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The Ape in the Corner Office

Understanding the Office Beast in All of Us

By , (Narrator)

Audio Download published by Random House Digital (Random House Digital)

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About This Book
Tired of swimming with the sharks? Fed up with that big ape down the hall? Real animals can teach us better ways to thrive in the workplace jungle.

You’re ambitious and want to get ahead, but what’s the best way to do it? Become the biggest, baddest predator? The proverbial 800-pound gorilla? Or does nature teach you to be more subtle and sophisticated?

Richard Conniff, the acclaimed author of The Natural History of the Rich, has survived savage beasts in the workplace jungle, where he hooted and preened in the corner office as a publishing executive. He’s also spent time studying how animals operate in the real jungles of the Amazon and the African bush.

What he shows in The Ape in the Corner Office is that nature built you to be nice. Doing favors, grooming coworkers with kind words, building coalitions—these tools for getting ahead come straight from the jungle. The stereotypical Darwinian hard-charger supposedly thinks only about accumulating resources. But highly effective apes know it’s often smarter to give them away. That doesn’t mean it’s a peaceable kingdom out there, however. Conniff shows that you can become more effective by understanding how other species negotiate the tricky balance between conflict and cooperation.

Conniff quotes one biologist on a chimpanzee’s obsession with rank: “His attempts to maintain and achieve alpha status are cunning, persistent, energetic, and time-consuming. They affect whom he travels with, whom he grooms, where he glances, how often he scratches, where he goes, what times he gets up in the morning.” Sound familiar? It’s the same behavior you can find written up in any issue ofBusinessWeek or The Wall Street Journal.

The Ape in the Corner Office connects with the day-to-day of the workplace because it helps explain what people are really concerned about: How come he got the wing chair with the gold trim? How can I survive as that big ape’s subordinate without becoming a spineless yes-man? Why does being a lone wolf mean being a loser? And, yes, why is it that jerks seem to prosper—at least in the short run?


Also available as a Random House AudioBook and an eBook


From the Hardcover edition.
Show less
Tired of swimming with the sharks? Fed up with that big ape down the hall? Real animals can teach us better ways to thrive in the workplace jungle.

You’re ambitious and want to get ahead, but what’s the best way to do it? Become the biggest, baddest predator? The proverbial 800-pound gorilla? Or does nature teach you to be more subtle and sophisticated?

Richard Conniff, the acclaimed author of The Natural History of the Rich, has survived savage beasts in the workplace jungle, where he hooted and preened in the corner office as a publishing executive. He’s also spent time studying how animals operate in the real jungles of the Amazon and the African bush.

What he shows in The Ape in the Corner Office is that nature built you to be nice. Doing favors, grooming coworkers with kind words, building coalitions—these tools for getting ahead come straight from the jungle. The stereotypical Darwinian hard-charger supposedly thinks only about accumulating resources. But highly effective apes know it’s often smarter to give them away. That doesn’t mean it’s a peaceable kingdom out there, however. Conniff shows that you can become more effective by understanding how other species negotiate the tricky balance between conflict and cooperation.

Conniff quotes one biologist on a chimpanzee’s obsession with rank: “His attempts to maintain and achieve alpha status are cunning, persistent, energetic, and time-consuming. They affect whom he travels with, whom he grooms, where he glances, how often he scratches, where he goes, what times he gets up in the morning.” Sound familiar? It’s the same behavior you can find written up in any issue ofBusinessWeek or The Wall Street Journal.

The Ape in the Corner Office connects with the day-to-day of the workplace because it helps explain what people are really concerned about: How come he got the wing chair with the gold trim? How can I survive as that big ape’s subordinate without becoming a spineless yes-man? Why does being a lone wolf mean being a loser? And, yes, why is it that jerks seem to prosper—at least in the short run?


Also available as a Random House AudioBook and an eBook


From the Hardcover edition.
Product Details
Audio Download
Published: July 15, 2012
Publisher: Random House Digital
Imprint: Random House Digital
ISBN: 9781415928561
Other books byRichard Conniff
  • The Ape in the Corner Office

