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No-Nonsense Career Climbing

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in Leaders & Managers,Management Training

Only the most naive employees still believe that they’ll rise to the top on pure merit. Getting ahead requires a mix of political savvy, street-smart aggressiveness and common sense.

In his excellent book How to Become CEO (Hyperion, 1998), Jeffrey J. Fox needs only 158 easy-to-read pages to present dozens of nitty-gritty rules for earning rapid promotions. Fox, who runs a marketing consulting firm, doesn’t waste words. His advice is hard-nosed, specific and occasionally contrarian.

He warns you never to write a nasty memo that “gives a rival a smoking gun.”

He also solves the riddle of when to come and go from the office: Arrive 45 minutes earlier than the company’s normal hours and leave 15 minutes later. If you stay beyond that, it indicates you can’t manage your work effectively.

Fox’s boldest advice is that you should always take the job that pays the most money, period. Here’s why:

Great expectations. The more you earn, the more senior management expects from you. You’ll have more chances to prove yourself. For Fox, that chance to showcase your talent is an “invitation to success.”

Winning promotions. Fox argues that if you’re vying for a promotion with a rival, the person who already earns more will get it. “The higher paid person gets the job regardless of talent, contribution, or anything else,” he writes. He explains that “promoting the higher paid endorses the wisdom of upper management.”

Future pay. All subsequent raises will flow from your current compensation, because companies often compute pay increases on a percentage basis. Earn more now and you’ll earn more later.

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