How Much Work is Too Much Work?  

Abundance Accountability Personal leadership Respect

FlipboardTwitterLinkedInFacebook

Problem: How much is too much work? What does work balance really mean? I was struck by what Jack Ma, the billionaire CEO behind Alibaba, had to say to Chinese workers about the merits of working 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., six days a week (996). He essentially told them it was their good fortune and that they should be grateful. That has sparked quite a conversation because Alibaba’s work culture is considered by some outside observers as lousy, perhaps even abusive.

Story: Almost simultaneously, the following video by Mark Berg, a frustrated, millennial, Minnesota family dairy farmer, went viral on Facebook. It’s almost six minutes long, and very much worth a watch. Mark tearfully expresses how his parents have less now than when they started farming 40 years ago. The only reason their dairy farm hasn’t gone under is because the life savings of this frugal family have supplemented their mounting farm debt. The irony is that a dairy farmer’s work life is 6 a.m. to 7 p.m., seven days a week. This makes Alibaba workers look like slackers. When Mark’s mom, now in her 60’s, recently talked to the CEO of a milk producer about the Berg’s financial struggles, the suggestion was that perhaps Mrs. Berg get a part-time job to help makes ends meet. Hmm. There is something very wrong with this picture.

What We Can Do About It:

  1. We may need to open ourselves to other business and economic models that offer more equal wealth distribution. 
  2. I’d encourage you to read the following article by Nobel laureate  in economics, Joseph E. Stiglitz
  3. The saving grace in Berg’s situation is that they “love their frickin cows.” Having a deep purpose helps soften the relentless work. However, deep purpose alone will not overcome the dysfunction of fear related to not having enough to look after our basic human needs. Sharing more of the wealth will make us all richer. 

Think Big, Start Small, Act Now.

– Lorne

One Millennial View: What a complicated issue. It’s tough to see such hard working people not seeing an ROI, despite their enormous efforts. I wonder if viral videos like the one above will raise awareness to bring some more profit to local farmers.

– Garrett

Blog 981

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Hot Topic Friday: April 19

Abundance Accountability Friday Newsletter Respect

FlipboardTwitterLinkedInFacebook

 

Happy Friday everyone! Here are some Hot Topics that caught my attention this week.

Hot Topic 1: Phone Love!

Source: New York Times,  Samantha Irby, comedy writer.

What it’s About: Irby writes a brilliant, somewhat tongue-in-cheek article about how we love our phones in spite of everything we know to be harmful about our relationship with them. The following excerpt is a taste of her earthy perspective: “I have long understood that I am a tiny, powerless cog in the wheel of modern America, plus I’m not a hacker, so what do I even know about keeping things hidden? Is it even possible for me, a regular person who cannot figure out how to program the television remote, to circumvent the eyes of all of the faceless technology corporations analyzing my information? What am I going to do, cheat Amazon? Outsmart Google? No, I’m going to do what everyone else does: enter my credit card information when prompted and get that thing I need two days from when I decided I needed… Yes, your phone is potentially hazardous to whatever semblance of security you might have. Yes, there are many medical professionals who would attest to the deleterious effect modern technology has on the brains and interpersonal skills of adults. But hear me out: Maybe it’s worth it?…”

Why it’s Important: For those of us who design experiences in the world of work, I believe we need to pay very close attention to Irby’s honest self-reflection. In spite of all the hazardous issues to our security and physical/mental well being, we are likely to increase our love affair with our phones. 5G, Moore’s law, and a host of other exponential technology and content explosion will make us even more “one.” It’s our job to embrace and humanize for the greater good, rather than wish for a breakup.

Hot Topic 2: 996.ICU, Have We Lost Our Way Regarding “Success?”

Source: Reuters, ARYNEWS.tv.

What it’s About: Alibaba Group founder and billionaire, Jack Ma, defended the grueling overtime work culture at many of China’s tech companies, calling it a “huge blessing” for young workers. In a speech to Alibaba employees, Ma defended the industry’s “996” work schedule, which refers to the 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. workday, six days a week. “I personally think that being able to work 996 is a huge blessing,” he said in remarks posted on the company’s WeChat account. ‘Many companies and many people don’t have the opportunity to work 996,’ Ma said. ‘If you don’t work 996 when you are young, when can you ever work 996?… Let me ask everyone, if you don’t put out more time and energy than others, how can you achieve the success you want?’”

Why it’s Important: This 996 perspective as an expectation and assumption for so-called “success,” may roll off the tongue of a billionaire a little too glibly. This month, activists on Microsoft’s GitHub, the online code repository site, launched a project titled “996.ICU” where tech workers listed Alibaba among the companies ranked as having some of the worst working conditions. 996 is even being questioned in China, where an opinion piece published in a state newspaper argued that 996 violated China’s Labor Law, which stipulates that average work hours cannot exceed 40 hours per week. I think thoughtful leaders have to challenge the narrow definition of “success,” and confront the assumptions underlying 996. At what cost? For whose benefit? Let’s have a rich and meaningful conversation on this. Jack Ma offers just one world view. Let’s hear others’.

