  You need to make sure the victory is indeed in place. Winning a war is much more important than winning a battle in most historical context.  Unless it’s the final battle in a war, declaring victory may not have the meaning you think it does.

Also, when you run up the flag, you often incite the enemy to counterattack.  You give them a goal, a visible objective.  Moreover, you have told them where you are, allowing them to concentrate their force on that flag.  Ultimately the planting of a flag to declare victory is the first step in the enemy mounting a counterattack to take your victory from you.  Nothing inspires an enemy more than symbols (a flag) and thoughts of retribution/revenge.

Running the flag up quickly does sometimes inspire morale, but it also can make the troops wonder if you really know what you’re doing because the fight is still underway.

Myth refuted.  Sometimes touting victory only encourages others to take you down or your own troops to question your sanity.

We all like tossing out one liners out there that make us seem like sages, but you have to think carefully about the real-world implications of such lines.

The Leadership Lessons of Star Trek

Trek Leadership
LEAD!!!!

I learned a lot about leadership from Star Trek.  Stop laughing, I’m serious.  We are all influenced by our cultural tastes and Star Trek was a big one for me.   I’m not embarrassed about liking Star Trek, but at the same time you won’t find me at Star Trek conventions wearing a homemade uniform either.  That doesn’t mean I don’t own a uniform…but that’s a different issue.

Setting aside the JJ Abrams rebooted movies and even The Next Generation; the best of the Star Trek movies is Star Trek II, the Wrath of Kahn.  You can debate me, but you’d be wrong.  One of the subtle themes in the movie is the concept of the no-win scenario.  It is a test for all starship captains (leaders) where there is no way to win.   A ship contacts you in distress.  If you go to rescue it, you have to violate  treaty.  If you ignore it, the crew dies.  If you do go after it, the Klingons attack and destroy your ship.  The movie opens with this test and the young trainee crew is all “killed” undergoing the test in a simulator.

Admiral Kirk explains that it is a test of character.  It is not a test that is meant to be beat, it is a measure of how a leader deals with a situation where there is no positive outcome.  “How we deal with death is at least as important as how we deal with life.”

The no-win scenario has strong ties to managing in an IT department. Often times we are forced to choose the lesser of two evils.  Sometimes the solutions we pick are not a winning scenario, but one that simply works.

The lesson of the no-win scenario is to think, be creative, and turn a bad situation into a good one.  When confronted with what he did on the no-win scenario, Dr. McCoy piped in.

“Lieutenant, you are looking at the only StarFleet cadet to beat the no-win scenario.”

“How?”

Kirk: “I reprogrammed the simulation so that it was possible to rescue the ship.”

“What?”

“He cheated.”

Kirk:  “I changed the conditions of the test.  I got an accommodation for original thinking.  I don’t like to lose.”

“Then you’ve never faced that situation, faced death.”

Kirk:  “I don’t believe in the no-win scenario.”

Well, there you have it, from the words of a model in leadership.  James T. Kirk’s suggestion is simple, don’t believe in the no-win situation.  Find a way, even if you have to cheat, to make it a success.  Don’t accept that something is impossible.  You may have to bend a few rules along the way, but in the end what matters is the success.  No-win is not a situation that is acceptable.

There are a handful of other old-school Star Trek leadership lessons worth pondering, just in case you’re wondering…

The Prime Directive calls for non-interference.  From an IT Department perspective, it seems that the same should apply to end-user community.    We should all seek to be as much non-interfering as possible with our users.

Ultimately it is your friendships and relationships that resolve problems.    Everything is fixed if you know the right people.  You can have all of the processes and procedures in the universe, in the end it is people that get things done.

Always start out with your phaser set to stun.

Some missions are dangerous.  Make sure you don’t wear a red-shirt on those missions (don’t draw attention to yourself).  As a side note:  73% of the crew fatalities in the original Star Trek were extras that wore red shirts.   59% of these deaths were due to transporter (technology) failures…go figure.

When all logic fails, trust a hunch.

“Remember…”  Don’t forget your corporate culture or history.

Always have Scotty (a great tech) nearby if something is broken.

Engineers always lie about how long it will take to do something so they can appear to be “miracle workers.”

Remember the Klingon saying:  “Only a fool fights in a burning house.”  When you are in the middle of a “crisis” personal arguments will usually not solve the problem at hand.

A good friend will tell you when you’re behaving badly.   We all occasionally need someone to tell us we are not being good corporate citizens.  Kirk, Spock and McCoy were an excellent support team.  They shared frank comments with each other and kept each other in check.  We all need that kind of peer support.

Don’t put all of your ranking officers in one shuttlecraft.

Feeding the Tribbles doesn’t solve anything…it only makes more Tribbles.  (If you bring in bagels, you only get more people who want bagels)

Vulcans don’t lie – but they can exaggerate…so can co-workers!

