OMG! My First Real JobTips for the Real Work World   Bronagh Hanley
Copyright © 2011 Bronagh Hanley      All rights reserved.   ISBN-13: 978-1463558598
Somebody had to do it and I figured it had better beme. This guide has been in my head for a long timeand is finally on pa...
Contents:     Why OMG?                                1     Chapter One: Landing the Job            3     Chapter Two: ...
Why OMG?Everyone knows that the transition from school towork isn’t always smooth and can be anticlimactic. Itsounds glamo...
yourself to fit in at a company. You don’t. But thereare some basics that will get you in the right groove.When you are in...
Chapter One: Landing the JobNobody wants to hear about your parents’ divorce orhow your cat died when you were 12. And und...
The Resumé: The resumé is a very personal thing. Itshould reflect your style and sensibility while makingclear your job ob...
A Portfolio: For many prospects, it’s expected thatyou bring several examples of your work to aninterview to show what you...
Don’t Be Tardy: If you know you are going to be late(which you should really try not to be), call ahead oremail and let th...
don’t feel comfortable asking HR or don’t have anyfriends at the company to ask, go with the suit.Money Talks: When a job ...
producing. That said, avoid having your friends launcha lobbying campaign to hire you. A good word doesn’thurt, but most h...
you need to prove yourself on merit. Just likeeveryone else.It’s always hard to tell if you nailed an interview or not,sin...
Chapter Two: The Job ReqStarting a new job can be stressful, but staying onyour game will make it a lot easier. Make sure ...
don’t know anyone. Some of your new colleagues willgo out of their way to talk to you; others will ignoreyou until they ne...
Making a Name for Yourself: If you consideryourself to be really good at or proficient in somethingthat can raise your pro...
Speak Up: A lot of people are afraid to offer theiropinions when they are new to a company. Otherpeople offer their opinio...
It is a little scary to watch as your friend morphs intothis crazy corporate drone. You can be yourself andstill be great ...
Chapter Three: Business GearYou’ve seen it. We’ve all seen it. And most oftenwe’ve seen too much of it. From baring the cl...
People will judge you on your personal appearancewhether you like it or not. So it’s worth the time andeffort to make your...
irresistible. Do the sit-down check if you aren’t sure. Ifyour skirt rides up so far that you can see yourpanties when you...
a mess, you can fake it on the outside. A lint brush,stain remover and a steamer should be your new bestfriends.Nit-Pickin...
and it’s not cute and no one wants to look at it, so cutit out.Bag It: Carry a bag to work. One bag, that is. Not abrown p...
Chapter Four: You Had Me at HelloAs far as introductions go, the high-five is overrated.Leave it to sports teams and kids ...
Logistics: When you are meeting someone for thefirst time, it is most appropriate to first stand up, thenextend your right...
make sure you don’t outshine your boss or overtlyseem like a brown-noser.Look Me in the Eye: It’s amazing how many peoplei...
research the topic at hand so you can actually drop afew smart bombs here and there.Religion and Politics: Unless you work...
name gods that they will state their name to Suzy inreturn.People’s Titles: Avoid introducing colleagues presentin the mee...
Chapter Five: Something to Talk AboutWhen you think about how easily information spreadsand can be misinterpreted, it is r...
question or concern and then raise it before themeeting concludes.Get in There: When you do have your moment toshine durin...
what words mean different things in their culture.Many misunderstandings have arisen from a word assimple as ―slag‖ (look ...
KISS: Keep it simple, stupid. This is your daily mantrato keep your story, mission and message simple.Some people feel the...
acknowledge receipt and indicate your intendedcourse of action. You don’t have to provide theanswer right away. Just let t...
Cursing: Everyone drops the ―f‖ or ―s‖ bomb onoccasion; it’s completely normal and understandable.However, peppering your ...
Small Talk: Is a part of doing business. It is importantto chat with your colleagues in the lunchroom or atoff-sites; you ...
presentation or pitch. Make sure they are relevant andinteresting (and not too personal).Conversation is really tricky for...
Chapter Six: You’ve Got MailThe constancy and immediacy of email has changedhow we interact in business. It is the primary...
The Format: Always address the email to the personfor whom it is intended and conclude the messagewith a farewell sign-off...
Typos: Typos = lazy. And even if you are, you don’twant them to know that. An email packed with typos,wrong verb tenses, i...
IM: Instant messaging is the best way to get animmediate answer or have a fun conversation whiledoing something else that ...
to squeeze these things in during the workday. If youreally have to do either of these things, unrelated towork, of course...
Recalled: There are still folks who send out an actualemail asking to recall their message. This doesn’twork, folks. On so...
they are small text files, but when you start sending amedia file, that’s when it gets tricky. The best way tohandle it if...
margarita on the beach while they are stuck in theirhellish cube.Tone Deaf: Just because it’s an email doesn’t meanyou can...
Chapter Seven: Eating In and OutEating around colleagues, at work or as part of abusiness meeting, is tricky. A business d...
Breaking Bread: When at a business dinner, offerthe bread or other shared items to your guests firstand then take some you...
Then you eat it. If you are at a fancy place and thereare tons of different utensils for each course, start onthe outside ...
Picking: Stuff gets caught in your teeth when you eat;it just does. It’s gross and you can’t wait to get it out,but please...
your chair and say, ―Excuse me,‖ then head off in thedirection of the bathroom. Please don’t ask everyoneat the table wher...
your dog or your roommate, especially if your boss ispaying.The Server: Treat the server with respect and valuetheir servi...
Meal Cadence: It is general practice to wait untileveryone has their meal served before starting to eatyour own. If only a...
Chapter Eight: CubevilleOkay, nobody likes sitting in a cube. Really, nobody.Who wouldn’t want to have an office with wall...
you are doing to the office atmosphere before firingup the microwave. Your colleagues will appreciate theconsideration.Eav...
Personal Calls: Making a few personal calls hereand there throughout the day is all good. You need abreak, and a few minut...
surrounding cubes has to shut up for a set period oftime so that person can focus. Don’t be the one whoconstantly breaks t...
few. Even have a few laughs. Just keep in mind thatyour colleagues are inches away and they are part ofthe conversation to...
Chapter Nine: The Big Bad BossYour mom may be your best friend and tell you you’respecial, but don’t think your boss is go...
when someone has prepared for a conversation, andthis preparation will be remembered and respected.Back Talk: It is amazin...
serve as your mentor. In the meantime, be respectful,feel out boundaries and remember that you are in abusiness environmen...
report to that person) and undermines your immediatesupervisor, who will remember this forever.Getting Fired: If you are f...
where you have to lie to their spouse or cover forthem in the office. There is a fine line to walk here,especially if you ...
Making nice with the boss is always smart, but don’tcompromise your ethics or morals to please someoneelse. What goes arou...
Chapter Ten: Off the ClockBeing out of the physical confines of the office withcolleagues for a happy hour, pizza party, b...
Watch Your Tone and Manner: Don’t be flirtatious,or conversely, too professional. Be straightforwardand personable in your...
The Hairy Eyeball: Whether you like it or not, somefolks in management will be watching you out of thecorner of their eye....
you, but everyone else will think you are a snarkysnob and not a team player.Funny Business: If you have ever watched an o...
Chapter Eleven: Phoning It In―Yeah.‖ ―I got it.‖ ―What’s up?‖ ―Hey.‖ These have allbecome commonplace intros when answerin...
unusual name, make sure you spell it or phoneticallypronounce it, which makes it easier for everyone.Conference Callers: I...
quick message. It makes everyone feel better and youjust got some props.Ringtones: Lil’ Wayne may be your favorite artist ...
Cell Phone No-No: Unless it is your mother and shehas been hit by a bus, don’t answer the phone whenyou are in a conversat...
everyone has caller ID now. Even your grandmother.So calling repeatedly to get someone’s attentiondoesn’t work. Try once, ...
Chapter Twelve: The MeetingBeing late, chewing gum, interrupting and texting areall cool in a meeting, right? Wrong. Meeti...
Decisions by Committee: Sometimes it is helpful tohave a lot of people weigh in on an issue or come upwith ideas. But many...
Pay Attention: Giving a presentation in a meeting isa big deal for the person talking. This means thatwhether you are inte...
research. Then call a smaller meeting to get theactual work done!Intros: If you have a roomful of folks who are going tobe...
Invitations: Unbelievable as it may sound,sometimes invitations to meetings are as complicatedas a state dinner with a dep...
slides to a minimum and focus on visuals, and keep itshort and sweet so the group can ask questions andparticipate. Plus, ...
colleagues when meeting for the first time. Some folksdo it upfront at the beginning or at the end uponsaying goodbye. No ...
have invited the chairman of your company to attendyour presentation, they still get the seat at the head ofthe table. It ...
Chapter Thirteen: Your Online LifeWith the wildfire spread of news and gossip online, anindividual’s personal behavior is ...
online doesn’t make these docs any less valuable forpotential employers or recruiters.Blogging Away: Having a personal blo...
an email or making a post about something you thinkis the next best thing does not make it so.Photo Evidence: Sharing phot...
company you keep speaks volumes about who youare.Video Resumés: The newest trend on the businessscene and a great idea for...
Alumni Connections: Whether or not you had agood time in college, your alma mater is still a greatresource for information...
Chat Rooms and Forums: Using an onlinepseudonym is the best way to engage, but asurprising number of folks use their own n...
Chapter Fourteen: Work PeepsAlways remember that your work peeps have yourback (most of the time). You can count on them f...
Personal Space: Different cultures have differentrules of engagement when it comes to personalspace. Here in the good ole ...
Performance Reviews: The best advice when eithergiving or getting a performance review is to digest theinformation, think ...