My Weekly Wine Recommendation (Thanks to Vivino):

Montemajor ‘Quattronotti’ Appassimento Special Edition Puglia Italy 2017.  

Picture and ratings provided by Vivino.

And finally! Here’s Cecil’s Bleat of the Week!

 “Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.” – 
Anais Nin

[Cecil is the mascot for LorneRubis.com] 

Bye for now!

– Lorne Rubis

Incase you missed it:

Monday’s Lead In podcast.

Tuesday’s blog.

Wednesday’s Culture Cast podcast.

Also don’t forget to subscribe to our site, and follow Lorne Rubis on Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter for the latest from our podcasts, blogs, and all things offered on LorneRubis.com.

Don’t Be an Ass!

Abundance Accountability Personal leadership Respect

FlipboardTwitterLinkedInFacebook

Problem: Organizations can often be too vague and wishy washy regarding expectations of employee behavior. I think most organizations want to state values positively, and I support that general direction. However, sometimes we just have to be more direct. I believe the “DO NOT DO THIS” approach is more straightforward and impactful to help each of us comprehend the seriousness underlying an expectation.

Story: I recently attended Unreasonable Future, a phenomenal conference including emerging entrepreneurs, mentors, and experts. It is organized by the Unreasonable Group and participants are asked to read and sign a “Community Manifesto,” which includes nine value statements. The Unreasonable Group deeply believes that having every member follow these values, is foundational for successful gatherings. Most of the manifesto is expressed as “do’s.” However a couple, including the following, are “do not’s.” My favorite is value V.

“V. Don’t be an Ass: Our programs are centered around a belief that diverse perspectives and experiences lead to breakthroughs. Though you may not always agree with others, we ask that you seek understanding, and acceptance over judgment. When you disagree, get curious. Don’t be mean. Be kind.”

What We Can Do About It:

  1. ALL of us can embrace and commit to: “Don’t be an ASS!” Let’s just do it.
  2. I think every organization should be explicit, and include Unreasonable’s “don’t be an ASS” statement. (I’m sure they would be flattered). This also involves giving people immediate feedback and peer coaching when we behave like asses, (and we all occasionally act jerky even if we don’t recognize when we do it).
  3. We all can do this, can’t we? “Don’t be mean. Be Curious. Be Kind.” How hard is that? Harder than we think if we don’t declare, and then call it out.

Think Big, Start Small, Act Now.

– Lorne

One Millennial View: I think this is ultimately great. However, I think we should also have the trust and accountability to assume most people are not intentionally attempting to be asses very often. Part of not being an ass is also not jumping to conclusions, and immediately blaming or shaming others for their behaviors. I’d say, “Don’t be mean. Be Curious. Be Kind. And be a little tough skinned too.”

– Garrett

Blog 980

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Hot Topic Friday: April 12 Newsletter

Abundance Accountability Friday Newsletter Personal leadership Respect

FlipboardTwitterLinkedInFacebook

 

Happy Friday everyone! Here are some Hot Topics that caught my attention this week.

Hot Topic 1: Modern Coaching for New Leaders.

Source: Forbes, Susan Galer.

What it’s About: Forbes published an interesting article featuring a leadership coaching platform called Sounding Board. The startup uses a proprietary “Sound Coaching” methodology, assigning coaches (trained contractors) to executives, based on a six-point matching process. According to the company, Sounding Board has a 95 percent success rate on first matches to date. The method also collects feedback from managers, peers and others regarding development areas for the executive, aligning information with the company’s goals and values. Executives can chat with their coach anytime on their desktop or mobile device, and through collaborative social apps. The relationships are typically 12 to 18 months. A dashboard tracks executive feedback on their coaching sessions, including progress against their individual plan.

Why it’s Important: The idea of having an executive coach used to be the privilege of the C- Suite. And when I started my career, the idea of a coach was unheard of. However, modern leaders at ALL levels are now looking for one-on-one coaching. Also, more young leaders are stepping up to leadership roles at much earlier stages in their careers. At whatever point, leaders are incredibly pressured to get results while developing themselves and others. This is another example were platforms are providing new value and scale to the “masses.”

Hot Topic 2: The Starbucks of Yoga and the (Down) Side Hustle.

Source: The New York Times, Alice Hines.