    The Ape in the Corner Office
    Understanding the Workplace Beast in All of Us
    Tired of swimming with the sharks? Fed up with that big ape down the hall? Real animals can teach us better ways to thrive in the workplace jungle. You’re ambitious and want to get ahead, but what’s the best way to do it? Become the biggest, baddest predator? The proverbial 800-pound gorilla? Or does nature teach you to be more subtle and sophisticated? Richard Conniff, the acclaimed author of The Natural History of the Rich, has survived savage beasts in the workplace jungle, where he hooted and preened in the corner office as a publishing executive. He’s also spent time studying how animals operate in the real jungles of the Amazon and the African bush. What he shows in The Ape in the Corner Office is that nature built you to be nice. Doing favors, grooming coworkers with kind words, building coalitions—these tools for getting ahead come straight from the jungle. The stereotypical Darwinian hard-charger supposedly thinks only about accumulating resources. But highly effective apes know it’s often smarter to give them away. That doesn’t mean it’s a peaceable kingdom out there, however. Conniff shows that you can become more effective by understanding how other species negotiate the tricky balance between conflict and cooperation. Conniff quotes one biologist on a chimpanzee’s obsession with rank: “His attempts to maintain and achieve alpha status are cunning, persistent, energetic, and time-consuming. They affect whom he travels with, whom he grooms, where he glances, how often he scratches, where he goes, what times he gets up in the morning.” Sound familiar? It’s the same behavior you can find written up in any issue of BusinessWeek or The Wall Street Journal. The Ape in the Corner Office connects with the day-to-day of the workplace because it helps explain what people are really concerned about: How come he got the wing chair with the gold trim? How can I survive as that big ape’s subordinate without becoming a spineless yes-man? Why does being a lone wolf mean being a loser? And, yes, why is it that jerks seem to prosper—at least in the short run? Also available as a Random House AudioBook and an eBook From the Hardcover edition.

    Every Creeping Thing

    Every Creeping Thing
    True Tales of Faintly Repulsive Wildlife
    "Despite the efforts of many earnest and life-affirming people to persuade me that the vampire bat is our friend and that Native Americans enjoyed true harmony with Brother Wolf, I have never quite overcome the gut feeling that fear of nature is normal....It can also be pleasurable....What I really find creepy and wonderful about nature are not its great terrors, but its weird, unsuspected minutiae...for instance, that some sharks practice sibling cannibalism in the womb, or that a mole will paralyze earthworms, ball them up in a knot, and seal them away in individual cells in the walls of its chambered mound, still living, to be eaten at leisure. I am captivated by the sight of a keyhole limpet...[which] carries a sort of vicious pet under its shell, like an old lady's lap dog."--From Every Creeping Thing In this sequel to Spineless Wonders, Richard Conniff once again explores the tangled connections between human beings and animals (this time mostly vertebrates). His adventures take us from an island in the Gulf Stream, where a man devotes his life to the devilbird, to provincial England, where bloodhounds and riders on horseback hunt down a human being for sport. With his characteristically offbeat approach, Conniff focuses on some of the least huggable members of the animal world-- porcupines, snapping turtles, cormorants, bats, mice, moles. Through their lives, Conniff introduces us to some of the strangest behaviors on earth. We meet sharks that practice sibling cannibalism in their mother's womb, bats that delight in a sybaritic "disco mating strategy," and five-hundred-pound grizzly bears that gorge themselves on moths in August. Every Creeping Thing is a fascinating, comic tour through the far side of the animal kingdom.

    The Species Seekers

    The Species Seekers
    Heroes, Fools, and the Mad Pursuit of Life on...
    Beginning with Linnaeus, a colorful band of explorers made it their mission to travel to the most perilous corners of the planet and bring back astonishing new life forms. They attracted followers ranging from Thomas Jefferson, who laid out mastodon bones on the White House floor, to twentieth-century doctors who used their knowledge of new species to conquer epidemic diseases. Acclaimed science writer Richard Conniff brings these daredevil "species seekers" to vivid life. Alongside their globe-spanning tales of adventure, he recounts some of the most dramatic shifts in the history of human thought. At the start, everyone accepted that the Earth had been created for our benefit. We weren't sure where vegetable ended and animal began, we couldn't classify species, and we didn't understand the causes of disease. But all that changed as the species seekers introduced us to the pantheon of life on Earth—and our place within it.

    Swimming with Piranhas at Feeding Time: My Life Doing Dumb Stuff with Animals

    Swimming with Piranhas at Feeding Time: My Life Doing Dumb Stuff with Animals
    “Hilariously informative. . . . This book will remind you why you always wanted to be a naturalist.”—OutsideIn this thrilling foray into the animal kingdom, Richard Conniff takes readers on an adventure-packed journey as he courts the most dangerous animals and lives to tell the tale. He lets African wild dogs sniff his neck to test the idea that they are vicious man-eaters, sticks his hand in a fire ant mound and does multiple takes for a pretty camerawoman on a television shoot, and flings chicken carcasses into piranha-infested waters to clock how quickly they disappear—before diving in himself. This collection offers a rare chance to go along on these death-defying treks and see life through the eyes of a bona-fide field naturalist.

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