OMG! My First Real Job
OMG! My First Real Job
OMG! My First Real Job
OMG! My First Real Job
OMG! My First Real Job
OMG! My First Real Job
OMG! My First Real Job
OMG! My First Real Job
OMG! My First Real Job
OMG! My First Real Job
OMG! My First Real Job
OMG! My First Real Job
OMG! My First Real Job
OMG! My First Real Job
OMG! My First Real Job
OMG! My First Real Job
OMG! My First Real Job
OMG! My First Real Job
OMG! My First Real Job
OMG! My First Real Job
OMG! My First Real Job
OMG! My First Real Job
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OMG! My First Real Job

  1. 1. OMG! My First Real JobTips for the Real Work World Bronagh Hanley
  2. 2. Copyright © 2011 Bronagh Hanley All rights reserved. ISBN-13: 978-1463558598
  3. 3. Somebody had to do it and I figured it had better beme. This guide has been in my head for a long timeand is finally on paper. I wish I had something like thiswhen I first hit the workforce, so I hope it is helpful foryou. Lots of folks gave me input and advice that madeits way into the guide, so thanks to all of you. Specialthanks to Ann Dinwiddie Madden for letting me driveher crazy over the cover design; props to theSyracuse University students who shared theirstories; love to Patricia France for making me lookgood; a shout-out to Patti Gunn for her copywritingexpertise; and a big smooch to Betty Behrens, who isalways looking out for me. And finally, thanks toanyone who is actually reading this. It means a lot.—BH
  4. 4. Contents:  Why OMG? 1  Chapter One: Landing the Job 3  Chapter Two: The Job Req 10  Chapter Three: Business Gear 15  Chapter Four: You Had Me at Hello 20  Chapter Five: Something to Talk About 25  Chapter Six: You’ve Got Mail 33  Chapter Seven: Eating In and Out 41  Chapter Eight: Cubeville 48  Chapter Nine: The Big Bad Boss 53  Chapter Ten: Off the Clock 59  Chapter Eleven: Phoning It In 63  Chapter Twelve: The Meeting 68  Chapter Thirteen: Your Online Life 76  Chapter Fourteen: Work Peeps 82  Chapter Fifteen: The Money Pit 90  Chapter Sixteen: Off-Sites 97  Was It Worth It? 102
  5. 5. Why OMG?Everyone knows that the transition from school towork isn’t always smooth and can be anticlimactic. Itsounds glamorous to be working at Google or VanityFair, right? There will be some cool projects and goodtimes, but there is still all the other work in between.Working your butt off and not making tons of moneycan get you down. But you have to start somewhere,because you’re only going to keep moving up.This guide offers realistic and practical advice forrecent college grads just starting out. From what towear to work and how to talk to your boss, OMGoffers a list of tips to keep you on your toes in everytype of work situation.Let’s face it: If your table manners are bad, you’reconstantly late for meetings or you’re overly familiarwith the boss, you aren’t scoring points. The littlethings sometimes add up and turn into a big thing,and by then it’s too late. You don’t have to changewho you are. You can still be you and get the jobdone, right? Don’t think you have to compromise 1
  6. 6. yourself to fit in at a company. You don’t. But thereare some basics that will get you in the right groove.When you are in that groove, you can contribute tothe success of your company instead of workingagainst it. The reason that businesses are sosuccessful is the mix of people who work there. Thinkabout it. If a company had everyone with the samepersonality and skill set, they wouldn’t be able toinnovate or be competitive. And businesses want tobe functional and profitable. Really. They may not bethose things when you are working there, but that istheir end goal—even nonprofits.So remember, the world is a small place and younever know when the same folks you worked with atyour first job will be the head of your dream companydown the line. The best strategy is to work hard, beyourself and give it all you’ve got. If you are smart,loyal and creative, you will succeed. 2
  7. 7. Chapter One: Landing the JobNobody wants to hear about your parents’ divorce orhow your cat died when you were 12. And under nocircumstances should you bring anyone other thanyourself to an interview. Not even your mom (yes, thisactually happened). Do your research, learn thenames and titles of the interviewers, have a preparedanswer for why you are right for the job and listen towhat they are saying. It works, it really does.The Search: The best place to start is with friendsand family; send out an email asking if they know ofany entry-level positions that are in your field ofinterest. Then search sites that you frequent and seeif they link to any job sites for that area of interest.Also check out the majors like Craigslist.org, Monsterand Indeed, as most HR folks post online. Also thinkabout your focus; try to marry your passions with yourskill set and search for jobs in those industries. If youare going to be working at a job 50 or 60 hours aweek, wouldn’t it be awesome if it were doingsomething you loved? 3
  8. 8. The Resumé: The resumé is a very personal thing. Itshould reflect your style and sensibility while makingclear your job objective, your experience, and yourskill set and interests. There has been a lot ofdiscussion lately about including a picture on yourresumé, but it isn’t necessary, since you should getthe interview on merit and not on how you look.Networking: Make a list of businesspeople you know,then a list of companies you admire, and then searchindustry groups or organizations that support yourfield of interest. Come up with a master list ofcompanies to which and contacts to whom you cansend a personal email with your custom resumé.The Pre-Interview: It is so important to research thecompany, the position you are applying for, theperson interviewing you, the competitors in themarketplace and the prospective employer’s currentprojects. With Google at your fingertips, there is noexcuse for not being well informed.The Sales Pitch: Hone your elevator pitch—this isthe three-minute story of you—and practice it in frontof the mirror before you go on an interview. You needto look like you know what you are talking about. Ifyou can’t sell yourself, why should they hire you tosell them? 4
  9. 9. A Portfolio: For many prospects, it’s expected thatyou bring several examples of your work to aninterview to show what you can do. It is common for anumber of interviews to be scheduled with severalexecutives in the company over the course of a fewhours. One of these people is going to ask you for awork sample, whether it is writing or graphics orwhatever that job entails. Bring three or four itemsthat showcase the breadth and scope of your work.The sample can be as simple as an itinerary for aconference you set up or the white paper youresearched and presented on the state of thatindustry. Don’t bring in the 4‖ binder with everythingyou’ve ever done in your life; no one has the time orinterest to go through it all.Zen Attitude: People laugh at the power of positivethinking, but it makes a difference. If one personshows up for an interview with a positive andenthusiastic attitude, they are going to get the jobover the other person who is not confident and seemsdisinterested. Listen to what is being said, be awareof the tone in which you deliver your answers anddisplay confidence in yourself; these are thenonverbal cues that help an interviewer decide if youare the best person for the job when they arechoosing between two equally qualified candidates. 5
  10. 10. Don’t Be Tardy: If you know you are going to be late(which you should really try not to be), call ahead oremail and let them know that you are on your way.They would rather know you’re still coming than sitthere getting more and more irritated that you haven’tshown up. Most people live in the real world andunderstand that things come up. However, if you arelate for the third callback interview, the job willdefinitely go to someone else.The Sit-Down: When you are front and center in aninterview, make sure you talk about results andoutcomes instead of getting mired in the details.Managers already know you can make a phone call orschedule a meeting; they want to know that youunderstand their business and their goals. Whetheryou are applying for a job as the secretary or theCFO, you need to show an understanding of thecompany and what you bring to bear on its success.Dress for Success: Unless otherwise instructed,wear a suit. You can give it your own style and flair,but it still needs to be business attire. Whatever youwear should also cover up your tats if you have any;it’s best to unveil those after you land the gig. Somecompanies will specifically instruct you to wearbusiness casual or dress down if that’s their culture. Ifyou don’t have any information on the dress code, 6
  11. 11. don’t feel comfortable asking HR or don’t have anyfriends at the company to ask, go with the suit.Money Talks: When a job is posted, many times thesalary range is included or HR will have clued you inprior to the actual interview process. If you still don’thave any idea what the job pays by the time theinterview process rolls around, a quick chat with HR isin order. You need to know if this position is even inyour ballpark before sitting down with executives.Otherwise, it’s a waste of your time and theirs. Andplease don’t ask senior execs about the salary for theposition, as most often they don’t have a clue.The Benes: Most companies offer a standardbenefits package of 401(k) (sometimes matched) andmedical and dental (sometimes vision). Some offeradditional perks like stock options, bonuses,complimentary trips and incentive packages. It is bestto get the scoop from HR since most hiring managersdon’t know what kind of package has been puttogether for the position and they end up lookingfoolish if you catch them off guard.Your Pals: It’s great if you have friends working at theplace where you are applying for a job. It says to yourprospective employer that you understand theirculture and can deliver more of what they are 7
  12. 12. producing. That said, avoid having your friends launcha lobbying campaign to hire you. A good word doesn’thurt, but most hiring managers legally have to followEEO laws, which means posting the job andconducting interviews. Lastly, make sure your insidebuddies are in good standing with the company. Itwould be awkward to lose out on an interviewbecause the person who referred you is notconsidered an asset.Thank You Notes: Yes, it is very old school, but it isstill a good idea to send an actual hardcopy thank younote to everyone at the company who interviewedyou. It’s fine to send a formal email, but most peopleappreciate a handwritten note dropped off or sent viamail. The subject matter typically includes a thank youfor their time, their insight, and a brief statement ofyour understanding and appreciation of the job. Don’tget all flowery and crazy; the note itself speaksvolumes about your character and may even be thedeciding factor between you and another candidate.Whom You Know: You may very well have gottenthe interview because your dad or his collegeroommate runs the company or heads up one of theclient’s businesses. It will not help you to point this outto anyone who influences the hiring process. Theperson interviewing you knows why you are there and 8
  13. 13. you need to prove yourself on merit. Just likeeveryone else.It’s always hard to tell if you nailed an interview or not,since most managers won’t indicate whether youhave the job or not until they make the offer. Onceyou get the job, you can figure out what works for youand what doesn’t. 9
  14. 14. Chapter Two: The Job ReqStarting a new job can be stressful, but staying onyour game will make it a lot easier. Make sure yourexpectations are realistic, understand the job you aretaking on and do a little more digging on the company(and your job) before your first day.The Job Description: Your job is always going tochange and evolve as a company expands orcontracts, and you will always have to take onprojects that you feel are out of your realm of interest.There are a few things you can do to maximize yourgrowth in a job and manage multiple projects: activelycommunicate with your boss about stuff; keep yourjob description updated as new responsibilities areadded and your role expands; and add any new skillsor accomplishments to your resumé to keep it fresh.That way, when it comes time for a raise orpromotion, you have a good case for your bump.The First Few Days: It’s always awkward starting anew job—anyone who says otherwise isn’t beinghonest. You don’t know where to go, you have nostuff yet, you get to stress about what to wear and you 10
