🌼7 Hard Lessons From Corporate More People Need to Learn


🌼7 Hard Lessons From Corporate More People Need to Learn

Why success can become a deal with the devil.

One of the most unethical managers I ever had, once said to me, “I need to cut someone from our team.”


Then — and to this day I’m genuinely unsure if he was joking — he said, “You know the girls well. Who do you think will get pregnant next?” That was his way of choosing.

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After 10 years, I’d had enough. I walked away from my corporate life and all of its perks: the consistent paychecks, a clear path for advancement, and feelings of power. Today, my business suit sits in my closet collecting dust, like an artifact from a bygone era.


The only consistent thing in my career was that things were always changing. These seven hard lessons made me a better person.

They’ll help you even if you never set foot in an office building.

1. It’s not always about being great

There are 36 large casinos here in Florida. A few years back, our local casino turned in one million dollars in revenue a day. After costs, this translated to annual profits of fifty million dollars.

But the manager was still fired. Why? Because it doesn’t matter how great your performance appears to be. The only thing that matters is the expectation. That casino manager had much higher profit targets and he failed to meet them.

In any white-collar job, you gain stability but give tremendous power to another individual over your future. They’ll dictate your upward mobility. Ensure you know precisely what they want from you. Then deliver on it, and just a little bit more — because that is the key to success.

2. Don’t play with boomerangs

I was interviewing for a great position that paid well. I was with my third interviewer that day, Jeff. He was leaned back in his chair for our entire conversation. He didn’t ask me many questions about my resume, which was fine. Sometimes interviews go like this. You arrive to hear someone “practice talking” at you.

However, I was bothered by how he spoke about other people. He spent half the interview telling me, “Yeah, we need to clean house. These people are dead weight. I would fire half of them today if they were mine.”

I didn’t get a job offer. It was probably for the better.

Here is where things get interesting. I took a new job. Things were going well. A year goes by. I get a notification on LinkedIn. I go to my profile and see a familiar name. It was from Jeff. And can you guess what it said?

He was asking if I knew of any good opportunities. His company had cleaned the house, and he’d been part of that cleaning. It turns out he was one of those loose ends he’d been describing so callously.

There are 100 reasons to put on your best filter at the office. Karma is just one.

So remember that words are boomerangs.

3. You may catch feelings for coworkers

Sensational headlines and harassment suits rightly draw attention to the danger of dating at the office.

Getting involved with a coworker seems like such a scandalous thing. But go spend a few years in a big office and watch how often it happens. As many as half of US employees have engaged in-office romance at some point in their career. One in five were already in a relationship when it happened.

Even while in a relationship, I experienced the subtle tug of temptation. You may be working in close confines with an attractive, driven, smart person.

There’s often great chemistry as you both were drawn to the same careers for similar reasons. The grounds for attraction are strong. It wasn’t something I acted on — but I’d be lying if I said there weren’t moments where I let the thought linger for a moment.

Getting a drink after work can quickly escalate into something more.

4. Stay close to revenue sources

The hard truth is that a very small percentage of employees get wealthy in the corporate world. You need to deliver a huge premium for every dollar increase in pay.

The manager who makes $400,000 often generates 10–50x that for the company. Making money and cutting costs for a company forgives many sins.

Additionally — don’t expect to make a big payday without managing people. Barring a few small exceptions, you’ll need to hire, fire, and deal with subordinates to get your payday.

My best advice: stay close to revenue. Support roles are often the first to go when things go south.

5. You have a window of time

Ageism is unique in that it’s something we’ll all be guilty of, and subjected to at some point.

Fresh, early-20s grads come in, with the memory of a baby elephant. They absorb the constant changes and processes. You’ll feel your age as early as your 30s.

People that don’t achieve middle management by 45–50 commonly struggle to break through at all (and even those that do are often dissatisfied). Use your 20 and 30s to start setting up the direction you want to go.

It’s OK if you don’t want to go the management route. The world we live in offers many opportunities outside of the corner offices. Just know that corporate environments don’t smile at junior employees with grey hair.

6. Human Resources is there to protect the company — from you

A manager I supported could not have been a bigger HR nightmare. For example, I was sitting in a clear-glass meeting room with him and three other employees.

A female coworker walked by on the outside of the room. A coworker said, “Oh is Becky pregnant?”

This manager said, in a deep southern drawl, “Yup, she was wit-me, she’d stay pregnant.”

On another occasion, I heard him say, “I hate the Japanese cuz’ they bombed Pearl Harbor. I hate the Jews ’cause they killed Jesus.”

Why was he still at the company? Per section #4 — he made the company buckets of cash. He epitomized the predicament of the high-performing jerk.

Most HR departments I’ve dealt with aren’t worth their weight and everything they do is bound in red tape. Ignore any talk of “we are family” — they’ll still show you the door. Ignore any employee awards. I saw a woman win employee of the quarter (for the entire company) and get let go just three months later.

I’m not trying to scare you or sound like a cynical curmudgeon. Just be hyper-realistic as you go into this world and you’ll position yourself to thrive.

And choose wisely when making an HR complaint. People who do often end up with a cleaned-out desk.

Read also: 9 things you should start doing to significantly improve your life

7. Lastly, don’t blur your identity with your job

I worked with people who drew all of their self-worth from their performance reviews and paychecks. They were financial analysts and part-time human beings on the side.

Ascending to an executive role is a very ego-driven thing. People who care about power, money, and status — tend to perform well (which is why leaders often score high in narcissism). They are willing to sacrifice more time and do things many of us wouldn’t.

If money, status, and power aren’t your mojo, go find something else and harbor no regrets. That’s what I did and I haven’t missed it, not even for a minute.

🟢Contributed by Sean Kernan

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