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176 of 180 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Everything you don't want to know (almost)
Corporate Confidential is the book every career consultant (like me) needs to share with her clients. It's not your standard happy-cheerleader self-help book. Nearly every page contains solid advice in an unabashed how-to style. Shapiro makes no effort to soften her message. Like it or not, she says, here's how the world of work operates in the 21st century...
Published on December 18, 2005 by Dr. Cathy Goodwin

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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Will help you climb the corporate ladder, if that's what you really want
In Corporate Confidential, Cynthia Shapiro teaches us how to survive the dehumanizing privations of employment in what perhaps has become one of the most pathological institutions in human history--the American Corporation. While Miss Shapiro's revelations and prescriptions may be advantageous in helping individuals climb the corporate ladder, many are antithetical to...
Published on July 24, 2008 by wnybookseller


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176 of 180 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Everything you don't want to know (almost), December 18, 2005
This review is from: Corporate Confidential: 50 Secrets Your Company Doesn't Want You to Know---and What to Do About Them (Paperback)
Corporate Confidential is the book every career consultant (like me) needs to share with her clients. It's not your standard happy-cheerleader self-help book. Nearly every page contains solid advice in an unabashed how-to style. Shapiro makes no effort to soften her message. Like it or not, she says, here's how the world of work operates in the 21st century.

Shapiro seems uniquely qualified to write this book, due to her background in Human Resources. And she's not afraid to say out loud what we've always suspected: The HR people are not your friends. They're protecting the company -- not you!

Shapiro's message can be summed up in one sentence. Whenever you're dealing with your company you're on the stage. Don't let your guard down, whether you're at a party or a one-on-one informal meeting. Watch your email. Don't make waves, gossip or sound negative.

If all this advice sounds elementary, you have never been a career consultant! Many of my savvy, sophisticated, experienced clients have trouble recognizing these rules. Even more resist. Some, like me, know all the rules but can't bring ourselves too follow them. Eventually we end up working for ourselves, with all the pluses and minuses.

This book explains why so many employees hire coaches and consultants to gain access to a confidential confidante -- a safety valve, sounding board and objective outsider. When you open up to someone off the job, you're more likely to keep quiet on the job. That's worth everything you pay an outsider and more.

Shapiro does not paint a pretty or pleasant picture. Need vacation? Take one week at a time. Take your second week six months later. Having a baby? You may or may not be eligible for Family Leave...and you have to work twice as hard when you return. Getting older? Take half your allotted sick days...fewer if possible.

In some ways, I'd actually move to higher levels of paranoia.

"Watch your expense account!" Shapiro urges. But I would go further. On the road, you'll often enjoy a couple of drinks and a movie in your room. Arrange to be billed separately so your company never sees these expenses. Alcohol should appear only as authorized client entertainment and nobody will believe you watched a G-rated Disney feature. Why give the accountants a good laugh?

Also, I would urge employees to study their own cultures. Shapiro gives hints, e.g., qualities of promoted managers will tell you about a company's values (p. 44). But I'd be wary of blanket principles, like, "It's okay to refuse a promotion." In some companies, you'd be signing your own pink slip.

And if the boss works late on a big project, Shapiro says, hang around and offer to be helpful. Well, if you're a female, be extra careful about sending the wrong signals to a male boss as you hang around in the evening, offering to make copies and send out for pizza. Even if you're totally innocent, your loyalty could be misinterpreted.

Finally, Shapiro continues to reflect the corporate party line, even as she's drawing back a curtain to reveal the truth. She encourages us to assume that companies make rational decisions, so if you follow the rules, you'll be rewarded.

Most of the time that assumption will be accurate. Certainly expressing this assumption aloud will show you're loyal.

But companies all too often have hidden agendas. You can be targeted for a layoff because your boss's boss wants to nail your own manager and you're a pawn. You may have been hired with the hope that you'll fail because management doesn't want to invest too much in your product line. You may be fired because of a merger arranged halfway around the world. You could be transferred to Outer Nowhere and fired two weeks later. You could take on a humongous overload in an emergency and then get fired because you didn't perform effectively.

