Corporate America Job Survival and Success Tactics

Written by on August 6, 2019

Imagine turning the stress of your desk into a strategy for success


As is evident from my previous articles, it’s clear that I’m not a big fan of how we allow corporate America to entrap us in a soul-sucking job that is not designed to pay us what we’re worth, stresses us out, and leaves us with very little to show for it in the end.


However, if you’re going to hang your hat within the cubicle walls, it might be prudent to implement a few key tactics for success.  This is by no means comprehensive. Moreover, it won’t guarantee success, rather put you in the best position to succeed should things happen to work in your favor.


This is part of the strategy I discovered as I climbed the ladder of corporate success over a 20-year career.  I still escaped and am thankful for it every day. Nonetheless, I learned that doing a few key things the right way, made all the difference in the world.


If you’re not sold on staying in corporate America, then you may want to jump ahead and visit for more information on creating that exit strategy.  Otherwise, pick one of these tactics to put into place on Monday.

Have a Personal MSOE

What is your personal minimum standard of excellence?  I’m not talking about towing the company’s line and reciting their quality clause (something I had to do embarrassingly a number of times).  


Accountability may be lacking in the corporate world, and blaming others and victimhood on the rise, but imagine holding yourself accountable for how you will do your job.  A standard that is so inviolable that nobody would ever ask you to cross it.


Maybe it’s the refusal to engage in gossip or drama.  Perhaps it’s always being at your desk and answering all important emails by 9:30am every workday.  It could even be the one to make a fresh pot of coffee or genuinely addressing others as sir and ma’am.


This accomplishes two things.  First, it raises your identity.  Identity as I use the term here is self-worth.  Since we will never outearn our self-esteem, it’s imperative that we are a constant path to raise what we feel we are worth.  What better way to do this than to keep promises we make to ourselves.


Secondly, it instills a level of trust with others.  After all, if you are known to have standards and people see you are keeping them, then just maybe they can trust you with that which is important to them.


Be Likeable (Don’t be an asshole)

Too many people stink at being like able.


This has nothing to do with being popular or using lots of flattery.  Quite the opposite. It’s about being genuine, not perfect. It’s serving others before yourself (the wise know there is no difference).  It’s humility before popularity.


Being likeable is the #1 key tenet when helping someone make a decision, with trust being a very close #2.  By the way, trust is ony #2 because if you violate #1, you won’t even get a chance to earn #2. And if that happens, poo poo on you!


Why is it important to help someone else make a decision?  Because you cannot succeed by yourself in a company. Part of success in corporate America is helping others to help you achieve your results.  If nobody likes you, you’re fighting an uphill battle that you will not win.


People can sniff assholes from a mile away.  Such people are the stereotypical employees that care more about themselves than others or even the company.  They often have Title-itis, where appearances trump actual productivity .  They’ll hug you as long as they need you and then throw you under the bus to avoid responsibility.  


What if you followed the platinum rule to treat others as they wish to be treated?  When all the chips are on the table and someone you depend on – a floor manager, HR, etc.- has a choice on whether to work on your stuff or that of another colleague,  all else being equal, it might just come down to who they like the most. 


Talk To People


Talking to people, while falling under the general concept of being likeable, is a specific tactic to build goodwill, ensure you and your work gets attention, and shows others that you’re willing to put skin in the game.


What do I mean?  In our new world of texting, bleeping, and creeping, we’ve become far more connected to devices than to other humans.  Yet our biology still requires human to human interaction. If you can supply a need that other people won’t, that’s called opportunity.


If I had to choose one secret tactic that worked the best for me to get my engineering jobs through the shop, it was that when I need to get help from someone, I would walk over to their desk and say hello.  No phone call, no email, no text. The conversation would be friendly and I would make my request followed by, “How can I help you get this done?”


Sometimes I would stay there as they immediately completed the task and then thank them right away.  Other times I would swing back by later in the day just for a quick hello where they would either proudly let me know they did it or that they were getting right to it then (a nice way to say they forgot but will still get it done.)


When you show enough effort to walk to them, it place importance on your work at the same time showing that you value them enough for a personal visit.  


Focus On Results


There’s a strange phenomenon in corporate America that whenever there is a team of people, and things don’t get done right or on-time, that there is a contagion of confusion that sets in.  “I thought you were going to do it” rings bravely in the air as everyone passes the hot potato until it sprouts legs and walks away.


This game is not available in any successful venture, business, or level of entrepreneurship.  The only way to win the game is to get results. This may sound demoralizing as getting results in the corporate world doesn’t always equate to your compensation.  If it did, we’d have some wealthy janitors and some poor CEOs.


However, if it won’t directly buy you money, there are things that it can and will buy you.  Getting results is like making a deposit in your corporate bank account. Every deposit buys you credibility, trust, and value.  


While most people think they’re getting paid for their time, if you can realize that there is value in getting results, you’ll never have to worry about time.  When you need to take a withdrawal – time off, forgiveness for a mistake you made, etc. – there will be no questions asked.


Stop Trying To Keep Your Job

Here we get to one of the best pieces of advice I can offer.  It sounds counter-intuitive and a bit crazy. You’re right and still here to tell you that it works.


Let’s lay out a few facts.  You don’t control anything about your job.  More to the point, it’s not your job anyways, it’s that of your employer (not your company either, unless you own it.)  


What happens when you try to control something that isn’t yours?  Do you remember that last time you tried to make someone quit smoking or make your spouse have sex?  How much energy did it take and how well did that work out? Exactly.


When we try to control and uncontrollable, like steering a car without a steering wheel, we do things out of our character, in desperation, and it never works out in the end anyways.  


The moment I stopped caring if I got fired was the exact moment I started becoming the manager I was supposed to be.  I started standing up for my employees and becoming a servant leader. I was able to focus on doing what I thought was right, not just what I thought was popular or would get me brownie points.


The good news is that if you can even employ just one of the tactics, you may see a remarked change in the way you are viewed in the workplace and the results you achieve, both professionally and personally.  


One day, when you’re tired of race, let me know.   Escape won’t be easy. It takes courage, a solid plan, and the mental toughness to see it through, as described here.  It will just be worth it.



  • Do you agree with us about corporate America?

  • Did any of these things surprise you?

  • Do you have a story you’d like to share about an experience you or a friend have had with any of these things in corporate America?



One of the stated missions of Broke Is No Joke is to help people escape the rat race and monetize their passions on their way to becoming the best version of themselves


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