How to become CEO by Jeffrey J. Fox

Rating — 5/5

This is arguably in the top 3 business books I have ever read.

Always take the job that offers the best money

Advantages of higher paying jobs:

  • Greater benefits, perks, bonuses and subsequent raises.
  • Higher paid persons get the higher paid jobs
  • Greater visibility to top management
  • Greater responsibility =>Opportunities to perform and show off talents
Remember: Money is the scorecard

Avoid staff jobs, seek line jobs

  • Line jobs make money for your corporation
  • Line jobs include: sales people, sales and product manager, marketing directors, supervisors and general managers
  • Staff jobs are the stepping stone to other jobs
  • Staff jobs include: lawyers, planners, data processing employees, R&D scientists, and all administrators

Dont expect the personnel department to plan your career

  • Your career plan is not predetermined by your corporation
  • Take responsibility in designing your own career plan.

Get and keep customers

Customers are the lifeblood of any organization.

  • Customers provide jobs for new products and applications.
  • Customers provide early warning signals of product quality and obsolescence.
  • Customers provide vision to the future.

Keep physically fit

  • Ninety percent of aspiring executives are out of shape.
  • Your capacity for productivity increases by good physical condition.
  • Being in good shape:

a) Enhances your energy level

b) Increases sleep and motivation

c) Decreases depression

Do something hard and lonely

  • Regularly practice a solitary task to increase mental toughness.
  • Hard and lonely tasks include:

a) Studying late for a graduate degree

b)Running long distances in the early AM

c)Splitting wood

d)Working in the garden

Never write a nasty memo

  • A nasty memo criticizes, belittles, or degrades a colleague.
  • A nasty memo gives your rivals a smoking gun.
  • Spend your energy on positive pursuits.

Think for one hour everyday

  • Spend one hour each day planning




  • Write down ideas at a scheduled time each day.
  • Keep written notes in a special “idea notebook”.

Keep and Use a Special Idea Notebook

  • Buy a notebook that you like.
  • Keep it in one place.
  • Write down all ideas, plans, goals, and dreams.
  • Use the notebook to record yearly, monthly, weekly and daily “To Do” lists.

Don’t have a drink with the gang

  • Avoid drinking with coworkers after work
  • Avoid drinking at lunch, instead you work.
  • Avoid the before dinner cocktail party, at meetings and seminars
  • Avoid getting tipsy with coworkers — signals weakness and lack of control.

Don’t Smoke

  • fdsfds
  • Smoking an offend a non-smoker who can influence your career.
  • Smoking is a self-centred interest.
  • Smoking wastes time
  • Avoid smoking expensive cigars
  • Smoking gives an appearance of being in control

Skip all office parties

  • An office party is not a social gathering
  • Never attend a company picnic without your spouse
  • Attend the party if the unwritten rule is “Attend else you will offend”
  • At company parties:

a) Drink only soda

b)Stay no more than 45 minutes

c)Thank the boss for the invitation and leave

Remember: Dont mix business with pleasure

Friday is “How Ya’ Doing?” Day

  • Take a person that you need out to lunch each Friday and ask, “How Ya’ Doing”
  • Choose a person not in your department — i.e take the sales manager’s assistant to lunch
  • Make one good ally in your company in each month

Makes Allies of your Peer’s subordinates

  • Gain support of your coworker’s teammates
  • Teammates help scuttle deliberate or unintentional acts by your peers.

Know everybody by their first name

  • Learn everybody’s full name
  • Find out what they do, and their job’s importance
  • Introduce visitors to other employees and explain their jobs’ importance.

Make one More Call

  • Inches make the difference between successful and average employees
  • Who does the best job?

a)The salesperson who makes one more sales call

b)The copywriter who does one more draft

Arrive forty-five minutes early and leave fifteen minutes late

  • Be first on the job — always arrive early.
  • Leave fifteen minutes late to ensure your hard-working reputation.
  • Get ahead on your work — arrive early and leave late.

Don’t take work home from the office

If you always take work home, you are:

  • Not managing your time properly
  • Boring
  • Wasting your precious leisure hours
Remember: No real work is done at home

Earn Your “Invitation Credentials”

•Every corporation has a cosa nostra — an inner,special family.

  • This inner group decides:

a) Who becomes CEO

b) The length of tenure

•Entrance credentials characterize those in the innercircle.

