This website was conceived – as the strapline suggests – as a father’s thoughts for his children. I wanted some way of sharing thoughts and ideas with my children that didn’t involve me boring them rigid over the dinner table (not unknown). I’ve been pretty rubbish at focusing on the sorts of topics that might have been even remotely of interest to my children, or yours.

However, one of my children is about to start a new job; a new job in a big, corporate-type of environment in a big city. In terms of sharing my thoughts with her, I decided to offer her the following list of top-tips gleaned from my own 40 years in the world of work (loved almost every minute of it). You may be starting a new job yourself, or have a child, or friend, or other member of the family that’s due to start a new job, so you may wish to make use of this list yourself in some way. Or not, as the case may be. Your own thoughts and advice on this topic would be welcome. Comment below.

  • Look the part.
    • Err on the side of more smart than casual.
    • Then, check out what others in your team/department/office wear. Aim to look much the same.
  • You’ll be a bit nervous; that’s OK. Be courteous and be self-confident as much as you can, without being cocky. Get the balance right.
  • Generally, first impressions count. People make up their minds about others whom they meet within a few moments. Make a good first impression with everyone you meet at work.
  • Smile readily, but not too much (it can look scary and/or smarmy). Again, get the balance right.
  • Arrive a bit early (but not stupid-early). Don’t be the first out of the office at the end of the day.
  • Be punctual during the working day. If you don’t arrive 5 minutes before a meeting starts, you’re late. Make sure you know exactly where you’re supposed to be at any given time, and when. Do a recce if necessary.
  • Be quite clear about who is your boss. If ever in doubt, always work for your boss.
  • By all means ask for help, but be prepared to use your initiative readily. For example, if the phone rings, don’t sit there looking at it waiting for somebody else to respond. Pick it up and answer.
    • Check out the phone answering procedure. It should be something like, ‘Hello, this is Your Name, Job Title. How can I help?’
  • On the other hand, be prepared to ask questions and take advice if you’re not sure what’s going on, or what you’re supposed to be doing. Indeed, asking questions is generally a good thing in the first days/weeks.
  • Be positive. Certainly, in the first days/weeks (even months) don’t be tempted to bitch, criticise or complain. Others will. Don’t be drawn in. Keep your counsel.
  • Be enthusiastic and willing.
  • Look for a buddy. This isn’t a desperate hunt for a workmate. However, figure out if there’s a colleague whom you reckon you could fit with and trust. Take your time, but keep your radar on.
    • The friendliest, chattiest, nicest person in the office might not necessarily be the best buddy option.
  • Keep a Day Book and pen to hand. Be prepared to take notes during the day/meetings etc. Have your diary to hand too. Keep your diary up to date. Use reminders.
  • Get a feel for the culture: ‘the way we do things around here’.
    • What do your colleagues believe in and value from a work perspective? What’s important to them professionally?
    • Get a feel for how your colleagues behave at work. What is ‘acceptable’, or the ‘right’ behaviour; what is considered to be the ‘wrong’ or ‘unacceptable’ behaviour?
    • Generally, go with the flow.
  • Generally, be discreet. Don’t bad-mouth anybody including your colleagues, your previous employer, other people you know, the last restaurant you went to for dinner etc. If you can’t say something good, say nothing.
  • Similar to the advice above: beware of rumours at work. Don’t respond to rumours. Never start a rumour.
  • Don’t fire from the hip. Definitely be prepared to speak up and give your point of view, but give your comment some thought before releasing it.
  • Nothing changes until it changes. If you think changes are afoot, don’t anticipate those changes. Work on the last order/instruction given.
  • Work (indeed life itself) is all about relationships. Look to build and maintain relationships.
  • Use your instincts: avoid people whom you think are ‘bad’. I can’t say much more on this – because it’s about instinct.
  • Get stuck in: be committed, energetic and industrious. Employers love ‘workers’. It is after all a contract: you work – your employer pays you.
  • Do your homework. Take time to find about the full nature and scope of your job. Before meetings and assignments, take time to find out what’s expected of you and what you’re supposed to know about.
  • Look for and take opportunities to socialise with your colleagues out of work hours, especially if you’re invited. One hell of a lot of good work-related stuff gets done – especially in terms of relationships – in social settings.
  • Develop your capability and confidence in public speaking. Sooner or later you’re going to have to make a presentation. I can give you more advice on this separately.
  • Finally, in all and any situations: don’t panic. Aim to relax and enjoy your job.


