The Rule of being a smart and successful entrepreneur

A Cross Section of Happy Nigerian Executives

first started formulating The Rules of Work many, many years
ago when I was an assistant manager. 
There was a promotion going for the next step up – manager.  There were two possible candidates, myself
and Rob.  On paper I had more experience, more
expertise, most of the staff wanted me as their manager and I generally knew
the new job better.  Rob, to be honest, was

was chatting with an outside consultant the company used and asked him what he
thought my chances were.  ‘Slim’, he replied.  I was indignant.  I explained all about my experience, my
expertise, and my superior abilities. ‘Yep’,
he replied, ‘but you don’t walk like a
.  And Rob does? 
that’s about the
strength of it’
.  Needless to say he
was quite right and Rob got the job.  I had
to work under a moron; but a moron who walked right.  I studies that walk very carefully.
consultant was spot on; there was a manager’s walk.  I began to notice that every employee, every
job, everyone in fact, had their walk. 
Receptionists walked in a particular way as did the cashiers, the
catering staff, the office workers, the admin, the security staff – and the
managers of course.  Secretly, I began to
practice the walk.
I spent a lot of time watching the walk I realized that there was also a
manager’s style of attire, of speaking, of behavior.  It wasn’t enough that I was good at my job
and had the experience.  I had to look as
if I was better than anyone else.  It
wasn’t just a walk – it was an entire makeover. 
And gradually, as I watched, I noticed that what newspaper was read was
important, as was what pen was used, how you wrote, how you talked to
colleagues, what you said at meetings – everything, in fact, was being judged,
evaluated, acted upon.  It wasn’t enough
to be able to do the job.  If you wanted
to get on you had to be seen to be the Right Type.  The Rules of Work is about creating
that type – of course, you’ve got to be able to do the job in the first
place.  But a lot of people can do
that.  What makes you stand out?  What makes you a suitable candidate for
promotion?  What makes the difference?
noticed that amongst the managers there were some who had mastered the walk,
but there were others who were practicing unconsciously, for the next walk –
the general manager’s walk.
happened at that time to be travelling around a lot between different branches
and noticed that amongst the general managers there were some who were going to
stay right where they were for a long time. 
But there were others already practicing for their next ahead – the
regional director’s walk; and style and image.
switched from practicing the manager’s walk and leapt ahead to the general
manager’s walk.  Three months later I was
promoted from assistant manager to general manager in one swift move.  I was now the moron’s manager.

 “You will be awake
and aware, living in the moment and taking advantage of your own
abilities.  The bottom line is that you
must be able to do your job – and do it well in the first place.  The
are not for blaggers or poseurs or bullshitters or charlatans or

