Advice From an Insider: How to Move Up the Corporate Ladder

Colleen Oakley

career mistakesWhen Tony Wong’s daughter graduated from college, he did what any good father would—he gave her advice about job hunting.

Then his nephew and niece graduated, and he gave them the same advice. “I noticed that I kept repeating myself over the course of the summer,” he says.

So he started writing his little nuggets of wisdom down, and before he knew it, the former director of such Fortune 150 companies as Black & Decker and 3M had an outline for a book—one that he thought other people would also find useful.

“It became apparent to me that most young people are unprepared for the real world,” he says. “And I didn’t find anything else out there that provided real advice from successful CEOs on how to move up the corporate ladder.”

Wong’s book, Mooove Ahead! of the Corporate Herd, does just that—and it provides sage advice for people who are at various points in their careers.

Mooove AheadLearnVest: OK, first things first—why the cow metaphor?

Tony Wong: All great marketers need a catch, right? But, seriously, when I thought of the corporate world, I kept seeing this herd of people: They look the same and wear the same clothes. So why is it that one person becomes a leader? What makes them different? What gives them an edge? Certainly there are people who are born leaders—they just have that spark. But then there are also people with loads of potential who’ve never been given the right tools or guidance to help them get where they need to go.

You talk a lot about confidence in the book, but there’s a fine line between that and arrogance. How do you avoid crossing it?

You can’t … unfortunately, you’re going to cross that line once in a while. The reality is that confident people take stands on positions, they take risks, they put themselves out there—and sometimes that can rub people the wrong way. The idea is to minimize the damage. You can be confident but still respectful of others by listening, taking notes and acknowledging other people’s perspectives.

Let’s talk about social networking. How can people use it to their advantage?

This is a great question. Everyone is on some kind of social network, right? But not everyone really understands how to make it work for them. The biggest mistake that I see is people having 500 Facebook friends or 1,000 connections on LinkedIn—and they think that they’re great at networking. But how many of those people are you actually in touch with?

  • evr

    Maybe the mistake is not the woman’s fault. Maybe the woman has tried to get these “white guys” to be a mentor but they are stuck in sexist boys club mentality. Maybe more men need to be trained on how and why they need to stop only socializing or mentoring other men, or other white men specifically, and need to encourage all type of people to be part of the pack. A lot of these “white men” in corporate America are extremely rude and dismissive to women. I’m sick of these authors and other people who have no idea what it really means to be a woman in corporate America. The men out there who do really treat women equally at these companies are not a majority! DUH! I’m sick of people putting all the responsibility on individual women to go up against what a lifetime of culture and media has instilled in these men at these companies. We need MEN to be a part of a systematic change too! UGH. So sick of it! Ready to see an “expert” say something new. Maybe I’ll just have to write that book myself.

  • A.S.A.

    I would’ve like to hear more about the types of advice he offers in the book. This wasn’t even informative enough to pique my interest.

    • Ann Kennedy Thomas

      I agree. Just a way to plug a booK?