Why ‘Modern’ Work Culture Makes People So Miserable

Dan Lyons’ account of his time at the software company HubSpot describes a workplace in which employees are disposable, “treated as if they are widgets to be used up and discarded.” And HubSpot is scarcely unique: The description of Amazon’s work environment is just one of many similar cases. An increasing number of companies offer snacks, foosball, and futuristic jargon to keep employees’ minds off their long hours and omnipresent economic insecurity.

Whether that works, and for how long, is an open question.

Sorry, Uber. Customer Service Ratings Cannot Replace Managers

The so-called “gig” economy is mostly filled with companies that have few to no employees who actually provide the companies’ primary services. Full-time employees at companies such as Uber, Airbnb, Postmates, Taskrabbit, and Doordash provide public relations and legal services, marketing, and of course the technical development and maintenance of the software platforms that make the in-home chefs, rides, or renting accommodations possible.

These platform-as-business-model enterprises raise an interesting question: If the people who provide the core services are independent contractors, and if these independent contractors have no supervisors or bosses, how are they managed so the companies can deliver the high quality service necessary to build a good reputation and strong customer retention?

Trump’s Next Painful Leadership Lesson? Being a Winner Excuses Abhorrent Behavior

The Trump phenomenon affords many (often uncomfortable) leadership lessons; for instance, that a brand is not an organization, so Trump would have trouble in caucus states where having a ground game matters, and that what people say they want in leaders is often the opposite of what they select. Now, Trump is demonstrating one of the most important lessons in power and leadership: that winning excuses almost everything as people rush to associate with powerful winners.

Why the VC’s Are Alright—And Always Will Be

William Cohan’s recent cover story in Fortune argued that “a reckoning is coming in the tech world.” That prediction may or may not come true, as research shows that even expert forecasts are often wrong. But whether or not Cohan’s prediction is correct, high enterprise valuations and IPO problems won’t affect the VC or private equity industries very much.

That’s because investment managers long ago mastered an important skill—the ability to gather assets under a compensation structure that makes them money almost regardless of how their investments perform. Here’s how it works.

In 2015, Old Power Triumphed Over New Power, Again and Again

In 2015, “old power” people and tactics triumphed in politics and business around the world. Sometimes, good people behaving nicely did well and received deserved plaudits, but not often enough.

This year, there was lots of talk about transparency, holacracy, the power of social networks to constrain selfish or dishonest behavior, and so forth. Meanwhile, the facts of leadership and power remained anchored in a social dynamic that Machiavelli would easily recognize.

This is Why Donald Trump Will Lead the Polls Far Longer Than You Expect

Many pundits such as David Brooks expect the Trump bubble to burst and his support to fade as voters get more serious about the election and give Trump and his rhetoric and policy positions a closer look. But supposedly knowledgeable observers have been predicting Trump’s fade for months. Meanwhile, recent polls show him leading the field with more support among Republicans than ever. Here are some social psychological principles that make sense of the “Trump phenomenon.”

This Is What’s Wrong With Ben Carson’s Life Story

Was he admitted to West Point? Was his childhood adversity and temperament precisely as he described them? Did he really try to stab someone in high school?

The recent flap over Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson’s life story and its accuracy offers a lesson that applies to anyone who’s ever recounted an autobiographical tale, including many other political candidates whose personal narratives include factual errors. That is, self-reported personal anecdotes are seldom entirely accurate and truthful, because they almost can’t be.

Here’s why.

When people talk about themselves and their pasts, they are motivated to both selectively remember and selectively disclose positive personal information.

Corporate apologies: Beware the pitfalls of saying sorry

Apologies are in the air these days. This month, outgoing Procter & Gamble CEO A.G. Lafley took responsibility for the consumer product giant’s weak performance at the company’s annual meeting and promised improvements. United’s new (and currently sidelined) CEO Oscar Munoz apologized to the company’s employees and passengers for its poor treatment of them. Pope Francis apologized—again—for the scandals bedeviling the Catholic church. Volkswagen apologized for selling cars with software designed to defeat pollution control regulations. And more than a year ago, Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors, “gave a full-throated apology for the defect-and-recall disaster” arising from flawed ignition switches.

What Starbucks can learn from Pope Francis

The juxtaposition seemed striking: on the one hand, Pope Francis in the U.S. with his message of taking care of the poor and the forgotten—a Pope who had published an encyclical speaking to the challenges of inequality and reminding us that “human beings too are creatures of this world”—and on that same day, an article describing the inconsistent way in which Starbucks was implementing its proposed policy to give its hourly store workers more notice about their ever-shifting schedules and total hours of work.

Carly Fiorina: Why you shouldn’t underestimate her

While pundits endlessly debate Carly Fiorina’s record at Hewlett-Packard — how much of the stock price decline during her tenure was her fault; was the Compaq merger, about to be undone in the impending split of the company, smart or dumb; how much did H-P really increase its sales and inventiveness during her reign, and so forth — there’s one thing no one should question: Fiorina has mastered some important lessons in leadership, lessons relevant for anyone.

Here are four things that anyone, running for president or not, can and should do: