I picked up Megan Hustad’s How to Be Useful: a beginner’s guide to not hating work at East Library (my new home library in East Dayton) because they have a lovely business section that actually appeals to someone my age – go figure.  Hustad has taken on a mammoth task by condensing 200 or so years of success literature (meaning books and pamphlets written about how to succeed at work, business, interviews, etc.) into roughly 200 pages.  It’s pretty interesting to hear what advice was available for someone starting his career in 1850, only to end up comparing that to several of Donald Trump’s publications.  I could seriously not put this book down.

The introduction covers the fact that most people in my generation (i.e. 20s and early 30s) do not read success literature because we have a very idealistic view of work – basically all one has to do to succeed is to work very hard.  During the course of her research she found that my generation is more idealistic (and incidentally wrong) about hard work than many previous generations.  I’ll have to try to stop being so idealistic because honestly she has a point.  The people who tend to work the hardest often earn the lowest pay while the people working the least make much more.  I applied this to my workplace and it’s almost always true, unfortunately.

One of my favorite of the million excellent quotes in How to Be Useful is this:

“Behave politely.  Speak distinctly.  Hear discreetly.  Dress demurely.  Be indispensable, and see some fun in work.”

– 1929 Vogue’s Book of Etiquette in How to Be Useful: a beginner’s guide to not hating work by Megan Hustad

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