Book Review: Nice Guys Can Get The Corner Office by Russ Edelman and Timothy Hiltabiddle

Nice Guys Can Get the Corner Office: Eight Strategies for Winning in Business Without Being a Jerk

ISBN-10: 1591842093
ISBN-13: 978-1591842095


  • Surprisingly insightful look into nice guys, winning strategies, and personality issues.
  • Has helpful examples.
  • Has organized tips that are focused on actions.
  • Covers both personal and corporate “nice guy” issues.


  •  A limited in its look at “nice guys” makes it hard to approach at first.

SUMMARY: A must-read book for people who want to succeed without being a complete ass, even if you’re not always a “nice guy.”

So I actually got this book as a gift, and frankly wouldn’t have got it otherwise.  Shows what I know – and shows how much other people know good books when they find them!

We’re all aware of the idea that success in business requires you to be a complete jerk.  We see enough examples of it we assume it’s the norm, forgetting many people who succeed are decent folks, even if at times they have to be hard, mean, or assertive.  This book is about how “nice guys” can succeed.

This is actually where the books one flaw immediately becomes apparent – defining “nice guys.”  It’s never quite as well defined as I’d like, as there’s talk of nice guys, but the book is also focused on “overly nice guys” (those that become pushovers).  The terminology is a bit light, and the book seems to assume that we’ll just get what they mean – and there’s not enough focus on people with “nice guy” traits for whom the “overly nice” issue is troublesome but not prominent or crippling.

Fortunately, the book actually does get to what is meant by illustrating assorted points with stories and anecdotes, but I’d like to have had a bit more grounding first.

However, once beyond the whirlwind entrance and light introduction, the book is a very sane, intelligent, human look at how “overly nice” guys can still be nice without being failures or turning into the very walking ego-piles we’re all sick of dealing with.  Also it does not disregard the value of nice guys, just note when a behavior goes too far (in fact it’s noted sometimes nice guys have advantages they can use).

The book declares a Nice Guy Bill of Rights at Notes that you (the Nice Guy who is Overly Nice) has the right to get results, to win, etc.  There are eight categories of Rights declared – and yes I’m going to make you read the book to see them all.  It’s worth it.

With each right declared and illustrated with stories, the authors then propose two things:

  1. Nice Guy Strategies that can be used to assert that right and succeed in that given area.  These are handily illustrated and explained.
  2. Nice Company Strategies that companies can use to maximize the potential of nice guys and keep them from going overly nice – and keep the company from having culture issues where oafs take over.

These strategies and guides are extremely helpful.  Concise, explained, bite-sized, they’re useful in applying to yourself, a company, a co-worker, or employee.  There’s also a lack of B.S. in the advice, no egregious rah-rah or lofty promises, just solid things to do and try.

Each chapter also has a handy summary so you can skim it easily to remember or apply lessons.  It’s a little thing, but I found it helpful and thoughtful.

Now the advice is going to seem to be common sense, but it’s often the common sense that you miss because it is common sense.  I found myself learning things I never expected – and examining myself more for traits I may have missed.  I frankly learned a few things, including where I am – and am not – a “nice guy” or “overly nice.”

The book also is excellent for coaching or company guidance.  Even if you don’t have any issues with your own nice guy behavior (and by the way if you say that, you’re probably lying, many of us have some), this gives you ideas of how to help your company and friends out.  The book very much fits my beloved “toolkit” model of a good book.

For pro geeks, I’d recommend it even more if possible.  We know some of us geeks, nerds, and otaku occasionally have “nice guy” issues, but it’s also great for providing us more useful business tools to deal with and help people.  You might even be able to use your geekery as a place to practice the Nice Guy Bill of Rights first.

So this goes on my must-read list, and if you’re a careerist, the must-buy list.

– Steven Savage

Steven Savage is a Geek 2.0 writer, speaker, blogger, and job coach.  He blogs on careers at, nerd and geek culture at, and does a site of creative tools at He can be reached at