STRAIGHT TO THE TOP: Beyond Loyalty, Gamesmanship, Mentors, and Other Corporate Myths by Paul G. & Tom Shachtman Stern

STRAIGHT TO THE TOP: Beyond Loyalty, Gamesmanship, Mentors, and Other Corporate Myths

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An irritatingly smug and somewhat cynical guide to business success, partially redeemed by the glimpses, if not insights, it affords into the realities of life at the top. Obviously convinced that his own experiences make him a role model, Stern (here writing with the author of Edith and Woodrow, 1981, etc.) offers the moral equivalent of an annotated rÉsumÉ. The speed with which he climbed the corporate ladder, parlaying a cosmopolitan background, a Ph.D. in solid-state physics, and ambition (plus opportunism) into the presidency of Unisys before he turned 50, is most impressive. Unfortunately, his expedient, on-the-make counsel (which might bring an occasional blush to the cheeks of Robert Ringer) breaks precious little new ground. His awesome assurance notwithstanding, it will scarcely come as news to go-getters that they should have a plan, set demanding goals, do more than expected of them, make the most of their chances, and otherwise outclass in-house rivals. Nor are the enterprising likely to shrink from making themselves as visible as possible to superiors. While Stern pays lip service to the notion that there's no substitute for hard, productive work, the clear implication of his tricks-of-the-trade counsel is that inside tracks are taster. On the plus side, Stern provides often intriguing perspectives on his days with DuPont, IBM, Braun (a West German subsidiary of Gillette), and Burroughs (the computer maker that become Unisys after absorbing Sperry). He delivers, for instance, a wealth of pragmatic advisories on coping with organizational bureaucracies and politics. He does not dwell, however, on what might have proved the most revelatory way station on his ascent, a wrong turn into a high-level, albeit frustrating, post at Rockwell International. Just how did an industrial/commercial Wunderkind nearly come to grief, readers may wonder, and what, if any, are the lessons to be learned? For all its marginal interest as a source of executive-suite perceptions, then, a text that's essentially an upbeat manual for yuppie careerists.

Pub Date: April 30th, 1990
Publisher: Warner