The Saturday Read ‘Sourdough’ by Robin Sloan

Before the migration of the nerds, San Francisco was famous for its’ bread, sourdough bread, dating back to the time of the gold rush. Food and a magical ‘sourdough starter’ serves as the career catalyst for Lois Clary, software programmer and heroine in The Saturday Read this week: ‘Sourdough’ by Robin Sloan. 

This is a novel about work; how we find it and what we become. It’s the story of ‘career’ in the twenty-first century when success in Silicon Valley is defined by levels of exhaustion and the unexpected ‘side hustle’ offers a promise of something better.

Lois is working at Crowley Control Systems in Michigan when she is recruited from her “stubby LinkedIn profile”.

“Here’s a thing I believe about people my age: we are children of Hogwarts, and more than anything, we just want to be sorted.”

And so it begins, as a cautionary tale for those who transfer ownership of career choice to the great algorithm in the sky, relocate to an alternate universe and join the tribe of the “Dextrous’ (employees of robotic firm, General Dexterity).

“We are on a mission to remake the conditions of human labor, so push harder, all of you.”

“In the months that followed, I had the sense of some vital resource dwindling, and I tried to ignore it. My colleagues had been toiling at this pace for three years without a pause, and I was already flagging after a single San Francisco summer? I was supposed to be one of the fresh-faced ones.
My face was not fresh.
My hair had gone flat and thin.
My stomach hurt.
In my apartment on Cabrillo Street. I existed mostly in a state of catatonic recovery, brain flaccid, cells gasping. My parents were far away, locked in the frame of a video chat window. I didn’t have any friends in San Francisco aside from a handful of Dextrous, but they were just as traumatized as I was. My apartment was small and dark, and I paid too much for it, and the internet was slow.”

Sound familiar? Can you imagine a call for take-out might transform your life? Did you know there was a Lois Club? For Lois Clary, these human connections are career turning points.

“I needed a more interesting life.
I could start be learning something.
I could start with the starter.”

We follow Lois on her adventures ‘underground’ at the ‘Marrow Fair’, interacting with a diverse group of artisans, connecting the dots of technology and food, robots and recipes.

“At General Dexterity, I was contributing to an effort to make repetitive labor obsolete. After a trainer in the Task Acquisition Center taught an arm how to do something, the arms did it perfectly, forever. In other words, you solved a problem once, and then you moved on to more interesting things. Baking by contrast, was solving the same problem over and over again, I mean, really: chewed and digested. Thus, the problem was perhaps the point.”

The lesson for the rest of us? Get out there, build relationships, get a more interesting life, solve problems, like your work. (You don’t need a career guide, just a great novel – Sourdough)

Innovation and invention are everywhere.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Saturday Read ‘Leonardo da Vinci’ by Walter Isaacson

The Saturday Read returns! The first selection of 2018 is the biography, ‘Leonardo da Vinci‘ by Walter Isaacson. This is a life story disguised as an art book translating the fifteenth century wisdom of a genius into the language of our present day innovation canon.

What is it about Leonardo that resonates with us over five hundred years later?

“The fifteenth century of Leonardo and Columbus and Gutenberg was a time of invention, exploration, and the spread of knowledge by new technologies. In short, it was a time like our own. That is why we have so much to learn from Leonardo. His ability to combine art, science, technology, the humanities and imagination remains an enduring recipe for creativity.”

The narrative of the polymath has captivated Isaacson in all his previous work. In ‘da Vinci’ he has found the origin story and he’s the perfect narrator to introduce a twenty-first century audience to the man “who never outgrew his wonder years.”

If you are a person who is intimidated by a 500+ page doorstop of a book, don’t be. Leonardo’s fifteenth century artwork, notebook transcripts, sketches and drawings engage with the text to guide the reader through the history, culture and political upheaval of Milan, Florence, Rome and France.

