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Jacob Wackerhausen

Getting ahead in business is about more than being tethered to your mobile 24/7. In our seventh annual Executive Survival Guide, we show you how to endear yourself to everyone from the CEO to security; start your day like Warren Buffett; build your personal brand (even if you're The Boring Guy); and embrace your inner jerk. We'll also help boost your education quotient with profiles of the best EMBA and MBA schools in the land.

Don't just suck up to the boss and ignore everyone else—after all, you never know when you'll need their help. Follow these steps for knowing who to win over, and how.

The boss

Whatever your opinion of Star Trek, there's no denying the brilliance of the Scotty Principle. Named after the engineer who always managed to achieve the impossible, it involves taking the reasonable estimate for achieving a task and padding it by 25 to 50%. Then wait for the praise for getting it done early and under budget. "Beam me up to the C-suite." Actually, never say that.

Support Staff

You're looking at an unconscionably low bar here. At many companies, they're treated more like furniture than people. Win their devotion by making eye contact and learning their names. If you go for coffee, ask if you can bring them one. What you'll get in return is loyalty and help when you need to change travel plans, get invoices paid and expenses filed.


Don't vent or tell them your computer is broken. Instead, give details and show a little appreciation, says Mike Burton, CEO of Superion Inc., a Vancouver-based IT services company. "If you're friends with IT, you'll get that little nudge of a service edge." And that's vital when you're desperate to have your printer fixed or retrieve lost e-mails.


"It's all about the approach," says Sean O'Brien, president of Toronto-based Security Management Services. Say "Excuse me, can you help me?" not, "Hey, you! Why's the parking garage locked?" Security work is 95% answering questions, and if you want something other than "I don't know," then stop talking down to guards.