• Michael T. Christensen

The ICM Memo About How to Behave at Work

For reasons that are only relevant to myself and my closest loved ones, I've been going through some weirdness at my regular job. The nature of what I do isn't important (I make it a rule not to discuss my real day jobs until I've left them behind, and even then there are usually NDAs that limit what I can say), but at the beginning of this year I wasn't in an awesome place emotionally.

However, I've been taking steps to improve the situation, and they really seem to be paying off.

On a related note, I recently went through some old papers from previous jobs, and I found a memo from ICM that resonated with me. Now, I didn't ever work for ICM, but one of my former bosses did, and this memo meant a lot to him.

So I wanted to share this memo here, because I've always been fond of it, and because it's given me some guidance lately:

From: Marvin Josephson


Date: March 3, 1976


I was asked to set down some thoughts to be included in a brochure being prepared for you new ICM employees. I hope they are of interest to you. If anyone has any comments that might improve or supplement what follows, please send them on to me.

  1. Above all else, be honest.

  2. Communicate. Our clients need to know what you are doing for them.

  3. Be courteous. Every telephone call, telegram or letter should be answered by you or someone in the agency -- sooner rather than later.

  4. Keep your commitments.

  5. Respect confidences.

  6. Praise your colleagues -- not yourself.

  7. Ask if you don't know or if you need help.

  8. Be proud of your Company.

  9. Be smart.

  10. Have some fun.

There's some irony here in how I received the memo - the boss who gave it to us, who had once worked at ICM, was very bad at following all of these principles. He was not a good boss, and he was kind of a jerk. But when he left our company - and the industry overall - he seemed much happier, so I hope he someday found the peace he needed.

As hokey as it may sound, I believe in the things on this list. I haven't always practiced them (there are certainly a few of these I've been guilty of missing the mark on, and some of those are full-on recurring character flaws I've grappled with for years), but generally speaking, I believe this list does reflect good values for doing business.

These are the principles I keep in my heart as I connect with you. As I make videos, share blogs, and write novels, these practices will - hopefully - continue to guide me.

I will certainly make mistakes in the future (I've made far too many in my past to assume I won't make any again), but when I stray from the creator, the writer, the businessman, and the man that I want to be... I hope this list will help bring some sense back to me.

Okay, I'll make one confession... I probably won't answer your telegrams in a timely fashion. Cut me some slack, I'm only human.

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