If you are one of the thousands who have traveled to the Louvre… IMG_5851.jpg

to catch a brief glimpse of the Mona Lisa…mona lisa

this is the backstory. Isaacson devotes a chapter near the end of the book to the portrait, describing Leonardo’s work process. “He began working on it in 1503, when he returned to Florence after serving Cesare Borgia. But he had not finished it when he moved back to Milan in 1506. In fact, he carried it with him, and continued to work on it, throughout his second period in Milan and then during his three years in Rome. He would even take it to France on the final leg of his life journey, adding tiny strokes and light layers through 1517. It would be in his studio there when he died.”

I read the biography over four weeks, one chapter at a time, alternating with other reading. It gave me time to reflect on the multiple aspects of his genius and connect Leonardo’s behavior with what I have read over the years in hundreds of Harvard Business Review articles on the topic of innovation.

My non-fiction book club had selected ‘da Vinci’ as the January choice. The discussion centered on the aspects of math, science and art; each member commenting from their frame of reference. Finally, I added my view through the lens of @workthoughts. This is a book that advocates for the generalist vs. the specialist. In many aspects it’s a career guide. Imagine an extended conversation with a mentor tracing their work/life trajectory.

Isaacson concludes with ‘Learning from Leonardo’, beginning with some familiar basics of twenty-first century theories of creativity. A sampling: “Be curious, relentlessly curious”. “Seek knowledge for its own sake.” “Observe.”Get distracted.” “Avoid silos.” “Take notes, on paper.” “Be open to mystery.” There’s more. Shadowing each of these ‘lessons’ is the story of Leonardo and his exploration of man and nature; his evolution, still tinkering with the Mona Lisa at the time of his death.

‘Leonardo da Vinci’ is your ‘professional development book’ of the year. It will break you out of your ‘career specialization rut’, opening your eyes to the ‘dots’ you didn’t even know you could connect.

If you make one bookstore purchase, continue your life-long learning with this one. “Let your reach exceed your grasp.”

Leonardo’s most important lesson for our times – “Respect facts.” Never stop asking questions.

“Above all, Leonardo’s relentless curiosity and experimentation should remind us of the importance of instilling, in both ourselves and our children, not just received knowledge but a willingness to question it – to be imaginative and, like talented misfits and rebels in any era, to think different.”

 

 

The Saturday Read ‘Hamilton The Revolution’ by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter

I saw the hat first, ‘A.HAM’ emblazoned on its crown. In the midst of the crowds converging on the campus of the University of Southern California last weekend for the LA Times Festival of Books, a student and her parents were headed to an open house hosted by the School of Dramatic Arts. The black and gold logo was a reminder that the phenomena that is ‘Hamilton’ continues to spark the dreams of the aspiring actor, striving historian, and would-be composer.

First there was Ron Chernow‘s 2004 book, ‘Alexander Hamilton’. Last summer, ‘Hamilton’, the musical debuted on Broadway. In February, the original cast recording won a Grammy for Best Musical Theater Album. This week the ‘Hamiltome’ arrived in bookstores and immediately sold out on Amazon. The Saturday Read is ‘Hamilton The Revolution’ by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter.

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In 2007 Jeremy McCarter, then drama critic for New York Magazine, reviewed a new play, ‘In The Heights’ and posed the question “Could musicals actually be adapting to a new century’s audience?”

“The most obvious of the show’s many virtues is that it doesn’t sound like the half-assed pseudo-pop that clutters up Broadway. Miranda’s score is rich and kaleidoscopic, as it needs to be.”

In the Introduction to ‘HTR’, Mr. McCarter reflects on his time at New York Magazine and his frustration with lack of interest in the possibilities of hip-hop.

“After many disappointments and false alarms, Heights had made me sit up in my aisle seat: Here’s the guy. Lin’s show about immigration in Upper Manhattan fused salsa, hip-hop, and traditional Broadway ballads to make something old and new, familiar and surprising. Best of all, he made the leap that virtually nobody else had made, using hip-hop to tell a story that had nothing to do with hip-hop – using it as form, not content.”