  15. 15. don’t know anyone. Some of your new colleagues willgo out of their way to talk to you; others will ignoreyou until they need you for something; and someothers may never take the time to learn your name.Just make sure you are friendly, ask questions andintroduce yourself to everyone. Put yourself out thereand see what happens.Taking It All On: There is a fine line between beingthe group brown-noser and stepping up to take onnew projects. When the boss asks you to take onadditional work or requests volunteers, ask yourself ifthis project is a good fit for your skills, is somethingyou can get excited about and if it is something youcan actually get done in the time allotted. Don’t justsay yes all the time to impress—you will get buried.The Salary: You probably won’t know what everyonein your company makes unless you work for thegovernment or spend a lot of time searching sites likeglassdoor.com. Salaries can vary greatly withingroups and for the same job, depending on workexperience, time with the company and skill set.Before making a stink about being underpaid orbragging about your take-home pay, make sure youfactor in things like health benefits, stock options,bonuses, etc. 11
  16. 16. Making a Name for Yourself: If you consideryourself to be really good at or proficient in somethingthat can raise your profile or help the business, saysomething! Carving out a niche or being the specialistin something makes you invaluable and also givesyou access to upper management. Whether it is IT,presentations or sales, let them know that’s yourthing.Being a Team Player: Don’t be the jerk who throwspeople under the bus every chance they get. If youfeel like you are doing all of the work and makingmost of the decisions, and then someone else stepsin to take the credit, that sucks. Figure out a way toprivately set the record straight with your boss andmake sure you keep the team posted about your workprogress in the future.The Drudge Work: Nobody likes doing the gruntwork. It’s boring and endless, but everyone has to doit at some point. Getting coffee, taking notes andrunning errands are all part of the job. Make it moreinteresting by buying yourself a coffee on the coffeerun, creating a really cool template and disseminationsystem for the meeting notes, or finding the best andcheapest place for getting invitations printed. You willstart to get noticed for taking the initiative and makingthe most mundane tasks a learning experience. 12
  17. 17. Speak Up: A lot of people are afraid to offer theiropinions when they are new to a company. Otherpeople offer their opinions every bloody time they geta chance. If you have something to say, make sure itis valuable to everyone in the room, is relevant to thediscussion at hand and is based in fact. The boss willbe more impressed with someone who pipes up whenthey have something really valuable to say rather thanwith someone who is always dropping their two centsinto every conversation.Work-Life Balance: The U.S. has one of the longestwork weeks in the world, with 45+ hours being thenorm. Factor in commute times, travel and workevents and you are spending a lot of time on the job.Try to make some time for yourself during the day,whether you go for a walk, do a little shopping online,run to the dry cleaners, hit the gym or meet a friendfor coffee. If your work is getting done, no one will batan eye at your squeezing in some personal time. It isalso important to set limits for yourself. There isalways work to be done and not enough time to do it,but unless you are working on a serious deadlineproject, it will be there tomorrow.Keeping It Real: Sometimes people have an imageor ideal of what a vice president is or how a salesdirector behaves, and then they become that person. 13
  18. 18. It is a little scary to watch as your friend morphs intothis crazy corporate drone. You can be yourself andstill be great at your job. You don’t have to lose yoursense of humor or your funky style. Those thingsmake you all the more interesting and contribute tothe diversity of your company.Minding Your Business: It is so easy to jump intoeveryone else’s business at work. You spend a lot oftime in close quarters with these folks and you hearand see a lot of stuff. Just remember this rule ofthumb: If you don’t want anyone meddling in yourbusiness, keep your nose out of theirs. It gets toocomplicated and creates unnecessary drama.After figuring out all the other stuff to get ready forwork, you then have to figure out what to wear. 14
  19. 19. Chapter Three: Business GearYou’ve seen it. We’ve all seen it. And most oftenwe’ve seen too much of it. From baring the cleavageto wearing what amounts to pajamas, guidelinesobviously need to be set about work wear. The dresscode at most places has changed drastically over thepast several years. The casual Friday vibe slowlyseeped into the rest of the week and has morphedinto what we now call business casual.Business casual is hard to define, which is why manyfolks miss the mark. Use common sense to decidewhat works for you. Look at the company’s website,check out blogs from employees and search for anyphotos online to get a better sense of the companyculture. Also think about where you work. If younever, ever interact with anyone at work, maybe it isokay to wear your pajamas, but the boss probablywouldn’t be thrilled. Most people interact with a ton ofdifferent internal and external folks throughout theday, so it’s better to wear something that is moreappropriate. 15
  20. 20. People will judge you on your personal appearancewhether you like it or not. So it’s worth the time andeffort to make yourself presentable.The Money Shot: No one wants to see it at work.Save it for the club or the bedroom. This applies toboth men and women. Ladies, no major cleavage, bighair, bedazzled gear or short-short skirts. Fellas, keepthe buttons buttoned, the pants a little loose and theboxers out of sight. It’s distracting, unprofessional andmakes a statement about your approach andintentions, whether you mean it to or not.The Surprise Meeting: Whatever you wear to workon any given day should work if you are called into animportant meeting at a moment’s notice. If you can’tquite get it together every day, then it’s a good idea tokeep a nice jacket and an extra pair of shoes underyour desk or in a drawer so you can pull yourselftogether in minutes. It also doesn’t hurt to have a fewthings in your desk to freshen up: deodorant, lotion,mints and a lint roller are desk staples.All Legs: In some work environments, shorts are allgood. If you work in such a place, remember that youstill need to look clean and tidy, so no paint-stained,torn or too-short shorts (and yes, this includes cut-offs). Sometimes the opportunity to flash some leg is 16
  21. 21. irresistible. Do the sit-down check if you aren’t sure. Ifyour skirt rides up so far that you can see yourpanties when you are sitting down, it’s too short forwork. And shorts on guys in the office are always amiss, unless you are doing some outdoor activity thatrequires them. You want people to take you seriouslyand not get distracted by what you are wearing.On Your Feet: Flip-flops and very casual sandals areeverywhere these days. Unless your place of work isnear the beach and you are going there later, opt forsomething a little more sophisticated like coolsneakers or leather boots. Shoes do make an outfit.And they can also ruin it, so keep the raggedy shoesin the closet for walking the dog.Bling: Wearing your entire jewelry collection to workis not attractive for the ladies. And gold bracelets,chains and pinky rings are too much all at once for thefellas. Less is more. The whole concept of jewelry isto accessorize an outfit, not be the outfit. Keep itclassy and sophisticated with one or two key piecesand let those shine.Pig Pen: It is really important to do a self-check in themirror before you leave the house. Wearing a sweatercovered in cat hair or a stained or torn shirt gives theimpression you are a hot mess. Even if you really are 17
  22. 22. a mess, you can fake it on the outside. A lint brush,stain remover and a steamer should be your new bestfriends.Nit-Picking: A couple of times a day, it’s a good ideato do a nit test. Check your hair for knots, your nosefor boogers and your skin for zits. If you don’t,consider the amplification of fluorescent light and thefact that most people are sitting down when you firstencounter them. You don’t want to be the one walkingaround the office with TP on your shoe or a barrettehanging out of her hair, right? People notice if you arewell-groomed and it reflects self-respect. Why do youthink manscaping is so popular these days?Heels: Heels are cute. They are a great way to showoff your legs, give yourself a little height and boostyour self-confidence. Hooker heels or ones that makeyou stagger around the hallways are just not right forwork. If you can’t walk properly, they hurt so muchthat all you do is complain or they are the only item ofyour wardrobe drawing notice, don’t wear them towork.Navel Gazing: One would think this is so obvious thatit doesn’t have to be said. Wrong. Here goes.Otherwise known as the ―flesh belt,‖ showing off yourmidriff at work is out of the question. It’s not classy 18
  23. 23. and it’s not cute and no one wants to look at it, so cutit out.Bag It: Carry a bag to work. One bag, that is. Not abrown paper bag and a cloth shopping bag and apurse and a gym bag. Invest in one bag that holds allof your stuff, whether it’s your lunch, gym clothes,sneakers, laptop, whatever. Carrying a ton of bagsmakes you look crazy and disorganized.Scents: Keep the cologne and perfume to aminimum, please. If your scent lingers in a room, onsomeone’s clothes or on office hardware, you have aproblem. Overwhelming people with your favoritespritz makes them want to get away from you as fastas they can and makes them wonder what othersmell(s) you are covering up.Remember to showcase your own style and make astatement. Just keep it clean, neat and relevant toyour surroundings. Now, on to introductions. 19
  24. 24. Chapter Four: You Had Me at HelloAs far as introductions go, the high-five is overrated.Leave it to sports teams and kids on the playground.The introduction sets the tone for the rest of theconversation, so give it a little thought. The womanwho gave her new boss a hug after learning that shegot the job? It definitely made him question hisdecision. Think about how to play your hand.The Handshake: For those of you who are unfamiliar,the handshake is a short ritual in which two peoplegrasp their right or left hands, often accompanied by abrief shaking of the grasped hands. It is commonlydone upon greeting, parting, offering congratulationsor completing an agreement. It is also commonly usedacross cultures and is the standard business greetingin the U.S. across genders. If you are traveling inanother country, check online to determine theintroductory etiquette. Some cultures find thehandshake to be too personal for a first meeting andother countries use their hands for things other thanshaking, so best to check. 20
  25. 25. Logistics: When you are meeting someone for thefirst time, it is most appropriate to first stand up, thenextend your right hand for the handshake, and stateyour name and role in your company. If you have acard, now is an appropriate time to pass it along. Onelittle party note: If you are having a cocktail at abusiness function, always hold it in your left hand soyou don’t shake with a cold and clammy wet hand.Hugs and Kisses: A recent phenomenon in the U.S.workplace is the hug and kiss. It is definitely big in theentertainment industry and is quickly becoming thenorm in many businesses. The best way to judge thesituation is, if you don’t know the person well enoughto invite them into your home, a hug and a kiss areinappropriate. It makes many people uncomfortableand creates a sense of familiarity that can becounterproductive in a meeting. If you conduct thehug-and-kiss introduction, make it short and sweet.No lingering ’cause that’s icky.The Hello: People seem to forget that the words theyuse to communicate define how they are perceived.Greeting people with ―Hey‖ or ―What’s up?‖ is usuallybest for your buddies. A polite ―Hello‖ or ―Hi, nice tomeet you‖ is a better option for business. If you knowanything about the person or their company, commenton a recent success or promotion, if appropriate. Just 21
  26. 26. make sure you don’t outshine your boss or overtlyseem like a brown-noser.Look Me in the Eye: It’s amazing how many peoplein the business world don’t make eye contact. Stopand think about it for a minute. If you are in abusiness environment and you are either meetingsomeone for the first time or managing a project withthem and you can’t look them directly in the eye, theimpression they get is that of a lack of confidence ordisinterest on your part. Looking people in the eyeshows that you are interested and engaged, but don’tdo the eye lock and hold eye contact for the entireconversation—that’s a little creepy. There is a happymedium for everyone. You will know it when you findit.Proper Names: If you and your colleagues havenicknames for each other, don’t use them in ameeting or in front of a client. It makes the situationunprofessional, especially if you are pitching a bigmoney deal or a new business opportunity. Just callpeople by their given names and leave it at that.The BS Meter: If you try to hang with the big dogsand talk about a subject you know nothing about, itwill be brutally and painfully apparent to all involved inthe conversation. Stick with what you know and 22
