Business On Broadway

Yup. That’s me in the picture at right, circa 1975. Since the time I put on my first pair of tap shoes, I’ve been a musical theater buff.

I never really saw any connection between that love and what I do for a living. Then recently I revisited the 1967 classic movie, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. Today, the story, although well performed and entertaining, is certainly dated and sexist (i.e., all execs being men, chasing their all-women secretaries, who are all there looking for husbands).
However, looking at the story now through the eyes of a ghostwriter and content writer for business professionals, I was most amused by the idea that a self-help business book written in the 1960s had actually spawned a Broadway musical..and then a film.

I’ve helped lots of business coaches and thought leaders commit their philosophies to paper, but nothing I’ve written (yet) has inspired a Broadway musical. How to Succeed…” was an actual book written by Sheperd Mead. I never read it but apparently it was very satirical and cutthroat while the stage play was much more light-hearted. In the story, the charming lead character, “Ponty,” played by Robert Morse, starts in the mailroom and rises to VP of advertising and finally to Chairman of the Board in under a week, all thanks to the guidance of the book.

The whole idea represents a fantasy that so many had in the 1960s, when the story was set. A little research uncovered that the 1960’s was considered part of the “golden age” of self-help books. That surprised me because of how popular self-help books are today. In fact, the genre has more than doubled from 2013 to 2019 and every day more experts are releasing books imparting their advice.

It just goes to show you that fifty years after a business book inspired a Broadway musical, we’re still quenching our desire to learn from experts and better ourselves. It’s a good argument for sharing our knowledge, through our content, our blogs and even writing our own book to help someone out there who may be seeking to learn what we know.

There was never sequel or update to How to Succeed. I do wonder what happened to Ponty after he reached the top. I like to think he probably found a better book! I do know that in 2007, the originally “Ponty,” Robert Morse, was in his eighties, but appeared in the dramatic show Madmen, as the head of a fictional 1960’s advertising agency, Sterling Cooper. Watching him on that show made me believe Ponty grew old, changed his name to Bertram Cooper, started his own ad agency and was about to retire. I got a chuckle out of Morse departing the show with a musical number that showed us he could still sell a song. A true song and dance man.

So I ask you today, what do you know that others want to hear? And how can you share it? You never know what your words will inspire in others. Maybe a new career or a change of life plans in someone’s life. Or maybe.. even a Broadway musical!