“As an employee, there’s really only one way to get rich…”

“… You must first make your boss richer.” That’s a classic Mark Ford quotation. He learned this from direct experience. You get rich as an employee by completing a three-step journey: from ordinary employee, to extraordinary employee, to invaluable employee. Mark provides the steps it takes to go from ordinary to extraordinary in the excerpt below:


There are four ways to distinguish yourself as an employee and see your compensation accelerate at a faster pace:

1. Work longer hours.

Don’t fall for that goofy idea that “good employees get their work done between nine and five.” If you want your bosses to notice you as someone who is willing to do more, begin by working longer hours.

How many extra hours?

An hour per day is good. Two hours is better. If you can do a little work at home on weekends, that’s not bad either.

If at all possible, put in your extra hours at the beginning of the day. Getting to work early is a common virtue of almost all successful people. There is something about getting in earlier than everyone else that seems nobler, smarter, or just plain more industrious than working late.

In How to Become CEO: The Rules for Rising to the Top of Any Organization, Jeffrey J. Fox puts it this way: “Arriving to work late signals you don’t like your job very much. Even if you prefer to come in late and stay late, staying late sends the signal that you can’t keep up or your personal life is poor.”

You are working more hours for three reasons: You want to do more than your peers. You want to learn more than your peers. And you want to be sure that your bosses—the people who will eventually promote you—know how extraordinary you are.

2. Develop a distinctly positive and infectiously enthusiastic attitude.

Nobody likes a sourpuss—even if the sourpuss is a genius. Become the person who arrives at work with energy, greets his coworkers warmly, volunteers for assignments enthusiastically, and seems very happy with his career.

3. Say “Yes!”

Much has been written about the virtues of saying no. But if you want your boss to support your efforts to move up in the company, you have to support him by making his job easier. You do this by saying yes. By saying yes if he asks you for a favor… by saying yes to taking on that extra job… and even by saying yes when you mean no. (There is a certain skill in saying yes when you mean no, but that’s a topic for another essay.)

4. Advertise your accomplishments.

It’s not enough to be positive, to say yes, and to work more hours. In order to make sure the extra efforts you’re making are noticed, you have to advertise them. Doing a good job of self-promotion (without coming off as a braggart) means that you always give others some of the credit for your accomplishments.