3 Keys to Success at Work

Note: This post is part of the Donna G Project. This is written to and for my boys.

OK, now for part 2. Follow these 3 steps and you will dominate at work. People will scheme and beg to get you onto their team. People who go to other companies will try and recruit you.

For starters, all the wisdom I am about to impart upon you is based on The Fundamental Truth:

Most people’s primary objective at work is to do as little as humanly possible.

Remember it. Learn it. Accept it. It is the key.

Key to Work Success #1: Do the reading

Before a project begins, they usually send out a whole mess of background materials. My experience is that nobody reads it.

You should. Here’s why:

It immediately makes you the expert. You may be the least experienced person in the room, but if you suddenly start quoting facts and referring to points in the reading, suddenly everyone takes notice. And you know why…because with you around it means they don’t have to do the reading. Now you’re the guy everyone needs to have in every meeting. You’re the guy they want at the presentation in case there are any questions.

People are lazy. They don’t want to read all that crap. They want to pretend like they did it. And when they have a team member who digs in and knows the background, they want that person around.

Look, it’s gonna take you a couple hours at the most. Spend the time. Highlight key facts. Underline stuff. Look things up that you don’t know.

Do the reading.

Key to Work Success #2: Be great at receiving work

Imagine you’re a manager. Your job is to go around and assign tasks to people. And here’s where The Fundamental Truth comes in big time.

“I already have so much on my plate.”

“You gave me that proposal just yesterday.”

“I’m not sure I would know how to handle it properly?”

“What’s the deadline? Are you serious?”

Managing people is getting people to do stuff that they are trying to avoid. They bitch about it. They whine. They wheedle and negotiate and make excuses. And a manager has to pet them and threaten them and be nice to them – all to get them to just do their goddam job. Hell, sometimes it’s such a pain in the ass, managers just do the work themselves to avoid the headache.

So now a manager comes to you, asks you to take on a task, and you say:

“That sounds fun! I’d love to do that. Thanks! When do you need it?”

Imagine how great that will feel for your manager. Instantly your boss will be telling everyone what a great addition you are to the team. People will be trying to get you on committees and task forces. Your boss will start confiding in you, because unlike everyone else on the team, you’re not a source of stress.

Oh, and get this…if you do all this, all the time, when you do say you have too much to handle, your boss will actually believe you.

When someone gives you a task at work, act like they just gave you a present. Trust me, you’ll shoot up the ladder in record time.

Key to Work Success #3: Bring 2 ideas to the meeting

Corporate America is full of brainstorms. You’ll get into that meeting room and the meeting organizer will lay down some corporate-speak:

“I just got this proposal that’s due next week and I thought it would be a good opportunity for us to get creative and come up with some out-of-the-box ideas.”

Translation:

“I haven’t spent any time thinking about this assignment so I want you all to figure it out for me and then do a lot of the work. Go.”

Now for the most part, everyone around the conference table just showed up because the meeting was on their calendar. They barely read the invitation.

Here’s where you come in. Before the meeting ever starts, read the invitation, find out what the meeting organizer is looking for, and come into that meeting with 2 good ideas. When the meeting starts, everyone is looking at each other and wishing they weren’t there – that’s when you jump in.

“Well, I did a little thinking about this beforehand. How about this…”

Suddenly, the meeting organizer is thinking: “Holy shit! I gotta invite this guy to all my brainstorms!” Everyone there will be thinking that. You look like a total go-getter, all because you spent 15 minutes thinking of a couple ideas.

Oh and by the way, everyone will want you on their team and in their meetings because they know you’re gonna do their work for them.

2 ideas. That’s it. Bring ’em.

Now – one final point to make about all 3 of the keys to success: they will SAVE you work. Sure, they’ll get you promoted and paid better, but in the long run they will actually save you time. Trust me.

So there you have it. Now go succeed. It’s easy.

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7 thoughts on “3 Keys to Success at Work

  1. Coddy Nuckols

    Hey Mike,
    I guess I was just lucky. For most of 30 years I worked for myself and my income was dependent on production. But the real key was that I enjoyed the work, it’s physical nature and the opportunities it offered to be creative. However, when I began work for the city of Los Angeles from which I retired your rubric couldn’t be more right on. It was also true that employees who showed the initiative you advocate were looked on as “brown nosers” and were somewhat shunned by fellow workers.

  2. Coddy, your tales of the culture for the city are an extreme example in my experience. It’s a group so brilliant at avoiding work that it actually weeds out people who want to do work. It’s extraordinary.

  3. Jamie

    Pure genius … and infinitely more actionable than virtually all of the management/leadership schlock out there. I have a few folks in mind whom I am going to assign this reading to!

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