Eric Kraus


Book: Works Well With Others

Works Well with Others: Shaking Hands, Shutting Up, and Other Crucial Skills in Business That No One Ever Teaches You

This was another used book store find…

A quick read, packed with tidbits on work politics, getting ahead and staying out of trouble. The book wasn’t based around a single “thing” you have to do to be successful. I think this added to my interest in the book (and wore out my highlighter). Expect a collection of thought-provoking perspectives through the journey/experiences of the author’s career change. Humor, honesty and simple concepts make it a quick and easy read.

Summary: this is another “definitely” on the recommendation list.  A fun book with straight-to-the-point tips for anyone changing careers or expanding their network within the same company.

Here is some of my favorite tips/advice from the book with my own additional take-aways…


Appearing/Being Successful

If you don’t screw up when you start, you are over-qualified. If you don’t learn from those mistakes, you are under-qualified.

Be aware of the Imposter Phenomenon: you aren’t as successful as you make others think you are. Everyone is an imposter to some degree. Everyone is weird and nervous too; some are just better at hiding it.

Discretion is a major discipline in an imposter strategy. Talking more will not earn someone’s worth.

Doing work too fast is a bad idea, but doing work too slowly is a terrible idea. Find the balance between preparation/due diligence and delivering on-time. Some times you need to slow down to speed up.  Other times you need to go faster and take risks.

Never ask for credit.  If you want full credit in a business role, find a different career.



People that are more knowledgeable on subjects make more eye contact. Either learn more about the content or forcefully make more eye contact (ideally the former).

Be genuinely interested in what you are talking about… always.  You can’t fake interest or passion (see point above).

A story must always match an audience’s interest – not your own. Even if the content is yours, match the story to your audience.

Everyone in an audience starts out a presentation wanting to be inspired. They want you to succeed. Don’t take this as pressure, take it as comfort.

Nobody misses what was never there. Don’t over plan speeches, etc. Audiences don’t know your script. Know your topics, and talk naturally about them. When you try to memorize a script, you risk missing a part and throwing yourself off.

Passion is great, but too much passion is unprofessional. You sometimes benefit from undercutting (self-deprecating) your passion with reality. You don’t have to insult others or self-deprecate to build rapport – this is a sign of insecurity. Just stick with respectful reality.


Living with Time

Time itself can’t be managed. It can only be acknowledge or ignored. Time operates on it’s own. You live within it.

NEVER explain why you are late. People that make excuses do it because of habit. Don’t allow yourself to build a habit. Apologize (sincerely) and move on.

If you WANT to be on-time, you WILL be on-time. If it’s a must thing, nothing could be an excuse.  Late to your wedding?  Late to claim your lottery winnings?  An excuse acknowledges the level of importance you give…that’s why never explain why you are late.


Collaboration and Communication

A collaboration consists of two or more people better off together.

Every good collaboration starts with an admittance of strength(s) and weakness(es).

You want to work with someone smart, but not knowing the SAME things as you. You want some good tension.

Find someone not afraid to step on toes, but an excellent communicator. Communication is the key to getting to good work sooner.

Emails should be aggressive and clear. Concise without ambiguity.  Emails should not be a dumping ground for “diarrhea of the mind”.  State points and questions clearly and easy to read/understand.

Every time you write an email, think “How would Robert DeNiro write it?”

Never start a sentence with “Well…”   Never end with “thoughts”?


Politics and Conflict

If you’re struggling with a co-worker, find out, first, if they are purposefully out to get you. Maybe they don’t know? If they don’t know, be honest with simple facts on the issue.

Taking the high road is too safe, taking the low road is a sh*t show. Take the reality road: “this is how it is” road can be magical.

NEVER kill with kindness – it’s passive aggressive. Never fight. A battle can only happen when someone gets to win.  Even if you never get an answer, you will have demonstrated, “I see it” and that should earn you respect.

Always keep score in meetings.  Know who is talking, who takes notes, who interrupts, who never speaks, etc. Constantly ask yourself why for each of those roles.  Always question observations from hidden politics.


