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For all you hard-working, well behaved corporate folk out there I suggest you wake up from the illusion of getting ahead by meeting or even exceeding your performance objectives. You will get that occasional 7.5% annual raise and you may even get a bonus once in a while, but it’s all part of a linear revenue ascendance mostly eroded by inflation or even wiped out by the occasional Wall Street black swan that dissolves your wealth.

If you really want to know how the corporate world works, it helps to regard your boss as a middleman, taking the majority of the cut (praise, rewards) and giving you a residual material benefit along with plenty free praise. Let’s get back to middlemen. As Al Pacino’s Scarface character beautifully illuminates in the beginning of the movie with the same name, the further you are from the source of revenue with more middlemen in between, the more likely you are to work very hard for very little. You are also likely to be easily replaceable when disgruntled. What incentive does a boss have in raising awareness and providing access to customers and executives for a high performing individual? You will be promoted out of his or her organization and he or she will lose the peace of mind associated with a high performing, clear thinking individual. So the more you work, the more you exceed those objectives, and the less maintenance you require, the harder you are likely to work in the future for pretty much a similar return.

The alternative? Use any opportunity for face exposure to the source of revenue (i.e. the customer) and decision making (i.e. executive leadership). This is not bypassing your middleman boss, but simply looking out for yourself and ironically, for the best interest of the company as well! Customers want to deal with talent and they could care less about your organization’s internal hierarchy. Executives are hungry for fresh ideas and tired of hearing how impossible everything is from the management team immediately subordinated. Take risks, be intrapreneurial and never trust middlemen, no matter in what disguises they appear. Anchor yourself in the market which is where the real growth in which you can partake happens rather than in self-referential, zero-sum, stagnant performance schemes. Be nice, be courteous and help us all by allowing us direct access to your talent, ideas and world-changing potential.

Anarchy you say? No, more like a freelance economy.

To be continued…

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