150 Professional Rules To Improve Your Personal Brand

written by Derrick English Jr.
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As a recent father, I read “Rules For My Newborn Daughter” and then “Rules for My Unborn Son” and wondered if some of these rules and others that I grew up hearing about can be used to help someone be a better professional. The reason why is because we are often told that being a professional is vital for us to get ahead and be taken seriously.

If you desire to advance in your career and in your personal ambitions, understanding and implementing key rules and work ethics will give you better opportunities in life. Every organization knows that one of their greatest assets are their employees – so it is wise to seek out and keep employees who are professional and have great work ethics.

Being professional will get you a reputation as someone people see as reliable, respectful and competent.

Following are 150 rules on how to be professional at work and improve your personal brand:

Professional Business Rules To Know

  1. You are what you do, not what you say.
  2. Become an expert in something.
  3. Always strive for excellence.
  4. If you’re good at something, never do it for free.
  5. In a negotiation, never make the first offer and know your BATNA.
  6. Follow up on a phone call or email within 48 hours (two business days).
  7. Maintain a positive attitude and work habits.
  8. Be trustworthy and loyal.
  9. Be competent and improve continually.
  10. Be honest, open and transparent.
  11. Be assertive without being rude.
  12. Always be ethical.
  13. To be treated with respect, you must give respect.
  14. Listen to the feeling that says “This isn’t quite right.”
  15. Don’t be afraid to speak out. You can’t be upset about something you haven’t expressed.
  16. Follow instructions. You’ll be done in half the time.
  17. Confidence is key, but arrogance is inexcusable. No one likes a know-it-all.
  18. Always say your full name when meeting someone for the first time.
  19. Look people in the eye when you speak to them.
  20. If you forget someone’s name, admit it.
  21. Don’t boast about projects in progress. Celebrate their completion.
  22. It is no use saying, ‘We are doing our best.’ You have got to succeed in doing what is necessary.
  23. Establish clear expectations.
  24. Always respect the passions of somebody else.
  25. If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity but you are not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later!

professional handshakephoto of business opportunity by Perzonseo

  1. Never shake a person’s hand while sitting down.
  2. When shaking hands, grip firmly and look the person in the eye.
  3. Say no to the request, not the person. Using “I don’t…” is very helpful.
  4. Don’t allow anyone to take advantage of you. Know your worth and then add tax.
  5. Be careful what you put in writing. You can’t take it back.
  6. Cite your sources, even online.
  7. When in doubt, wear a suit / dress.
  8. Dress for the job you want, not for the one you have.
  9. Make sure your clothes fit properly.
  10. On time is five minutes early.
  11. If you don’t know the answer, state you will get back to them with it.
  12. Accept with pleasure or regretfully decline, but you do not need to give a reason why.
  13. Stop procrastinating. It is the easiest way to give yourself a headache.
  14. If you offer to help, don’t quit until the job is done.
  15. Identify your most commonly used word or phrase, and eliminate it.
  16. Be a good listener. Don’t just wait your turn to talk.
  17. If you don’t know what a word means, ask. Before it’s too late.
  18. Sometimes asking for help is the bravest thing you can do.
  19. Unless you are a doctor, never answer your phone at the table. That goes for emails, texts, and tweets.
  20. Prepare a polite exit if you have to leave a meeting or conversation.
  21. It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.
  22. Don’t lose your cool. Especially at work.
  23. After writing an angry email, read it carefully. Then delete it.
  24. There are three sides to every story. Your side, their side, and the truth. Try to see all of them.
  25. It’s not just what you know, it’s who you know. Create and maintain good relationships, and don’t burn bridges.

walmart greeterphoto of greeter by Laura Stoecker

  1. Greet people at work.
  2. Never apologize for who you are.
  3. Give credit for successes. Take the blame for failures.
  4. Work as a team. You can accomplish much more if you do not care who gets the credit.
  5. Be able to be flexible and adapt.
  6. An honest critique may be the hardest to take.
  7. You can’t learn anything with your arms crossed over chest.
  8. Do more things that make you forget to check your phone.
  9. Find a mentor.
  10. Never eat lunch at your desk.
  11. Eat lunch with the new kid.
  12. If you’ve been there, help those who haven’t.
  13. Stand up for the little guy. He’ll remember you.
  14. Don’t blend in.
  15. Never retire.
  16. Never get drunker than the boss.
  17. Avoid gossip.
  18. It’s better to offer no excuse than a bad one.
  19. Listen more than you speak.
  20. Keep a tidy desk.
  21. Make a list. Keep a schedule. Take notes.
  22. Surround yourself with people different than you.
  23. If you’re the smartest person in your group, find a new group.
  24. If something interests you, leave no stone unturned.
  25. Give 100% in whatever you do. If you fail, you’ll have no regrets.

