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Shortcuts to Success

By Oscar Milde in Culture
Thu Jun 12, 2003 at 11:42:33 AM EST
Tags: Focus On... (all tags)
Focus On...

In this monograph, I endeavor to lay out a few tips by which the young gentleman may become successful in business. Faithful application of these principles may well make you the next Bill Gates or Warren Buffett.

Sponsor: rusty
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...because it's waiting for your ad. So why are you still reading this? Come on, get going. Read the story, and then get an ad. Alright stop it. I'm not going to say anything else. Now you're just being silly. STOP LOOKING AT ME! I'm done!
comments (24)
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Rules concerning the proper care and feeding of customers

There are four main ones, as follows:

  • Always greet your customer with a smile
  • Never turn your back on a customer
  • The customer is always right
  • God bless the customer

and thousands of minor rules telling when to wean them off of the bottle, how to rub them with banana oil when chafed, feed them applesauce when peevish, when bologna may be given without causing indigestion, and so forth.

Many young men struggling up the ladder to success in the mail-order or online sales businesses have found it difficult to greet their customers with a smile. In mail-order, the closest substitute has been found to be using open-face envelopes, though there is a risk of their contents spilling out. Online, textual and graphical systems have been devised for sending virtual smiles to one's customers. In any case, these are not as effective as a physical smile, and perhaps this explains why online and mail-order businesses, in general, do not do well.

Do not under any circumstance permit your smile to become fixed. "A fixed smile means a lost sale," writes Ezra Keyhole in a recent article in the Single Sock Standard, the bible of the one-legged sock industry. Thus, let your smile wander; just off the right ear one day, between the Adam's apple and the lower lip the next, under the left temple the third, and so forth. Regardless, make sure that your customer can see the smile, unless you have turned your back, in which case, you have violated the second major rule, and are probably better off spending the remainder of the day getting royally shitfaced, or hitting on various secretaries.

Naturally, no matter how successful your customer-greeting smile is, there will come a time when you are the customer. Naturally, smile-resistance techniques need to be cultivated, as "the successful customer returns goods not smiles," says Petroleum Z. Gassaway, Cotton Goods Prints Prince, President of the American Concrete Soap Corporation, and largest shareholder of the Gassaway Suspender, Sewer Pipe, and Perfume Company. At first, you may have difficulty when it comes to smile resistance, but after you learn that goods are never up to sample, shipments are always delayed "due to causes beyond our control," and that "your complaints regarding shortages have been referred to the proper department," your smile resistance will gradually improve, until all the salesmen working your territory refer to you as "the horse-faced old something or other that sounds like ditch, hitch, niche, pitch, rich, stitch, or witch1. When that time arrives, you are surely well on the way to Success. "I would rather be a horse-faced old something or other that sounds like ditch, hitch, niche, pitch, rich, stitch, or witch than President of the United States," says Querulous Q. Quackenbush, a millionaire bridge merchant who peddled bridges from door to door for years until he saved up the money to buy an harmonica factory and go into business for himself.

An illustration of the use of this rule as the foundation for Success comes to us courtesy of William Wiggins, the Shoe King, affectionately known to the trade as Wigglejaw Wiggins:

All my success I owe to my smile. I began life as a clerk in a shoe store. One day a heavyset man came into the store, and I accidentally hit him in the shin with a stool. I could see he was a customer, so I greeted him with a smile, whereupon he snarled, "What're you grinning at, you damned jackass?" as he gave me a vicious blow which broke my jaw.

It turned out that he was very wealthy. He paid my doctor's bill and gave me $500,000 for agreeing not to sue him. I used the money to buy my own shoe store and built into a chain of over 200. So I say again: always greet your customers with a smile

1: Also itch, flitch, and switch.

Always do more than is expected of you

If you are a salesman or bookkeeper you should wash the windows or relieve the truck-driver for lunch or shovel coal in the boiler room. Of course, if you follow Rules 1 and 2 simultaneously, thus greeting your customers with a smile while shoveling coal, you will be more efficiently multitasking. This can be accomplished by either meeting with the customer in the boiler room or by arranging to have the boiler brought up into the office. You should be careful, however, not to turn your back on the customer. By facing the customer and shoveling coal over your shoulder, you can observe all rules at the same time and your progress on the road to Success will be correspondingly greater.

P.G. Esterhazy, known as "Pig" to his close confidants:

Had it not been for the fact that I was always doing more than expected of me, then I would still be a messenger boy instead of a partner in one of the largest New York stock brokerages.

