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January 28, 2009
No You Didn’t!
 
Why Laermer Stands by His Don’t Screw Up Screed

I have been writing the DTP column for more than two years. I get comments and letters saying Bravo or Go to Hell, usually a lot of both. But most letters were angry about the piece last week titled “It’s Bad, It’s Bad…” that said that you got full-on care about your job –and prove it daily – because I said that following certain hard rules was the one way to stay in the position you’re in. 
 
I got cheered via email and some comments by men and women who have been through a few Great Recessions. This come-back column is for them, who may have seen the comments and thought, why don’t people realize this guy’s for real…?
 
Like Ms. Fey at the Emmys, I proffer this to those who hate me: Suck It! Fact of the matter is you’re on a site looking for work and that can mean that you’re insecure or hateful toward where you make a living. Or a second opinion: you know in your heart you’re destined for greater.
 
I got a lot of names called (“Who ever heard of RLMPR?” cracked me up considering our history) and I am sad for the name callers. Because as Shakespeare once opined adroitly, You doth protest too much.
 
I’ve been doing the same job – el trabajo mismo for Spanish-speaking doubters – for 19 years, and I’ve been saying the same line since I started to our staff: Remember where your bread is buttered. If you believe that showing up well-dressed and better-prepared is crap, and I am just a lousy manager, I have two MORE words for you:
 
Nice try.
 
A lot of dumb asses misunderstood my mini-diatribe about “managing up” as being advice to kiss up but if you read my words clearly, and stopped shaking your head, you’d know I mean that kissing arse is the worst way to survive any economy because in the end you just get a wet nose and people’s disrespect. So, I thought I’d explain that part sl-o-o-wly: Manage up! Do what you would do with so-called underlings and figure out how to make your supervisor’s job a little easier by helping them help you. Get the tools from them – and deadlines explained, etc. – so you can be the best at your job without making you their problem. Talk to them about how you can get the job done better. People seemed to think I was some sort of ogre for saying it. Whatever…
 
In my latest book, “2011,” there’s a carefully-written chapter that looks back at the mediocre decade we just passed through. The fact is, people have become more freaking irresponsible than ever because, voila!, there’s always someone who is going to fix their work. Guess what? In the near future you better fix it yourself, bucko, or you’re going to be out on your keester. There is a lack of patience coming for those who can’t get it done without a ton of supervision.
 
Most people know how to do their jobs, I believe, but it’s so much easier to say “Can you look at this?” instead of depending on yourself. This is what I’ve learned as a manager – and anyone who questions that, well, good luck to you in your many, many jobs. You won’t survive in an aggressive company, that’s for certain.
 
Fact is, and you can lambast me—I’m secure in my words: I’ve made a nice living for a couple of decades creating one idea in our shop, and that is HAVE STANDARDS. I think the column I wrote scared the shit out of people who have none. Let’s go to the tape, or revisit my ideas on how to stay above water during tough-as-heck times.
 
For those who are sure they are right about everything, I cut the words down to simple.
 
1. Learn how to manage up. Make life easier and stop whining.
 
2. Do without! Don’t ask for things now.
 
3. Show up early.  Jump in and get something done before your breakfast energy runs out. Remember what Mom told you about the early bird?
 
4. Dress. Buy a mirror. Tattoos and piercings—your parents were so much more rebellious than you can ever be! Oh and the tattered jeans, dude? You’re not original, you’re just extra crispy.
 
5. Stop bringing donuts to work, you look like a brown nose and we get our own delivery (that’s like buying someone jewelry—how personal!). Help out, say atta-boy to a job well done, and make your friends feel better! …Sugar we got.
 
6. Stop sighing and rolling your eyes—use your good eyesight to do a little homework. I guess folks who hated my column think that this is me being a nasty piece of work but I do it for my meetings and clients like that someone caring enough to do some research.
 
And 7. Smile. Why? Well, there’s an old saying, “Smile, smile, smile, and more people will sleep with you.”  Plus, the less depressing you are the more people will want to work with you. And you may need them in your next career.
 
The people who wrote to say thank you for saying it used the same words: No one gets how hard it is to make a living where I work. They take it for granted!
 
Is that you?
 
Twitter @laermer for more.

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Richard Laermer is CEO of New York's RLM pr, representing, among others, e-Miles, Epic Advertising, Yodlee, Revolution Money, Group Commerce, Smith & Nephew, and HotChalk. He was host of TLC's cult program Taking Care of Business and speaks on trends and marketing for corporate groups. You can read Laermer on The Huffington Post and on the mischievous but all-too-necessary Bad Pitch Blog. For more like this, follow him on @laermer.

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