Technology will fail when you need it the most — but almost always factors into being part of the solution.

“The needs of the many, outweigh the needs of the few…or the one.”  As I have deployed technology solutions over the years, this little gem has gotten me out of a lot of potentially bad situations. You can expend a lot of efforts responding to “the one,” and sometimes lose sight of “the many.”

Don’t compromise your ideals.  We see this constantly in Star Trek.  Don’t give up on the values you hold dear.

Humans are illogical.  Don’t try and change or fight that.  Embrace their illogic.

Sometimes diplomacy involves a good fight.  Constructive conflict is how organizations grow and succeed.

“Insufficient data does not compute!”  Sometimes you need more information in order to proceed.  Captain Kirk didn’t kick back and wait for perfect information, he got just what he needed and took action.

If you’re going to go; boldly go…where no one has gone before…

Enemies are often invisible.    Often the things that cause technology problems are under the radar.

“I  canna change the laws of physics Captain!”  Best read with a Scottish accent.  No matter what, you can’t ask for the impossible.

There are times the Captain needs to beam down, and there are times he/she needs to let his/her people go down without him/her.

“You’re pushing Jim.  Your people know their jobs.”  There’s a good leadership lesson right there about micro-management.  Let your people do what they do best.

Anything can be fixed if you can travel through time.

The Vulcans have it right – “live long and prosper.”

Sometimes a Captain has to put himself/herself at risk for the sake of the crew.

Scotty’s great line from Star Trek III applies to any project:  “The more you over-think the plumbing, the easier it is to stop up the drain.”  Simple counts!

“Come, come, Mr. Scott. Young minds, fresh ideas. Be tolerant.”

Always explain complicated technological issues with a plain-English analogy so that people can understand what you’re talking about.

Performance Review Humor

Beware the Corporate Overlords are watching!
Beware, the Corporate Overlords are watching!

Regular readers of my blog and books know I hold the review processes in many organizations in contempt.  Most reviews don’t drive outstanding performance but serve to document reasons why a person isn’t advancing or their failures.

Here are some funny phrases that have been circulating the web for the last few years.  These are phrases used in reviews and their humorous interpretations.  I’ve taken the liberty of expanding the list where appropriate.

A CHANGE LEADER:  Loudly Indecisive.

A HISTORY OF STRONG PERFORMANCE:  Consistently under-challenged.

A KEEN ANALYST:     Thoroughly confused.

A VOICE OF REASON:  Won’t shut the fuck up

ACTIVE SOCIALLY:  Drinks heavily, may have a problem.

ALERT TO COMPANY DEVELOPMENTS:     An office gossip.

APPROACHES DIFFICULT PROBLEMS WITH LOGIC:     Delegates stuff he/she is responsible for.

AVERAGE:  Not too bright.

CALM UNDER FIRE:  Too dazed and confused to act.

CANDIDATE FOR FAST-TRACKING:  I will do anything to get this person assigned to another team.

CAREER CENTRIC:  Is bitching he/she wants a promotion.

CHARACTER ABOVE REPROACH:     Still one step ahead of the law.

COMMUNITY FOCUSED:  First out the door for happy hour.

COMPANY-FOCUSED:  We will never get rid of this bastard.

COMPETENT: Is still able to get work done if supervisor helps.

CONSCIENTIOUS AND CAREFUL:  Scared.

CONSULTS WITH SUPERVISOR OFTEN:  Nagging pain in the ass.

CREATIVE THINKER:  Wanders off on his/her own.

DEADLINE FOCUSED: Doesn’t get along with other human beings.

DEEP THINKER:  Paces the office when a crisis emerges.

DEMONSTRATES QUALITIES OF LEADERSHIP:   Has a loud voice.

DESERVES PROMOTION:    (or anything else – just get him or her away from me!).

EMBRACES CHANGE:  We have broken his/her will.

ENGAGES CO-WORKERS:  Sends out weekly joke email.

ENJOYS JOB:  Needs more work to do.

EXCEPTIONALLY WELL QUALIFIED:  Has committed no major blunders (to date).

EXPRESSES SELF WELL:  Spends days on Facebook

FLIGHT RISK:  Spends hours a week on Linkedin and job search sites.

GETS ALONG EXTREMELY WELL WITH SUPERIORS AND SUBORDINATES ALIKE:  A coward.

GOAL ORIENTED:  Toots his/her own horn – even when not appropriate.

GOES ABOVE AND BEYOND:  Tramples on others careers to advance his/her own.

GO-GETTER:  Mindlessly wanders around the office every hour or so trying to look busy.

GOOD ORGANIZATIONAL KNOWLEDGE:  Knows where the bodies are buried, may have buried them himself.

GREAT PERSONALITY:  Has photos of leader having sex with a goat…candidate for promotion.

