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Corporate Confidential by Cynthia Shapiro

The Secrets to a Successful Publishing Career

I have represented a lot of books in 20 years. I think it’s fair to say over 1000. Among those, I do have some favorites one of which is Corporate Confidential by career expert Cynthia Shapiro. First published almost 15 years ago, this is a book that still has valuable information for anyone in or entering the workplace.

By the time I sold this book I had already been out of the corporate game for five years. So while it didn’t relate to my career directly, it wasn’t any less fascinating. It’s still a book I think of often when I see and hear how others behave in their jobs.

The idea behind Corporate Confidential is despite what your company tells you, that’s not necessarily what they believe. Just because they tell you to wear jeans to work, doesn’t mean they actually think that’s appropriate work attire. Especially if everyone else wears a suit.

If they say you are allowed an hour-long lunch break to do whatever you want, they likely don’t mean it if everyone eats lunch while working at their desk.

No matter what we want to think about an office environment, the people in charge come in with certain values and expectations. Even if they aren’t thoroughly aware of their own expectations, how they act can communicate that very clearly. These are the same people giving you future reviews and referrals.

I used to hand a copy of Corporate Confidential to every intern when they left BookEnds. I had hoped it would give them an edge in their own careers. That stopped only because I ran out of books. My thoughts on the effectiveness of that book when teaching new employees about a company’s expectations haven’t. Especially as I watch a new crop of interns pass through our door.

Learning to work at a job takes a lot more than just filing and reading queries. It’s an understanding of the corporate environment, learning how to effectively communicate, and seeing what you can do to stand out, while fitting in.

Category: Blog



  1. Interesting! The first Amazon review is quite intriguing too, suggesting the book is alarmist and lacking solutions to some of the disasters it warns of.

    Given the book is 15 years old, it’s hardly confidential or secret now, and bosses have no doubt read it. One could speculate on whether this book and others like it have changed corporate culture. Perhaps workplaces are like Tolstoy’s families, happy ones all the same, unhappy ones each unhappy in a different way.

  2. I remember when I was 17 and leaving home to go to uni my Dad gave me “The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People” to read. It was eye opening and I think helped form the basis for my approach to uni and beyond. I don’t remember the specifics anymore, but I am sure I am still applying many of them. I think all young people starting their careers need to read books like these.

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