Excerpt from the Book
This book is for anyone who has worked for, against or with a bureaucracy.
My ascent to the top rung of the ladder of government careerists was not meteoric. It was gradual with many bumps in the road. I owe my relatively successful finish to a combination of skill, luck, timing and more than anything, bulldog perseverance. In my opinion, perseverance and a generous sense of humor are among the most important ingredients to success in any large organization.
Miraculously, I survived to retirement eligibility and beyond. During that time I encountered a lot. If I were to stretch every line of bull I heard or read end to end, it would extend from Coney Island to Pismo Beach.
This book is a compilation of events and words of wisdom accumulated over a near-four-decade career as a humble servant of the people. Some of the wisdom came from the most unexpected of sources.
The anecdotes are based on personal experience. In the interest of protecting confidential information and people’s privacy, names of the living were changed, with the exception of elected officials, federal judges, well known people and those situations in which the real name was an integral part of the story. I specifically included the real names of several high level White House appointed GSA officials who I thought made significant contributions to the organization. This group includes Terrence C. Golden, David J. Barram, Stephen A. Perry, Robert A. Peck and F. Joseph Moravec. I also mention two of my colleagues, Edward A. Feiner and Alan M. Berman. All other living GSA names are fictitious. Where I felt it necessary I changed, or interchanged, personal histories and characteristics. In addition, certain events were altered in time, place and description so as to limit any potential embarrassment to particular individuals, including myself.
Some of my “rules” are not original. I try to give credit to known sources. If I cite a “rule” as original and it has previously been published elsewhere it is purely coincidental.
This work is intended as a motivational tool to convey some of my personal business strategies and beliefs, but equally to entertain. I would like to demonstrate that the government can be friendly and that key decisions are made by real people in real life situations.
When I spoke to groups, during and after my career, to test material for the book, I explained that I had family and X-rated versions of my speech. I stated that “if I offend anyone along the way please tell your friends.” The book version is somewhere in between, because without the salty expressions a few of the anecdotes would lose their effectiveness.
This is not a “tell-all” book although I possess enough information to do so. Unfortunately, if I did that too many people would be banging at my door to get a piece of me.
I had the privilege of rubbing elbows at the highest levels of government and industry and meeting some terrific people along the way. Although I poke a bit of fun at some personalities and show just a little disdain for the agendas of certain politically motivated people of questionable intentions and qualifications, I have the utmost respect for those who choose public service as a career.
To me, humor has always been an integral part of a successful work experience and often was closer to truth than fiction. The best textbook for understanding and surviving the bureaucracy is Parkinson’s Law. The good professor, when he wrote his book in 1957, was spoofing the British system of government, but many of his theories are valid today. I cannot count the number of times I spent endless hours on utter nonsense while at the same time issues with a far greater order of magnitude were rammed through the system for the sake of political expediency.
I hope you enjoy my romp through a unique career and I hope you can take away some strategy which will help you achieve your own career objectives. Most of all I hope you will chuckle.
Table of Contents
THE BIG PICTURE
1. I Wish I Had the Kind of Job You Think I Have
2. Look Before You Light
3. Laughter on the 21st Floor
4. Rules of the Rogue
5. We’re Not Happy Until You’re Not Happy
6. My Legacy
THE FORMATIVE YEARS
7. Victoria’s Secret Agent
8. All the President’s Advance Men
9. A Man for All Reasons
10. Opinion of Counsel
11. More Rules of the Rogue
12. Don’t Kill the Golden Goose
13. Language of Government
THE MANAGEMENT YEARS
14. Nobody Calls to Tell You Everything is OK
15. From Boyz to Company Men
16. Where You Sit is Where You Stand
17. Care and Feeding of Your Boss
18. You Can’t Keep a Bad Man Down
19. The Judges
20. My Fragile Children
21. “A Man Has Got to Know His Limitations”
22. The “Judges”
23. The Sport of Negotiating
24. The Joker is Mild
25. Nothing Succeeds Like Failure
THE TWILIGHT YEARS
26. Another Round of Wisdom
27. Life at the Top
28. Beginning of the End
29. The Grand Finale