Become “Unfireable”: UT Professor Wants You To Be A Workplace Superstar

. September 26, 2017.

Successful people aren’t magically bestowed with special properties. Unless they hit that genetic lottery for exceptional beauty, brains or innate athletic ability, they have to work hard at it. Success comes as a byproduct rather than an end result, and it’s seldom “the goal.” For author/speaker/UT professor Clinton O. Longenecker, Ph.D., who is by all measurable qualities winning at life, success is still an evolving concept.  As he tells it, “I’m on Earth to help other people be more successful. Isn’t that a fun reason to be on Earth?” And he means it.

Every person who passes our table at Sam and Charlie’s Waffle House gets more than a nod— Longenecker engages in a brief, but meaningful conversation with everyone he encounters. He gets to know their name and a little something about them— and then makes it a point to remember the info for when they happen by again. It’s a rare trait, and a great tip right from his business self-help book The Successful Career Survival Guide (TSCSG).

TSCSG is a concise read— you could probably get through it in a day — designed to help you achieve success at the job you have. The guide coaches the reader to become the best and most necessary worker you can be, so when your business hits a tough economic time and begins laying people off, you won’t be one of them.

Happy worker

George Carlin famously said, “Oh you hate your job? There’s a support group for that. It’s called EVERYBODY, and they meet at the bar.” TSCSG seeks to correct that mindset— and to provide you a benefit. Employing uplifting power quotes from the likes of Mark Twain, Maya Angelou and The Bible, this guide implores you to consider what it takes to be a success, no matter your field.

“We learned that getting results is the key to career survival. We did a study on termination, we did a study on promotion, we did a study on career success, and all those things collectively gave us the input to come up with the 12 imperatives (located at the front of the book),” Longenecker explained.

Those 12 imperatives, while useful to being a great leader, are just a small piece of what makes TSCSG an essential read. The overwhelming arc of the book is made up of 707 unique concepts and strategies that get to the essence of what makes you invaluable at work. Some are as simple as “Don’t be afraid to say, ‘I’m sorry,’” while other points require you to be a bit more introspective.    

The Right Stuff

Sourced from hard empirical data, the book has been in the works for years. During his 33 years as a professor at UT, Longenecker has racked up more than 50 teaching, service, research and industry awards (including several City Paper Best of Toledo awards for Best Professor). He’s also learned many valuable lessons about what it takes to become indispensable.

“We’re paid to do research. Traditionally, I’m a very applied person and so I’m trying to solve real problems and work with business people to chronicle the challenges they face,” he said. “I started jotting down best practices and other kinds of things, probably a decade ago. Every time I did a research study, I’d chalk it up, pull out the key points that were relevant and put them in a file. Over 10 years, I’d been accumulating this.”

So, what makes you an asset to your company? Well, you have to read the book. If it were simplistic, it would be a quote on a fortune cookie. But as Longenecker tells it, “At the end of the day, people that are great leaders tend to control their behavior, they set plans, they use their time wisely, they’re typically good with people and emotionally intelligent.”    

Longenecker’s guide can help you turn the ship around. Of course, it takes more than him telling you to be a great leader; first, you have to want to be one. But he’ll probably tell you anyhow— after all, that’s why he’s on Earth.

You can buy Longenecker’s book, The Successful Career Survival Guide, along with his other business and life-help books, on