Professional Life Rules To Know

  1. Learn a new language. Preferably math.
  2. You can’t please everyone. Don’t even bother trying.
  3. Laugh at yourself. Often.
  4. Speak to everyone in the same way, whether they are the cashier or Warren Buffet.
  5. Don’t let a wishbone grow where a backbone should be.
  6. Twice a year, write down your goals.
  7. Goals aren’t enough. Set deadlines to keep you focused.
  8. Try writing your own biography. Never stop revising.
  9. Accept the consequences of your actions.
  10. Don’t compare your life to others and don’t judge them. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
  11. What others think of you is none of your business.
  12. Keep your guard up.
  13. Have a signature look.
  14. Keep your word.
  15. You don’t get to choose your own nickname.
  16. Once you replace negative thoughts with positive ones, you’ll start having positive results.
  17. Develop success from failures. Discouragement and failure are two of the surest stepping stones to success.
  18. If you’ve made your point, stop talking.
  19. If you want to know what makes you unique, sit for a caricature.
  20. You’re never too old to make new friends.
  21. When entrusted with a secret, keep it.
  22. Return a borrowed car with a full tank of gas.
  23. If you make a mistake, forgive yourself and move on.
  24. Hold your heroes to a higher standard.
  25. Don’t think that pickup games are a waste of time. It’s the best way to learn.

baseball hitterphoto of pickup games by Skeeze

  1. Don’t be afraid to strike out. We all fail at least once because no one bats 1.000.
  2. Talent is learned. Practice harder than your competition.
  3. Keep your eye on the ball and follow through. In sports and in life.
  4. If you can’t outrun them, outlast them.
  5. Finish what you start, especially books.
  6. Treat your body well. You’ll be glad you did when you are older.
  7. Read before bed every night. A book every two weeks is a good goal.
  8. Never post a picture online you wouldn’t feel comfortable showing your mother or father.
  9. Never criticize a book, play, or film unless you have read or seen it yourself. Art is full of surprises.
  10. Go ahead, judge a book by its cover.
  11. Work hard today because you don’t know if there will be a tomorrow.
  12. Give more. Expect less.
  13. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
  14. If you settle for normality, you miss all the fun.
  15. Pay a compliment to someone every day.
  16. Never trust a profile pic. Not even your own.
  17. Life is not measured in “LIKES”.
  18. Never stop learning and exploring. Knowledge is power.
  19. Admit when you’re wrong. Apologize with grace.
  20. Hope for the best. Prepare for the worst.
  21. Live in the moment.
  22. Stop thinking too much, it’s alright not to know the answers. They will come to you when you least expect it.
  23. Disapprove of those who always have to be doing something.
  24. Whether you think you can or can’t, you’re right.
  25. If you don’t believe one person can change the world, then you are not that person.

björk swan dress at the oscarsphoto of Björk

  1. Be who you know you are.
  2. Find out who you know you aren’t.
  3. If you don’t like something about yourself, change it.
  4. Do good. Be nice. Have fun.
  5. Always keep a good joke handy.
  6. Have a reliable hangout spot. Cheers!
  7. Use your time wisely.
  8. On occasion, unplug. Take a vacation from the Internet.
  9. Never cancel plans by text message.
  10. In the long run, loyalty trumps ambition every time.
  11. Never turn down an invitation to speak in public.
  12. Pace yourself.
  13. Support and be a positive voice in your community.
  14. Stand up to bullies. You’ll only have to do it once.
  15. Don’t litter. Ever.
  16. Keep hardback copies of your favorite books. Donate the rest.
  17. The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud.
  18. Remember that anything is possible.
  19. Embrace rejection. You’ll be surprised how much you’ll grow.
  20. Your time is valuable.
  21. Treat everything like it’s your first.
  22. Smile. When you’re smiling, the whole world smiles with you.
  23. Believe in yourself.
  24. Do what you feel in your heart to be right, for you’ll be criticized anyway.
  25. Never leave someone hanging on a “High Five”. ✋


Professionalism boils down to having great conduct, core values and work ethics. By being a professional, this will help you to be highly valued by your company, and open new doors to advance in your career and in your personal ambitions.

However, all these rules do not mean anything if they don’t make you happy. Hence, you need to apply careful thought into these rules and make adjustments to be the professional person that you are comfortable with.

Which of these rules do you feel will help you to be a better professional and do you have any additional rules that people should know about?

About Derrick English Jr

Derrick English Jr. is a Digital Marketing Strategist that creates customer-centric marketing strategies and campaigns that help companies to grow their brand, leads and sales. Follow him on Twitter @dlenglishjr.