Reply All…: A book review by Bob Morris

Reply AllReply All…And Other Ways to Tank Your Career
Richie Frieman
St. Martin’s Griffin (2013)

Here’s the bad news: Many people are rude. Now the good news: Some of them are people you compete with.

Advice on what not to do implies what should be done instead. In this instance, Richie Frieman shares his thoughts, feelings, and experiences concerning “tanking” (i.e. mucking up) a career or portion thereof. At this point, I need to differentiate a pattern of pattern from an isolated incident. Being tardy for an appointment offers a case in point. We are all guilty of that and usually there are mitigating circumstances to explain (if not excuse) a tardy arrival. However, if it occurs more often than not, that suggests arrogance, disrespect, and immaturity.

Bookshelves sag under the weight of volumes that suggest, as Dale Carnegie explained it, how to win friends and influence people; also, as Napoleon Hill, Zig Ziglar, and countless others describe it, how to succeed. I agree with them, with Frieman, and with those he interviewed for this book: “in the end, only your character and the way you treat others will get you what you want.” Long ago, I realized that the best way to get others to help me achieve my objectives was to help them achieve theirs.

Frieman focuses much of his attention on the major do’s and don’ts when in any of these fragile interactions:

o Job interview
o First day in a new position
o Coping with annoying or toxic coworkers
o Socializing at work
o Social media: At work, and, elsewhere
o Workplace events
o Business travel with associate(s)
o Workplace (romantic) relationships

Rieman adds a “Modern Manners Guy Quiz” at the conclusion of Chapters One to Nine and also inserts within his narrative contributions (“The Pros Weigh In” sections) or attributions that focus on real people in familiar situations in real companies. This material increases substantially the quality of information, insights, and counsel provided to his reader.

In the last chapter, he suggests 25 “unwritten rules of career success” (based on etiquette and street smarts), “the bare bones honest truth about what really separates success from failure in the business world.” They are probably not included in any employees manual. Channeling Sun Tzu’s assertion that every battle is won or lost before it is fought, Rieman’s #2 rule is “Preparation Is Everything” and shares comments by Lyndon and Jamie Cormack, founders of Herschel Supply Company: “Don’t feel as though you have to know everything right away. Part of being new is being able to admit that you don’t know something, but that you are committed to research the answer.”

Here’s another, Rule #4: “Keep It Simple.” According to Steve Abrams, CEO of Magnolia Bakery: “I don’t like when people waste my tine. I’m a very quick study. [Then he channels Albert Einstein’s admonition, “Make everything as simple as possible but no simpler.”] I like things to be simple and direct as possible. Don’t overcomplicate things. You will lose me, and my interest in doing business with you…Keep it simple.”

This book would be a splendid gift to someone preparing for a business career or has only recently embarked upon one. Moreover, many (if not most) of its insights would be valuable reminders to middle managers and at least to some of those who supervise them.

Posted in

Leave a Comment