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Peter Drucker | Layoff Rewards | Energy Vampires | Spiers v Andreessen | Factoids
Quote of the Moment
The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not the turbulence — it’s acting with yesterday’s logic.
| Peter Drucker
Satire: Layoff Rewards
Slack feature to offer "layoff rewards" to employees who voluntarily step down when your company needs to reduce headcount.
Betterworks sent me some thoughts on energy vampires at work by Jenna Miller, Betterworks Chief of Staff, who not only have a detrimental impact on the work environment but overall company performance, as well.
The presence of energy vampires is certainly felt within organizations, especially by those that work closely with them. The fact is, energy vampires put a huge damper on productivity and collaboration especially. Who wants to work with someone who is constantly complaining or approaching their day-to-day work life with a glass half empty? Negativity is contagious and can spread throughout teams, also leading to turnover and your best talent pursuing other opportunities and healthier work environments.
If a leader or manager has an “energy vampire” on their team, the first step they can take to minimize impact is simply being aware of the energy vampires — and that requires regular check-ins between leaders, managers, and individual contributors. If a manager is finding out about an employee who is draining everyone around them in an annual performance review, the damage has already been done. Don’t wait to have these tough conversations once a year. There are likely many scenarios where the said energy vampire is not aware of their behavior. The job of the manager is to get the most out of their people, while removing any sort of barriers for them to be their best. Assume the best in people, but don’t be afraid to dig deeper in getting to the bottom of their behavior and putting measures in place for them to thrive and improve.
My viewpoint is that many people do better as independent contributors, operating outside the team paradigm that has come to dominate companies in the past years. I wrote about that and unteams, recently, in the new monthly column for supporters. In that, I quote researchers Constance Noonan Hadley and Mark Mortensen:
Rather than orchestrating team meetings on a daily or weekly basis, managers can focus on touching base with each group member individually. Because one-on-one interactions require the combination of just two calendars and are easier to accomplish both synchronously and asynchronously, they’re likely to result in a reduction in coordination costs as compared to hybrid teams.
And to keep the vampires away from everyone else, except the project manager who has to scramble, but everyone else benefits, maybe even the vampires.
I am reminded by the words of William S. Burroughs, who said this in Words of Advice for Young People:
If, after having been exposed to someone's presence, you feel as if you've lost a quart of plasma, avoid that presence. You need it like you need pernicious anemia.
We don't like to hear the word “vampire” around here; we're trying to improve our public image. Building a kindly, avuncular, benevolent image; “interdependence” is the keyword – “enlightened interdependence”.
Life in all its rich variety, take a little, leave a little. However, by the inexorable logistics of the vampiric process they always take more than they leave.
Spiers v Andreessen
In A Tech Billionaire’s Case for Why Tech Billionaires Should Rule the World, Elizabeth Spiers takes on Marc Andreessen and his far-right, reactionary tract with scalding disdain, and rightly attacks the anti-democratic and neofeudal worldview he advances.
She positions his argument in this way:
In this vision, wealthy technologists are not just leaders of their business but keepers of the social order, unencumbered by what Mr. Andreessen labels “enemies”: social responsibility, trust and safety, tech ethics, to name a few. As for the rest of us — the unwashed masses, people who have either “unskilled” jobs or useless liberal arts degrees or both — we exist mostly as automatons whose entire value is measured in productivity.
The anti-institutional strain of his argument is pernicious:
As a piece of writing, the rambling and often contradictory manifesto has the pathos of the Unabomber manifesto but lacks the ideological coherency. It rails against centralized systems of government (communism in particular, though it’s unclear where Mr. Andreessen may have ever encountered communism in his decades of living and working in Silicon Valley) while advocating that technologists do the central planning and govern the future of humanity. [His vision] despises egalitarianism and views oppression of marginalized groups as a problem of their own making. It argues for an extreme acceleration of technological advancement regardless of consequences, in a way that makes “move fast and break things” seem modest.'
Andreesen is quite like Trump in his embrace of victimization:
When Mr. Andreessen says “we” are being lied to, he includes himself, and when he names the liars, they’re those in “the ivory tower, the know-it-all credentialed expert worldview,” who are “disconnected from the real world, delusional, unelected, and unaccountable — playing God with everyone else’s lives, with total insulation from the consequences.”
His claim is that technology is being scapegoated:
“We are told that technology takes our jobs,” Mr. Andreessen writes, “reduces our wages, increases inequality, threatens our health, ruins the environment, degrades our society, corrupts our children, impairs our humanity, threatens our future, and is ever on the verge of ruining everything.” Who is doing the telling here, and who is being told? It’s not technology (a term so broad it encompasses almost everything) that’s reducing wages and increasing inequality — it’s the ultrawealthy, people like Mr. Andreessen.
Spiers should have ended with a call to tax the wealthy’s wealth, and use that money to make our society more egalitarian and less dominated by inequality, but she ends with a dud of an argument about the ultrawealthy's obsession with immortality. Still, she’s written the very best takedown of Andreessen's screed I've seen so far.
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Between July and September this year, actors in the US were invited to participate in an unusual research project, designed to capture their voices, faces, movements, and expressions.
The project, which coincided with Hollywood’s historic strikes by the Writers Guild of America and the Screen Actors Guild, was run by London-based emotion AI company Realeyes and Meta. The information captured from the actors was fed into an AI database to better understand and express human emotions.
Many actors across the industry worry that AI could be used to replace them, whether or not their exact faces are copied. And in this case, by providing the facial expressions that will teach AI to appear more human, study participants may in fact have been the ones inadvertently training their own potential replacements.
According to ResumeLab’s Job Applicant Behavior Survey with over 1900 respondents, workers are lying at very high rates throughout the job application process.
70% of workers said they have lied on their resumes, with 37% of those admitting that they lie frequently.
76% of workers said they have lied in their cover letters, with 50% of those admitting to frequently lying.
80% of workers said they have lied during a job interview, with 44% of those admitting to frequently lying.
Those with Master’s or doctoral degrees reported the highest incidences of lying, followed by those without college degrees, with the lowest rates of lying among those with bachelor’s or associate degrees.