But as Shapiro says, most of time we sow our own seeds of destruction: a show of disrespect, an extra drink at an official party, a discussion of personal life, a toy bear on your desk, an offensive style of dressing or ...well, you name it. She could have underlined her warning to avoid hints of any illegal or unethical conduct, even jokingly. A friendly puff of illegal substances at a party and now you're labeled a drug dealer.

To be sure, some companies can be incredibly warm, sensitive and caring. Clients tell me of getting amazing support during anything from nervous breakdowns to childbirth.

However, if this book really makes you feel ill, I recommend picking up a handful of books about starting your own business. But leave them at home -- not even in your briefcase! And hire your own listeners to talk about your dreams. You'll save a fortune in the long run.
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94 of 101 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential read for all corporate worker ants, November 22, 2005
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This review is from: Corporate Confidential: 50 Secrets Your Company Doesn't Want You to Know---and What to Do About Them (Paperback)
DO NOT ASSUME YOU UNDERSTAND CORPORATE POLITICS AND HR POLICIES UNTIL YOU READ THIS BOOK. This book is by far the best book I have read on the subject and I have read many.

The book specifies that the company draws a clear distinction, without telling you, whether you are someone the company wants to keep or get rid of. To make matters worse, in this highly litigious society, companies cannot and does not tell you which side you belong.

If a company thinks you are an unwanted employee, the last thing they tell you is say exactly that in fear of getting sued. Rather, they use various tactics such as giving you too much work, giving you the most stressful projects, and just making life difficult for you as possible so you will leave voluntarily. If you are one of the unwanted employees, it is best to leave. What is the litmus test? If the employer doesn't give you a counteroffer or show strong regret that you are leaving, then they wanted to get rid of you anyway and you made the right choice.

If you are one of the high performers who the company wants to keep, they make it as clear as possible. After all, no one gets sued for promoting an employee. The fact is companies identify employees who will never be downsized because they are indispensable. In effect, they are "Made" and they cannot be touched unless they really screw up their good standing with the corporation.

If you want to move up the corporate ladder, not only must you show competence, but you must show loyalty. You must prove yourself as someone the company can trust with their business, money, and personnel.

How can you prove yourself as someone trustworthy? Here are few pointers outlined in the book:

1)Don't threaten the company or your boss. Don't go to HR with complaints (deal with issues privately). Don't make trouble, otherwise you are seen as a potential risk for lawsuits.
2)Watch what you say. Do not be negative, and support the corporate policies and procedures. Do not gossip and speak out against the authorities.
3)Cultivate good relationship with your boss. Do not fight your boss, you will never win.
4)Keep personal life personal and do not bring it to work.
5)Mingle with the right crowd. Do not mingle with the "downsizers" who will be axed the next time the company wants to cut people.
6)Being promoted often means you have shown you are fully capable of being successful in the next job. Just being successful in your present one does not suffice.
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49 of 53 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars great primer - but needs some caveats, January 6, 2007
By 
Consultant (Northeast United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Corporate Confidential: 50 Secrets Your Company Doesn't Want You to Know---and What to Do About Them (Paperback)
Corporate Confidential is the kind of book that everyone who works in the corporate environment should have and review on a regular basis. Its primary strength is that is disabuses employees of their naiveté about working in a corporation. As the author states - the company employs you for their needs - not yours. Every day - an employee is on stage and every action, behavior, and attitude is being evaluated. You have no "rights" (to employment or even privacy) and loyalty to the organization (more importantly, your superiors) is paramount. All this would seem like a statement of the obvious, but it is amazing how many employees don't grasp these basics and get "downsized" or "managed out" - hence the need for Corporate Confidential.

That being said, I found the author to be a bit too much of a corporate cheerleader, and the book neglected some important caveats. A major theme of the book is to determine the corporation's real (hidden agenda) value system, honor it, and put yourself in alignment with it. What is not addressed is if that value system, upon examination, is incompatible with yours or toxic and corrupt (re: Enron.) The book is rather silent on this key issue, but then again, it's more of a "go along to get along" guide.