What it’s About: This is a fascinating article about the self-proclaimed “Starbucks of Yoga,” CorePower. The company describes itself as a mission-driven fitness company dedicated to changing lives, all while expanding to new cities every year. Today, CorePower has 200 locations in 23 states and Washington, D.C. A key part of its business model is selling customers on the idea of becoming yoga instructors. CorePower offers a full training package that may or may not end up in an employment possibility. CorePower has also faced four federal labor lawsuits, one of which is still pending. In the latest, about 1,200 teachers have signed on to a collective-action suit that argues that CorePower pays them less than minimum wage because of the amount of off-the-clock work they are required to do. As Hines’ article notes: “‘We believe it’s without merit and are defending the company aggressively and appropriately,’ said Eric Kufel, the C.E.O. of CorePower, in a statement.”

Why it’s Important: This is another example where companies and independent contractors are relying on the side hustle to make a business model work. And these new business models, perhaps reflected in the lawsuits faced by CorePower, are challenging many assumptions regarding the relationship between employer and worker. Alissa Quart, the author of “Squeezed: Why Our Families Can’t Afford America,” underlines the following point on this situation: “Ultimately, like so much of this lexicon, the ‘side hustle’ describes the overworked outsiders to privilege, who are forced into informal vocations by the absence of a legitimate economy. They are then told that suffering is valiant and also groovy. In a recent viral BuzzFeed piece describing millennials as the ‘burnout generation,’ side hustles are listed as one of the main culprits.” We need to have an ongoing conversation on this.

My Weekly Wine Recommendation (Thanks to Vivino):

Goretti Sagrantino di Montafalco 2011

Picture and ratings provided by Vivino. 

And finally! Here’s Cecil’s Bleat of the Week!

Instructions for living a life: Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.” – Mary Oliver

[Cecil is the mascot for LorneRubis.com]

Bye for now!

– Lorne Rubis

Incase you missed it:

Monday’s Lead In podcast.

Tuesday’s blog.

Wednesday’s Culture Cast podcast.

Also don’t forget to subscribe to our site, and follow Lorne Rubis on Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter for the latest from our podcasts, blogs, and all things offered on LorneRubis.com.

When Happiness is Overtaken by Joy

Abundance Accountability Personal leadership Respect

FlipboardTwitterLinkedInFacebook

The Problem: Individualism and the “hustle,” a term that seems to be at the center of pop culture vocabulary these days, may be overrated? David Brooks, New York Times columnist, presents a thought provoking view on this topic in an column entitled “The Moral Peril of Meritocracy.” He describes the nature of two mountain lives. “People on the first mountain spend a lot of time on reputation management. They ask: What do people think of me? Where do I rank? They’re trying to win the victories the ego enjoys…These hustling years are also powerfully shaped by our individualistic and meritocratic culture. People operate under this assumption: I can make myself happy. If I achieve excellence, lose more weight, follow this self-improvement technique, fulfillment will follow.” Brooks goes on to describe the lives of the people where something happens to interrupt the linear individualistic, ego-focused existence they had imagined for themselves. For most but not all, this involves a low point or valley that ideally eventually leads us to what Brooks describes as the “second mountain.” Brooks continues: “I can now usually recognize first and second-mountain people. The former have an ultimate allegiance to self; the latter have an ultimate allegiance to some commitment. I can recognize first and second-mountain organizations too. In some organizations, people are there to serve their individual self-interests — draw a salary. But other organizations demand that you surrender to a shared cause…”

Story: I’m hearing some interesting commentary about my “unretirement.” I announced a formal retirement from one organization in August 2018, and now have decided to take on a role with another, well past the age my father formally retired, or the so called official “retirement age.” Some of the comments I hear: “Haven’t you had enough? Earned enough? Can’t you just be happy doing nothing?” etc. I don’t know if I qualify as a second mountain person according to Brook’s assessment, but I know I am driven by purpose and contribution. I love being in service to others. Whether I receive recognition for working that way is not important to me. And while I don’t do it for free, I don’t look to find the biggest paycheck either. I agree with Brooks when he says: “On the first mountain we shoot for happiness, but on the second mountain we are rewarded with joy. What’s the difference? Happiness involves a victory for the self. It happens as we move toward our goals… Joy involves the transcendence of self (devoting to purpose and others)… On the second mountain you see that happiness is good, but joy is better.”

What we can do about it:

  1. Understanding the difference between being personally driven for self/accumulation versus purpose/service, is an important part of each of our climbs.
  2. Leading in an organization requires us to understand why “deep purpose” is vital to meaningful progress.
  3. Consider Brook’s conclusion: “Over the past few decades the individual, the self, has been at the center. The second-mountain people are leading us toward a culture that puts relationships at the center. They ask us to measure our lives by the quality of our attachments, to see that life is a qualitative endeavor, not a quantitative one. They ask us to see others at their full depths, and not just as a stereotype, and to have the courage to lead with vulnerability. These second-mountain people are leading us into a new culture.”