Avoid Superiors When You Travel

  • If flying with an executive, be sure to:

a) Avoid clever conversation — You are judged on results.

b) Avoid creating an overly industrious image.

c) Sit in a different section.

d) Best option - Fly by yourself.

Eat in Your Hotel Room

•Breakfast and dinner in your room saves time, money,strengthens your individuality, stretches your workday,and extends your office.

  • Hotel room activities include:

a) Planning your day

b) Setting daily objective

c) Writing e-mail

Work, Don’t Read Paperbacks, on the Airplane

  • Have specific objectives for each trip.
  • Plan your work according to the allotted time
  • Carry a small stapler.
  • Bring a large prestamped envelope to send to youroffice.
  • Bring envelopes and stamps for handwritten follow-upnotes.

Keep a “People File”

  • Obtain a large address book or a notebook computer.
  • Keep a file of people you meet, work with, and get to know.
  • Use a pencil to record notations.
  • Obtain a business card for file.
  • Keep a backup copy in a safe place.

Send handwritten notes

  • Handwritten notes make you stand out.
  • Handwritten notes are non digital and personal.
  • Handwritten notes include thank-yous, congratulations,regrets, for your information, etc.
  • Send one handwritten note per week.
  • Make sure notes include cards and envelopes

Don’t get Buddy-Buddy with Your Superiors

  • Remain business associates, not friends
  • Do not cross the line between business and friendship.
  • Know your boss’ and subordinate’s problems, plans, personalities, strengths, and weakness and idiosyncracies.

Don’t Hide an Elephant

  • Avoid becoming a “hider”
  • Become a discoverer and “expose” the problem immediately
  • Turn a big problem into an opportunity to shine
  • Always act in control of the situation
  • Classic elephants: Watergate, Vietnam, and surprise business bankruptcies.

Be visible: Practice “WACADAD”

  • Prove your abilities with action — “Words are cheap and deeds are dear
  • Work on visible projects
  • Examples of visible activities include:

a)Presentations to senior management

b)Instructing a training class

c’)Speaking before the sales force

Always take vacations

  • Your department should function without you.
  • Always plan vacation in advance
  • Never leave a phone number on vacation
  • Inform superiors of trip in advance
  • Take a vacation to:

a)Increase chances of meeting helpful people

b) To observe new business practices and trends

c)To think and plan

Always Say “Yes” to a Senior Executive Request

  • Always say, “I can do it” when a top executive asks.
  • Listen carefully to the request
  • Give the boss:

a)More than she/he wanted

b)Sooner than expected

c)With your own touch of ingenuity

Never Surprise Your Boss

  • Bosses dislike surprises — good or bad.
  • No surprises keep your boss feeling in control.
  • Surprising your boss leads to mistrust.

Make Your Boss Look Good and Your Boss’s Boss Look Better

  • Improving your boss’s promotion chances leaves a vacancy for you.#
  • Your boss’s boss is always the key to assure your promotion chances.
  • Make your boss’s boss look good by anticipating their needs and problems

Never Let a Good Boss Make a Mistake

  • A good boss is essential for climbing the ladder of success.
  • Help your boss avoid making hurtful mistakes by:

a) Doing their homework

b) Giving a heads-up briefing

c) Beefing up a weak presentation

d) Avoid making personal your boss’s mistake.

Add One Big New Thing to Your Life EachYear

  • Broadens your horizons and prepares you for a top executive job.
  • Examples of big new things:

a) Learn a foreign language

b) Write a book

c) Make a list of things to accomplish in 10 years

Study These Books

  • Obvious Adams by Robert Updegraff
  • The Bible
  • The Art of War by Sun-Tzu
  • The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli
  • The Forbes Book of Business Quotations Edited byTed Goodman

The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway

  • Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
  • Anything by Thomas Jefferson

“Dress for a Dance”

  • If you Dress for business, you do business
  • Dress for success — Your dress= your personality.
  • Buy a book on how to dress in business, such as:

a) Dress for Success by John T. Molly

b) New Women’s Dress for Success by John T. Molly

Overinvest in People

  • Hiring the best people => Great return on investment.
  • Overinvest in salary and emotional currency — praise,encouragement, freedom.
  • Corporate leaders should never be anti-people.