HAPPY:  Is paid too much.

HARD WORKER:   Usually does it the hard way (and complains about it)

HIGHLY FOCUSED:  Unwilling to change.

HIGHLY PROFESSIONAL:  Owns a suit and wears it occasionally.

INDIFFERENT TO INSTRUCTION:     Knows more than superiors and lets them know it.

INSIGHTFUL:  Points out my flaws.

INSPIRES OTHERS:  Incites revolution with the other peasants.

IS UNUSUALLY LOYAL:     No other team will touch him/her.

JUDGMENT IS USUALLY SOUND:     Lucky.

KEEN SENSE OF HUMOR:     Knows lots of dirty jokes and shares them.

LEADERSHIP MATERIAL:  Spine and soul have been removed.

LEVEL HEADED:  Refuses to panic while his peers do.

LEVERAGES KNOWLEDGE:  Steals ideas from others.

MAINTAINS PROFESSIONAL ATTITUDE:     A snob.

MANAGES UPWARDS:  Criticizes superiors.

MENTORS OTHERS:  Gossips

METICULOUS IN ATTENTION TO DETAIL: Anal retentive to a fault.

NEEDS MOTIVATION:  Has stopped responding to verbal abuse – physical abuse may be called for.

NIMBLE:  Has dodged multiple efforts to lay him/her off.

NOT A DESK PERSON:     Did not attend or complete a university education.

OF GREAT VALUE TO THE ORGANIZATION: Turns in work on time.

OFFERS FRESH PERSPECTIVES:  Can’t shut up about the last place he worked.

ORGANIZED:  Uses agendas on conference calls.

PROMOTION CANDIDATE: Tells me what I want to hear – especially about myself.

QUICK ON HIS/HER FEET:  Never in his or her office when I need them.

QUICK THINKING:     Offers plausible excuses for errors.

REACTS DYNAMICALLY TO CHANGING SITUATIONS:  Panics easily.

RECOGNIZED LEADER:  Instigator of others.

REQUIRES WORK-VALUE ATTITUDINAL READJUSTMENT: Lazy and hard-headed.

RESPECTED BY HIS/HER PEERS:  Has dirt on co-workers.

RESULTS FOCUSED:  Wracks up a body count to get the job done.

RESULTS ORIENTED:  Steps on the toes of others to get the job done.

RIGID:  Doesn’t listen to anything other than the voices in his head.

SELF MOTIVATED:  Gets things done despite a lack of direction.

SHOULD GO FAR:   Please!  When?

SLIGHTLY BELOW AVERAGE:  Stupid.

SPENDS EXTRA HOURS ON THE JOB: Miserable home life.

STEADY:  Uninformed.

STERN DISCIPLINARIAN:  A real jerk when under pressure.

STRATEGIC THINKER:  Manages upward well.

STRONG ADHERENCE TO PRINCIPLES:     Stubborn.

STRONG MOTIVATOR:  Is not above beating his team members

STRONG UNDERSTANDING OF OUR CULTURE:  Knows where the bodies are buried.

TACTFUL IN DEALING WITH SUPERIORS: Knows when to keep mouth shut.

TACTFUL:  Knows when to shut up.

TAKES ADVANTAGE OF EVERY OPPORTUNITY TO PROGRESS:     Buys drinks for superiors.

TAKES PRIDE IN WORK: Conceited.

TEAM PLAYER:  Refuses to sell out the other guilty parties.

THINKS OUT OF THE BOX:  Doesn’t steal the credit of others.

TIMELY:  Panics at exactly the right time on a project.

UNLIMITED POTENTIAL:  Will stick with us until retirement, God help us all.

USES RESOURCES WELL:  Delegates his/her work.

USES TIME EFFECTIVELY:  Clock watcher.

VERY CREATIVE:     Finds five reasons to do anything except original work.

VOCAL:  Yells at others.

WELL ORGANIZED:  Needs more work to do.

WILL GO FAR:  Related to someone in senior management.

WORKS WELL VIRTUALLY:  Logs onto his/her computer at least once a day.

ZEALOUS ATTITUDE: Highly opinionated.

Please feel free to check out my book, Business Rules, if you found this funny.

Business Rules: The Cynic’s Guidebook to the Corporate Overlords is out!

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“My so-called career is a series of injustices, mistakes, debacles, political backstabbings and painful memories that are stitched together to form a tapestry I delude myself into believing tells a wonderful and compelling story”  From Business Rules:  The Cynic’s Guidebook to the Corporate Overlords

Back in 1998 my first true bestseller, Cubicle Warfare, was released.  It was an in-depth book on the warm and fuzzy subject of office politics.  For me, writing a book on business was a great way to blend my daytime career with my writing career.