One of my duties was to carry orders from one of our most successful clients to other brokerages in order to be quietly executed, thus preventing the market from getting unduly excited. I invariably made it a point to stop in for a chat with another broker on the way, in his office, so that we could steam open the envelopes and, get the information they contained, and act ahead of the market. My commission for this service in the first year amounted to $500,000. In five years, I had saved enough to buy myself an interest in another brokerage house.

As a word of advice to all young men seeking to climb the ladder to Success, I urge you to remember: Always roll a small pencil under the flap instead of steaming your employer's letters open, as I did. I have since found that rolling is just as effective and more difficult to detect.

Never watch the clock

Many ambitious men have worked for years under the impression that they were not clock-watchers, wondering why they still remained failures, only to find that their offices lacked clocks. In order not to be a clock-watcher, there must be a clock to watch. Indeed, if your workplace has multiple clocks, not only are you able to not watch one clock, you can double the effect by not watching two clocks.

Ignoring a clock is sufficient. It is not necessary to be boorish to it, or insult it. You will find that acting like a gentleman in the office works better in the long run, so the best method is to treat the clock as you would a middle manager: pretend it doesn't exist.

Quite naturally, you will ask: How am I to avoid the danger of working overtime if I do not watch the clock? If you are properly trained, you will recognize that quitting time is approaching. Carefully observe the secretaries around you. By a curious instinct which baffles naturalists, these pretty creatures will, at the same instant, cease the constant pecking by which they live. At this point, it is approximately twenty-five minutes before quitting time. They use this interval for preening their feathers, arching their necks, and generally making themselves pretty for their mates. Then, suddenly, with nothing but some collective instinct to guide them, they will begin to hop rapidly away. This should be your warning. Run to the nearest exit and you will be out of the office on the very dot of quitting time.

Paprika Kikapanopoulos, the Yankee Discount Shoe-Lace King:

All my Success I owe to the fact that I never watched the clock. I always watched a pretty little secretary in the office. When she began to put the carbon paper back in the supply closet, I knew it was near quitting time, so I would prepare to leave. One day she observed me watching her and smiled. I smiled back, and we went to the same bar after work.

She told me she was the daughter of a very wealthy businessman, but had a quarrel with him and wanted to show him she was capable of making her own decisions and living on her own. I thereupon successfully endeavored to marry her, after which I effected a reconciliation with her father, and am now the heir apparent at his company, with a salary of $1,500,000 a year.

Always pick your employer

Great success is invariably achieved by those who follow this rule. The story of Maidis Marco, the great chemist who made his fortune analyzing bootleg chop suey for timid eaters, and who is known as the Duke of Mixture wherever chop suey is fabricated, is typical.

To achieve Success, it is essential to pick one's employer. The first job a young man obtains very often shapes his entire career, and he cannot be too careful in seeing that he is properly placed.
Although I have been working only forty years, I have only had one employer. I have received many offers of more money from competitors, but a careful investigation always convinced me that they were not the right kind of bosses for my temperament. And I have never had occasion to regret these decisions, as I accumulated enough to start my own business for myself after I had remained in that position for ten years.

So I say again: Always pick your employer. All my Success is due to the fact that I picked mine, picked him clean, and refused offers from others whom I knew I couldn't pick.


Voxel dot net
o Managed Hosting
o VoxCAST Content Delivery
o Raw Infrastructure


Have you attained success?
o Yes 46%
o No 53%

Votes: 115
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Also by Oscar Milde

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Shortcuts to Success | 43 comments (24 topical, 19 editorial, 0 hidden)
Not my kind of humor, but +1 (4.60 / 5) (#1)
by A Proud American on Tue Jun 10, 2003 at 11:38:40 PM EST

But I laughed because I can only imagine what thoughts are running through the author's head right now.


The weak are killed and eaten...

Mail room employees steaming open envelopes (4.16 / 6) (#8)
by pyramid termite on Wed Jun 11, 2003 at 08:02:40 AM EST

Back when David Geffen was a mail room clerk at a music company, that's exactly what he did - the result was that he got enough inside information on the business and hot acts to jumpstart his own career.

On the Internet, anyone can accuse you of being a dog.
Please elaborate "steaming" (5.00 / 1) (#40)
by shaunak on Fri Jun 13, 2003 at 10:40:31 AM EST

I don't know what it is.