The writer, director and producer McCarter, who studied history at Harvard connected with the composer, lyricist, actor and Wesleyan alum, Miranda and began a collaboration that resulted in ‘Hamilton The Revolution’.

“It tells the story of two revolutions. There’s the American Revolution of the 18th century, which flares to life in Lin’s libretto, the complete text of which is published here, with his annotations. There’s also the revolution of the show itself: a musical that changes the way that Broadway sounds, and alters who gets to tell the story of our founding, that let’s us glimpse the new, more diverse America rushing our way.”

IMG_4314.jpgThe book is a ‘behind the scenes’ look at the development of a musical. It’s a narrative of the creative process and a roadmap for future generations who will replicate the production on high school and summer stages.

In an interview with CBS This Morning, Mr. McCarter stressed the importance of cataloging the moments from the first rap performance at the White House through the six years to opening night.

We wanted to “tell the story which is not about this historical fact or that historical fact, it’s about the emotional reality that these people were living through…This is not just what happened, but this is how it felt at the time. This is the experience that we all went through…So that ten years from now when kids are doing it they can pick up this book and say ‘Oh, that’s how they did it’, now I understand.”

Where do we find inspiration? It’s the curiosity thing. Mr.Miranda is the master of the inquisitive. And he seems to drawn on every life experience and relationship to connect the dots to his project. Here’s one example from the annotations to ‘You’ll Be Back’.

“I was having a drink with Hugh Laurie, with whom I’d worked on his series ‘House’, and I told him I wanted to write a breakup letter from King George to the colonies. Without blinking, he improv’d at me, “Awwww, you’ll be back,” wagging his finger. I laughed and filed it away. Thanks, Hugh Laurie.”

IMG_4308.jpgWe learn from the wisdom of others. ‘Hamilton The Revolution’ introduces us to a serious set of theater luminaries and traces each of their stories as the words and music evolve.

@work we casually use the buzz words creativity and innovation interchangeably. We imagine we are all curious, exemplars of transformational thinking. But most of us can’t reimagine our way out of our comfort zone. Creativity is hard work.

‘HTR’ is the story of a musical. Its value, for those who work outside the theater, is to show us where curiosity can lead and what creativity looks like.

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“The last song in the show captures the bitter historical truth that every one of Hamilton’s enemies outlived him, and they did all they could to efface his memory. By ending with Hamilton’s afterlife, not his death, the show asks us to think about what we leave behind when we’re gone: It invites us to think about legacies.”

When Ben Brantley reviewed the musical for the New York Times, he wrote “Hamilton” is, among other things, about who owns history, who gets to be in charge of the narrative.”

Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter own ‘HTR’, their story, and leave no doubt about who is in charge of the narrative.

“Who tells your story?”

 

 

 

 

 

The week@work – innovative organizations, AT&T’s new culture, Shonda Rhimes @TED, the online platform economy and pausing to enjoy the view

The week@work was dominated by the story of Apple’s opposition to the court order to unlock the San Bernardino gunman’s IPhone. Simultaneously, news was being made as Fast Company released its annual list of the ‘Most Innovative Companies’, AT&T’s leadership challenged workers to reinvent themselves,  Shonda Rhimes shared her ‘year of yes’ @TED, and the JP Morgan Chase Institute released a study examining the online platform economy, and its impact on one million of its customers.

And for balance, in this centennial year of the National Park Service, enjoy the view of Horsetail Fall in Yosemite National Park as sunset transforms the waterfall into an apparent stream of hot lava. Sangeeta Day captured the photo above for National Geographic.

On Monday, Fast Company released their list of The Most Innovative Companies of 2016. The top five are BuzzFeed, Facebook, CVS Health, Uber and Netflix.