  1. A trait I always had … tell the truth and even offer the truth for when you mess up, it is remarkable how much it is appreciated although the downside is tends to expose your failings or those not pulling their weight. You will get found out in the end so best that way.

    As for work in general Moraymint, not intending to be sarcastic, even if in a job you like you must always develop work outside of that area. Be flexible in all skills, learn and prep for the time you have no job for what you going to do because that area of no work is growing.

    Work is the precious commodity today, finding it and wages suppressed through a surplus of labor.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. moraymint · ·

      Good advice; thanks Mark …


  2. whyayeman · ·

    As one who had the good fortune to escape the corporate life well before my official retirement age (this year), I imagine that things are different now.

    I suppose that I’m from the privileged generation – a good education, secure, lifetime employment and, compound interest!

    My thoughts….

    As you’re going to spend one half of your waking life in the work environment, enjoying what you do is of paramount importance in my view.

    If you believe that something is wrong, have the courage of your convictions to say so. Mind you, in this day and age and the minefield of ‘eggshells’ one encounters, that may be difficult.

    Be true to your principles.

    Try very hard to retain your common sense, rational thought and sanity in what some of us older people see as an increasingly insane, Alice in Wonderland world mired in PC contradictions, hypocrisy and hate.

    …. and, the soundest advice of all ….. try to live life to the full and enjoy your youth.

    P.S. I used to very much enjoy reading the comments that you used to put up on The Telegraph before they were banned, Moraymint. I’m pleased to have caught up with you again … from something you recently posted on The Spectator.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. moraymint · ·

      Thanks very much whyayeman – both for your comments above (which I shall draw to the attention of my daughter) and for your postscript; good to be in touch again!


  3. akrasia · ·

    Many thanks for all your thoughts and insights over the years MM.
    As for your offspring – Best of British.

    I am one of life’s outsiders – have always been self employed or had small businesses (almost 40 years to date) – and I have run a couple of those small enterprises inside large corporations as onsite contractors.
    Key observations from this perspective are :-

    – Make a point of remembering individual names and at least one salient piece of information about them. They will remember you in return.
    – Always be friendly and helpful with the secretary’s and management ‘underlings’ (the infrastructure) – best source for the latest inside information on the company and its people.
    – It may sound cheesy, but you’d be surprised how much information employees/managers will offload/confide if you ask them for advice – they’re rarely asked and so love to impart their expertise.
    – All the above apply to the company clients btw.
    – Trust your instincts.

    …and finally, to shamelessly borrow from the wonderful Norman Stanley Fletcher in Porridge…
    “Don’t let the bastards grind you down”.

    pip pip

    Liked by 1 person

    1. moraymint · ·

      Thanks akrasia – I’ll draw my daughter’s attention to your comments.


  4. Having spent 40+ years in work – mostly in a large corporate environment, I completely agree with all the points

    I would emphasise a few –

    Culture – what is it here? What do we have value for, and what don’t we value?

    Answer this early and you might decide “this is a great place to work” or

    “I need to get out of here ASAP”!!

    Another point – who makes the decisions around here?

    Support your boss in a corporate environment is key. Don’t get into turf battles.

    Be true to yourself and your beliefs.

    And yes – enjoy. Every day, learn something.!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. moraymint · ·

      Thanks mark – daughter will be notified!


  5. Old Goat · ·

    Agree with ALL your points, however, not only has the standard of interviewee plummeted over the years, so has that of the interviewer, particularly in terms of written and of spoken English.

    Liked by 1 person


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