  27. 27. research the topic at hand so you can actually drop afew smart bombs here and there.Religion and Politics: Unless you work for areligious or political organization, steer clear ofreligion and politics. People get very emotional anddefensive with regard to their personal beliefs anddiscussing, debating or dismissing any religious orpolitical view does not make for a light-heartedsituation. There are also legal concerns surroundingthese two issues that could get you into hot water ifyou misspeak, so keep it simple and avoid themaltogether.The Totem Pole: When coworkers are introduced ina meeting or at a business function, introductions aremade from the most senior folks to the most junior.The most senior will be leading the meeting and itmakes sense for them to kick it off after the initialintroduction. Make sure everyone in the room hasbeen introduced because you won’t want to be theonly one sitting there who hasn’t been acknowledged.Faking It: If you are introducing people whose namesyou don’t know or don’t remember, a little trick is tointroduce them to someone else. Here goes: ―This isSuzy from accounting. She handles the processing onyour account.‖ Then pray as hard as you can to the 23
  28. 28. name gods that they will state their name to Suzy inreturn.People’s Titles: Avoid introducing colleagues presentin the meeting by their title or job function, as in―Betty, our assistant‖ or ―Gina, the PR girl.‖ Itdiminishes that person’s role and sets the tone forhow they will be treated. Everyone is an equal playerif they have been invited to the meeting; otherwise,they wouldn’t be there. It will become obvious, as italways does as the meeting unfolds, who’s runningthe show.Once you have met someone, you most likely have totalk to them, so it makes sense to spend a little timeon communication. 24
  29. 29. Chapter Five: Something to Talk AboutWhen you think about how easily information spreadsand can be misinterpreted, it is really important to putsome thought into what you say, especially if it canaffect your personal reputation or the company’simage. You really don’t want to be the guy who talkedabout his company’s quarterly presentation at a barand one of those folks listening was an intern at aprominent media outlet who dished the story the nextday.Slang: Please, oh please, use professional languageand not slang, and maybe even proper grammar andthe correct pronunciation of words. People make snapjudgments about your intelligence and capabilitiesbased on your vocabulary and pronunciation. If youdon’t know the proper word or pronunciation, look itup.Who’s Talking Now? If and when someone is talkingin a meeting, wait until they are finished to make yourpoint. Don’t interrupt them until there is a lull in thediscussion where you can add your two cents. If youaren’t finding that opening, make a note of your 25
  30. 30. question or concern and then raise it before themeeting concludes.Get in There: When you do have your moment toshine during a conversation or meeting, takeadvantage of it and share relevant anecdotes andstories that relate to the topic at hand. This is yourchance to show your stuff; just make sure you don’tget overexcited and go on and on about something ifyou’ve already made your point.The End Goal: Everyone has been in a uselessmeeting where there is no agenda or stated goal andthe conversation heads off on a million tangents. Timeis money, people, and the point of a meeting is tobring people together to utilize their collaborativestrengths to achieve an end goal. Make an agenda,stick to it and, when necessary, be sure to steer theconversation back to business.Across the Pond and Beyond: Say you are meetingwith a Brit, an Aussie or even with a Finn. They arewesternized and seemingly very American, so all iswell, right? Best bet is to hop online and do a quicksearch to find out if there are any major culturaldifferences you should know about. This is even moreimportant if you are dealing with someone from a non-westernized country. Take a few minutes to find out 26
  31. 31. what words mean different things in their culture.Many misunderstandings have arisen from a word assimple as ―slag‖ (look it up).Background Checks: Research the people you aremeeting with, their roles in the organization and theirpurpose at the meeting. Doing a little backgroundresearch makes you look more vested in the companyand prepared for the meeting or project. But don’t digtoo deep and drop a full profile on them—that couldbe perceived as stalking.The Elevator Pitch: Always have a two- to three-minute backstory about your professional self thatcommunicates what you do, why you do it and whoyou do it for. People want to know about you, so tellthem the best parts in a minute or less. You don’twant to look like an idiot by not being able to describeyourself.Assumptions: Never assume you know the rightanswer or where someone is going with an idea. Askquestions, be clear about the objectives, shareinformation and make sure you are on the samepage. Otherwise, to assume makes an ―ass‖ out of ―u‖and ―me.‖ 27
  32. 32. KISS: Keep it simple, stupid. This is your daily mantrato keep your story, mission and message simple.Some people feel the need to over-explain or explainagain. Think about what you are going to say in termsof bullet points in your head. If you feel the need to goon and on about a subject, write a report and give it tothe boss later. Don’t waste everyone’s time with anhour-long dissertation when the CliffsNotes versionwill do.Game Talk: Try to check your company’s financialsor at the very least annual goals so you are in tunewith the executive strategy. If you don’t know thespecifics, keep it general or tell whomever’s askingthat you will get back to them. Either scenario is muchbetter than their taking notes based on your bestguess and finding out later that you were wrong.The Touch-Up: Whipping out your lipstick to reapplyor brushing your hair while talking to someone is justwrong. If you want to do a mid-day touch-up, excuseyourself and go to the bathroom. This also applies topicking your teeth and biting your nails. People talkingto you in a work environment don’t need that muchinformation on your personal hygiene regimen.Incommunicado: If you receive an email, a letter or amessage that is work related, take a quick moment to 28
  33. 33. acknowledge receipt and indicate your intendedcourse of action. You don’t have to provide theanswer right away. Just let them know you’vereceived it by replying, ―Thanks, got it. Will get back toyou.‖ Then you can take your time to craft a smartresponse within the time allotted. When people don’tget any response, they assume nothing is being doneand start to stress or plan to assign it to someoneelse.Mr. and Ms.: Most kids today call their parents andfriends’ parents by their first names. And while formaltitles seem very old-fashioned, always addressindividuals by their last name and a formal title unlesstold otherwise. You don’t want to be the one callingthe boss’s wife Mary when everyone else calls herMrs. Boss.Who Says? Many folks think that it is productive tocriticize others’ ideas when they throw them out there.That’s brainstorming, right? Wrong. Constructivecriticism has its place, but always soften the criticismwith a positive counterpoint, as well as an alternativeor complementary solution. Bashing other people’sideas only serves to point out that you have none ofyour own. 29
  34. 34. Cursing: Everyone drops the ―f‖ or ―s‖ bomb onoccasion; it’s completely normal and understandable.However, peppering your speech with curse words isnot funny, edgy or cute—it’s offensive to a lot ofpeople and makes you look trashy. Use your wordswisely.TMI: Too much information. People feel free to sharetheir most personal thoughts and activities in theworkplace, including such topics as messy divorces,hateful relatives or colleagues’ love lives. No onewants to know about your sex life, your drinkinghabits, your OCD or your family drama. Go tell yourmama.Gossip: Is the root of all office evil. If you don’t havesomething positive to say, don’t say anything at all.Even if it is your BFF at work, you never know wheretheir allegiances lie and what they might repeat giventhe right motivation. It always comes back to bite you.Medical Issues: If you hurt yourself as a result ofyour job, then you can tell folks how you are doing orupdate them on your progress, just don’t get into thegory details about your upcoming gall bladder surgeryor paint a vivid picture of your child’s birth that isindelibly burned into people’s brains. 30
  35. 35. Small Talk: Is a part of doing business. It is importantto chat with your colleagues in the lunchroom or atoff-sites; you can make new friends and learn aboutwhat other people do. Ask questions, findcommonalities and share anecdotes. Being interestedin others gets you noticed and creates a strongnetwork at work, so when the next opportunity comesup, your name will be in the running.Being Witty: If you are the witty, snarky or pithy sort,it’s probably best to keep it to yourself until you havea certain comfort level with the folks in the room.Many people consider joking around unprofessionaland may get the false impression that this is how youapproach everything in your life, including business.Once you’re certain you are on common ground, letloose with the personality.Sex: You have all been in a situation where someonetells you something sexual that you wish you neverhad to hear. Think about it like your grandfather oryour mom talking about their sex lives. It’s not nice tothink about or hear about. Have mercy on others anddon’t share your sexual business.Analogies and Metaphors: There is a time and aplace for everything. Using stories, references andexamples are great ways to engage the audience in a 31
  36. 36. presentation or pitch. Make sure they are relevant andinteresting (and not too personal).Conversation is really tricky for many folks, easy forothers and incredibly difficult for some. Be confident,clear, to the point and professional. The same goesfor email. 32
  37. 37. Chapter Six: You’ve Got MailThe constancy and immediacy of email has changedhow we interact in business. It is the primary meansof communication and should be used as such.Sending an email to your boss with a grinningemoticon in all lowercase? Not so much. To that end,there are rules that need to be followed when usingemail (and social media) as a business tool.Legalese: Most important and critical, emails (andtexts and IMs) sent on work servers can besubpoenaed by a company’s legal department for anyreason; they are a virtual paper trail in the businessworld. If you don’t want the world to know about it,don’t send it on the company’s system.What’s in a Smiley Face? Emoticons are probablynot appropriate when sending a proposal for review,but it may be completely fine to send your boss asmiley face when he/she gets promoted. It’s best toavoid emoticons altogether in business emails, sincethey can be perceived as childish and unprofessional.And you definitely don’t want that! 33
  38. 38. The Format: Always address the email to the personfor whom it is intended and conclude the messagewith a farewell sign-off. If the email is external, usethe proper letter format as if you were going to print itout and stick it in the mail. For internal purposes, youcan be slightly more casual by using bullet points andlingo from your line of work. Always, always usesentence case in emails. No one likes the e.e.cummings emailer.Shorthand: You know what I am talking about, right?LOL, OMG, L8TR and NP are very helpful when youare sending notes to friends or acquaintances via IM,texts or even email. Business is a little different. Somepeople don’t know what they mean and others thinkthey are lazy and unprofessional, so best to skipthem.Spell-Check: It’s become increasingly clear thatmany people have decided to forgo learning how tospell properly because of the all-knowing spell-check.News flash! Spell-check doesn’t catch everything andcan also change the meaning of a sentence byinserting the wrong word. So do a manual read-through, or if it is something really long, havesomeone else eyeball it. 34
  39. 39. Typos: Typos = lazy. And even if you are, you don’twant them to know that. An email packed with typos,wrong verb tenses, incorrect grammar andmisspellings does not inspire confidence in clients orcolleagues. Read your emails, spell check them, thenread them again before you send them.The Sign-Off: There are a great many people whosign their emails with ―Love, Shelly‖; ―XOXO, Susan‖;―Bye, Kathy‖; ―See you soon,‖ etc. For business-related emails, none of these sign-offs are going tomake the cut. More appropriate endings to an emailor letter are ―Best,‖ ―Regards,‖ ―Sincerely‖ and ―Thankyou.‖ This also applies to texting and posting. Lastly, itis not okay to have your BlackBerry auto signaturesay, ―Pardon the typos since this message was sentfrom my handheld device.‖ You can still proofread ona PDA.Asides: This is the catch-all term for people’spersonal quirks, like off-color jokes, esotericreferences, major brain dumps and sassy comments.Unless you are friends with the person you areemailing, it is best to leave this stuff out. Having aquote from a TV character as part of your autosignature? Not so much. 35