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BuzzFeed CEO, Jonah Peretti’s vision drew on his fascination with Paramount Pictures, CNN and JayZ. “BuzzFeed has built its success, like Paramount a century ago, by owning all the elements of a modern media business: a global news team, its own video pro­duction studio, a sophisticated data operation, and an in-house creative ad agency.” 

“The “bored-at-work network,” as Peretti himself once called it, was merely a single U.S. website. In late 2014, he foresaw that people wouldn’t want to leave their social apps, so Peretti drastically shifted his company’s strategy: Instead of trying to lure eyeballs to its own website, the way most publishers do, BuzzFeed would publish original text, images, and video directly to where its audience already spent its time, some 30 different global platforms, from Facebook to the Russian social networks VK and Telegram. Rather than write one definitive article and publish it on every platform (the de facto standard in the media business), BuzzFeed would tailor content specifically for the network and audience where it’s being viewed.

How’d that turn out? Across all the platforms where it now publishes content, the company generates 5 billion monthly views—half from video, a business that effectively did not exist two years ago. Traffic to the website has remained steady—80 million people in the U.S. every month, putting it ahead of The New York Times—even though as much as 75% of BuzzFeed’s content is now published somewhere else.”

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One company that has lost its standing in the top 50 innovators is legacy telecom AT&T. As the competitors have changed with the shift from traditional phone and cellular carriers to Internet and cloud computing, the company’s leadership team is making new demands on its workforce, resetting the culture, again.

“AT&T’s competitors are not just Verizon and Sprint, but also tech giants like Amazon and Google. For the company to survive in this environment, Mr. Stephenson needs to retrain its 280,000 employees so they can improve their coding skills, or learn them, and make quick business decisions based on a fire hose of data coming into the company.

In an ambitious corporate education program that started about two years ago, he is offering to pay for classes (at least some of them) to help employees modernize their skills. But there’s a catch: They have to take these classes on their own time and sometimes pay for them with their own money.

To Mr. Stephenson, it should be an easy choice for most workers: Learn new skills or find your career choices are very limited.”

Adapting to change, learning new skills, saying yes, and taking time to play were all part of television producer Shonda Rhimes’ TED Talk in Vancouver.

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“You can do it too, say yes every time your child asks you to play. Are you thinking that maybe I’m an idiot in diamond shoes? You’re right, but you can still do this. You have time. You know why? Because you’re not Rihanna and you’re not a Muppet. Your child does not think you’re that interesting.

I said yes to less work and more play, and somehow I still run my world. My brain is still global. My campfires still burn. The more I play, the happier I am, and the happier my kids are. The more I play, the more I feel like a good mother. The more I play, the freer my mind becomes. The more I play, the better I work. The more I play, the more I feel the hum, the nation I’m building, the marathon I’m running, the troops, the canvas, the high note, the hum, the hum, the other hum, the real hum, life’s hum. The more I feel that hum, the more this strange, quivering, uncocooned, awkward, brand new, alive non-titan feels like me. The more I feel that hum, the more I know who I am. I’m a writer, I make stuff up, I imagine. That part of the job, that’s living the dream. That’s the dream of the job. Because a dream job should be a little bit dreamy.”

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In other news @TED, the annual $1 million TED Prize was awarded to Sarah H. Parcak, a space archaeologist who uses satellite imagery to discover ancient sites, and map looting.

“I wish for us to discover the millions of unknown archaeological sites across the globe. By building an online citizen science platform and training a 21st century army of global explorers, we’ll find and protect the world’s hidden heritage, which contains clues to humankind’s collective resilience and creativity.”

Unknown.jpegEric Morath reported the findings of a JP Morgan Institute Study of market volatility and the emergence of  “a new marketplace for work by unbundling a job into discrete tasks and directly connecting individual sellers with consumers.” 

Call it ‘gig’ or ‘sharing’, the economy is being supported by folks who are supplementing their income with ‘app jobs’.