Rob had the walk (Rule 15; Develop
a style that gets you noticed
), but unfortunately he didn’t adhere
sufficiently to Rule 1 – he didn’t know the job well enough. He looked right,
sounded right, but the bottom line was – he couldn’t do the job as well as he
should have done.  I was brought in over
his head because they couldn’t sack him – having just promoted him it would
have looked bad and they needed someone to oversee his work so that his
cock-ups could be rectified quickly. Rob had reached the level of his own
incompetence and stayed there for several years. Neither improving nor particularly
getting worse-just looking good and walking right. He eventually shuffled
himself off sideways into running his own business – a restaurant.  This failed shortly after wards because he
forgot Rule 2: Never stand still – or maybe he
never actually knew it.  He carried on
walking like a manager instead of a restaurateur.  His customers never really took to him.
practicing the general manager’s walk I got the promotion, but I also got it
because I paid great attention to doing my job well Rule 1.  Once in this new job I was, of course,
completely out of my depth.  I had to
quickly learn not only my new role and all its responsibilities, but also the
position below, which I had not really held. 
I had stood in for managers but I had never been a manager – now I was
the manager’s manager.  I was in great
danger of falling flat on my face.
I was, by now, a dedicated Rule player. 
There was only one recourse – secret learning.  I spent every spare second available –
evenings, weekends, lunch breaks – studying everything I could that would help
me. But I told no one – Rule 10.
a short time I had mastered enough to be able to do the job well enough. And
the embryonic Rules of work were born.
a general manager was both fun and pain. 
It was 50 per cent more work but only 20 percent more pay.  My next step, logically, was regional
director.  But it didn’t appeal.  More work, much more work but for not that
much more money.  I began to study Rule
: Have a plan.  Where did I
want to go next?  What did I want to
do?  I was getting bored being stuck in
the office all the time and all those endless dreary meetings.  And all that time spent at head office.  Not for me. 
I wanted to have fun again.  I
wanted to practice the Rules.  I
formulated my plain.
the company didn’t have was a roving trouble shooter – a sort of general
manager’s general manager.  I put Rule 4:
out a niche for
yourself into play. I suggested that
this was the job I wanted, but the agenda was obvious I suppose. I got it, of
course, and became a peripatetic general manager, answerable directly only to
the chairman and with a job description I wrote myself.  And pay? A lot more than the regional
directors were on but I practiced Rule 41: Look after yourself.  They didn’t know and I didn’t let on.  But I cultivated their support and
friendship.  I was never a threat because
it was obvious I wasn’t after their job. 
They may have wanted the money I was on if they had known, but they
didn’t want the little niche I had carved out for myself.
I did this without being ruthless, dishonest or unpleasant.  In fact I was always diplomatic when dealing
with the general managers.   I treated
them with courtesy and politeness, even when I had to pull them up on some
aspect of their job.  I added Rule
If you can’t say anything nice – shut up and Rule
Cultivate diplomacy.
I quickly learnt that if I wanted to know what was going on in a branch, it was
best to speak to the people who really knew – the cleaners, the receptionists,
the cashiers, the lift attendant and the drivers.  It was important both to identify these people
and to be on the right side of them – Rule 85.  They supplied me with more information than
anyone would have believed – and all for the price of a simple ‘Hallo bob, how’s your daughter doing at
university these days?’
The Rules of Work took shape.  Over the next few years I watched them grow
up, gain maturity and experience.  I left
the corporation and founded my own consultancy. 
I trained managers in the Rules of Work and watched them go
out into the world and conquer their destiny with charm and courtesy,
confidence and authority.
I see you have questions.  How do these
rules work – are they manipulative?  No,
you don’t make anyone else do anything, it is you that is changing and
I have to become someone else? No, you may need to change your behavior a bit,
but not your personality or values, you’ll go on being you, but a slicker,
quicker you, a more successful you.
they hard to learn?  No, you can learn
them in a week or two – but it does take a long time to really master them.  But we are learning all the time and even
practicing one rule is better than none at all.
it easy to spot others doing them?  Yes,
sometimes, but the really good Rules player will never let you see what they
are doing, they’re too good for that. 
But once you become a Rules player too it does become easier to see what
rule people are using at any particular time.
I notice benefits right away?  Oh yes,
you betcha, immediately.
I still do them?  I wouldn’t even admit
to doing them in the first place – I’m a Rules player after all.
it ethical to use the Rules? Yes.  You
aren’t doing anything wrong, merely utilizing your own natural skills and
talents and adapting them, using them consciously.  This is a key area for understanding the Rules
– consciously.  Everything you do will
have been decided beforehand – you’ll still appear spontaneous of course, you
decided that as well – but you will be a conscious manipulator of any situation
rather than an unconscious victim.  You
will be awake and aware, living in the moment and taking advantage of your own
abilities.  The bottom line is that you
must be able to do your job – and do it well in the first place.  The Rules are not for blaggers or poseurs or bullshitters or charlatans or
coasters.  You think you work hard
now?  It’s nothing to doing the Rules
successfully – now that really does take work.
let’s face it, you love to work. You love doing your job.  You have to be, to want to read the rules and
to want to be getting on and up. What I am suggesting is that you consciously
think about every area of that work and make changes to improve:
way you do it
people perceive you to be doing it.
you don’t practice the Rules you will muddle along, get by,
may be find what it is you are looking for. You may already know a lot of these
Rules – and be practicing them – instinctively and intuitively.  Now we will do them consciously.  If you do you will:
on better with your colleagues
better about yourself
your work more
your job better
your boss’s point of view better
more pride in both yourself and your work
a good example for junior staff
more to your company
valued and respected
an aura of goodwill and co-operation around you
successful if you leave to start your own business.
are simple and effective, safe and practical. 
They are your ten steps to building confidence and creating a new and
more powerful you. And building that new you morally and ethically, you aren’t
going to do anything that you wouldn’t expect – and appreciate – others doing
to you.  These Rules enhance personal
standards and elevate your individual principles.  They are my gift to you.  They’re yours.  Keep them safe, keep them secret.
(Excerpts from THE
RULES OF WORK by Richard Templer Read “How to let Your Work Do the Speaking” from The Rules tomorrow on Asabeafrika)

Rule-to-Work Series


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