The business of business isn't really all that complicated. While there is, of course, specific knowledge required for specific industries, this post encapsulates everything that you'll need to know to survive and thrive in the business world.

The lists below are adapted and condensed from my recently published book, Business Without the Bullsh*t: 49 Secrets and Shortcuts You Need to Know.


1. How to Become More Optimistic

  1. EXPECT something wonderful to happen every day.
  2. TREAT people as you'd want to be treated.
  3. DON'T waste breath fighting about things you can't change.
  4. CONCENTRATE on the job at hand, not the results you seek.
  5. ASSUME other people mean well.
  6. AVOID depressing people and conversations.
  7. EAT something delicious every day.
  8. TURN OFF the background television.
  9. ADOPT an attitude of gratitude.
  10. REMEMBER that the best is yet to come.

2. How to Eliminate Stress

  1. CULTIVATE the patience and perspective to let go of your results.
  2. FOCUS on what you're doing now rather than the results.
  3. IF you're overworked, negotiate a more reasonable workload.
  4. CUT your hours to the "sweet spot," which is about 40 hours a week.
  5. AVOID people who won't or can't control their own stress.
  6. FIND a place where you can work quietly away from distractions.
  7. TURN OFF news programming that's designed to rile you up.
  8. TURN DOWN projects that you can't do well.
  9. STOP arguing with fools and strangers online.
  10. ARRANGE tasks consecutively rather than trying to multitask.

3. How to Overcome Fear

  1. CONFRONT your fears head on to reduce their power.
  2. IMAGINE dealing with the fear to make it less daunting.
  3. REMEMBER that fear is just excitement in disguise.
  4. USE fear to spawn the energy you need to perform well.

4. How to Cope With Rejection

  1. REALIZE that rejection is just a difference of opinion.
  2. UNDERSTAND that rejection only hurts because you let it.
  3. REMEMBER that every rejection moves you closer to your goal.
  4. KEEP other opportunities in reserve so you can quickly move on.

5. How to Rise Above Failure

  1. CREATE goals that motivate you to achieve something possible.
  2. ALWAYS write goals down; display them where you'll see them.
  3. DECIDE by saying "I must..." or "I will..." rather than "I'll try...."
  4. BREAK your big goals into smaller, measurable milestones.
  5. CHECK whether you're moving toward or away from your goals.
  6. WELCOME setbacks because they'll hone your plan.
  7. REMEMBER that the only true failure is failing to take action.


6. How to Achieve Your Dream Job

  1. KNOW what would constitute your dream job.
  2. FIND role models and incorporate their way of thinking.
  3. HAVE the courage to sacrifice your security.
  4. LEARN to sell your ideas and yourself.
  5. CREATE a plan and start executing it today.
  6. ADJUST your goal as you learn more about yourself.

7. How to Attain Career Security

  1. LIVE below your means until you've got six months of income saved.
  2. DEVELOP expertise that makes it less likely you'll be fired.
  3. CULTIVATE new opportunities and record them in an escape plan.

8. How to Get More Done Each Day

  1. DON'T take calls from people you don't know, unless you're working in telesales or product support.
  2. USE email instead of time-consuming voice mail
  3. LIMIT your chitchat with co-workers.
  4. TURN OFF "alerts" that interrupt your thinking.
  5. KEEP TRACK of how you spend time; that's half the battle.
  6. REMEMBER that 20 percent of your actions produce 80 percent of your results.
  7. ONLY DO the 20 percent that produces the 80 percent of your results.
  8. PRIORITIZE based on what accomplishes the most with the least effort.

9. How to Use LinkedIn Effectively

  1. YOUR personal brand will define how people see you.
  2. GET a professional portrait and expunge unprofessional ones.
  3. CUSTOMIZE your résumé to match your career goals.
  4. SOLICIT recommendations that are realistic and relevant.
  5. AVOID blogging, unless you're being paid to do so.
  6. KEEP your irrelevant opinions off the internet.

10. How to Land a Job Interview

  1. CREATE and sell your own job description, if possible.
  2. GET a current employee to recommend you, if possible.
  3. CUSTOMIZE your résumé to match the job description.
  4. EXPLAIN "who I am" in terms of the specific job.
  5. DESCRIBE specifically how you helped former employers, not what you did.
  6. INCLUDE benefits that echo phrases from the job description.

11. How to Ace a Job Interview

  1. DON'T put all your eggs in this one basket.
  2. FIND out all you can about the hiring firm.
  3. DEVISE questions that show you've done your research.
  4. REHEARSE answers to the standard questions.
  5. WEAR what you'd wear if you worked there; don't be late.
  6. GET the offer, then decide whether you really want the job.