Advice for Running Meetings More Effectively

We’re all busy these days but there’s nothing worse than wasting time in a meeting. Here’s some advice for running meetings people on your team actually want to attend.

Advice for Running Meetings More Effectively


1. Types of Meetings: Choose whether the meeting is a “status” meeting or a “decision” meeting

Make sure that everyone invited is aware of the purpose of the meeting. There are basically two types of meetings: “status” meetings and “decision” meetings. A single meeting cannot be both. For both types of meetings, it is still critical to create an agenda, and it’s equally important that you stick to it.

Meeting Agenda Format

If the purpose of the meeting is to update the team on “status”, everyone (or the appropriate people) should give an update. There are several strategies for this: round-robin, etc. The meeting char/organizer’s job is to allow enough time for everyone to provide his or her status. One additional thing to be aware of is people who consistently volunteer to go first and then leave the meeting early. By not having too many “status” meetings, this should help mitigate that challenge.

“Everyone does NOT need to share an update”

If the meeting’s purpose is to make a “decision”, the focus should be on doing just that. In this meeting, everyone does NOT need a turn to share an update. Meaning, there is no need to do any type of round-robin or “turn-style” sharing. The meeting chair/organizer’s job is to keep the conversation on track and make sure the decision is made by the end of the meeting.

One more thing to consider…if your team is only having status meetings, are you moving the ball forward?

2. Do the necessary prep work

It’s not respectful or productive to schedule a meeting and not share the agenda. You’ve requested that people take time out of their day to attend, and then not give them the full context of what is going to be discussed will appear as a waste of their time. This also goes hand in hand with #1 and a clear purpose.

In most cases, an agenda or an outcome is mandatory. Also, many times meetings take longer than are actually needed. So if at all possible, send out an agenda or any prep work at least a day or two in advance. As a best practice, I always try to do this at the same time I send out the invite.

3. Start late, end early

Being late is rude. Besides that, you’re holding up the meeting from accomplishing its goal. If your team/company’s culture is notorious for being 5 minutes late, start the meeting at 10 minutes after. You’re better off starting “on-time” with everyone’s attention than working through interruptions.

“work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”

This rule also applies to the meeting’s duration. Parkinson’s law says “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion“. Meetings always seem to expand to the space they have been given. If you schedule an hour meeting, it will always seem to take that full hour. However, the same meeting, with a bit more structure and focus, could many times be accomplished in 50 minutes or even 30 minutes.

Schedule meetings with agendas that can be covered in 20-25 or 50-55 minutes. This will leave an extra 5-10 minutes before and after as a buffer. Don’t assume everyone will be on-time. Also, don’t expect others will want to stay late either. Having an adequate buffer will ensure the meeting runs smoothly and ends appropriately.

4. Stand, walk or otherwise get away from distractions

We’ve all been in conference calls/meetings where someone asks a question and, following a brief pause, we hear the response, “Umm… can you repeat the question?” This is a red flag that the people are disengaged.

It likely means one of two things:

  1. your meeting isn’t important to them (or they don’t understand why it should be)
  2. the person *thinks* they can multi-task


Related: The Worst Advice We’ve Been Given About Productivity


If at all possible, schedule meetings in-person, this will significantly reduce the amount of distractions and “multi-tasking”. If you have remote attendees, try using video or having an active “back channel” (email/IM/social) with everyone in the meeting to keep them engaged.

5. Take excellent notes, follow up with the team

It’s unlikely that everyone on the team will be invited to every meeting. Taking good notes allows others to catch up. However, more importantly, even people who DID attend, likely won’t remember everything that was discussed during the meeting.

Notes give the full team, even those that didn’t attend the meeting, a place to go back and review what was discussed. This is probably most critical for confirming follow up action items. After the meeting, send a copy of the notes out to each person invited and get buy-in that they are being ‘accepted’. Later, you’ll have a consistent process for retrieving historical notes and follow up items, validating that they have been completed.


Do you have any other tips or advice for running meetings?  Please share them below!