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Avoiding Workplace BS

By Jennifer Rock and Michael VossJennifer Rock and Michael Voss are the owners of the communications agency ROCKdotVOSS and co-authors of the funny-but-true workplace novel “B.S., Incorporated.”

Throughout our careers — a combined 40+ years of experience — we have learned the science of spotting B.S. in the workplace, and the art of dealing with it.

And the truth is, no matter what your job is, you have to deal with some amount of B.S. It can come in many forms: office politics, bad management, forced socialization, turf wars between teams. In our book B.S., Incorporated, we highlight some of the common types of workplace B.S. It’s important to learn how to spot the B.S. in your workplace and how to handle it, so you can be truly happier in your job every day. Avoiding workplace BS is one of the most universal skills we have developed (along with a sense of humor!).

B.S., Incorporated may be a fictional tale, but it’s influenced heavily by our personal experiences and lessons we learned in our communications careers, especially working with and advising the CEO and executive leadership team of Best Buy.

How did you decide to write a novel about workplace BS?

We spent a dozen years working together in a big, crazy, global corporation. One Tuesday, after spending more than four hours in the most unproductive, soul-crushing project meeting you can imagine, we escaped to a bar patio and swapped stories about all the insane things we’d seen and the characters we’d met throughout our careers. It turns out, we’d both kept copious notes – enough material for two or three novels. So we pinky-swore that after we sobered up, we’d write a novel about it.

We wanted to tell a story readers could relate to – whether they currently hold a corporate job, survived one or avoided the absurdity altogether. And there are so many universal experiences in the workplace! The dreaded first day on the job. The power-hungry boss. The absolute thrill of finding free food in the breakroom. No matter where you work, or what you do, every job comes with a certain amount of B.S.

How much of this story is true?

More than you might think – but less than you’d hope.

What do you hope readers will learn from B.S., Incorporated?
For anyone who is slogging through some part of a corporate job, I hope he or she reads the book, laughs out loud, and feels less alone. I also hope readers remember how important it is to find your “crew” – your workplace family who will have your back, no matter what happens. Those friendships help you survive whatever B.S. comes your way.

Your book has been called “surprisingly heartfelt.” Was it important to tell that side of the story?

Yes, we decided early on to balance the humor with heart, because there are many elements of the corporate experience that are all too real and painful: getting swept out the door in a mass layoff, or caught up in office politics or just being overworked and overwhelmed. Those true-to-life examples have struck a chord with our readers, too.

What are one or two of your greatest skill sets that have helped you succeed in owning your own business?

First, we both have an innate willingness to learn. Second, we know our limits and are happy to surround ourselves with smart people who know more than we do about certain aspects of the business

What advice would you give to others who want to be entrepreneurs?

Join a group or network with other entrepreneurs. We’ve found the most supportive, generous people who offer wonderful advice!

What are you working on now?

We’re writing the sequel to B.S., Incorporated. So many people shared their crazy workplace stories after reading the first book, we have no shortage of new material! We’re happy the book resonated with readers.

We are always eager to hear from our readers. Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions or suggestions regarding CareerAlley content.

Good luck in your search,
Joey


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