[ Parent ]

steaming (5.00 / 1) (#41)
by cbraga on Fri Jun 13, 2003 at 11:03:41 AM EST

using hot steam to unglue an envelope and open it without leaving marks

ESC[78;89;13p ESC[110;121;13p
[ Parent ]
Thanks <nt> (5.00 / 1) (#43)
by shaunak on Tue Jun 17, 2003 at 10:10:24 AM EST

[ Parent ]
Dear Oscar, (4.66 / 3) (#11)
by Control Group on Wed Jun 11, 2003 at 10:22:00 AM EST

It is my great Misfortune that the current arrangement of Walls and Furniture in my Place of Business prevents me from seeing the Secretaries! Though I am surrounded by Timepieces, I fear to look at them and run the risk of endangering my Chances for Success. But in Times Past, when I have finally broken down and glimpsed the o'clock, I discover I have spent extra Time in the Office—sometimes as much as five or ten Minutes!

I am at my Wits' End, as I can see no way to free myself from this Conundrum. Please help—how may I successfully avoid Clock Watching when I ca'n't see the Secretaries?

Yours in Hope,

"Oh, nothing. It just looks like a simple Kung-Fu Swedish Rastafarian Helldemon."

Answer (5.00 / 2) (#35)
by ZorbaTHut on Thu Jun 12, 2003 at 09:26:55 PM EST

Set up an elaborate series of mirrors, so that you can see the secretaries from wherever you happen to be.

Alternatively, I have recently discovered a fantastic product that may very well be the answer to all your problems.

[ Parent ]

Cripes, I'm stupid (4.66 / 3) (#36)
by Control Group on Thu Jun 12, 2003 at 11:20:22 PM EST

Over all the times that bloody ad has inserted itself behind, in front of, over, between, against, or [insert preposition here] my browser window(s), I have never been to their thrice-damned web site.

See it in a post on k5, though, and I blindly click the link.

I feel so dirty.

(btw, mad phat props to you; ya got me)

"Oh, nothing. It just looks like a simple Kung-Fu Swedish Rastafarian Helldemon."
[ Parent ]

Disclaimer: this may be a troll. (4.44 / 29) (#19)
by yammering communist on Wed Jun 11, 2003 at 04:31:52 PM EST

Having just read a few chapters of Dale Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence People, this is entirely too funny. Although if I wasn't currently seeing the world through the eyes of a 1950's corporate climber, I'm not sure how much I'd get out of this. It's still well-written, so it gets a +1 to section from me.

Anyway. You pathetic hair-spitting nerds should seriously stop voting articles down because you think they're in the wrong category. I've said it before and I'll say it again: quibbling about sections makes you a fuckhead. I envision you saying "-1, wrong section!" in the same tone of voice used to explain to your witless and horribly unattractive friends that Wolverine would obviously win in a fight against Batman. It's got that certain unmistakeable "egotistical blowhard who jerks off to his posters of Seven of Nine" aesthetic that results, all too often, in broken noses and jaws amongst those who practice it in public.

Sadly, it seems that this vital rule has fallen by the wayside amidst the powerful influx of fuckheadery which has now taken ahold of k5. I mean, is reading an article really that awful if you think it's been mis-sectioned? Is an otherwise pleasant read transmogrified into an experience comparable to orally servicing a walrus? From your perspective it seems like the sectioning of this article in Culture instead of Humor is indubitably a vast atrocity against God and Man, a fearful seething obscenity, like nuclear proliferation, like a bestiality porn collection, like the Armenian genocide, and it is your holy duty to correct it immediately, lest this poorly sectioned article and its comrades-in-arms rise up in violent revolt and put your children to the sword, raze your house, and sow the earth with salt, leaving you crucified upside-down on a telephone pole with your testicles stapled to your chin like a malformed rooster as a bitter reminder to the other kurobots: wrongly sectioned articles will kill you!, so take no chances.

Well, good news. This won't happen. So cheer up! Give an article +1 every once in a while! It'll do us all good, I promise.



I fear nothing. I believe nothing. I am free.

--Nikos Kazantzakis, epitaph.

Depends (4.60 / 5) (#21)
by godix on Wed Jun 11, 2003 at 06:06:26 PM EST

Wolverine would obviously win in a fight against Batman.

It all depends, does Batman know there is a fight coming? If so, he'd win hands down. Batman beat the shit out of Superman with advanced preparation, Wolvie would be no problem. If Wolvie jumped Bats unexpectedly then the results would be Wayne shishkabob.

Note: If wouldn't matter if Robin was there or not. He's a pussy in bright colored tights, WTF would he be able to do?

"A disobedient dog is almost as bad as a disobedient girlfriend or wife."
- A Proud American
[ Parent ]

I disagree (5.00 / 4) (#23)
by Emissary on Wed Jun 11, 2003 at 09:08:52 PM EST

Yes, if Wolverine surprised Batman he would kick his ass, and yes, if Batman surprised Wolverine he would kick his ass. But what about a fair fight? I think that, if Batman kept his distance, he could fight Wolverine to a standstill. He may not be able to defeat him, because his only real method is to beat you up, but Batman's natural reflexes could keep him out of the way of the claws, and despite his mutant healing factor, Wolverine can't take nearly as much punishment as Batman can.