12. What Great Bosses Believe About Their Jobs

  1. BUSINESS is an ecosystem, so cooperate, don't fight.
  2. COMPANIES are communities, so treat people as individuals.
  3. MANAGEMENT is service, so make others successful first.
  4. EMPLOYEES are your peers, so treat them like adults.
  5. MOTIVATE with vision, because fear only paralyzes.
  6. CHANGE is growth, so welcome rather than shun it.
  7. TECHNOLOGY eliminates busywork and frees creativity.
  8. WORK is fun, so don't turn it into a chore.

13. How to Create Loyal, Effective Employees

  1. MANAGE individuals, not numbers.
  2. ADAPT your style to each person.
  3. MEASURE what's truly relevant.
  4. ONLY one priority per person.
  5. STAY even-tempered.
  6. TAKE responsibility for your low performers.
  7. SHARE your thoughts and ideas.
  8. ASK questions rather than providing answers.
  9. TREAT everyone as equally as possible.
  10. DON'T expect more than you're willing to give.
  11. EXPLAIN the reasoning behind your decisions.
  12. DON'T prevaricate, decide now!

14. How to Hire a Top Performer

  1. KNOW exactly whom you're looking for.
  2. CONSTANTLY seek viable candidates.
  3. LOOK for character, not experience.
  4. RESILIENCE is the mark of potential greatness.
  5. SEEK out the self-motivated.
  6. ATTITUDE is all-important.
  7. DON'T settle for canned references.

15. How to Hold a Productive Meeting

  1. HAVE an agenda before you meet.
  2. PROVIDE background information.
  3. DON'T let the meeting meander.
  4. DOCUMENT what decisions were made.

16. How to Offer Constructive Criticism

  1. ADDRESS undesirable behaviors when they happen.
  2. OFFER praise, then identify the behavior you want changed.
  3. ASK questions to understand the "why" behind the behavior.
  4. AGREE upon a plan to change the behavior.
  5. MONITOR and reinforce the changed behavior.

17. How to Redirect a Complainer

  1. SCHEDULE a conversation when they try to start one.
  2. SET the agenda for the conversation as a "problem-solving" session.
  3. LISTEN respectfully to the entire complaint.
  4. ASK what the complainer plans to do.
  5. CONFIRM that your advice is truly wanted.
  6. PROVIDE your best advice (if it's wanted).
  7. END the conversation at the first "Yeah, but...."

18. How to Fire Somebody

  1. TELL it like it is without the biz-blab.
  2. SHOW empathy for your co-workers.
  3. EXPLAIN why it's happening, as far as you legally can.
  4. CUT quickly, heal, and move on.


19. The Ten Types of Annoying Co-Workers

  1. WAFFLERS can't decide, so force the issue.
  2. CONQUERORS must win, so make them team leaders.
  3. DRAMATISTS crave attention, so ignore them.
  4. ICONOCLASTS break rules needlessly, so avoid them.
  5. DRONERS are boring, so find something else to do.
  6. FRENEMIES sabotage, so keep them at arm's length.
  7. TOADIES are irrelevant; be polite but ignore them.
  8. VAMPIRES leach energy, unless you stay upbeat.
  9. PARASITES steal credit, so track who's contributed.
  10. GENIUSES are all talk, so pester them until they deliver.

20. How to Earn the Respect of Your Peers

  1. BE yourself rather than your role.
  2. SHOW interest in other people.
  3. SHARE the limelight.
  4. DRESS and groom to match your ambitions.
  5. PAUSE before speaking to mentally frame your thoughts.
  6. SPEAK from your chest without verbal tics or an end of sentence rise in pitch.

21. How to Play Clean Office Politics

  1. FIND OUT what other people need and want.
  2. BUILD mutually useful alliances with those you can trust.
  3. KEEP TRACK of the favors you owe and the ones owed you.
  4. USE your alliances at key points to help achieve your goals.

22. How to Recruit a Mentor

  1. MENTORS crave to teach people what they've learned.
  2. SEEK OUT mentors who have experience and skills you lack.
  3. ASK for advice and let the relationship develop.
  4. BE KIND when you outgrow the relationship.

23. How to Shine in a Meeting

  1. TREAT meetings as a possible way to advance your agenda.
  2. AVOID meetings that don't serve your own agenda.
  3. DECIDE whether each meeting will be useful or useless.
  4. EITHER decline to attend or prepare well; no in between.
  5. TAKE notes, so you can speak coherently when it's your turn.
  6. SPEAK confidently, and, if appropriate, segue into your agenda.
  7. PUBLISH your own "minutes" of the meeting.

24. How to Cope with an Office Bully

  1. DON'T try to calm the bully down or apologize.
  2. INSIST on respectful, professional behavior.
  3. IF the unprofessional behavior continues, leave the immediate area.
  4. COPE with your own emotions privately.
  5. REVISIT the issue at a later date.
  6. DECIDE whether the relationship is worth it.


25. The Five Rules of Business Communications

  1. KNOW your reason for communicating.
  2. PICK a medium that's appropriate for the other person.
  3. SIMPLIFY your message for easy mental consumption.
  4. EDIT out all buzzwords and corporate-speak.
  5. AVOID jargon, unless dealing with fellow experts.