Think Big, Start Small, Act Now,

Lorne

One Millennial View: I personally find nothing immoral or culturally wrong with individualism and meritocracy. I consider it a great motivator. I simultaneously understand that first mountain achievements will not bring total fulfillment. Luckily for us, these aren’t real, physical mountains, and I think we can find ways to explore both. If we’re keeping with the mountain analogy, while the views are potentially more joyful on the second mountain, you still need enough first mountain experience to buy climbing equipment. And you certainly shouldn’t scoff at first-mountain folks, because that’s a steep, tough climb that not everyone can ascend. Both trails are just fine, I guess the only bad choice is to stay at basecamp and never attempt to hustle or find a way to serve others.

– Garrett

Blog 979

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Hot Topic Friday: April 5 Newsletter

Abundance Accountability Personal leadership Respect

FlipboardTwitterLinkedInFacebook

 

Happy Friday everyone! Here are some Hot Topics that caught my attention this week.

Hot Topic 1: Stop Asking Kids What They Want to be When They Grow Up.

Source: NYT and Adam Grant (Wharton professor and one of my favorite folks). 

What its About: Asking kids to define what kind of career or job they want versus the type of person they can become, may cause unnecessary angst. The world of work and career is continuously transforming in front of us. Adults may not even know what becoming a doctor, lawyer, astronaut (etc.) even means, let alone asking the young what they want to do. Focusing on this question can mess kids up in terms of what’s most important relative to personal aspirations?

Why its Important: Grant highlights three concerns with the “…be when you grow up?” question: “When we define ourselves by our jobs, our worth depends on what we achieve; Although having a calling can be a source of joy, research shows that searching for one leaves students feeling lost and confused; careers rarely live up to childhood dreams.” Becoming a wonderful human being and successful whole person on the other hand, calls for different and perhaps better questions. As Grant concludes: “I’m all for encouraging youngsters to aim high and dream big. But take it from someone who studies work for a living: Those aspirations should be bigger than work. Asking kids what they want to be leads them to claim a career identity they might never want to earn. Instead, invite them to think about what kind of person they want to be — and about all the different things they might want to do.”

Hot Topic 2: Procrastination is Not About Self-Control.

Source: Charlotte Lieberman.

What it’s About: Why do we procrastinate and what can we do about it? Lieberman does a superb job digging into this question. It’s not as straightforward as simply having more self-control. According to the article: “‘It’s self-harm,’ notes Dr. Piers Steel, a professor of motivational psychology at the University of Calgary and the author of ‘The Procrastination Equation: How to Stop Putting Things Off and Start Getting Stuff Done.’ People engage in this irrational cycle of chronic procrastination because of an inability to manage negative moods around a task.”

Why it’s Important: I believe procrastination is a stinker of a problem for many of us. In fact, we procrastinate while learning why we procrastinate. Putting off stuff we know needs to get done makes us feel lousy, and gets in the way of forward movement. The research emphasizes: “We must realize that, at its core, procrastination is about emotions, not productivity. The solution doesn’t involve downloading a time-management app or learning new strategies for self-control. It has to do with managing our emotions in a new way.” Read the article for other great suggestions. Or, you know, you could just put it off?

Hot Topic 3: Newly Elected Mayor Makes History in Chicago. 

Source: Chicago Tribune and Bill Ruthhart

What it’s About: Lori Lightfoot becomes both the first African-American woman and openly gay person elected mayor of Chicago, and in doing so, hammered the political establishment that has reigned over City Hall for decades.

Why it’s Important: This is not a political newsletter. It’s about culture and leadership. So I want to emphasize the important victory for inclusivity in a top leadership role; what the world needs more of. As Lightfoot exclaimed post winning: “A lot of little boys and girls are out there watching us tonight, and they’re seeing the beginning of something, well, a little bit different… They’re seeing a city reborn, a city where it doesn’t matter what color you are, where it surely doesn’t matter how tall you are and where it doesn’t matter who you love, just as long as you love with all your heart.” The other reason it’s important is that we learn more about what drives real transformation and that is ENERGY. Neutral ambivalence rarely causes meaningful change. High positive or negative energy does. People in Chicago felt high levels of negative energy towards their political establishment.

And finally! Here’s Cecil’s Bleat of the Week!

Modern technology certainly has made life easier, but it’s also made it easy for people to isolate themselves from opposing views, critical thought and even each other.” – Douglas Rushkoff, Team Human.

Bye for now!

– Lorne Rubis

Incase you missed it:

Monday’s Lead In podcast.

Tuesday’s blog.

Wednesday’s Culture Cast podcast.

Also don’t forget to subscribe to our site, and follow Lorne Rubis on Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter for the latest from our podcasts, blogs, and all things offered on LorneRubis.com.