“The share of Americans earning income from digital platforms such as Uber and Airbnb is growing rapidly, but those gigs typically supplement incomes rather than replace full-time work.

Nearly 1% of U.S. adults earned income in September 2015 via one of the growing number of firms that are part of the sharing or gig economy, according to a study of bank transactions by the JPMorgan Chase Institute, released Thursday. Participation has exploded since October 2012, when just 0.1% of adults were paid by such platforms.

At 2.5 million, the sharing labor force is roughly equivalent to the number of teachers and others that work for public schools in the U.S., though the study finds that people driving for Lyft or selling crafts on eBay typically have other sources of income.

The average monthly income for someone who provided labor via one of the platforms was $533, representing a third of total income. The share of active participants earning 50% or more of their monthly income has fallen since the summer of 2014, as the total number making some money increased.”

In other stories of interest this week@work:

‘Channing Dungey to Succeed Paul Lee as Chief of ABC Entertainment’ by Brooks Barnes and John Koblin   “Channing Dungey, previously ABC’s drama chief, will take over as the head of ABC entertainment, making her the first black network president.

Ms. Dungey’s elevation is a breakthrough for an industry that has often struggled with diversity, especially among the senior executive ranks.”

‘Fashion Week’s Shift Toward Diversity’ by Ruth La Ferla  “Well before the Oscars stirred a diversity debate, Seventh Avenue had been the target of stinging criticism for the sin of omission, routinely parading mostly white models on its runways.

In this latest round of shows, which ended on Thursday, many designers appeared to have taken a hard look at the highly charged issue of casting, stepping up their efforts to hire racial and ethnic minorities and sounding a chord for inclusiveness.”

And because it’s the beginning of Oscar Week:

b67e67830551ea34f84eb0edf7900236553b83045ca648f52711fe9838b7a681‘Films once were an escape from work. Now, they celebrate it. What gives?’ by Charles McNulty  “There was a time when Americans went to the movies to escape the workplace. These days, in keeping with the way our offices have taken over our lives, filmmakers have turned the big screen into one long career day.

Audiences have been invited to experience first-hand the everyday grind of being a journalist (“Spotlight”), an astronaut (“The Martian”), a screenwriter (“Trumbo”), a fur trapper (“The Revenant”) and even an inventor of kitchen mops (“Joy”).”

Pleasant dreams of gold for all, this week@work.

 

 

 

 

The week@work – A school for watchmakers, innovations in teaching, #OptOutside and other leadership stories

The theme of the past week@work was innovation: creating a school for those who work with their hands, teaching history through theater on Broadway, using video games to modernize MBA education and opting out to #OptOutside.

CBS News produced a segment on luxury brand watchmaker, Patek Philippe and the creation of a school for watchmakers in New York to meet a growing customer demand for craftsmanship in a digital age. “…the 175-year-old company decided to open its own watch school at its New York City offices.

Around 300 people applied; six were chosen. for their temperament as much as for their technical aptitude. So what personal characteristics does Patek Philippe look for in order to select students?

“We need people who are committed, so commitment is a big quality,” replied master watchmaker Laurent Junod, who heads the school. Plus, “Patience, of course.”

“We do a training program here that is two years long. But the learning is not finished. You have to learn all your life.”

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The program provides an alternative career for those who seek to work with their hands. “The school is free. Students are paid a small stipend to cover expenses.

Gaman Kwok had been tutoring elementary school kids. “If somebody told me that I will be training to be a watchmaker a year ago, I would, look at them like, ‘What? Really?'”

Juan Alonzo was working at a men’s clothing store. “I want to be as good as Laurent!” he said of his ambition.

At the end of the course — if they pass their exams — Patek Philippe will hire them. They’ll move on to a lifetime of silence, and precision, and learning.”

Do you think they get an employee discount?

