How To Make Work Not Suck

Photographed by Ivan Samkov.
Carina Maggar is a creative copywriter who has worked for brands such as ASOS, YouTube, Pepsi, Channel 4 and more, and is the author of nonfiction book How To Make Work Not Suck. The below is an excerpt from the book which includes honest tips about finding your place in the real world of work.
I’ve had many jobs in the past. I haven’t followed any linear pattern; my career decisions have been based on a) desperation b) spontaneity and c) intrigue. Because of my experience as a career butterfly, I have met a lot of people; some are featured throughout this book. I have gathered knowledge from different industries, environments and roles. I’ve spent time with people at all stages of their careers, giving me the opportunity to understand, learn and observe how they do what they do. From billionaires, royalty, celebrities, film directors and psychologists, to small start-up offices and huge glass buildings. Because of this range of experiences, I regard myself as of an office sponge. 
Even though it’s beautiful, this book is a product of angst, smothered in the uncertainty and confusion of my twenties. It will provide you with the insights that I wish I’d had at the start of my career, but make no mistake, they never stop being helpful, no matter what stage you’re at in life.
Whether you’re 18 or 40, I guarantee you’ll find this helpful. If you’re 18, you’ll learn some things you don’t know yet. If you’re 40, you might be reminded of the things you’ve forgotten. 
And, let’s be honest, no one needs another career book written by a middle-aged man.

No one knows what they’re doing, neither should you. 

They’re all pretending: your boss, first-time parents, the Prime Minister. Everyone’s making it up as they go along. You’re not the only one crying in the loo at lunchtime. It’s just a case of who’s putting on the best performance. 

You Will Have Regrets.

When I was a presenter, I was invited to audition in front of the executive board of directors of a famous TV channel. I’d been asked to deliver a monologue about a celebrity story. Whether it was an extreme case of nerves or a spell of severe delusion, I decided not to prepare (mistake number 1). 
I took my seat at the boardroom table occupied by stern faces in suits. When it was my time to shine, I got up from my chair, sauntered over to the camera, stood on the marked spot, stared down the camera lens and froze. I couldn’t formulate a thought, let alone a sentence. I moonwalked (mistake number 2) out of the room, apologizing for wasting their time. 
We’re told not to have regrets, but I have a bucketful. If you learn from them (which I did), they can be useful experiences. 

The Art of Creative Bullshitting 

There are three types of people in the world:
1) Those who bullshit
2) Those who believe other people’s bullshit
3) Those who believe their own bullshit (aim to be here)

Everyone’s Creative, Even You.

Creativity doesn’t need to be placed on a pedestal, it’s not an unobtainable thing. If you’re feeling particularly uncreative, switch up your environment. A lack of inspiration is external, not internal. 

There’s Nothing Wrong with Wanting to Make Money.

If you’re not happy within yourself, you’ll remain that way whether you’re in a Lamborghini or a Fiat 500. You can’t heal an open wound with a £50 note. 

The World Is Full of Assholes.

Approximately 8 percent* of people in every office are assholes. You’ll dislike everything about them, from the things they say to the way they walk. If it’s any consolation, this will prepare you for life. Because life is also full of assholes. The challenge is not to become one. 
*This is a made-up statistic, but from past experience, I’m sure it’s pretty accurate.


Discovering what you want to do is a process of trial and error. Don’t wait to fall head over heels in love with a career. If we all actually waited to marry someone who was patient, beautiful, hilarious, loyal, a great cook and a fabulous dancer with brilliant white teeth, we’d all die single. 

A Fat Lie.

Many of us were raised to believe we could be anything we wanted. That anything we set our mind to is achievable. Unfortunately, the real world is tough and unpredictable. Opportunities don’t come knocking at your door.
When you’re raised to believe you’re destined for success and the world is your oyster, of course you’re going to feel like you’ve failed when things don’t turn out the way you’d expected. Have a little self-compassion. 

Optional: What Are You Good At?

Age-old advice tells us to do what we love. While it’s true that no one should ever give up on their passion, if it feels like you’re not getting anywhere, it might be wise to pursue what you’re good at, rather than what you obsess over. 
If you’re good at what you’re passionate about, you’ve hit the jackpot. 
How To Make Work Not Suck by Carina Maggar is out now, published by Laurence King

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