The book is also silent on several other key issues, such as a proactive career plan and exit strategy once a given job has reached diminishing returns for your career growth. Perhaps too many subjects for one book, but I thought it should be at least referenced. There sometimes (or often) comes a point that you simply won't be able to get along with the organization (or its culture or management), and it's time to leave. Better that you make that decision and select the timing rather than others, and have them wistfully saying that they wished you had stayed. As the author states - image is everything. I once heard of a "job" defined as what you do between job searches.

Another point where the author is a bit too corporate is the issue of legal actions to confront illegal behavior (discrimination, sexist behavior, etc.) Although her point that your career with that company will be over at that point (why would you want to continue working for them anyway?) the oft-stated caution that such actions will follow you in your career is simply not true. I know of several such actions that were settled or arbitrated for significant sums (in other words, did not go to court), and a condition of that was that both parties remain silent on the issue. The employees (who were managers/executives) involved went on to other positions of equal or greater responsibility. They didn't need to provide any explanation in subsequent interviews of why they left because the prior company that they took to the mats (and its management) had an industry reputation (and large turnover) - no explanation necessary (and of course, they did not offer specifics.) The author does state that if you plan to take such actions - retain a lawyer early-on, tell no one - and initiate the action only after you leave (which is exactly what the above-referenced individuals did.)

All in all - Corporate Confidential is a valuable reference - and one you should have if you work in the corporate space. Perhaps the most significant message it gets across is that a job is just a job, your fellow employees are not your friends, keep your opinions to yourself (and cautious when asked) and your mouth shut. I know more than a few people who are chronically unemployed because they simply don't grasp these truisms.
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Will help you climb the corporate ladder, if that's what you really want, July 24, 2008
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Corporate Confidential: 50 Secrets Your Company Doesn't Want You to Know---and What to Do About Them (Paperback)
In Corporate Confidential, Cynthia Shapiro teaches us how to survive the dehumanizing privations of employment in what perhaps has become one of the most pathological institutions in human history--the American Corporation. While Miss Shapiro's revelations and prescriptions may be advantageous in helping individuals climb the corporate ladder, many are antithetical to psychological well-being. Hardly a pragmatic long-term strategy. It's amusing that the cover of this book dons faceless images of corporate employees, as this is probably how many corporations view their workforce.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Buy this book!, December 16, 2005
By 
JAB "JAB" (Long Island, NY) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Corporate Confidential: 50 Secrets Your Company Doesn't Want You to Know---and What to Do About Them (Paperback)
There is a very good reason it has a 5 star rating, it will absolutely knock you for a loop. Forget everything you thought you knew about corporate life and read this book. I used to have the feeling that I was very close to "getting it" politically around the office - but not quite there; that there was something I was missing. No amount of research, open-mindedness, mentoring or between the lines listening will get you to the destination this book will take you, and quickly.

I started reading on Friday and was afraid to return to my high-profile job at a Fortune 20 company until I was finished. Being enlightened to the thought processes and inner-workings of management has made an immediate impact on my career. Imagine there being a fine line between yourself and a co-worker both considered for promotion and advancement. Coming in second by a nose means you lose. Not by a nose, you just lose. If you win, and once in your new office, then what? Answers contained within this excellent book. As well as how easy it is to blow it once you "arrive". If, like me, you expend significant effort, dedication and committment in a sincere love for your company and career to get ahead, why not take the extra time to get it right? And for less then $15.00. Hate to sound like a commercial, but WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?

Expecting excellence, I'm rarely floored by products or services - and always too busy to write up those feelings. However, this is something I had to take the time to do - write a review and wholeheartedly recommend this book.

