Seven Career Lessons Learned from Rob Ford

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Embattled Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s foibles and missteps couldn’t have been written by a Hollywood scribe. Frankly, they’re just too unbelievable. But say what you want about Ford – the man provides a clear roadmap to career success. Don't do what he does and you’re likely to make a great impression at work. Here are seven career lessons Ford has (mistakenly) taught us over the years.

1. Dress for success

If Ford has a calling card, it’s his unique sense of style – or lack thereof. Custom football jerseys, kitschy ties and ill-fitted suits make the Chris Farley comparison all-too-easy to see. While he provides a sense of comic relief from a voyeur’s perspective, do you want this running your company?

Rob Ford

The old axiom rings true: dress for the job you want, not the one you have. Ford, it seems, is dressing as a former mayor/pro wrestler.

2. Don’t make lame excuses

On Wall Street in particular, managers don’t want to hear lame personal excuses. Just own it and move on. Early this month, Ford finally admitted to smoking crack cocaine. He had an excuse though: he was drunk.

3. Keep your guard up around co-workers

When you are off the clock, you’re better off keeping things appropriate with co-workers, even if you are friendly with them. You’ll be surprised how often dirt gets back to management. Ford felt comfortable enough with people in his inner circle to go off on a drunken rant in a hotel room that was captured on a cell phone. Don’t over-trust – and don’t be that guy who gets too drunk at the office party.

4. Don’t make promises you can’t keep

Over-selling and under-delivering is an easy way to leave yourself vulnerable at work. Ford’s most glaring example may have come last year when he made a public pledge to slim down. No more did two months go by before Ford was videotaped loading up at Kentucky Fried Chicken. He gained weight during the month of March after beginning the campaign in January.

5. Confess to errors early

Ford waited a full year to admit to smoking crack, a move that eventually painted him as both a liar and a drug user. Wall Streeters often make the same mistake, although not of the same variety. Look at the London Whale. Traders knew they were in too deep but tried to dig their way out of it by massaging the books. It ended as a $6.2 billion nightmare.

6. You want co-workers laughing with you, not at you

Whatever this is – don’t do it.

7. Don’t smoke crack

This one is pretty self-explanatory. Or, for that matter, take ketamine.