The book was widely received.  I was interviewed by the New York Times, the Washington Post, and did stints on national TV and radio discussing office politics.  I was interviewed and featured in Fast Company Magazine – how cool is that?  I sold a lot of books.  Life was good, though the company I worked for was somewhat less-than-enthusiastic about the subject matter I had chosen and my notoriety.  You would think that being a bestselling business management author in a major firm would have advanced my career.  You would be wrong.

I wanted to follow Cubicle Warfare with another book.  I proposed a number of variants of the same concept – a book of business rules which would help people navigate their careers and work.  I wanted to write them with a cynical (humorous) tone to make the book more palatable.  Publishers and my agent were luke-warm to the concept.  After all, the economy was booming.  Was there a need for such a book?  The market I was targeting was not leaders, where traditional books of this type aimed their sights.  Instead I was looking at the rank-and-file of every company.

I felt there is a market there.  The traditional publishing community felt differently.  They wanted business books from high profile industry leaders with their tips at a strategic level for what managers needed to do.  My thinking was that the real need was not at the top of the organization, but where the real work is done – with everyday folks working in Cubeville.  The big publishers wanted to write about men like Jack Welch.  In the real world, most companies are staffed with people that will never rise to that ultra-top level of a major corporation.  Their aspirations are more realistic yet painfully frustrating.  Those were the people I wanted to write for.

I ignored the traditional publishers and started work on the book, adding to it every week or so.  I shared snippets with people I worked with and they laughed so I knew I was on track. Every now and then I pitched the concept to a publisher, only to get shot down.  One summed up his thoughts – “We write books for leadership, not for the worker bees.”  In other words, they were ignoring the bulk of the potential market.  I wanted to write a book that anyone in college could pick up and it would give them a leg-up on their first job.  I also felt that the book needed to be an entertaining read.  A bit tongue-in-cheek, a hint of humor, and a splash of snarky-ness would make the book palatable.  I wanted to avoid abstract stories about moving cheese or melting icebergs.  Those parables were cute but I felt a tad insulting to readers. This had to be a blunt book from the heart.

So I continued on – chipping away at the book for years.  I kept the faith. Writer’s do that.  Like Pit Bulls we can lock our jaws on a concept and hold on until the bitter end.  Some of that is ego – another bit is we have an inner conviction that we’re right and the desire to prove it.  It was my special “Top Secret” project, a dirty little obsession and toyed with every so often.

Then the publishing industry changed.  Suddenly the shift to digital publishing and print-on-demand came to the forefront.  Books were being released via Kindle Direct Press and other channels and were becoming runaway successes.  The old-school publishers were suddenly moved to the stature of dinosaurs nearing extinction.  Self-publishing lost its stigma almost overnight.  If I wanted to publish this book, I could.  The market would determine if it had any value.

My response:  “Freaking sweet!”

So I hired an artist to do my cover…and worked with a friend to edit my work (both factors are seen as critical to the success of such projects).  I dusted off the manuscript, polished it, and began the road towards self-publishing  Business Rules – The Cynic’s Guidebook to the Corporate Overlords.

For me, this is a test.  Does this new paradigm for publishing work?  Was my idea solid?  Did I identify my market well?  Was my hunch to write it in an entertaining format the right way to go?  How was my marketing?  All the risk is on me – as is all of the rewards. I had my moments of silent doubt; I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that. I wondered if people would equate the rules to my current employer and what the implications of that might be.

Business Rules is written as a single-source for the principles that successful individuals use to get work done.  It’s everything from meeting management to outsourcing.   I dealt with careers, leadership, reorganizations, change management, and even the mysterious and baffling world of the IT Department.   I tested some of the chapters with readers and got back positive feedback.
The bottom line:  I am really excited to finally get this product out and I hope it is well received.

Last week I released the Kindle version of the book without announcing it.  I wanted to hold off until I had the paperback version ready.  Surprisingly Business Rules shot up onto Amazon.com’s Organizational Behavior bestseller list…all without me even saying anything! I got caught with my proverbial pants down and fired off a quick announcement on Facebook. It would seem, at least at these early stages, that there is a desire for such a book.

It took a long time to get to this point, but I’m pleased to say that Business Rules is ready!  Make sure you connect to my Twitter (Bpardoe870) for additional rules that will be released every so often as part of the book roll out. There will be a period sometime in the next month when I offer the Kindle version free for a few days to generate buzz, so watch my Twitter and Facebook for details. Personally I’d recommend you just buy the book…but that’s just me.

Link to the Kindle Version:  http://www.amazon.com/Business-Rules-Guidebook-Corporate-ebook/dp/B00E1U41GY/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1375043898&sr=8-4&keywords=blaine+pardoe

Link to the Paperback Version:  http://www.amazon.com/Business-Rules-Guidebook-Management-Leadership/dp/1490998888/ref=sr_1_16?ie=UTF8&qid=1375043898&sr=8-16&keywords=blaine+pardoe