26. How to Have a Productive Conversation

  1. KNOW the reason you're having a conversation.
  2. IGNORE your internal dialog.
  3. LISTEN carefully to the other person.
  4. CONSIDER what was said and echo it back.
  5. RESPOND with something that adds to the conversation.

27. How to Write a Compelling Email

  1. KNOW what decision you want made.
  2. EXPRESS that decision as a conclusion at the beginning.
  3. SUPPORT that conclusion with simple arguments.
  4. PROVIDE evidence to bolster each argument.
  5. REPEAT your conclusion as an action item.
  6. WRITE the subject last and include a benefit.

28. How to Create a Great Presentation

  1. PLAN OUT an emotional journey for the audience.
  2. FLAG the places where the audience will feel emotions.
  3. BUILD a story that creates the emotions in that order.
  4. ARRANGE everything into a simple structure.
  5. MAKE slides relevant, short, simple, and readable.
  6. CUSTOMIZE your presentation and rehearse it.

29. How to Deliver a Great Presentation

  1. STAND UP rather than remain seated when you speak.
  2. CHECK your equipment in advance.
  3. HAVE somebody else introduce you.
  4. SET AND RESPECT a time limit.
  5. AVOID "warm-up" jokes, unless you're a comedian.
  6. ADJUST your presentation to the "feel" of the room.
  7. LESSEN stage fright by speaking to individuals, not the entire audience
  8. SPEAK directly to audience members.
  9. DON'T meander and skip.
  10. MAKE eye contact with multiple people.

30. How to Work a Room

  1. BE CURIOUS about people and what they do.
  2. WHEN ASKED, describe yourself in terms of the value you provide.
  3. IF the other person seems uninterested, move on.
  4. EXPLAIN how you're different from the competition.
  5. IF the other person seems uninterested, move on.
  6. OPEN a conversation to assess mutual needs.
  7. IF interest continues, ask for a real meeting.

31. How to Negotiate a Deal

  1. DEFINE what's on the table in the deal.
  2. DECIDE what's important to you and what's not.
  3. HAVE reasons why those things are important to you.
  4. RESERVE a plan B, so your hand isn't forced.
  5. LET the other person open the negotiation.
  6. WORK together rather than digging your heels in.
  7. CREATE a deal that reflects what you both value.
  8. STOP negotiating when the bulk of the deal is defined.


32. The Twelve Types of Bosses

  1. VISIONARIES are inspiring but can act like jerks.
  2. CLIMBERS want to get ahead, so expect no loyalty.
  3. BUREAUCRATS hate change, so document everything.
  4. PROPELLERHEADS love gadgets, so become an expert.
  5. FOGEYS want respect, so recruit them as mentors.
  6. WHIPPERSNAPPERS are insecure, so don't make suggestions.
  7. SOCIAL DIRECTORS love consensus but may suddenly explode.
  8. DICTATORS make fast decisions but cause disasters.
  9. SALES STARS would rather be selling, so let them do so.
  10. HATCHET MEN execute layoffs, so get another job pronto.
  11. LOST LAMBS need your help but may get dependent on you.
  12. HEROES are rare, so enjoy them while it lasts.

33. How to Keep Any Boss Happy

  1. DO what you say you'll do.
  2. KEEP your boss in the loop.
  3. CARE about your quality of work.
  4. ACCEPT decisions when they're made.
  5. SOLVE problems without whining.
  6. BE concise and clear.
  7. MAKE your boss successful.

34. How to Get the Best from Your Boss

  1. COMMUNICATE what you need in order to do your best.
  2. KEEP your manager informed of your progress.
  3. MAKE a case for keeping you in your job.
  4. ENSURE that everyone knows how much you contribute.
  5. UNDERSTAND your boss's goals and desires.
  6. CULTIVATE a common interest.

35. How to Ace Your Performance Review

  1. FIND OUT what you must accomplish and document the conversation.
  2. TRACK and report on your accomplishments against your metrics.
  3. WRITE your performance review draft or provide "inputs" to same.
  4. IF the boss attempts to renege, insist on some other reward.

36. How to Handle an Unreasonable Request

  1. BE flexible about what's unreasonable.
  2. IF you accept the task, negotiate something in return.
  3. CULTIVATE the courage to say no.
  4. REMEMBER that once you do it, it's part of your job.

37. How to Ask for a Raise

  1. DON'T bother discussing what you need, want, or expect to be paid.
  2. BASE your proposed raise on your financial contribution.
  3. LET your boss know how much it would cost to replace you.
  4. GATHER information to buttress your case.
  5. ESTABLISH a discrepancy between your value and your pay.
  6. FIELD objections, so they reinforce your case.
  7. PUSH until you've gotten a commitment with a number.

Excerpted and adapted from the book Business Without the Bullsh*t, by Geoffrey James.  © 2014 by Geoffrey James.  Reprinted by permission of Business Plus.  All rights reserved.