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There is a play on Broadway about our founding fathers, one in particular, Alexander Hamilton. ‘Hamilton’ is a hip hop musical retelling of the story of an immigrant who rose to become a force in the building of a new nation. It is based on Ron Chernow’s 818 page biography published in 2004. How many eleventh graders do you think would read an 818 page biography? How many teachers could find the time to read the same?

Sounds like an opportunity to innovate. This week the producers and the Rockefeller Foundation announced a partnership to provide 20,000 New York City eleventh graders with a chance to attend a performance and continue the learning.“The curriculum will be put together by the nonprofit Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, which plans to create a website with copies of the primary documents that undergird the book and lyrics, and teaching materials about Hamilton and the founding fathers. Students will be invited to create and share their own artistic responses to Hamilton’s life.”

Think about this – 20,000 students who probably have never had access to the lights of Broadway will now be sitting in orchestra seats for one of the most important and creative plays staged in recent memory. And, it’s about history.

“Lin-Manuel Miranda, the creator and star of “Hamilton,” said that he was frequently asked at the stage door how the show, which is both costly to attend and often sold out, could be made more accessible to young people, and he said finding a way to do that has been a priority for him. Mr. Miranda, 35, is a graduate of the Hunter College elementary and high schools for gifted students in New York City.

“If we can excite curiosity in students, there’s no telling what can happen next,” he said. “Not to say we’re going to make 1,300 history majors or 1,300 musical theater writers every time we do the show, but hopefully they will take away how much Hamilton did with his life in the time that he had.”

No telling what can happen next..

Shane Ferro, business journalist for the Huffington Post reported on a new video game, ‘One Day’, being developed for MBA students at the Hult International Business School.

“While it is now fairly common for video games to teach elementary concepts — spelling, basic math, typing — higher education has more or less resisted encroaching technology up to this point. Until recently, higher-level concepts have been harder to program because there may be more than one right answer. “One Day,” which its creators say is the first game of its kind, poses some fairly new questions about learning in the digital age and the role of the professor in a modern classroom.

“I’ve been a business school professor for 30 years,” said John Beck, whose educational consulting company, North Star Leadership Group, developed “One Day.” He lamented that most MBA programs rely on teaching methods honed decades before the personal computing revolution. “For 30 years I’ve been thinking the system is so broken. The case studies model dates from the 1920s, and the lecture model from the 1850s.”

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The day after Thanksgiving, previously known as ‘Black Friday’, now carries a new hashtag courtesy of the leadership team at retailer REI. #OptOutside is a campaign to encourage folks to leave the shopping behind, enjoy the outdoors and share their experience on social media.

“REI is hoping to convince consumers to start a new Black Friday tradition, one that doesn’t involve buying anything. It has built a dedicated #OptOutside website with resources on local hiking trails. REI’s campaign was built with its employees and customers in mind — the company operates as a co-op, with roughly 5.5 million members who pay a one-time fee for a share of the business. Members contribute to at least 80% of REI’s sales.

The decision to close on Black Friday is bold in an industry that has practically made the day a mandatory part of business, not only because customers demand it, but because the bottom line often does, too. The holiday shopping season is the biggest, and most competitive, time of year for retailers, with Black Friday at the center of the hoopla.”

And while we are on the subject of leadership, here are two articles you might find interesting:

‘Giving More Corporate Chiefs the Steve Jobs Treatment’ Nitin Nohira “I worry that we’re too quick to forget the accomplishments of great business leaders, and that if the people leading companies felt some solace that their long-term legacies might warrant a more careful evaluation, as is now occurring around Steve Jobs, they might make very different decisions.”

‘How Not to Flunk at Failure’ John Danner & Mark Coopersmith “Failure is a strategic resource. Like the people you employ, the money you spend or the facilities and technologies you use, it has unique intrinsic value if you’re open and wise enough to manage it as such. Treat it like unrefined ore that needs to be processed and examined to reveal its riches. Failure is reality’s way of showing you what you don’t yet know, but need to learn. It contains the seeds of precisely the insight you’ve been looking for, if you have the honesty and humility to explore those secrets.”