  40. 40. IM: Instant messaging is the best way to get animmediate answer or have a fun conversation whiledoing something else that is boring. It can also help atwork so you don’t have to keep yelling across thecubes or running down the hall. But don’t tell yourboss to hang on while you wrap up an IM exchange,especially if they can see your screen.Twitter Happy: If you are constantly tweeting andretweeting things your friends send or things you findwhile surfing the information superhighway, that infois now public information with a time stamp on it.Sooo, your boss and coworkers may think you have alot of time on your hands, no? Unless you aretweeting for work or clients, try to keep it to aminimum during office hours.Facebook: Same goes for changing your status orposting numerous messages throughout the day. Afew times is okay, but once you cross a certainthreshold (say 3X or so a day), that’s consideredextreme. Unless, of course, you are on vacation andwant to make everyone at the office jealous of yourbeach time. Then post away.Surfing 411: Everyone shops online and surfs theWeb for personal info while at work. The rationale isthat folks spend so much time at work that they need 36
  41. 41. to squeeze these things in during the workday. If youreally have to do either of these things, unrelated towork, of course, try to find 30 minutes during the dayto fit it all in. You are more focused and your bossisn’t constantly catching you searching for thoseperfect shoes.Lights, Camera, Action: Often overlooked, butcritically important, is the need to be crystal clear inyour email about whether you want action taken as aresult of the email or if it is just an FYI. Otherwise, youwill end up with either no response at all or a ton ofunsolicited feedback. Better to be clear than to have aton of know-it-alls giving you advice.Misfire: When you are crafting an email or IM tocolleagues, coworkers or clients, check the recipientlist, the subject line, your grammar and spelling, andthe content of the email before you hit send. Nobodywants to get a half-written email, especially if it goesto all the wrong people.Reply to All: Replying to all with either a wildlysnarky comment not for public consumption or thesimple word ―thanks‖ is entirely unnecessary. Don’treply all unless you are communicating informationthat is relevant to the entire distribution list. 37
  42. 42. Recalled: There are still folks who send out an actualemail asking to recall their message. This doesn’twork, folks. On some systems and servers you canrecall the sent message before the recipient opens it,but after that, you are out of luck. Once it is gone, it isgone (unless you have amazing hacking skills). All themore reason to keep it all business.The Subject Line: The subject line must include acoherent topic or sentence that addresses the emailcontent or it will get deleted. These two businessemails seem to be favorites: FW:FW:FW:FW ?? andRE FW URGENT LOW SPAM. Take a second toupdate the subject line so the recipient knows whatthe email is about. Otherwise, it isn’t going to getread.The Topic: If the recipient has to search around inthe body of the email to find out what the heck youwant or are talking about, they will give up and moveon to the next thing. Make your first sentence clearand actionable. The rest of the email should answerthe basic formula of who, what, when and where.Email is not the place for a dissertation or a majordebrief.Attached: File attachments are the bane of mostpeople’s work existence. Most attachments are fine if 38
  43. 43. they are small text files, but when you start sending amedia file, that’s when it gets tricky. The best way tohandle it if you have to send someone big files is tocontact them in advance and ask them how theywould prefer to receive the files. Some folks don’twant big files clogging up their inbox; others don’tknow how to unzip files and many PDAs freeze whentrying to open an email with a big file attachment.The Email Chain: You know that email chain you gotwith everyone’s email address and the initialinstructions from your boss, as well as a comment ortwo from everyone else who was cc’ed? Don’t keepsending it on and on. When email chains getforwarded, there are many times when they includeproprietary or inappropriate information. If you really,really need to forward an email chain, read backthrough it and clean it up so it makes sense. Asemails get longer and the thread stretches, thepotential for the wrong information to be sharedskyrockets.Out of Office: If you are on vacation and havesomeone backing you up, note the dates you will beout and the contact info for your backup. Don’t write aparagraph about where you are going and what youare doing. No one cares. They are trying to conductbusiness and don’t want to think about your sipping a 39
  44. 44. margarita on the beach while they are stuck in theirhellish cube.Tone Deaf: Just because it’s an email doesn’t meanyou can be a smartass. Make sure your emails areprofessional, respectful and thoughtful. People gettheir feelings hurt easily and they aren’t always goingto call you on it, especially regarding an emailexchange. However, they may very well bring it toyour boss’s attention.Stylish: There are rules out there for email yelling oremail whispering or winking or whatever. You can stillhave your own style of communicating, but make sureit reflects your approach to business and not yourapproach to say, getting a date. There is a bigdifference in perception and results with eachapproach.Email is a perfect business tool and is great forsharing information, negotiating deal terms, meetingscheduling and brainstorming. Just make sure to useit wisely and be polite. Speaking of manners, let’s talkabout eating. 40
  45. 45. Chapter Seven: Eating In and OutEating around colleagues, at work or as part of abusiness meeting, is tricky. A business dinner orlunch is just that, discussion of business over a meal.Sure, it is more relaxed than at a conference table,but it is still work. Taking food home for yourroommates, ordering extra so you can have lunch thenext day, asking for a bite of your client’s pasta,starting to eat before everyone has their food … allno-nos.The Napkin Dilemma: As soon as you are seated,pick your napkin off the table and place it in your lap.Please don’t wait until your food arrives and there isthat uncomfortable moment when the waiter has tojuggle his food deliveries to shimmy your napkin intoyour lap so your food can be served. If you have toleave the table at any point, your napkin goes on yourchair, not on top of your plate and not with you to thebathroom. And don’t pile your napkin on your platewhen you are done; hang on to it and either set itbeside your plate or place it in your chair when youare leaving. 41
  46. 46. Breaking Bread: When at a business dinner, offerthe bread or other shared items to your guests firstand then take some yourself. Always keep passinguntil everyone has been served. Most restaurantsserve a hunk of butter with the bread and that needsto get passed as well. And don’t take the whole hunkand slather it on your slice; procure a small amount ofbutter with your knife and smear it onto your bread orside plate. Only then can you marry the two.The Reach: Reaching across the table to getsomething while either you or someone else is in mid-conversation can be very distracting. Plus, it’s kind ofrude. That said, if you need something from acrossthe table, quietly ask the person closest to it if theywouldn’t mind passing it down to you.Elbows Everywhere: When waiting for your meal orin between courses, it never fails that someone will belounging across the table with their elbows splayedand their sleeves rolled up. You can rest your handson the table or even fold them if that is morecomfortable, but elbows on the table is consideredbad manners until after the meal has concluded.Utensils: The proper way to use utensils is fork in theleft hand and knife in the right. You use the knife tocut and then push the food onto the back of your fork. 42
  47. 47. Then you eat it. If you are at a fancy place and thereare tons of different utensils for each course, start onthe outside and work your way in toward the plate.Finger Food: Unless you are in your apartment withyour coworker scarfing wings or at an Ethiopianrestaurant munching on that spongy bread, youshouldn’t eat with your hands. Fast food is the onlyother real exception, and if that is your company’sidea of a business dinner, you need to find a new job.Kitchen Food: Do not become the guy or gal whogets the reputation for pouncing on the leftovers in thekitchen. Being the first one there, picking over theitems like a vulture and then proceeding to stuff yourface is just bad form.Bagel and Donut Days: There is always oneawesome person in the office who brings in food foreveryone to share. Then there is that annoyingperson who forgets that the food is for everyone. Takejust one and move along. Stockpiling your plate forArmageddon just makes you look like a hoarder. Theother option is not eating any of it at all, but if it’s 3p.m. and that donut is still staring at you, then just eatit. 43
  48. 48. Picking: Stuff gets caught in your teeth when you eat;it just does. It’s gross and you can’t wait to get it out,but please don’t use toothpicks or your fingernails todig stuff out of your teeth or mouth at the table. Waituntil you get to the bathroom or home. Nobody wantsto watch you digging in your teeth for a piece of strayfood. Really, nobody.Smoke Break: Everyone has a strong opinion aboutsmoking. Used to be you could smoke in your officeand in restaurants. Most people hate it, some love itand others are indifferent. That said, it is best not totry to catch a smoke during a business dinner. It ispoor form to leave the table for an extended period oftime other than for the bathroom and, whether youthink so or not, you reek when you come back.Food Noises: In some countries, it is the sign of adelicious meal to slurp your food and chew with yourmouth open. Well, we live in a culture that valueskeeping your trap shut while chewing and slurpingonly by accident. If you manage to talk with yourmouth full or slurp in a noodle or two, a mild ―excuseme‖ should be enough to remedy the situation. Do itall the time and you will find yourself eating alone.The Powder Room: If you have to go, don’t telleveryone at the table. Discreetly leave your napkin on 44
  49. 49. your chair and say, ―Excuse me,‖ then head off in thedirection of the bathroom. Please don’t ask everyoneat the table where the toilets are because you havenever been there before. Be a grown-up; go byyourself and, if necessary, ask for directions from astaff person.Digital Devices: Unless you are on a death watch oryou have a million-dollar deal closing during thedinner, don’t answer your phone or check yourBlackBerry. Put both on mute and engage yourself inthe task at hand. Give your full attention to thediscussion at hand and look at this as an opportunityto learn and develop deeper work relationships.The Bill: If you are hosting the meal (which meansyou initiated the invite), you should discreetly tell thewaiter before dinner you are handling the bill; whenthe bill arrives you quietly review and pay it. Refrainfrom commenting on the cost, the tip amount or theservice. If you are out with a group of colleagues, therule of thumb is that the most senior person at thetable covers the bill to expense it later.Doggy Bags: It is generally not a great idea torequest and/or take home food in a doggie bag whileat a business meal. Order what you want, eat whatyou can and leave the rest. Don’t take food home for 45
  50. 50. your dog or your roommate, especially if your boss ispaying.The Server: Treat the server with respect and valuetheir service and opinion. How you treat folks servingyour meal is indicative of how you treat others in yourlife. And you never know when that waiter mightreappear in your life, maybe as your new boss orclient down the line.Your Order: Don’t order the most expensive thing onthe menu just because the company is paying for it.Everyone is onto this trick and it’s bad manners.When the server arrives at the table, be ready withyour order. Don’t go around the table asking whateveryone else is getting or change your order fivetimes. That is annoying. To everyone.Sharing Food: Stabbing food off someone else’splate or asking to have some of their entrée isinappropriate for business. It is completely fine whenout with family and friends since they will stab yourhand with their fork or pull their plate way if they don’twant you to have some of their food. Becausebusiness colleagues can’t or won’t, it is better to keepyour fork to yourself. You know, personal space,germs, allergies, politeness, etc. 46