•Hire according to the three “I’s” —

a) “I” for integrity

b) “I” for intelligence

c) “I” for the “I can to it” attitude

Overpay Your People

  • Underpaying decreases employee productivity.
  • Do not cut people cost and expect to save money.
  • Key to success: Hire fewer exceptional people allmaking money than more people at a lower payroll cost.

“Stop, Look, and Listen”

  • A good president must Stop, Look, and Listen before acting.
  • Listening is a learned art and essential for business success.
  • Listening = wisdom and intelligence.

Be a Flag-Waving Company Patriot

  • Show total commitment to your company and to its products and services.
  • Use your company’s products and promote them.
  • Buy company stock.
  • Never be cynical about your company

Find and Fill the “Data Gaps”

  • Identify what you don’t know and what your company doesn’t know.
  • Get the facts. Talk to customers and users.

Homework, Homework, Homework

  • Avoid the “rocking chair syndrome” — lots of movement,but no real productivity.
  • Find the facts and cover all the bases. — Do your homework!
  • Homework precedes a successful project

Never Panic — -or Lose Your Temper

Nothing gives one person so much advantage over another as to remain cool and unruffled under all circumstances — -Thomas Jefferson

  • In a heated situation, tell yourself to “stay calm.”
  • Signs of panic:

a) temper tantrums

b) immobilization

c) finger pointing

d) cowardice acts

e) rash decisions

Learn to Speak and Write in Plain English

  • Poor communication = loss of time and money.
  • Be “to the point”.
  • Guidelines for better communication:

a) Write necessary correspondence

b) Choose specific objectives

c) Choose simplest mode

d) Gather facts

e) Write a scattergram

f) Organize message

g) Write a zero draft

h) Write a first draft

i) Edit to a one page final draft

j)Tailor language to audience

Treat All People as Special

Excellent managers make people feel that they—

  • are asked, not questioned…
  • are over paid, not underpaid…
  • are measured, not monitored…
  • are people, not personnel…
  • are sold on what to do, not told…
  • are instrumental, not instruments…
  • are workers, not worked…
  • are contributors, not costs…
  • are needed, not heeded…

Be a Credit Maker, Not a Credit Taker

  • A credit maker gives 100 percent credit for work done.
  • A credit taker assumes responsibility for other’s work.
  • A credit taker is insecure, dishonest and known to all.

Give Informal Surprise Bonuses

  • Give bonuses for extraordinary work done.
  • Give bonuses randomly to avoid drawing attention.
  • Surprise bonuses increase employee motivation and innovation.

Please, Be Polite with Everyone

  • Use good manners with everyone.
  • Be gracious
  • Never pull rank
  • Never smoke at meetings or meals
  • Never let visitors or clients wait in lobby
  • Always say “please” and “thank you”
  • Always introduce yourself and others clearly and slowly.

Ten Things to Say that Make People Feel Good

  • “Please”
  • “Thank you”
  • “That was a first — class job you did”
  • “I appreciate your effort”
  • “I need your help”
  • “Congratulations”
  • “I am glad you are on the team”
Remember: Always be sincere

The Glory and the Glamour Came after theGrunt work

  • The visible parts of business success = The glamour behind the scenes.
  • The invisible, day-to-day toil = The grunt work.
  • The grunt work precedes the glory.
  • Some examples of grunt work:

a) Homework

b) Weekend travel

c) Checking and rechecking

d) Trial and error

Tinker, Tailor, Try

  • 97% of people in all companies fear change.
  • Be an innovator — It catches attention!
  • Tinker with and tailor new ideas to specific needs.

Haste Makes Waste

  • Speedy decisions are risky
  • Revocable decision: Changeable decision that is madequickly with less risk.
  • Irrevocable decision: Non changeable decision thatinvolves more time and risk.
  • Examples of revocable decisions: Choosing office layout and advertising schedules
  • Examples of irrevocable decisions: Choosing brand names, acquisitions, executive hires

Pour the Coals to a Good Thing

  • Never change the formula for success — Only add improvements.
  • A good example of a good thing investment — Disney’s legendary Mickey Mouse.

Put the Importance on the Bright Idea, Notthe Source of the Idea

  • Good innovators always listen to the ideas of others.
  • Idea sources include customers, children, competitors, cab drivers, etc.
  • What matters is who implements the idea — Not who created the idea.

Stay Out of Office Politics

  • Rampant office politics symbolize a weak leader.
  • Symptoms of office politics:

a) Fighting each other instead of competition

b) Currying favor

c) Wasting time

d) Implementing unfair and unclear reward systems

  • Spend time creating and accomplishing — Not practicing office politics.

