Summary of What Smart People Do When Dumb Things Happen at Work

Hundreds of Tips for Dealing with All the Blunders, Glitches, Traps, and Setbacks that Sabotage Your Road to Success

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What Smart People Do When Dumb Things Happen at Work book summary
Well, guess what, the Boy Scouts were right — Doing what is moral, honest and true turns out to be good business.


5 Overall

6 Applicability

4 Innovation

7 Style


Charles E. Watson, Ph.D., describes a variety of problems that can occur at work and tells you how "smart people" deal with them effectively. By smart, he means "good," his point being that good is smart. He organizes his management-oriented scenarios according to a series of themes that highlight the best policies to adopt, such as sticking to your principles, accurately weighing your options and seeking to do what’s right, not what’s popular. The book mixes behavioral tips with solutions to problems, emphasizing the need to be trustworthy and responsible and to follow the path of morality and integrity. Sometimes the book seems scattered, since the author distances the solutions from the dilemmas by dropping tips in between them, but the point and purpose survive this wrinkle. Since - like most of you - finds it pretty easy to advocate goodness, truth and fair dealing, we liked Watson’s approach. Funny how doing the right thing turns out to be practical.

In this summary, you will learn

  • Why often people’s own failings lead to their difficulties at work;
  • How to respond to difficulties; and
  • Why you should seek excellence rather than popularity.


The Basic Principles of Smart Behavior
Often people’s own failings - a big ego, a quick temper, self-centered behavior - cause their own difficulties at work. Smart people avoid these problems by adopting some key principles: Maintain the right course by always sticking to high...
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About the Author

Charles E. Watson, Ph.D., a professor of management at Miami University in Ohio, has more than 25 years of teaching experience. He has lectured on management throughout the United States and abroad, and has consulted for numerous companies, including Gibralter Steel, Sun Oil and Procter & Gamble. He is the author of five previous books and dozens of articles on management.

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