The week@work – the economy improves, the downside of ‘cultural fit’ & the new Fortune 500

The ‘big’ stories in this week@work included the release of the May 2015 US employment report and the 61st version of the Fortune 500. The small stories with potential ‘big’ impact told of the growing concern of the majority of Americans about income inequality and research showing discrimination at work is increasing as hiring managers rely more on ‘cultural fit’ to select employees.

On Friday the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics released the May 2015 employment report.

“Worries about the American economy’s momentum were blunted on Friday by the government’s announcement that employers added a hefty 280,000 jobs in May, well above the monthly average logged over the last year.

The official unemployment rate ticked up slightly to 5.5 percent as more Americans jumped back into the labor pool and began the job hunt. Hourly wages, which have grown fitfully, rose 0.3 percent last month, possibly helping to lure back some discouraged workers who had been staying on the sidelines.” (The New York Times)

Fortune magazine announced it’s annual listing of the largest U.S. companies by revenue.

“This year’s Fortune 500 marks the 61st running of the list. In total, the Fortune 500 companies account for $12.5 trillion in revenues, $945 billion in profits, $17 trillion in market value and employ 26.8 million people worldwide.”

The top ten companies are Walmart, Exxon Mobil, Chevron, Berkshire Hathaway, Apple, GM, Phillips 66, GE, Ford Motor Company and CVS Health. Compare that to the  top ten in Forbes Magazines’ list of ‘World’s Most Innovative Companies’ or Fast Company’s ‘Most Innovative Companies 2015’, and there is only one company that appears on two lists, Apple (Fortune and Fast Company). Forbes’ #1 company, Salesforce, the biggest tech company in San Francisco, appeared on the Fortune list for the first time in its’ 16 year history at #483.

Fortune’s number one, Walmart, is the company George Packer described in his book, ‘The Unwinding’, as the model that continues to influence our economy on a much broader scale:

“Over the years, America had become more like Walmart. It had gotten cheap. Prices were lower, and wages were lower. There were fewer union factory jobs, and more part-time jobs as store greeters…The hollowing out of the heartland was good for the company’s bottom line.”

A CBS/New York Times poll released on Wednesday found that the majority of Americans are concerned about the widening income gap that separates the Walmart shoppers from those on Rodeo Drive.

“The poll found that a strong majority say that wealth should be more evenly divided and that it is a problem that should be addressed urgently. Nearly six in 10 Americans said government should do more to reduce the gap between the rich and the poor, but they split sharply along partisan lines. Only one-third of Republicans supported a more active government role, versus eight in 10 of Democrats.

Far from a strictly partisan issue, inequality looms large in the minds of almost half of Republicans and two-thirds of independents, suggesting that it will outlive the presidential primary contests and become a central theme in next year’s general election campaign.”

The last story of the week concerned the downside of ‘cultural fit’. Lauren A. Rivera, a professor at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, shared her research on candidate selection in ‘Guess Who Doesn’t Fit In At Work’.

“When done carefully, selecting new workers this way can make organizations more productive and profitable. But cultural fit has morphed into a far more nebulous and potentially dangerous concept. It has shifted from systematic analysis of who will thrive in a given workplace to snap judgments by managers about who they’d rather hang out with. In the process, fit has become a catchall used to justify hiring people who are similar to decision makers and rejecting people who are not.”

At the end of the week@work we know the economy is improving and folks are becoming increasingly aware of income disparity.

But is anyone concerned that the largest revenue generating companies have no relationship to the most innovative companies in the world? If you are starting out your career or considering a move, do you choose a revenue generating behemoth or a venture capitalized innovative organization?

And for all of us @work – we want to ‘fit in’ to the organization culture, but with our talents, not personal similarities.