Look Sharp and Be Sharp

  • A little vanity is good.
  • Avoid faddish or cheap clothes.
  • Avoid a pale, unhealthy look
  • Have a bright smile
  • Practice good grooming
Remember: Be up. And smile

Emulate, Study, and Cherish the Great Boss

  • Great bosses are rare.
  • Traits of a great boss:

a) Sets challenging, fair goals

b) Honest

c) Fosters employee growth

d) Experienced

e) Hard-working

f) Smart

  • Model a good boss’s business behavior

Don’t Go Over Budget

  • Get the job done on time and within budget.
  • Tight budgets promote creativity, ingenuity, and inventiveness.
  • See a tight budget as a challenge

Never Underestimate an Opponent

  • Opponents are:

a) Competitors

b) Rival managers

c) Buying committees

  • Appearance or reputation can be misleading.
  • Never underestimating an opponent’s intelligence, skill, dishonest, and cunningness.
  • Overestimating your opponent may lead to being pleasantly surprised.

Become a Member of the “Shouldn’t Have Club”

  • Avoid the “should’ve club” of risk adverse, non doers — ”I should’ve done that” or “I would’ve done that.”
  • Join the “shouldn’t have club” of doers and risk takers — ”Gee, I shouldn’t have done that.”
Remember: No guts, no glory

The Concept Doesn’t Have to Be Perfect, but the Execution of It Does

  • Waiting for the perfect time or perfect product or perfect way ==> Nothing.
  • Execute the concept with meticulous attention to detail.
  • Excellence of execution ==>Success

Record and Collect Your Mistakes with Care and Pride

  • See mistakes as learning tools
  • Record in your idea book:


b)Causes of mistakes

c) How to handle the same event again

  • Acknowledging mistakes signals security and confidence

Live for today,; Plan for tomorrow; Forget about yesterday

  • Do not rekindle yesterday — it is past history
  • Get on with today — it is whatever you want it to be
  • Plan for the future

Have fun, laugh

  • Is your job not fun? — Change jobs or make it fun.
  • A serious pressured work environment leads to stress and inefficiency.
  • A sense of humour = A successful executive

Treat your family as your number one client

  • Put your family 1st place to work
  • Schedule your family on your calendar
  • Put family activities on “To Do” list
  • Respond to your family as you do your job or an important client

No goals, no glory

  • No goals, no win, no glory
  • Goals shape our plans, direct your energies, and focus your responses
  • Record goals in Idea Notebook

a)Business and life goals

b)Use 25, 10, 5 and 1 year timetables

  • Create a yearly, monthly, weekly, and daily “To Do” list — record a plan to reach goals

Always remember your subordinate’s spouses

  • A spouse can be:

a) An important ally

b)A virulent enemy

  • Always thank spouse for their support
  • Arrange a “weekend for two” for a job well done.
  • Invite spouse to dinner with a colleague

Seeing the job through the salespeople’s eyes

  • Selling is key to the corporation.
  • A salesperson has direct contact with the customer
  • A successful executive spends time in the sales field.

Be a very tough “Heller Seller”

  • Learn to sell like hell
  • To be a salesperson that sells:

a)Determine “customer’s” needs

b)Determine how “product” will satisfy customer needs

c)Develop “persistence” and “tenacity”

c)Make sales call necessary to make the order

Don’t be an empire builder

  • Get the job done with less — less people and less money.
  • Promotions and power go to producers — not people administrators.

Push Products, Not Paper

  • Corporations encourage the bureaucratic creep, — steady growth of red tape.
  • Corporations need innovators and prudent risk takers — internal entrepreneurs.
  • Typical corporate entrepreneurs are:




Remember: Avoid getting paper-trapped

To Teach is to Learn and to Lead

  • Always accept a chance to teach others:

a) What you do

b)Why you do it

c)How you do it

  • Good preparation and practice — A good presentation
  • A good presentation creates:

a) A reputation for being an expert in your field

b)Familiarity with other company departments

c)Strong circles of influence

Do not get discouraged by idea killers

  • Idea killers say, “we have tried that before”, “management wont buy it”, “we can’t afford it”, “it wont work”
  • Idea killers nourish the status quo.
  • Idea people build businesses
  • Fight the idea killers by making the ideas work