5 ways to climb the corporate ladder

Joseph Weidhaas

Do you dream of summering on the Hamptons?  Downsizing your corporation because a subsidiary’s investments didn’t do so hot this quarter?  Openly ridiculing the middle class with your friends, while watching polo? 

If you answered yes to two or more of those questions, you’re ready to learn how to climb the corporate ladder. I can teach you how.

But first, a brief disclosure: I’m not at the top of the corporate ladder.  I’m not even on the ladder.  The last ladder I climbed was on the side of my parent’s house when I was twelve. And that ladder wobbled. 

So, you might be wondering, what do I know about climbing the corporate ladder? Research, research, research. I’ve read countless sociology, psychology, and horticulture books, and watched many episodes of “Undercover Boss” to know what I’m talking about. (I’m kidding, I would never watch “Undercover Boss.”)

Let’s get started:

Rule No. 1: Leave your life at home

An old saying goes: shirts are for work.  Well, if you want to climb the corporate ladder, remember the following twist on that saying: families are for home.  Bringing personal problems to work is a distracting detriment to work-place performance. 

Does your significant hog the shower in the morning? Can’t get your car to start in the morning? Was your puppy diagnosed with a brain tumor?

Newsflash: Deal with these issues, after work. Oh, and by the way: Nobody at work (or in life) really cares about your problems, anyway.

You are at work.  Be at work. A CEO doesn’t become the CEO by griping about home-life issues. If you want to be in the big leagues, you better start acting like it

Lesson: There’s no benefit in letting your non-occupational life interfere with your occupational life.

Rule No. 2: Be a workplace psychopath

Psychopaths (also known as sociopaths) don’t have feelings of empathy or care about what others think. That’s why a good-natured psychopath can thrive in corporate ladder climbing. By definition, corporations, in turn, are psychopathic—corporate executives have a legal duty to advance the interests of the corporation, and often do so regardless of questions regarding ethics.

In the corporate world, many individuals and co-workers meaningfully contribute to tasks that keep corporate America thriving.  Not all can get credit.  Your job, should you choose to attempt to pretend to live a meaningful life by climbing the corporate ladder, is to take sole credit for the work of many.  Taking credit for others’ work is not only an indicator of sociopathy—looking out for one’s interests, regardless of the effects on others—but is also more importantly, a win-win in the corporate world. 

Here’s how: You win both by being viewed by your superiors as extremely productive and by discrediting the work of others.  This will frustrate your co-workers who did most of the work on the project you are taking credit for.  Frustrated co-workers are often annoying, which makes them likely to be fired.  When co-workers are fired, you will have less competition for climbing the ladder.

Lesson: Roses are red, violets are blue, take credit for others’ work or your psychopathic co-worker will do better than you.

Rule No. 3: Don’t dress dumb

Clothes make a person well-liked. Don’t give your superiors a reason not promote you. Unfortunately, millennials consistently show a lack of understanding of proper work-place attire. 

Some fashion advice:

Men: Wear long-sleeved collared shirts colored white, blue, crème or striped with some variation thereof and black, gray, navy, or khaki pants.  Women: Don’t dress like you’re going to a club. Keep the skirts below the knee and don’t show any cleavage.

Lesson: Dress like the CEO to become the CEO.

Rule No. 4: Always deliver good news

In the corporate world, as in life, people appreciate good news more than bad news. Think about: When somebody tells you bad news, don’t you automatically blame them—even if they had nothing to do with the news?

That’s why you should always deliver good news.

For extra punch, combine this rule with being a workplace psychopath.  If a co-worker does an excellent job on a presentation and lands a client, you should take credit for landing that client. Then, deliver the good news to your superior, before your co-worker has the opportunity to.

Lesson: No one likes a downer, but everyone likes uppers.

Rule No. 5: Don’t look at the clock

Corporate titans work long hours. And if you’re wondering, yes, golf outings and flying private to Bermuda still constitutes as “work.” This is part of the reason executives leave their life at home. When you’re on the job, there’s just no time for anything else.

Lesson: Clocks, unlike shirts, are not for work. Unless you’re in the billing industry, then clocks are for work, but still—don’t look at them.

So, congratulations—just by virtue of reading this article, you’ve already climbed the first rung of the ladder. You’re well on your way to ridiculing the middle class, or “mids,” as corporate titans refer to them. Of course, if anybody asks you how you got to the top, you know the answer: You came up with these ideas yourself.

But I’ll still take the credit.

An open letter to a Baby Boomer CEO

Dear Baby Boomer CEO,

I’m a Millennial. I am young, talented, eager, and driven to get my foot in the door. It seems many people in the workplace, including you, often think my generation is unprofessional, non-attentive, and unmotivated.

This portrayal could not be further from the truth.

Millennials love challenges. We live for the excitement of diving right in and sharing our ideas. Every job-related experience is new to us. You think we’re un-attentive? No. We just don’t like to be bored. Does that mean we’re bored working for you? No. It means we are seeking to change tasks within our job and keep it exciting. Take advantage of our desire to keep learning, doing, and succeeding in your workplace.

We are talented. We have the skills you’re looking for. Not only did we go to college, but we’re taking our education beyond the classroom. Millennials complete more volunteer work today than any other generation, says the Corporation for National and Community Service. Aside from volunteer work, millennials eagerly accept unpaid internship opportunities.

Do you know how well millennials can multitask? You may find our addiction to social media and technology annoying, but we’re productive. Judith Lindenberger, president of Lindenberger Group LLC, says that millennials can easily complete tasks, talk on the phone, communicate online, research, write, create, read, study, demonstrate, and teach information to others simultaneously. We use every bit of technology that has enveloped our lives. Think of how advantageous this skill can be to you and your company.

I’m not expecting you to give me a handout. I’m a creative professional who just happens to be young. I want to be a part of your company. Put me to work. I’ll prove to you what I can do. And so will the rest of my generation.


Mitch Kohl

Editor’s Note: Mitch Kohl really is looking for a job. If you know any openings, send him a tweet.