Good luck in your career. -JB
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A vital resource I wish I had sooner!, September 8, 2005
By 
Flower (Los Angeles, CA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Corporate Confidential: 50 Secrets Your Company Doesn't Want You to Know---and What to Do About Them (Paperback)
Wow! This book is filled with vital career advice and rich guidance. New workers, laid-off employees, and promotion-seekers should do themselves a favor and get this book. A real plus about the book is it left me feeling confident about the future because I was given clear and easy-to-implement behaviors on how to protect myself from self-sabotage. I had no idea how often I was unconsciously undermining myself in what I thought was perfectly normal office behavior. It's so grateful that the author has revealed the mystery of work-place advancement and job security, and doubtless many careers will flourish and be saved because of this book! I actually feel relaxed after finishing the book because it has shown me how to navigate the system. It's nice that the book can act as a 'ready-reference' to handle situations as they come up in my job. This book is highly interesting to read, full of lots of real-life examples, and I couldn't put it down. I read it in one sitting and plan to read it again.
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20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must have if you work in Microsoft and other large corporations, November 17, 2005
This review is from: Corporate Confidential: 50 Secrets Your Company Doesn't Want You to Know---and What to Do About Them (Paperback)
I recently lost my job at a large software company and did not understand why. My sales numbers were exceptional, my relationships with my partners were fantastic, my internal customers were happy, but my new management was being vague and distant. I did not realize that there was a serious problem with my management's perception of me and that there was a plan to move me out of the company. Three weeks after I was terminated, I found Corporate Confidential. I would have seen and understood what was coming if I had read this book even three months before I was terminated. And the worst part is that I could have turned the situation around and kept my job quite easily by following a few simple steps outlined in this book.

You must read Corporate Confidential to know how to survive and thrive in the new corporate world that exists today. Rule number 1 is that HR is not on your side and number 2 corporations are more paranoid than ever about the legal ramifications (i.e. lawsuits and legal settlements) of terminating employees. So many of us are overly busy and working too hard to notice the rules have changed the employment relationship. It may take a year or so for this book to be noticed, but I believe Corporate Confidential is a classic. It gets to the point, gives very clear examples and addresses 50 "corporate sins" that you must avoid. Read it or pay the consequences.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I'm glad I grabbed it. I think you will be too. I couldn't put it down all weekend, September 6, 2005
By 
Mike (Los Angeles, CA. USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Corporate Confidential: 50 Secrets Your Company Doesn't Want You to Know---and What to Do About Them (Paperback)
This book doesn't pretend that everything is perfect in our companies and if we just work harder in the workplace, spend more hours, and learn more skills, that everything will be okay and work out better for us in the end.

I knew there was more to company motivations than just producing well, and the author had the guts to tell me both the things I knew were happening but couldn't prove, and things I was doing which were stopping me from the promotion I have been trying to get for the last year or two.

This book isn't all fluff with the reader spending his/her time looking for the one piece of good information. The entire book is filled with substance, and is immediately useful at work. Everything in this book rings true, and makes a lot of sense.

This is the book I have been waiting for. It is definately a keeper.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Valuable read for those in the corporate world, April 3, 2007
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This review is from: Corporate Confidential: 50 Secrets Your Company Doesn't Want You to Know---and What to Do About Them (Paperback)
While you may not always like what you read in this book, nearly all of the advice is on target based on my 19 years of experience in the corporate world. The contents ranges from the fairly obvious(don't make your boss look bad)to the more subtle landmines that should be avoided at all costs.

This book will be especially valuable to someone at an earlier stage in their career as experienced folks may have learned many of these lessons through the school of hard knocks. Even though much of the content did not come as a surprise to me personally, I still found valuable tips, a few new insights, and if nothing else the book provided a clear and concise reinforcement of career learnings that I've gained up to this point. The book is a relatively brief read and I would recommend it to anyone seeking to earn a living in a corporate environment.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome advice. It helped me long term with my career., March 20, 2006
By 
D. Anderson (Los Angeles, CA.) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Corporate Confidential: 50 Secrets Your Company Doesn't Want You to Know---and What to Do About Them (Paperback)
Incredible book. I read it, loved it, and decided to try it. My boss and I have had (what I perceive to be as) a poor working relationship since last July when things were reorganized in the company. I read the book, and went to speak with my boss about two weeks ago to see if anything could be worked out between he and I. Today I am writing to let yo know the advice worked great. He and I have worked out a bunch of the issues. Our communication is much better, and the work environment around the office has improved in general.

I attribute everything good that has happened, to me reading this book, looking at things with different colored glasses, and approaching communication with Cynthia's advice.

Thank you Cynthia.
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Corporate Confidential: 50 Secrets Your Company Doesn't Want You to Know---and What to Do About Them
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