RULES WERE MADE TO BE BROKEN, RIGHT? With an axiom for about every 1 1/2 of its 160 pages, Julie Bick's All I Really Need to Know in Business I Learned at Microsoft gives rulebreakers lots of options. The volume, with a canonical voice that today ranks somewhere near that of the book of Exodus, is No.14 on this month's hardcover best-seller list.

Bick is a Wharton MBA who ''set out to make Microsoft my classroom'' when she began work there in 1990. Her precepts are grouped by topics that range from how to run a business to how to be a boss to how to manage your career. Examples? ''Eat your own dog food, but don't believe your own press releases,'' she says--i.e., test your products and don't believe the hype. ''If you're going to drop the ball, arrange for someone to catch it.'' A good boss produces ''no surprises at review time.'' Employment-seekers should remember that ''sometimes the frog job can make you a prince.''

An easy-to-read format encourages browsing, and, to spice things up, Bick reproduces lots of E-mail authored by Microsoft office wags. This is a good approach in a work whose advice often seems familiar: Let people fail with impunity, she says, since this will encourage risk-taking. Tailor your message to your customer. Examine your mistakes. Stay small.

Wisdom for the ages--or justification for mischievous rulebreakers? You decide.


1 THE MILLIONAIRE NEXT DOOR by Thomas J. Stanley, PhD, and William D. Danko, PhD (Longstreet Press $22) The penny-pinchers shall inherit the earth.

2 WALL STREET MONEY MACHINE by Wade B. Cook (Lighthouse Publishing $24.95) A former cab driver's formulas for striking it rich.

3 STOCK MARKET MIRACLES by Wade B. Cook (Lighthouse Publishing $24.95) Investing fundamentals--and infomercials for the author's many wares.

4 THE DILBERT FUTURE by Scott Adams (HarperBusiness $25) Prognostication from the prolific cartoonist.

5 SUCCESS IS A CHOICE by Rick Pitino with Bill Reynolds (Broadway $25) Coach says work harder, harder!

6 SELLING THE INVISIBLE by Harry Beckwith (Warner $15) A collection of bite-size lessons on marketing.

7 DANGEROUS COMPANY by James O'Shea and Charles Madigan (Times Business $27.50) A scathing portrait of the consulting business.

8 THE 9 STEPS TO FINANCIAL FREEDOM by Suze Orman (Crown $23) Practical and ''spiritual'' steps for handling money, by a Self magazine writer.

9 DIG YOUR WELL BEFORE YOU'RE THIRSTY by Harvey Mackay (Currency $24.95) How to build and maintain a personal network, by a syndicated columnist.

10 AGAINST THE GODS by Peter L. Bernstein (Wiley $27.95) Risk management in the making of the modern world.

11 INSIDE THE TORNADO by Geoffrey A. Moore (HarperBusiness $25) Lore on marketing mined from Silicon Valley.

12 FINANCIAL PEACE by Dave Ramsey (Viking $21.95) Getting out of debt--for good.

13 BEAR MARKET BALONEY by Wade B. Cook (Lighthouse Publishing $22.95) Fear not, for the grizzlies aren't coming.

14 ALL I REALLY NEED TO KNOW IN BUSINESS I LEARNED AT MICROSOFT by Julie Bick (Pocket Books $16) Rules for managers and those who want to climb the ladder.

15 ONLY THE PARANOID SURVIVE by Andrew S. Grove (Currency $27.50) Intel's CEO describes how to turn crises into opportunities.


1 THE SEVEN HABITS OF HIGHLY EFFECTIVE PEOPLE by Stephen R. Covey (Fireside $12) Habitually popular.

2 THE MOTLEY FOOL INVESTMENT GUIDE by David and Tom Gardner (Fireside $12) The online investment duo puts it on paper.

3 THE DILBERT PRINCIPLE by Scott Adams (HarperBusiness $11.95) The revenge of the cubicle dwellers.

4 THE WALL STREET JOURNAL GUIDE TO UNDERSTANDING MONEY AND INVESTING by Kenneth M. Morris and Alan M. Siegel (Fireside $13.95) Brief explanations plus graphics.

5 BUILT TO LAST by James C. Collins and Jerry I. Porras (HarperBusiness $14) How 3M, Wal-Mart, Procter & Gamble, and others became standouts.

6 THE 1997 WHAT COLOR IS YOUR PARACHUTE? by Richard Nelson Bolles (Ten Speed Press $16.95) The enduring job-search bible.

7 1001 WAYS TO ENERGIZE EMPLOYEES by Bob Nelson (Workman $10.95) From morale-building to job-enrichment.

8 BARRON'S DICTIONARY OF FINANCE AND INVESTMENT TERMS by John Downes and Jordan Elliot Goodman (Barron's $11.95) What is an oligopsony anyway?

9 FIRST THINGS FIRST by Stephen R. Covey, A. Roger Merrill, and Rebecca R. Merrill (Fireside $14) Managing your time by balancing your life.

10 THE BEARDSTOWN LADIES' COMMON-SENSE INVESTMENT GUIDE by the Beardstown Ladies' Investment Club with Leslie Whitaker (Hyperion $10.95) Recipes for four-bean salad, five-hour stew--and 23% returns.

11 INVESTING FOR DUMMIES by Eric Tyson, MBA (IDG Books $19.95) From stocks to small business-with cartoons, too.

12 THE ONE MINUTE MANAGER by Kenneth Blanchard PhD and Spencer Johnson M.D. (Berkley $10.95) Three management techniques, conveyed in brief story form.

13 1001 WAYS TO REWARD EMPLOYEES by Bob Nelson (Workman $10.95) Give them a champagne brunch, a casual-dress day--or plain old cash.

14 GETTING TO YES by Roger Fisher, William Ury, and Bruce Patton (Penguin $11.95) A Harvard team's step-by-step guide to conflict resolution.

15 YOUR MONEY OR YOUR LIFE by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin (Penguin $11.95) To achieve financial independence, restructure your life.

BUSINESS WEEK's Best-Seller List is based on a survey of chain and independent booksellers that carry a broad selection of books on economics, management, sales and marketing, small business, investing, personal finance, and careers. Well over 1,000 retail outlets nationwide are represented. Current rankings are based on a weighted analysis of unit sales in August.

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Updated Sept. 18, 1997 by bwwebmaster
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