  51. 51. Meal Cadence: It is general practice to wait untileveryone has their meal served before starting to eatyour own. If only a few folks ordered appetizers, waituntil they are all served and then you may begin.Digging in before the time is right makes you look likeyou don’t get enough to eat or that you are completelyoblivious to everyone else at the table. The samegoes for getting up or concluding the dinner. Wait untileveryone is finished and everyone’s plates have beencleared before wrapping it up.The Booze: Most business dinners involve wine, beerand liquor, as do many work cocktail parties. If youare the host, it is appropriate to ask if the table wouldlike wine, unless you know for a fact that they don’tdrink. Then serve your guests first, don’t hog thebooze and take it easy on the intake. Two to threedrinks are the limit; otherwise, you will be the talk ofthe town the next day.And no drinking at the office, unless there is a party,especially if you are in a cube. 47
  52. 52. Chapter Eight: CubevilleOkay, nobody likes sitting in a cube. Really, nobody.Who wouldn’t want to have an office with walls to theceiling and a door you can close? So think about itthis way: When you are talking about your adventuresof the night before or if you have a sexy pic of yourhoney posted on your bulletin board, remember thatyou are inches away from the person next to you. Andthey probably don’t want to know that much about youat work.The Décor: Decorate away and make it yourindividual space, but keep it clean, both physicallyand professionally. Your workspace should not looklike a bomb went off, you can’t find a thing and youhave a passion for stuffed animals. Be organized,don’t get too personal and remember that your spacereflects your personality and your role at thecompany.Meals on Wheels: Bringing leftovers and eating themat your desk is a great way to save time and money.Bringing stuffed cabbage from the Russian joint inyour neighborhood is just wrong. Think about what 48
  53. 53. you are doing to the office atmosphere before firingup the microwave. Your colleagues will appreciate theconsideration.Eavesdropping: Say you are sitting in your cubeworking away and minding your own business andyou hear a coworker ask someone else a question orcomment on the news. You know the answer or wantto make a comment, so do you just jump in? Do yousend them an email? The golden rule of cube living isthat unless you are being spoken to directly, you mindyour own business. Catch up with that person later,but don’t make it a cube free-for-all.Art Work: Everyone has different tastes and differenttolerance levels for what is considered ―art.‖ Hey,some people find the naked human form reallyappealing, while other folks have mad body issues.Some people think collecting key chains is museum-worthy, while others have eschewed materialpossessions. Whatever your thing, keep it to aminimum in the office. One or two tasteful (in youropinion) pieces around the cube are great. Anythingmore than that borders on kinda crazy and will havepeople betting on the numbers of cats/deadbodies/stuffed animals in your apartment. 49
  54. 54. Personal Calls: Making a few personal calls hereand there throughout the day is all good. You need abreak, and a few minutes catching up with friends is agreat way to re-juice. But keep it short and simple.Please don’t recount anything sexual, medical,familial, stressful or disturbing. If you need to get―personal,‖ go somewhere private.Lurking: Everyone has a cube lurker in their office.They’re the ones who are always there when you turnaround and seem to have endless amounts of time tochat about inane subjects all day long. Tell them youhave work to do and want to use your time wisely,and move on. If you’re the lurker, be respectful ofpeople’s limited privacy and time.The Toss: Believe it or not, some people really getinto looking through other people’s crap. It’s weird,yes, but not at all unusual. If you have something youdon’t want anyone to see, don’t leave it in your cube.Whether they are in the office working late after hoursand need a bite or are just bored, these folks havebeen known to dig deep for no reason.The Unwritten Quiet Rule: Sometimes people haveto write a report, make sales calls or just get theirwork done, and it is perfectly reasonable for them toinvoke the quiet rule. This means that everyone in the 50
  55. 55. surrounding cubes has to shut up for a set period oftime so that person can focus. Don’t be the one whoconstantly breaks this rule while invoking it when youneed the quiet time.Printerdom: It is a tricky thing sharing a printer with agroup of people. You have to print out the directionsto the show tonight or the invitation you got for theparty this weekend, but you don’t want to be the onewho jammed/locked/queued up the printer withpersonal crap so everyone else can’t get their workdone, do you? Best to print quickly and stealthily atlunch or right at the end of the day when you can hitprint and snatch that puppy before anyone else evennotices.Crown Jewels: Even in the nicest offices, there isgoing to be a thief. Leaving your wallet, purse,briefcase, watch, iPod, PDA or any valuable personalstuff in your cube is a bad idea. This goes for paperstoo—your insurance cards, Social Securityinformation, no matter what—someone can lift it andyou wouldn’t even know. Lock it in a drawer or take itwith you when you go.Guests: Who doesn’t like a visitor during the day?Set up an extra seat in your cube so someone cantake a load off and shoot the breeze with you for a 51
  56. 56. few. Even have a few laughs. Just keep in mind thatyour colleagues are inches away and they are part ofthe conversation too, whether they want to be or not.Cubes are here to stay, so we’d better get used tothem. And it’s hard to complain when your boss isalso sitting in a cube. Speaking of bosses … 52
  57. 57. Chapter Nine: The Big Bad BossYour mom may be your best friend and tell you you’respecial, but don’t think your boss is going to do thesame. Your boss is not your BFF from the get-go.They may be nice to you, and mentor you, and takeyou out to lunch, but don’t make the mistake oftreating them like a peer. You are there to learn fromthem and possibly take over their job one day.The Approach: Don’t always go to the boss withproblems. Bring them the problem, along with acouple of solutions, so they can see that you have putsome thought into the situation and are offering totake action to resolve it. You don’t want to becomethe one who is always pointing out problems butdoing nothing to fix them; that’s called complaining.Taking Their Time: If you have a pitch to make, anissue to discuss or just want the boss’s opinion onsomething, think it through before you take any oftheir time. You may even want to do a mental run-through of the conversation so you sound confidentand, more importantly, make sense. It is obvious 53
  58. 58. when someone has prepared for a conversation, andthis preparation will be remembered and respected.Back Talk: It is amazing how many times you hear asubordinate challenge a boss’s opinion, answer orstatement. It is also really embarrassing. Best to waituntil you two are alone and then voice your opinion.Private Info: When working for someone else, youwill likely be privy to personal information about them,their families or their lifestyles. The unwritten andlongstanding rule is that this information is off limits,even if you can’t stand your boss with all of your heartand soul. You have been entrusted with informationthat is not yours to share.Back Stabbing: Everyone makes jokes about othersin the office, and this may even include your boss, butdon’t fall into the trap of badmouthing your boss topeople in the office on a regular basis. You will quicklydiscover that there are very few folks willing toactually say what they really feel in front of the bossand you could be the only one left standing.Friendship: Some people have managed to befriends with their bosses for years and it works foreveryone. It is common that a friendship will blossomafter you have left a job and that person continues to 54
  59. 59. serve as your mentor. In the meantime, be respectful,feel out boundaries and remember that you are in abusiness environment.Taking the Heat: Sometimes mistakes are made inthe workplace and someone needs to save face. Mostoften, face-saving is reserved for the boss andsomeone else gets to be the fall guy. Take the heat,but make sure your boss knows that you know thereal deal with a private conversation about the actualsequence of events.Recognition: In most offices, recognition is notoffered for accomplishments that are consideredwithin the job description. Unless you have movedmountains and sealed an unusual deal, it is unlikelyyou will be singled out and recognized by the boss.Results are expected and that is why you get paid.Leaving the Fold: When you have decided it is timeto move on and leave a company, do so in aprofessional and composed manner by going to yourdirect supervisor and having a frank discussion. Yourimmediate boss is the one who will be most affectedand will be tasked with replacing your position. Goingto the Big Kahuna to submit your resignation inflatesyour sense of importance (unless, of course, you 55
  60. 60. report to that person) and undermines your immediatesupervisor, who will remember this forever.Getting Fired: If you are fortunate or unfortunateenough to get terminated from your company, it isimportant to keep your head up and leave with grace.This is hard to do when you are being walked out bysecurity in public and you barely had time to throwyour personal belongings into a box, but that will bethe final impression you leave with everyone and youwant it to be classy.The Personality: If your boss is one of thosepersonalities whom everyone loves and wants to be―in‖ with, but you know that he or she is really just ablowhard who dumps all the work on you and takesthe credit, just keep doing what you need to do to getby. These folks seem to do well in business and noamount of bitching, reporting them to superiors ortalking to them will change that. They found theirformula and they are sticking with it. You’re the onewho needs to find a new job or boss.Boss Tasks: There are certain things you have to putup with as lower management and many bosses havebeen waiting for their chance to exert their power andcontrol. They may ask you to get their dry cleaning orpick up their cat from the vet or put you into a position 56
  61. 61. where you have to lie to their spouse or cover forthem in the office. There is a fine line to walk here,especially if you have a close relationship with yourboss. But unless the task is part of your jobdescription or involves learning the business at handor developing key business skills, I would say, ―Nothanks.‖The Raise: When you go to the boss to ask for moremoney, make sure you are familiar with thecompany’s current finances, have done your researchon comparable salaries in the marketplace and canback up your request with a business rationale. Manycompanies have a raise scale based on a reviewprocess and that determines your raise—no ifs, andsor buts. If your company doesn’t work with a reviewsystem, you are responsible for making a clear-cutbusiness case for your value add.Inside Baseball: You will inevitably be stuck in anelevator, at a work function or at a kid’s softball gameand run into the boss or big boss. Make sure youknow the latest news on your company and havesome office buzz to share. You are going to have tomake small talk and it most likely will be about work,so it’s better to have a few talking points in your backpocket. 57
  62. 62. Making nice with the boss is always smart, but don’tcompromise your ethics or morals to please someoneelse. What goes around comes around. The sameapplies when you are off the clock with colleagues. 58
  63. 63. Chapter Ten: Off the ClockBeing out of the physical confines of the office withcolleagues for a happy hour, pizza party, bowling orwhatever doesn’t give you permission to let your hairdown and get wild. Save that for your friends.The Meanies: There are always going to be people inthe office who don’t like you. They may be competitiveor want your job or have aligned themselves withsomeone else, or they could be just plain mean. Inany case, watch your back, don’t give them anyammo and don’t let them see you sweat. Especially athappy hour after work.Don’t Clique It: Try to talk to everyone in the roomand not just hang with the folks you see every day.Go chat with the receptionist for a moment or the guyfrom finance that processes your invoices or evensome of the top executives. The more people youknow, the greater your success when you need tocomplete a big project, as you can go to them asresources. 59
  64. 64. Watch Your Tone and Manner: Don’t be flirtatious,or conversely, too professional. Be straightforwardand personable in your manner and talk about thingsthat are relevant to your business, current pop culturetrends or travel. Be yourself (unless you are a totaljerk, then you can fake being a nice person).The Chatter: Talk about subjects that meansomething to the business or the person you aretalking to, such as recent trends in your field, theirhobbies or vacations. Straying into personal territoryis uncomfortable for many people and puts them onedge. Current events, trends, anecdotes and storiesare always a good bet, but keep it clean.What Not to Wear: Don’t go to the company picnic inyour clubbing outfit. If you are going out clubbingafterward, put on the basics (jeans and a shirt) andadd everything else when you leave. Trust me, youwill be happier that everyone is not checking you out,in a bad way.Boozing It Up: Pace yourself on the booze frontsince you are with people who sign the paychecksthat make the rent. It is fun to have a few laughs anda few drinks, but you don’t want to be the one with thelampshade on your head and the hangover the nextmorning. 60