This is obvious from a careful reading of Marvel Comics Presents #85-92, in which he consistently gets his ass kicked by a beefy trucker wearing adamantium armor, and only wins because he is helped by Tyger Tyger, the girl who told the trucker to kick his ass in the first place.

"Be instead like Gamera -- mighty, a friend to children, and always, always screaming." - eSolutions
[ Parent ]
Robin would make a difference (5.00 / 1) (#28)
by Cro Magnon on Thu Jun 12, 2003 at 12:34:10 PM EST

Wolvie would take one look at him and double over laughing, and Batman would take him.
Information wants to be beer.
[ Parent ]
who was... (5.00 / 1) (#37)
by werner on Fri Jun 13, 2003 at 06:18:11 AM EST

oliver? the chap with one arm and a bow.

[ Parent ]
Green Arrow, I believe (N/T) (5.00 / 2) (#38)
by PorcoRosso on Fri Jun 13, 2003 at 07:09:27 AM EST

Buy scented bookmarks from my wife's store.
Perhaps you could use a freelance LAMP programmer?

[ Parent ]
But, but.... (3.00 / 2) (#22)
by reklaw on Wed Jun 11, 2003 at 07:27:27 PM EST

... it's in the wrong section! Oh, uh, wait a second -- there isn't a humor section (or a humour one either, come to that). Just a humor topic. So all this quibbling is about which icon appears in the top right of the article.

I've never understood why some people are so obsessed with making sure everything is in the right category. People who voted '-1 resection' on this are obviously the types who put colour-coded subdividers in their work folders.
[ Parent ]

But it's in the *wrong* section! (5.00 / 2) (#24)
by Temet Nosce on Thu Jun 12, 2003 at 01:11:04 AM EST

Won't somebody PLEASE think of the Children?!


[ Parent ]

New word for the day (5.00 / 1) (#32)
by p3d0 on Thu Jun 12, 2003 at 05:31:08 PM EST

Patrick Doyle
My comments do not reflect the opinions of my employer.
[ Parent ]
Yeah, only thing is (5.00 / 1) (#33)
by Kax on Thu Jun 12, 2003 at 07:38:59 PM EST

you're the same as the people you're bitching about.

[ Parent ]
Re: Disclaimer (5.00 / 1) (#34)
by yammering communist on Thu Jun 12, 2003 at 08:41:55 PM EST

"This may be a troll."

Guilty as charged, but that doesn't change the fact that it's annoying whenever I see an otherwise perfectly good article voted down for such a stupid reason. I admit I didn't have to be so ascerbic in my condemnation... then again, it was pretty fun to write.

I didn't mean to say that people who -1 articles for this reason are worthless human beings, I'm just calling attention to something by which I am bothered in the most effective manner. Apparently, it worked. :-D


I fear nothing. I believe nothing. I am free.

--Nikos Kazantzakis, epitaph.

[ Parent ]
I was (5.00 / 2) (#39)
by Kax on Fri Jun 13, 2003 at 09:24:59 AM EST

talking more about your making fun of know-it-all dorks.

[ Parent ]
Only a fool (5.00 / 3) (#26)
by Hellraisr on Thu Jun 12, 2003 at 09:37:52 AM EST

Only a fool believes the customer is always right. You have to make the customer believe you think they are always right. Also, you will never get rich by working for someone else, although there are exceptions to the rule. But you will damned sure never be as rich as Bill Gates by working for an employer

Good analysis (5.00 / 2) (#31)
by p3d0 on Thu Jun 12, 2003 at 05:29:35 PM EST

Now what do you think about that whole section that comes after the second paragraph?
Patrick Doyle
My comments do not reflect the opinions of my employer.
[ Parent ]
Oh wow. (3.00 / 2) (#42)
by opendna on Fri Jun 13, 2003 at 08:32:50 PM EST

I know when I'm crucified upside-down on a telephone pole with my testicles stapled to my chin like a malformed rooster I think of orally servicing a walrus and weigh it against other obscenities like nuclear proliferation, a bestiality porn collection, the Armenian genocide and mis-sectioned Kur5hin articles.

I usually prefer the porn collection.

So... uh... when's your Op-Ed going to Edit?

Shortcuts to Success | 43 comments (24 topical, 19 editorial, 0 hidden)
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