CHANGING COLLARS: Lessons in Transitioning from Blue-Collar Roots to White-Collar Success
CHANGING COLLARS: Lessons in Transitioning from Blue-Collar Roots to White-Collar Success

CHANGING COLLARS: Lessons in Transitioning from Blue-Collar Roots to White-Collar Success

by Daniel Muller

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In the last twenty years, over ten million Americans have grown up in blue-collar families but have chosen to pursue white-collar careers. Changing Collars is a fascinating and instructional memoir focused upon helping and enabling these and future blue-collar Americans to succeed in their white-collar careers.

Drawing upon his own experiences growing up in a blue-collar family, and in his 35 years of gradually learning the ropes and eventually climbing the corporate ladder in a white-collar world, Daniel Muller provides extremely valuable insights and lessons to help millions of ‘blue-collar root’ employees on their career journeys.

The son of a locomotive engineer, Muller grew up in a typical blue-collar small town in Ohio. There he learned the importance of hard work, honesty, and ethics. He became the first in his family to attend college and graduated Summa Cum Laude in his undergraduate and graduate business programs.

However, upon beginning his first job in the professional white-collar world, he quickly realized that his blue-collar background and ways of thinking were more obstacles to success than enablers. Unfamiliar with the expectations and social norms within the white-collar world, during the first decade of his career, Muller floundered in achieving the success he desired.

Due to his ability to adapt and learn from self-study and from others, he was able to transcend his blue-collar background and achieve career success, albeit as a late-bloomer. He ended his career as a Senior Vice-President / CIO, and also held other executive roles such as leading corporate strategic planning, and P&L leadership roles as President of several operating divisions.

Combining personal experiences and observations along with those of highly respected peers in his industry, Changing Collars provides deeply insightful and practical lessons about the significant differences between blue-collar and white-collar cultures and mores, as well as highlighting the common misunderstandings that blue-collar candidates have about the white-collar world. The lessons here are further enhanced by the organization of these lessons into early-career, middle-career, and late-career examples. This extensive set of lessons was gathered, researched, and peer-validated over a nine-year period.

These examples and lessons are rarely discussed in college coursework, or in other texts, simply because many of these lessons are held dear and shared only with a select few, mainly others who have grown up in white-collar families and backgrounds, and those on the fast track to senior positions.

The lessons shared here are meaningful, readily applicable and entertaining for anyone who is employed, or will be employed, in the white-collar world, and who is searching for keys to future white-collar career success.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781644386064
Publisher:, Incorporated
Publication date: 03/10/2019
Pages: 302
Sales rank: 575,578
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.68(d)

About the Author

Daniel Muller, MBA is an author and retired business executive. Raised in a blue-collar family, he was the first to attend college and achieved white-collar success over a 35-year career, retiring as a senior vice-president for a Fortune 500 company. His passion is to help others achieve success in the white-collar world.

Table of Contents




Chapter 1 - Blue-Collar and White-Collar—Defined

Chapter 2 - The Foundation of My Blue-Collar Thinking

Chapter 3 - Common Themes of a Blue-Collar Upbringing

Early Career White-Collar Lessons

Chapter 4 - Goals and Extra Effort

Chapter 5 - Choosing a Career Direction

Chapter 6 - Choosing Your First Professional Job

Chapter 7 - The Energy of Youth versus the Experience of Age

Chapter 8 - Behavior at Company Social Events

Chapter 9 - Lifelong Learning in the White-Collar World

Chapter 10 - Settling Disputes the White-Collar Way

Chapter 11 - Be On Time

Chapter 12 - Get a Mentor! (Or Two)

Chapter 13 - Business Dinners and Etiquette

Chapter 14 - What Drives All Businesses and Why Should I Care?

Chapter 15 - Knowing When to Shut Up and When to Communicate

Chapter 16 - Get Comfortable with Financial Statements!

Chapter 17 - Planning and Running Meetings

Chapter 18 - Don’t Lose Sleep over Work Problems

Chapter 19 - The EHH Factor (Ethics, Honesty, Humility)

Chapter 20 - Dress Code for Work Events Out of the Office

Middle Career White-Collar Lessons

Chapter 21 - Behavior with Customers

Chapter 22 - The Magic of a 2x2 Matrix

Chapter 23 - The Value of Fact-Based Analysis

Chapter 24 - Interactions with Senior Management

Chapter 25 - Dealing with a Knowledge Expert

Chapter 26 - Conflicts with Up-and-Coming Peers

Chapter 27 - Preparation and Time Commitment

Chapter 28 - Will You Be a Leader or a Manager?

Chapter 29 - Don’t Cross the Line with Employee Requests

Chapter 30 - Tips for International Travel

Chapter 31 - Teamwork versus Looking Out for Yourself

Chapter 32 - Be Careful What You Measure!

Chapter 33 - Management – An Ongoing Experiment

Chapter 34 - Idea Generation versus Execution

Chapter 35 - Understanding Organizational Structures

Chapter 36 - How to Manage the Differences in College Educations

Chapter 37 - Getting Yourself Pumped Every Day

Chapter 38 - Customer Satisfaction

Chapter 39 - Refine Your Listening Skills

Chapter 40 - The Mistake Most Make When Entering a New Role or New Job

Late Career White-Collar Lessons

Chapter 41 - Get the Right People on Your Team

Chapter 42 - Selecting Candidates for New Assignments or Promotions

Chapter 43 - Find an Emotional Incentive for Your Teams

Chapter 44 - Consider Using Video for Important Communications

Chapter 45 - Improve Your Work-Life Balance

Chapter 46 - Being the Right Kind of Boss (For those who want to be managers)

Chapter 47 - Lessons in Cultural Sensitivity

Chapter 48 - Riding in Limos or Jets with Executives

Chapter 49 - Achieving Massive Quality Improvements via Iteration

Chapter 50 - Preparing for Your Performance Review

Chapter 51 - The Value of Getting Things Done Across Functions, Regions, and Time Zones

Chapter 52 - Staying out of Political Battles between Leaders

Chapter 53 - Making the Best of Travel Time Away from Home

Chapter 54 - Take Photos and Notes on Trips

Chapter 55 - Community Involvement

Chapter 56 - Avoid Jargon!

Chapter 57 - Emails versus Voicemails versus Phone Calls

Chapter 58 - It Can Be Lonely at the Top!

Chapter 59 - Handling Angry Customers

Chapter 60 - Building Relationships with Europeans (Customers and Peers)

Chapter 61 - How to Handle Political Discussions in the Business World

Chapter 62 - Acquisitions

Chapter 63 - OEM—Distributor—End User

Chapter 64 - Planning and Announcing Retirement





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