  65. 65. The Hairy Eyeball: Whether you like it or not, somefolks in management will be watching you out of thecorner of their eye. They want to see how you handleyourself outside of the workplace. Don’t stiffen up, butdefinitely keep yourself in check. The execs may havetheir eye on you for a new gig or a big project andwant to see how you handle yourself in certainsituations.The Host: Make sure to acknowledge and thank theperson who put the gathering together. They may bethe boss’s assistant or the office manager, but theyput a lot of work into making sure you and yourcolleagues had a good time, and that should benoted. It’s guaranteed that you will be one of ahandful of folks who actually said thank you.Bring Something: It is appropriate to show the samegraciousness at a work get-together as you would insomeone’s home. Whether it is a bottle of wine, agame or a handmade token, people remember smallgestures. And it’s good manners.The Wallflower: Don’t be the goof standing on thesidelines snickering and gesturing with your equallyjudgy colleague at a work event. This may be fun for 61
  66. 66. you, but everyone else will think you are a snarkysnob and not a team player.Funny Business: If you have ever watched an old(read sexist) movie or even old TV series, you willnote that office parties were a chance for folks to getcrazy. It is funny to watch on screen, but absolutelyhorrifying to watch in person. Plus, everyoneremembers bad behavior and talks about it for ages.Steer clear of the party PDA.Last Call: There is no need to stay until the bitter endof the party. Unless it is a sit-down dinner and show,in which case you are obligated to stay for theduration, it is polite to stay for about an hour and ahalf. Then make sure to say your goodbyes to the keyparty people, your boss and the host before reallykicking up your heels elsewhere.Hanging out with your colleagues outside of work canbe a good time. Just remember to keep it simple andread the room. What is definitely harder to gauge arephone manners, what’s right and what’s wrong. Listenup. 62
  67. 67. Chapter Eleven: Phoning It In―Yeah.‖ ―I got it.‖ ―What’s up?‖ ―Hey.‖ These have allbecome commonplace intros when answering aphone. And no, these were not the answers topersonal phone calls. Giving good business phone isa must.Get to the Point: We have all heard them, therambling messages with the ums and the ahs thrownin for good measure. A message is just that: stateyour business after a cordial hello and call it a day.The same goes for calling someone with an idea or aproposition. Most people are too busy to talk for anhour and will start to avoid your calls in the future ifthat is your M.O.Who Are You? How are you supposed to callsomeone back if they don’t leave their number? Or ifthey speed-talk through the whole message and youstill don’t get any info after replaying it five times?Leave your name, number, email and order ofbusiness, and then repeat your name and number atthe end. Keep it short and sweet. Also, if you have an 63
  68. 68. unusual name, make sure you spell it or phoneticallypronounce it, which makes it easier for everyone.Conference Callers: If you are the one to set it upand book the phone bridge, then be the one to test itbefore the meeting to make sure it works. Alsodouble-check the numbers you send out to everyoneto make sure there are no transposed numbers orincorrect area codes. This makes it so much easierthan having to manage that flurry of emails and callsat 10:02 when everyone is scrambling to make themeeting and can’t connect.The Speakerphone: This old-school gadget serves apurpose and that is to ensure that everyone can hearwhat the folks on the other lines are saying. Never putsomeone on speakerphone without their knowledgeor consent. It can be potentially embarrassing anddeal-breaking. And don’t assume the mute button isidiot-proof. It isn’t.Response Time: If someone leaves you a businessmessage on your voicemail and you don’t respond tothem because you haven’t started that project, youdon’t know the answer or it isn’t at the top of yourpriority list, just get back to them and let them knowyou are on it. Shoot them an email or leave them a 64
  69. 69. quick message. It makes everyone feel better and youjust got some props.Ringtones: Lil’ Wayne may be your favorite artist inthe whole wide world, but that doesn’t mean it shouldbe the ringtone on your phone. When your phonerings in a meeting and everyone gets to listen to yourmusical tastes, it doesn’t make you look hip andcool—just unprofessional. If you really feel the needto get your groove on your phone, turn off the ringerbefore you head into a business meeting or gettogether with clients.Vocal Volume: When you are talking on the phone tofamily, a friend or an associate, there is absolutely noneed for you to be speaking in your ―outside‖ voice. Ifyou have a bad connection or the person can’t hearyou, step outside or check the volume, but leave themeeting or situation so everyone else doesn’t have tostop talking and listen to your yelling.Holding: Hold music has gotten so much better thanthe soft rock madness that used to be the norm. Thatsaid, if you do put someone on hold, don’t leave themhanging for more than one and a half minutes. Anylonger than that and they deserve a callback. 65
  70. 70. Cell Phone No-No: Unless it is your mother and shehas been hit by a bus, don’t answer the phone whenyou are in a conversation with a colleague, gettingready to pay for your latte or are in the process ofpaying a vendor for their services. It is rude to theperson you are interacting with and you can returnthat all-important call once your business iscompleted.Transferring: Note to self: Whenever using a newphone system, figure out how to use all of theimportant features before testing them when the headof the company calls your line. When you transfersomeone to the wrong extension or drop their callentirely, it reflects poorly on the company and makesyou look incompetent. Read the instructions or asksomeone to show you.The Answer: When you answer your phone or themain company line, you should say your name or thebusiness name. Please don’t answer with ―Yes?‖ or―How can I help you?‖ People like to know with whomthey are talking and it gives them a second to collecttheir thoughts.Phone Stalking: Some people think that calling anumber repeatedly is the best way to get through tothem. What these folks don’t seem to realize is that 66
  71. 71. everyone has caller ID now. Even your grandmother.So calling repeatedly to get someone’s attentiondoesn’t work. Try once, leave a message and they willget back to you on their own time.Call Waiting: Multitasking has its own challenges.Handling two phone calls at once is a recipe fordisaster. If you can figure out how to toggle back andforth between the two calls without cutting someoneoff, more power to you. The greater challenge is tryingto keep two conversations straight in your head whiletrying not to be rude to either party. Best to handlejust one call at a time.Timing: Since we are all connected and available24/7, we can reach out to anyone at any time, right?Wrong. Don’t call a colleague’s or boss’s cell phoneoutside of business hours unless requested or it’s anemergency. Calling from the bar at 3 a.m. to leave amessage that you will be late for work the nextmorning doesn’t cut it either. Use email in the offhours and a follow-up call if necessary.At work, the phone is another tool for you to get yourwork done, do it well and make a good impression.Just like a meeting. 67
  72. 72. Chapter Twelve: The MeetingBeing late, chewing gum, interrupting and texting areall cool in a meeting, right? Wrong. Meetings can be agreat way to brainstorm, problem-solve and presentnew ideas. When abused, meetings are a disaster.The History: Meetings used to involve booze andsmokes and take place at all hours of the day. Youhad to get dressed up and you spoke only whenspoken to. Meetings today take place in person, overSkype, on the phone, via text and in videoconferences. The same rules apply for all meetings,no matter the format.Meeting Addicts: There seem to be some peoplewho are addicted to meetings. Something you cantalk about in ten minutes in person? Noooo, let’s gettogether a group of 10 people and set up a phonebridge and everyone can chime in. Use your time andother people’s time wisely. If a quick chat will resolvethe issue, then do it. If it does require a meeting,schedule a reasonable length of time and time of dayand invite decision-makers to the table so stuff canget done. 68
  73. 73. Decisions by Committee: Sometimes it is helpful tohave a lot of people weigh in on an issue or come upwith ideas. But many times it becomes an onerousand unnecessary process to have more than two orthree people involved in decision-making. If you areconstantly striving for consensus, you are going tolose sight of your goal and take up a lot of people’stime.Setting the Agenda: It is amazing how manymeetings are called with no agenda and no direction.Everyone arrives late and then sits around checkingtheir PDAs until someone kicks it off. Having anagenda keeps everyone on target and on message. Ifyou are running the meeting, have one and distributeit before everyone gets there so they can review it. Ifyou are attending a meeting, ask for an agenda soyou can prepare to contribute.Follow the Leader: Some folks are born leaders andothers, followers. Sound familiar? When it comes tomeetings, if you called it, you need to be the leader.Even if you are a follower. Understood? Thank thegroup for coming, introduce the topic, direct thediscussion and distribute the notes—all in areasonable amount of time. 69
  74. 74. Pay Attention: Giving a presentation in a meeting isa big deal for the person talking. This means thatwhether you are interested in the topic or not, it is notgood form to check your PDA, pull out your laptop oreven flip through the distributed deck. Lookinterested, take notes and give the person your fullattention. You would want the same if it were yourturn in the hot seat, right?Participation: There is an adage that states: ―If youhave nothing good to say, then say nothing at all.‖This is a good rule to follow. If you are payingattention and the meeting relates to the industry orbusiness you are in, chances are you have somethingsmart to say about the topic. Otherwise, just listenand learn something new.Discussions: It is amazing how often it happens, butit happens a lot. The guy who hasn’t been payingattention but decides he needs to add something tothe discussion which ends up being totally irrelevantand dated. The gal who wants to try to talk aboutsomething she knows nothing about. Or the boss whostarts talking about something totally unrelated to thesubject matter being discussed. Follow thediscussion, stay on topic, and table your comments orcritiques until the end or until you can do your 70
  75. 75. research. Then call a smaller meeting to get theactual work done!Intros: If you have a roomful of folks who are going tobe collaborating on a project, take a few moments tohave each person introduce themselves and whatthey do. Many times, name and role is the best introfor everyone, including those folks taking notes orserving food.Pitching In: If you get to the meeting early, see whatyou can do to help set it up. The person may behaving difficulties and will appreciate the help. Thisalso applies to after a meeting. If the person is loadingup their gear, offer to lend a hand and possibly chatfurther about the meeting topic. It is good karma andyou may learn something.Constructive Criticism: When providing feedback,always start with the positive. If you kick off with thenegative, the person goes on the defensive and allthey hear is the teacher from Charlie Brown. Providepositive commentary with any constructive comments.It will be appreciated. And if you are on the receivingend, always thank people for providing feedback,even if you don’t like what they had to say. 71
  76. 76. Invitations: Unbelievable as it may sound,sometimes invitations to meetings are as complicatedas a state dinner with a deposed dictator at the WhiteHouse. The politics abound. If you work in a verypolitical office, it is best to seek guidance from yoursupervisor to determine the proper invite list andseating for your meeting. If you don’t, someone willmake you unhappy, and most likely it’ll be the onewho put the meeting together!Waiting: Some companies have a running joke thatthey work on [company name here]-time. Meaning allmeetings start at least 10–15 minutes late. This iskind of like saying: ―I totally don’t mind wasting yourtime. I had something more important to do.‖ Unlessthe boss calls from the car to say he is running lateand the meeting can’t go on without him, start themeeting on time. The latecomers will have to playcatch-up and will soon realize that you use your timeand their time efficiently and that your meetings arevaluable.The Presentation: Public speaking is a course inhigh school and college for a reason. It is hard andrequires practice. Some folks are naturals (butprobably still practice) and others are a disaster.Make sure you always make eye contact, use slidesand index cards for notes, keep the copy on your 72
