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Do Something Hard and Lonely
Regularly practice something Spartan and individualistic. Do something that you know very few other people are willing to do. This will give you a feeling of toughness, a certain self-elitism. It will mentally prepare you for the battle of business. Something that is hard and lonely is studying late at night for a graduate degree in fashion design, especially in the winter, when everyone else is asleep. Or running long, slow distances early in the morning (versus jogging at lunchtime with a mob). Split wood, write, work in the garden, read King Lear, but does it by yourself. Do something that is solitary. All great and successful athletes remember the endless hours of seemingly unrewarded toil. So do corporate presidents.
Skip All Office Parties
There is no such thing as a business or "office party."' It is not a social gathering. It is business. Never party at an office party. It won't hurt you not to go at all. Don't offend people by criticizing the party or by publicly announcing your intentions. Simply don't go. Give polite excuses. Never ever go to a company picnic if you cannot bring your spouse. A company picnic without spouses is trouble. To go is to run the risk of being tarred with the bad brush of others' actions. If the unwritten rule is "you must attend or you will offend"' then go. Drink only soda. Stay no more than forty-five minutes. Thank the boss for inviting you, and leave. If anyone asks where you are going, tell that person you are meeting your spouse, or parents, or fiancée, or doctor, or music teacher, or personal trainer. Parties are supposed to be fun, enjoyed with friends. Heed the old axiom: "Don't mix business with pleasure.'''
Arrive Forty Five Minutes Early and Leave Fifteen Minutes Late
If you are going to be first in your corporation, start practicing by being first on the job. People who arrive at work late don't like their jobs at least that's what senior management thinks. People don't arrive twelve minutes late for the movies. And being early always gives you a psychological edge over the others in your company. Don't stay at the office until ten o'clock every night. You are sending a signal that you can't keep up or that your personal life is poor. Leave fifteen minutes late instead. In those fifteen minutes organize your next day and clean your desk. You will be leaving after 95 percent of the employees any way, so your reputation as a hard worker stays intact. There are too many times in your career when circumstances such as airline schedules and sales meetings and yearend closings and such will keep you away from home until late. Give more time to your family. Plus forty-five minutes early and fifteen minutes late is an hour a day. That's two hundred fifty hours a year or 31 days. You can get ahead quickly working one extra month a year.