It's Good To Be Bing
By Stanley Bing

(FORTUNE Magazine) – You know, friends, a lot of you take time to e-mail me, or even stop me on the street when I'm staring at the sky, to ask me questions. Among the most popular questions are (1) Would I care to come to Nigeria to collect my $28.5 million from the heirs of a hereditary chieftain who was killed by the current regime; (2) Would I care to be made larger or smaller in some fundamental way; and (3) How does one get ahead in this crazy, hazy world?

The first two are easy to answer because in the first case I'm too busy to go to Nigeria to be killed, and in the second, not to be too specific about it, no.

I do, however, have a reply to the third inquiry. The best way to get ahead in this supercharged cosmos is to pursue a strategy of calm, resolute, and shameless self-promotion.

Would that it were otherwise. I wish I could tell you that simple hard work and moxie would get you across the finish line ahead of the other bunnies and tortoises. But it's simply not the case. To paraphrase the biblical scholar, who was probably not the first to say it, "If I don't sell myself, who will sell me?"

Answer: nobody.

It may be a little hard at first. For instance, I'd like to give you an example to show what I mean, but I confess to feeling a little bit shy about it. I'm going to break through that reticence, however, because I feel I owe it to you, simply by way of demonstration. Take a look.

This week I'm excited because Bloomsbury, a wise and frugal publishing house with headquarters in both London and New York City, is publishing my second novel, an amusing, insightful, and moving story of sexual harassment, betrayal, madness, and redemption in the workplace. The book is called You Look Nice Today, and it's gotten some nice notices so far from the grumpy critical establishment.

The Wall Street Journal, whose opinions I have never respected quite as much as I do now, compared me to Flaubert and Tolstoy, which made me blush with pleasure and greed. Both those guys still sell pretty well! "You Look Nice Today, Mr. Bing's tragicomic take on the workplace gender wars, is a tour de force," said the daily chronicle of the American dream. The New Yorker said, "Bing's satires of the business world have the allure of inside dope," and referred to my "comic gift." Yep. And the Christian Science Monitor, which I now believe to be a source of wisdom, called the book "very funny." They said a lot more nice stuff too, but I'm too shy to tell you.

Even the New York Times, which has always been somewhat churlish to me, was quite nice, referring to me as a "minor legend" and saying some other pleasant things before it roughed me up a bit toward the end. What the hell. That's what it does, right?

For a while I was a little nonplussed by the adjective "minor" before the noun "legend" until a friend told me to get over myself. But I don't intend to. That's what I'm trying to tell you. There's no future in it, as a tactic. Look around you. Are the successful people you know over themselves, even if the rest of the world is most decidedly over them?

Answer: No, they're not.

A second issue often arises, once we've dispatched the first, whatever that was. Is it possible, I am often asked, for the self-promoter to go too far and actually alienate those he is seeking to sway? Possibly. I'll give you a demonstration, and you tell me. Because, as amazing as it may seem to you, I also have another book coming out after the novel I've just told you about, and I figure that now is a perfect time to mention it to you. Why not later? You're right! I may also do it later!

In any event, it's like this: Readers have gotten in touch with me by the dozens (over a 20-year period) to inquire when I would put out a compendium of my witty and wise observations about business life from the bottom of the soup bowl to the top of the nut pile. Well, Larry, Ted, and Betty--wait no longer. In about a month's time I'll be publishing The Big Bing, a book of my columns from this and other publications that shall not be named here.

In this essential business handbook are strategies for dealing with every career challenge and opportunity, as well as quizzes, poems, and occasional spritzes that cannot fail to please the kind of smart, with-it folks who read this column.

The Big Bing has already garnered early kudos, from Publisher's Weekly, which sees it as a "very funny look at the contemporary executive" that the "media exec/writer organizes ... into a surprisingly coherent whole." Which is nice.

So that's my brief for now. Whether this blatant self-promotion is helpful or not is up to you, gang. Will you ignore me? Or will you--the bright, sexy, inquisitive, ambitious people I know you to be--run out to your local bookseller and pick up one of my new books?

Answer: both!