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Here’s How to Outperform 99% of People at Work

by | Jul 11, 2022 | Startups

The modern workplace is a circus.

People stabbing each other in the back. Regular firings. Employees angrily walking out after having enough. Layers of gossip. Bad bosses. Departments that do work no one understands the value of.

It’s easy to drown your consciousness out with all the noise.

A leader I once worked with gave me this handbook. It’s how he outperformed 99% of people in the office by working 50% less hours than them.

Act like a business owner

If we were all in love with personal responsibility we’d all be business owners.

As an employee you can jerk off and do all sorts of random tasks that loosely get called ‘work.’

If something goes wrong you can simply blame a whole host of problems that aren’t your fault. “It’s the market sir.” Or “the customers won’t do it.” Or “we would have done it but we didn’t have enough budget.”

I worked in one job early in my career for a whole year and did no work. These common workplace excuses kept my stomach fed and the electricity in my home on. Then the cracks started to appear, so I moved on.

Acting like a business owner means you take responsibility for what happens. You aim to solve problems instead of blaming others for causing them.

The buck stops with you.

If the business fails then you act as if your income source will get cut off too. Later on this mindset helps unlock many opportunities. Most of all, it’s the pathway to entrepreneurship if you ever want to try it.

Head down. Talk less. No gossip.

The loud ones at work often produce the least results.

Quiet people at work hear things others don’t. They try to stay away from gossip too. They work hard during business hours.

One trick I learned from the leader who outperformed was to occasionally spread “good gossip.” Compliment a colleague or leader in front of your co-workers. Talk like you mean it. Explain what they did and how it inspired you. Show some emotion too.

Then walk away and watch what happens.

This form of good gossip will slowly make it back to the person you complimented. It’s a great way to build a solid reputation at work.

Say no to more meetings

If you give senior leaders the opportunity, they’ll happily have you stuck in meetings all day until you can’t breathe and nearly piss your pants from a lack of toilet breaks.

Outperformance is partly a result of having enough blank time in your calendar to do the real work.

Having too many meetings destroys that time. And the best type of work for knowledge workers is thinking time.

Get better at saying no to meetings.

Ask if you can fly in and fly out. Or ask what your role is in the meeting (if there’s even one). If it’s purely informational, see if you can watch back the recording so you can fast-forward the small talk and parts that don’t relate to you.

Performance goes up when the number of meetings goes down. Remember: most meetings can be an email.

Another trick when going for a new job is to find out what the meeting culture is like. Many great companies now have a war on meetings. That’s the sort of beautiful company you want to work for.

Self-educate after hours

The dream of “go to college then get a good job” is dead.

Learning doesn’t stop after college. Only the memorization does. After college we must shift to self-education to outperform.

Before you even think it, self-education does not include those lame-ass online learning platforms most companies use.

Self-education is following your curiosity.

It’s executing on new ideas and information rather than passively consuming it to become a professional box-ticker. While working in banking, I spent time after work learning about writing online. The investment paid off big time.

What I chose to self-learn became how I quit my job to self-earn.

The best learning happens after hours when your brain has time to think and it’s acceptable not to be replying to emails or texts.

Learn to earn more.

Quit using buzzwords

Employees at most corporations I’ve worked at all sound the same.

They’re like sheep. If the CEO says “WIGS” (Wildly Important Goals) at a company town hall, every other sheep starts saying it.

The worst buzzwords are acronyms. Communicating in acronyms is like communicating in the language the aliens used in the movie “Predator.”

Most people don’t know what the hell you’re talking about. It’s too easy to use acronyms outside of the intended internal audience, therefore, no one knows what you’re saying and your career credibility gradually dies a slow death.

Buzzwords are boring. Boring makes people not interested in you. And the way to outperform 99% of people at work is to be interesting.

Simple Language = Powerful Communication

Do things outside your job title

Too many people stick religiously to their job description. That’s how you become a computer-says-no employee.

Gif Credit: Tenor

When you go beyond your job description, that’s where the real career growth happens.

I had a job working in a call center years ago. Another department asked me to help for a day to also process their credit card machine applications. I did it. They asked my team to do it again. All my colleagues said no, except me.

The leader who made the request loved that I showed initiative.

He gave me a secondment. That led me to manage one of the biggest Silicon Valley companies in the world. Oh, and my salary doubled. Plus I got access to big bank bonuses that I’d never had before.

Go beyond your job title to discover hidden opportunities.

Do more for the customer than anyone else

Lots of companies serve themselves, not the customer.

Leaders from all over the business make decisions and conduct meetings about things that will impact customers while being a thousand steps removed from “the customer.” Tragic.

Those who serve customers — not departments, bosses, or their own agendas — outperform. The customer ultimately decides the success of your employer. If you help them their word of mouth helps your career.

Counter-intuitive … but true.

Get rejected more than you’re comfortable with

Career games are ultimately won by those who are willing to get rejected more than normal.

Entrepreneurs sound crazy when they introduce new ideas into the world. Yet they do it until their ideas don’t sound so crazy anymore and get adopted.

Getting a promotion requires a lot of rejection too. You’re unlikely to get the first one you ask for. Changing jobs is hard too. By the nature of how hiring works, you’ll have to face loads of rejections to land a decent opportunity.

If you cry at the first rejection email, you’re probably not gonna make it.

Rejection is the way.

If you can get good at rejection you can access some wild opportunities. All that’s required is this mindset: there’s always another job.

Jobs aren’t running out. So you may as well stuff up heaps, get rejected, not give a damn, and see where it takes you.

It’s fun as hell too.

Closing Thought

Now go implement this handbook of tips I borrowed from another leader early in my career. Then go home at a reasonable hour, see your family, and remember they’re the reason you go to work to outperform.

If you’re going to work at all, may as well play the game all out.

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