The rules

The cover story of the July 2005 issue of Business 2.0 magazine describes an unpublished set of business guidelines in an article titled, "The CEO’s Secret Handbook":

It started decades ago as flashes of insight scribbled on loose scraps of paper.Ceo_secret_2 Then it morphed into a PowerPoint presentation that distilled years of business wisdom into a handful of easy-to-remember aphorisms. Last year it became a 76-page spiral-bound booklet clad in a plain gray cover. Eventually, Warren Buffett received a copy — and liked it so much that he asked for dozens more to give to his CEOs, friends, and family.

The tiny handbook has become an underground hit among senior executives and management thinkers. Written by Bill Swanson, CEO of aerospace contractor Raytheno, Swanson’s Unwritten Rules of Management is part Ben Franklin and part Yogi Berra, with a dash of Confucius thrown in.

Here they are:


  1. You can’t polish a sneaker.
  2. Learn to say "I don’t know." If used when appropriate, it will be used often.
  3. You remember 1/3 of what you read, 1/2 of what people tell you, but 100 percent of what you feel.
  4. Look for what is missing. Many know how to improve what’s there; few can see what isn’t there.
  5. Never direct a complaint to the top; a serious offense is to "cc" a person’s boss on a copy of a complaint before the person has a chance to respond.
  6. Treat the name of your company as if it were your own.
  7. Have fun at what you do. It will be reflected in your work. No one likes a grump except another grump!
  8. When faced with decisions, try to look at them as if you were one level up in the organization. Your perspective will change quickly.
  9. If you are not criticized, you may not be doing much.
  10. When something appears on a slide presentation, assume that the world knows about it and deal with it accordingly.
  11. A person who is nice to you but rude to the waiter — or to others — is not a nice person. (This rule never fails.)
  12. When facing issues or problems that are becoming drawn out, "short them to ground." 

via beyond bullets

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