How To Stay (Way) Ahead Of The Competition

Written by: James R. Weiss

This article is an out-growth of my thirty some-odd years helping men and women develop the professional skills they need to succeed in a very tight, competitive job market. Frankly, in today’s “troubled economy” you have less control over your career than did the men and women of the last two generations. That’s why you must become the very best you can. 

Here’s a success story you might find interesting. One of my young clients (Jerry was 24 when this event took place) told me that his entire career changed when he send a dozen roses and a lovely get-well card to his boss’s wife while she was recovering from a hip operation. Of course Jerry’s thoughtful gift was immediately interpreted by his boss as an act of loyalty and caring. Note: His general concern for another person also told his boss that as young as Jerry was he know how to play “the corporate game.” Three years later when the young man’s boss was promoted and transferred to corporate headquarters in Omaha he made sure that his assistant, “Jerry the flower boy,” was promoted to his old position.

To help you stay (way) ahead of your competition I have outlined the four crucial areas of your career that will constantly demand your undivided attention.  These are: your boss, your mentor, your manners, and your ability to create magic for your company.

Your Boss Is The Coauthor Of Your Career

Never forget that the man or woman you are working for is holding the future of your career in her hands. First and foremost, accept the fact that you too must pay your dues. In other words, you make it rain and your boss gets most of the credit. Here are several do’s and don’ts you should always keep in mind so you can safely navigate your relationship with your boss:

Do: Provide your boss with continuous good advice and loyalty.

Don’t: Complain or whine to your boss; he has his own issues to deal with and will soon see you as one of the company’s wimps.

Do: Compensate for your boss’s weaknesses. If she hates emails you volunteer to screen them for her.

Don’t: Assume that your boss is your big brother, parent, friend or father confessor unless he volunteers to play that role with you. Remember your boss is busy building his career and does not have time to take care of you.

Do: Polish your bosses brand and make him look good in the eyes of his managers and bosses

Don’t: Forget that anything nice your boss does for you may be done to further his own brand

Do: Keep your professional image separate from your boss’s. You want to be seen as a corporate player and not your boss’s “go for”

Don’t: Get too comfortable. If your boss is not helping you with your career it is time to move on.

Last, but not least. What do you want from your boss in return for all of the goodies you are giving him? As with most of my clients you too are looking for loyalty, trust and the opportunity to prove yourself as a competent hard working employee.


Here Are Several Characteristics Of A Good Mentor

  • She will tech by example rather than preaching
  • He will be well versed and respected by his peers
  • Your mentor’s professional image is not yours. Always remember that you are a unique one of a kind person
  • You must know when it is time to move on to another mentor
  • Become someone’s mentor so you can continue growing professionally

Always Mind Your Manners

At last your long hours of hard work have paid off. You have just been promoted to the newly created slot where you will be working closely with the vice president and his people. You deserve it and are ready to embrace the new responsibilities that go along with the promotion. Before you begin counting your stock options there are some serious mine fields you must learn how to successfully navigate.

As your career advances the competition stiffens and little things count more than ever. Never forget that you reputation is built brick by brick one day at a time. Here are a few more do’s and don’ts you should keep in mind as you move your career forward:

Do: Learn proper etiquette. You should know which knife and fork to use at a formal dinner.

Don’t Drink alcoholic beverages at any company functions. This includes everything from formal parties to the annual company picnic at Fresh Meadow Park.

I REPEAT: NONE. You read this correctly. I’ve seen too many careers go down the tubes because some hot shot had just a little too much to drink. You can have a glass of wine or beer in front of you all night, but nothing more.  Remember you are always being watched by someone who either wants to promote you or take you down.

Do: Learn the art of polite conversation. Please no gossip…ever. You can accomplish this by subscribing to The New Yorker magazine. This is chocked filled with timely articles that cover everything from the current cinema and theater to the latest trends in raising house plants. This is by far my favorite all round magazine for making great small talk work in your favor.

Don’t:  Dress down on Friday even if the people in your department do so. You are creating an image for yourself that says: “rain makers never dress down except at the office picnic or if I stop by the office on Saturday to clean up some paper work”.  You are the one who sets the standards in the office.

Do: Be aware of company outings and informal get-togethers that are suppose-to be fun. Several years ago one of my clients fired her executive assistant after she saw Jennifer push and slap her five year old son at the company’s annual picnic.

Don’t:  Bring a casual date to any company function unless you intend to marry her. You may well be judged by the out- come of the relationship. One of my clients brought his girl-friend to five or six of his company’s functions. When he brought another date to the formal ball the president’s wife was upset because she liked the other woman. ‘Lynn reminded me of my daughter. How could he dump her?” The last thing you want is to be seen as a playboy who flits from relationship to relationship, especially when it upsets your boss’s wife.

You Must Be Able To Create Magic

In both the corporate world and the public sector of our society it is the movers and the doer’s who rise to the top of their profession. It is always the 20% of the same employees that are completing 80% of the work. These men and women are the leaders in their field and many have attended state and local colleges rather than the over-priced prestigious ones. The question becomes, what sets these people apart from the herd?

After carefully studying the profiles of nearly two hundred men and women I’ve come to several conclusions that I would like to share with you and my other clients and students.

  • The men and women who create magic have developed the ability to see beyond their own position. They are tuned into the big picture and how it will affect the future of their career.
  • The “rain makers” are not afraid to take calculated risks especially when it can further their career.
  • These same people are constantly giving 125% of their effort to help their colleagues and company increase both productivity and revenue.
  • Those who create corporate magic keep journals to record how they can increase productivity. They share this information with their managers and colleagues on a weekly or monthly basis for the good of the company.
  • The people in this category also become known as the “go to person”. He or she is the one who has the answers and can defuse small problems before they become big ones

If you wish to discuss this article with me any further or if you need help taking your own career to the next level please contact me