How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (book)

How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying (Book)

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How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (book)

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How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying: The Dastard's Guide to Fame and Fortune was a humorous 1952 book by Shepherd Mead. It inspired a successful 1961 musical of the same name, which was made into a movie in 1967.


The book is a satire of an instructional manual, very similar in form and subject matter to Stephen Potter's Gamesmanship. How to Succeed satirizes contemporary office life in the United States in the guise of a self-help book. Its subtitle is "The dastard's guide to fame and fortune."


How to Succeed was inspired by Mead's corporate experiences at the Benton & Bowles advertising agency, which he joined in 1936 as a mail-room clerk, eventually working his way up to a vice-presidency. During his journey up the corporate ladder, Mead wrote the book in his spare time — before work and on weekends. The book was a best-seller.

Musical adaptation

In 1961 the book was adapted into a musical with songs by Frank Loesser and a libretto by Abe Burrows, with minor input by others. The musical differs significantly from the book. It satirizes Mead's own career by depicting the rise of eager young J. Pierrepont Finch ... a window-washer who joins a huge corporation by starting in the mail room, and becomes chairman of the board a week later. The musical starred Robert Morse as the young striver J. Pierrepont Finch, Rudy Vallee as the company president J.B. Biggley, and Charles Nelson Reilly as Biggley's perpetually...
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