Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.


Everyone's career is at the mercy of someone.

For many, the obstacle, the oracle, and receptacle of all that you hope for is your boss.

How can you ensure that your boss has your best interests at heart? How can you even ensure that your boss gives you more than a cursory thought and a snort?

I've generally respected bosses about as much as I've respected the New York Yankees. (Clue: I so very much don't respect the Yankees.)

But I've learned a lot along the way and I want to help you make progress in your attempts to becoming the boss that no one can stand, but everyone admires.

Here, then, are five simple tips for your immediate advancement. I've seen them work. I've made them work. And I've even had them work on me. (Well, one or two of them.)

1. Find A Way To Tell Your Boss She Did Something Right.

This is quite a scary thing. Praising your boss seems like the apogee of sucking-up. But bosses have very fragile egos. Most are more desperate for approbation than Sally Field in her prime. Most just want to hear that they're admired (first) and then loved and envied. For you, the trick is to find the perfect timing and the phrasing. The best timing, to my mind, is straight after a meeting when the boss has managed not to make a mess. Walk up to her and casually offer, almost as an aside: "You were brilliant in there." Then don't wait for a reaction. Just walk away. That way, it won't seem like you have any expectations of a response. It'll seem like you simply needed to say that. This will pay very good dividends.

2. Start Talking Just A Little (But Not Too Much) Like Your Boss.

Bosses love hearing the sound of their own voices. Something less well known is that they often love to hear their underlings sounding like them too. It appeals to their sense of legacy. It tickles at their need to be influential. If just once your boss overhears you say a phrase that they themselves espouse, you'll be astonished how much easier it'll be to get a raise. With these things, you can overdo it. So be careful. But you know your boss's favorite thoughts and phrases. Try using one in a forum where your boss can hear you. Your promotion won't be far away.

3. Let Your Boss Steal One Of Your Ideas And Say Nothing.

Bosses can be awful thieves. They know how to take credit. They know that credit is all that matters. They will, therefore, steal your ideas. However, find an idea and get your boss to steal it. Let him take it, show it off and crow that it's his. It's true that some bosses are so pathological that they truly believe all their ideas came from their own vast heads. The majority, however, suffer from the same self-doubt, self-hate and self-abuse that the rest of us do. Guilt, therefore, comes naturally to them. Once it does, they'll often do something to assuage that guilt. And, believe me, they know exactly from where they steal their ideas. Compensation, of one kind or another, will come your way. But only, only if you keep quiet. You can't even think of showing your boss up.

4. Impress Your Boss's Spouse.

This might seem an old and worn notion. I'm going to offer you a nuance, however. Don't try and impress your boss's spouse in front of your boss. This is a frightful no-no. You'll only incite awful twisted levels of jealousy and weird inner conniptions of comparison. Instead, catch your boss's spouse in private and make him or her believe that you're really alright. You see, bosses are frightfully paranoid. This is principally because at least half the company is out to get them. So any sort of reassurance or advice they can get from someone they trust -- and they trust few people more than their spouse -- is going to have far more power. If they get home and are told that you are really quite an interesting, witty, clever and charming person this will be good for you. Unless your boss has another lover of whom you're unaware and the spouse isn't trusted at all.

5. Solve A Problem Your Boss Didn't Know He Had.

You're around your boss enough to know at least most of his weaknesses. You're around him enough to know how many holes there are in the business and the way he manages it. Your boss may not be aware of all the problems. Without saying anything, solve one of them. Then, again in a casual tone, explain to the boss what you've done and how you've done it. And again, don't wait for approbation like a bleating puppy desperate for a stroke and a cuddle. Turn around and walk away. You'll leave him thinking about you for hours.

Published on: Oct 23, 2015
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