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How to Become CEO: The Rules for Rising to the Top of Any Organization Hardcover – September 30, 1998

4.2 out of 5 stars 139 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Most books about career advancement are either weighty examinations about success in the workplace (e.g., How to Be a Star at Work and Working with Emotional Intelligence) or flippant, humorous takes on surviving the countless inanities of modern work life (e.g., Working Wounded). Jeffrey Fox's book, How to Become CEO: The Rules for Rising to the Top of Any Organization is neither. Instead, Fox presents 75 commonsense rules about successfully conducting your career.

Rules like "Know Everybody by Their First Name" and "No Goals No Glory" may seem obvious; others, such as "Don't Take Work Home from the Office" or "Don't Have a Drink with the Gang" may not. Each is accompanied by page or two of succinct and thought-provoking explanation. For example, for rule 27, "Don't Hide an Elephant," Fox writes, "Big problems always surface. If they have been hidden, even unintentionally, the negative fallout is always worse. The 'hiders' always get burned, regardless of complicity. The 'discoverers' always are safe, regardless of complicity." Wise and to the point, How to Become CEO will help just about anybody's career, whether you want to become CEO or not. --Harry C. Edwards

From Booklist

Fox heads his own marketing consulting company, and he demonstrates here that he knows how to package an idea. While there is nothing especially original about a list of rules for getting ahead, Fox's guide is filled with 75 tips that are short, sweet, and to the point. Moreover, the ideas themselves are fresh. You have to admire the pluck of someone who counsels spending one day a month in the library and recommends sending handwritten notes. For each suggestion, Fox includes one or two pages of elaboration. Other advice: Always take vacations. Always take the job that offers the most money. Never write a nasty memo. Don't take work home from the office. Never let a good boss make a mistake. And, nary a mention of Machiavelli or Sun-Tzu. Refreshing! David Rouse
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 162 pages
  • Publisher: Hachette Books; 1st edition (September 30, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786864370
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786864379
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (139 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #101,190 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAME on May 7, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I had a hard time rating this book. I gave it a 5 for its dedication to Leigh Knowles, deceased chairman of Beaulieu Vineyards, a truly terrific guy and CEO. I gave it a 1 for having a misleading title. The book has little to do with becoming CEO. I gave it a 4 for generally useful advice about workplace do's and don'ts. I gave it an 7 for marketing. I rounded that to a 4. Decide for yourself what rating to give this book.
I write an article for Chief Executive Magazine each year about the best practices of the most successful CEOs. As part of this work, I have met and interviewed hundreds of the most envied corporate leaders. The subject of how each became CEO and what the lessons are usually comes up. Based on their experiences, you would write a substantially different list than Mr. Fox has provided. Key elements would include learning to do important tasks that the company needs done that no one else is doing; having a great relationship with shareholders and the board of directors; having massive integrity that is frequently demonstrated to others; making and keeping your promises; and establishing an environment in which other people perform very effectively. There's a lot more. If you are interested in more, read my article in the May 1999 issue on The Helpful Habits of the CEO... -- click on the leadership file folder to find the article).
The second problem with this book is that Mr. Fox acknowledges that most CEOs in companies get their jobs by either starting or buying the company. He then goes on to provide no direct advice on how to do either one.
The third problem with the book is that it provides general advice rather than specific advice about you and your own organization.
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Format: Hardcover
Jeffrey Fox has written a book that will please some people immensely, but intensely annoy others. "How to become a CEO" is a short easy to read book. Each chapter is a two-page piece of advice, "crisp, blunt, frank, generally ... judgmental" and very, very easy to digest. I read book in less than half an hour.
Some of the seventy-five pieces of advice are cynical, "Always take the job that offers the most money", and "Make allies of your peers subordinates". Some are puritanical "Don't have a drink with the gang" and "Don't smoke". Some are eccentric "Send hand written notes", and "Go to the library one day a month". And some are good emotional intelligence "Never write a nasty memo" and "Live for today, plan for tomorrow, forget yesterday".
You probably won't agree with all of them, nor agree that all of them are profound. Yet some may strike a cord, or remind you of something you really know but no longer practice. They are written in a style which will appeal to some, but not all. What one might call a "popular magazine type style".
If this is the sort of book you like, then you will like this sort of book. Otherwise, for the sake of your blood pressure, I suggest that you read something else.
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Format: Hardcover
Ignore the "How to Become CEO" portion of the title. Focus just on the byline: "The Rules for Rising to the Top of Any Organization". That is truly what this book is about. Fox has organized this book into 75 nuggets of no-nonsense advice for living your corporate life. Each chapter is an average of 3 pages, and is devoted to backing up one nugget of advice.
I don't believe anything he says is earth shattering, nor do I believe it possible to implement all of his ideas. However, the way each idea was backed up with simple reasoning and examples made it easy to understand the motivation behind it. It also made it easy to determine whether it was applicable to my situation and in many cases, gave examples of how to handle particular situations.
I can speak from my own experience that just implementing two pieces of his advice has positively changed the way that I approach my work environment and the way coworkers and management perceive me. This was well worth the money I spent on this book. There is no doubt in my mind that anyone who is serious in advancing into the ranks of upper management will find a minimum of 3-5 nuggets that help shape their attitudes and habits to attain that goal within this book!
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Format: Hardcover
This little book presents seventy-five lessons, or rules, for career success. The vast majority of the rules consists of short musings on people skills. Like most books giving advice on business and career success, the concepts are easily understood, but as always, are difficult to implement. Nonetheless, this guide to becoming the CEO offers a few precious nuggets of wisdom that anyone could use whether or not they have designs on becoming the Big Cheese or sitting in the top spot of any organization.
Several of the rules have relevance far beyond the boardroom. For example, Lesson 27- Don't Hide an Elephant- which deals with the impulse to ignore a festering and looming problem, sounds a lot like what the United States Congress (and more than a few presidential administrations) does on a routine basis. Other rules, such as Lesson 7- Never Write a Nasty Memo- can have painful personal relevance. I have committed the sin of violating this rule, with disastrous consequences. Please, whatever you do, don't break this rule.
From a business standpoint, I believe that lessons two, three and four, which deal with customers, are the most relevant. These three rules should remind you that if you have no customers, then you have no business being in business.
From a personal career advancement standpoint, the best lessons are Rules 40, 43, and 45, which remind us to listen, do our homework well if we want to be paid well, and most important, to communicate clearly and effectively by speaking and writing in plain English.
Managers and executives of all stripes should memorize Lessons 55 and 63 by heart, and live them every day at work.
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