  77. 77. slides to a minimum and focus on visuals, and keep itshort and sweet so the group can ask questions andparticipate. Plus, you can always gain confidencefrom imagining everyone in the room naked. Really.Read the Room: Pay attention to your audiencewhile you are talking to see if you are a hit or a flop. Ifyou are bombing, you can still change course and getthe crowd on your side. If you are a hit, keep the goodtimes coming. Figuring out where you are midstreamand altering your course to meet the needs of youraudience will be an important skill to have in both yourbusiness and personal lives.The Munchies: Everyone is time-crunched thesedays and that has given rise to the meeting with food.Which means that it either sits in the middle of thetable and no one eats it but everyone stares at itlongingly, or the entire focus is on the food and themeeting degenerates into side conversations. Thebest way to resolve this issue is to serve food on aside table and ask everyone to grab something beforethey take their place at the meeting table. They cantake what they need and the focus can then be on themeeting topic and not on the food.The Biz Card Shuffle: It is common practice toexchange business cards with new clients or 73
  78. 78. colleagues when meeting for the first time. Some folksdo it upfront at the beginning or at the end uponsaying goodbye. No matter the right time, it isstandard operating procedure, so having to run backto your office to get your business cards makes youlook like a little kid who forgot they were at work.Don’t forget the cards.Podcasts-Skypes: Depending on the company,some meetings are very tech-focused and involvesome sort of Web or video component. If you areleading the meeting, make sure to test the equipmentand the presentation before everyone arrives. Youshould also have IT on hand to help you out in casethere are any problems. This applies to a two-personmeeting with your boss or to your annual conference.The only one who looks foolish if it doesn’t work isyou.Brainstorming: Everyone is usually game for abrainstorm. Especially if it is on a project that is out ofyour usual area of expertise. Make sure to invite adiverse group of folks, provide props or graphics toget everyone thinking, and clearly state what youwant to achieve with their brains.The Hierarchy: Whether we like it or not, there is acertain hierarchy in meetings. For example, if you 74
  79. 79. have invited the chairman of your company to attendyour presentation, they still get the seat at the head ofthe table. It doesn’t matter that this is your meeting.What matters is that they run the company. Alwaysdefer to the most senior person in a meeting andsolicit their feedback and comments, even if you knowit is going to be painful. It builds character.Meetings done right can be really creative,constructive experiences that enhance yourunderstanding of a company and let you play adeeper role in the business process. They can also beused as a vehicle to push people’s individual agendasor a time for folks to catch up and gossip. You get outof it what you put into it. While we are on the subjectof putting it out there … 75
  80. 80. Chapter Thirteen: Your Online LifeWith the wildfire spread of news and gossip online, anindividual’s personal behavior is more relevant to theircompany’s reputation than ever before. Alwaysremember that your online profile includes a lot ofpersonal information that pops up across a number ofdifferent sites, from pictures and geographic locationto marital status and number of friends and taste inmusic. It’s cool, right?What’s not cool is when human resources at yourdream job Googles you before the interview or yourfriend gets fired because of pictures you posted of heror when your boss sees that tweet from the ball gamethe day you called in sick. Everything you post onlinelives there for all to see, forever.Public CV: It is commonplace nowadays to have yourresumé or CV posted in numerous places online.Make sure that wherever it is, it’s updated, results-oriented and makes sense. Including informationabout your likes and dislikes, as well as otherpersonal info, is a no-go. Just because they live 76
  81. 81. online doesn’t make these docs any less valuable forpotential employers or recruiters.Blogging Away: Having a personal blog is a greatthing; just make sure it is about something that isimportant to you. Otherwise, it isn’t worth the time orthe exposure online. If you are passionate about asubject or know more than anyone else in theuniverse, then blog away. If you just want to bitch andwhine about your company, your friends or someawful tragedy that happened to you, it’s probablybetter to keep a personal diary. What you write onlinereflects on you as an individual, a professional and ahuman being.Wild Postings: Commenting on an online article orabout a seminar you attended is right on. You canstate your opinion and have your voice heard in anopen forum. Commenting just for the sake of sayingsomething or making nasty comments about an articleor incident is just plain stupid.Publicity Machine: Everyone thinks they know howto publicize themselves or their friends. It may notseem like it, but publicity is a strategy that isemployed to yield results. If you want to promoteyourself, your book or your product, think it throughand work toward measurable results. Just sending out 77
  82. 82. an email or making a post about something you thinkis the next best thing does not make it so.Photo Evidence: Sharing photos online is a fun andinteresting way to interact with your friends, promotean event or product, or generate a discussion about atopic. Who couldn’t spend hours on Flickr? But whenphotos feature you drunk or half-dressed, all thathappens is you look like an idiot, forever and for all tosee.Proper Language: Slang has its place in our societyand is commonly used in casual conversation andonline. When you are presenting yourself as a brandor positioning your company as a valuable resource,stick to proper English. It sets the tone for how theinformation will be received and it reinforces yourmessage in a positive manner.Your Pals: The online world breaks down manybarriers and increases the dialogue betweenstrangers and friends alike. There’s a lot to be said forconnecting with folks from your past and seeing whateveryone is up to. However, be careful about who youagree to connect with online. Some people are racingto collect as many friends as possible, while othersare connected with meaningful folks. Either way, the 78
  83. 83. company you keep speaks volumes about who youare.Video Resumés: The newest trend on the businessscene and a great idea for a number of reasons. Justmake sure your target audience is going to bereceptive, the content is compelling and interesting,the quality is good enough for a promo piece and theformat is compatible with different systems.Social Networking: Great tool for finding a new job,doing your current job better and connecting withother folks who do what you do. It is helpful to keepsome networking for just work and others for just playso your two worlds don’t collide and you can be freeto be yourself.Associations and Affiliations: It is a good idea ifyou are serious about your career to join anassociation or group either within your company orwithout. It helps connect you with other people, couldintroduce you to your mentor and is always helpful forjob hunting. That said, if you belong to a club calledGeeks for Star Wars, it’s probably best to keep that toyourself. There’s no need for it to be listed on yourresumé or any of your online profiles. 79
  84. 84. Alumni Connections: Whether or not you had agood time in college, your alma mater is still a greatresource for information about classes, connectionsand developments in lots of areas. Use the onlineresources that your college tuition paid for and diginto these websites. Post a profile, connect withprofessors and students, and offer to teach a class.The Email Address: There are a lot of companiesout there these days with funny names that make yougiggle and prompt you to check out their website, likeshmoop.com. Unless you work for one of thesecompanies, it is best to keep your email addressprofessional and to the point. Using funky names orsilly terms in your email address is not amusing to anemployer and may prevent you from getting hired.There are a lot of free email services out there. Makethe effort and invest in one that gets you noticed forthe right reasons.Passion Play: If you are a closet band geek or abudding thespian ready to hit the boards, use onlineresources to get in there and make it happen.However, if you are into dog-fighting or acid raves, itmay be a better choice to keep that research andthose connections private. Whether you like it or not,you are judged on your likes and dislikes, and mostpeople don’t approve of the illegal stuff. 80
  85. 85. Chat Rooms and Forums: Using an onlinepseudonym is the best way to engage, but asurprising number of folks use their own names. If youwant to sound off, do it often and do it well, but use ascreen name. You never know who is going todisagree with you.Using the Web to network and make friends is a greatthing, it just needs to be done with some class. Thesame goes for interacting with your colleagues. 81
  86. 86. Chapter Fourteen: Work PeepsAlways remember that your work peeps have yourback (most of the time). You can count on them for ashoulder to cry on or a sounding board for venting, aswell as helping you out in a pinch. Don’t antagonizethem, undermine them or betray them. They aresometimes all you have. And don’t forget about thepeople who keep the business running behind thescenes: the mail guy, the cleaning folks, the supplyperson. You mess with them and it’s all over.Be Kind: Sounds like a gimme, huh? Well, it’s not.Some people have to be told that the office is not theirown little fiefdom and that everyone is not at theirbeck and call. Treat people with respect and you willget the same in return.Taking Credit: Don’t be a glory hog. Recognizepeople’s contributions and give them credit for theirwork and ideas. Your moment in the spotlight willcome and, until then, you will be recognized for beinga team player. Yay. 82
  87. 87. Personal Space: Different cultures have differentrules of engagement when it comes to personalspace. Here in the good ole U.S. of A., we like ourpersonal space. A lot. When someone enters thisspace, it is very uncomfortable and makes it hard toconcentrate on anything except how close the personis to you. The golden rule for comfortable interactionis a minimum of 15‖ of space between two people.The Attitude: If you are a vice president in your officeand one of your colleagues is a manager, but youguys are the same age and have the sameeducational and socioeconomic background, there isno need to cop an attitude about your position. Cometo think of it, this also applies to outside your companytoo. People who act as if their you-know-what doesn’tstink, well, they stink.Money, Money: Before there were websites thatlisted what people made and the annual Parademagazine issue with the same, the only place youcould get salary info was from the GAO forgovernment work. There is a good reason for this.Talking about what you make outside of yourimmediate family or financial planner is just plaintacky. 83
  88. 88. Performance Reviews: The best advice when eithergiving or getting a performance review is to digest theinformation, think about it overnight and then takeaction. There are crappy managers out there whogive bad reviews because it is within their power.Conversely, there are people who don’t take criticismwell. The best way to handle a performance review isto make sure you put a lot of thought into the reviewand are open to talking with the person about theprocess, their feedback and your growth trajectory.The Entry: You know the guy who just barges intoyour office or cube with news, gossip or a question?Five times a day? Don’t be that guy. Make sure youcheck to see if someone is on the phone or otherwiseengaged and then ask if they have a minute to chat.Otherwise, people will start to avoid you. Really.Computer Snooping: Never, ever, ever look at thecontent on someone else’s computer, unless theyshow it to you. Even if it is right behind their head andyou are being drawn to it like a moth to light. Andespecially don’t look at their computer when theyaren’t there. ―I was just checking something‖ or ―Myown computer went down‖ doesn’t cut it. It issnooping and it violates that person’s privacy. 84

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