The New Groupthink has overtaken our workplaces, our schools and our religious institutions. Anyone who has ever needed noise-canceling headphones in her own office or marked an online calendar with a fake meeting in order to escape yet another real one knows what I’m talking about. Virtually all American workers now spend time on teams and some 70 percent inhabit open-plan offices, in which no one has “a room of one’s own.” During the last decades, the average amount of space allotted to each employee shrank 300 square feet, from 500 square feet in the 1970s to 200 square feet in 2010…
SOME teamwork is fine and offers a fun, stimulating, useful way to exchange ideas, manage information and build trust.
But it’s one thing to associate with a group in which each member works autonomously on his piece of the puzzle; it’s another to be corralled into endless meetings or conference calls conducted in offices that afford no respite from the noise and gaze of co-workers. Studies show that open-plan offices make workers hostile, insecure and distracted. They’re also more likely to suffer from high blood pressure, stress, the flu and exhaustion. And people whose work is interrupted make 50 percent more mistakes and take twice as long to finish it."
This club was not a club selling diet drinks (but it clearly did that). It was a club selling the social support group necessary to drink diet drinks. These diet drinks work (especially when combined with a modicum of exercise). What happens though is that normal people do not have the will-power to maintain a diet drink and exercise regime. My friend in Singapore did – but then he rowed competitively and people into rowing are austere driven people (think all those 4 AM starts).
But I am a fairly disciplined person and - without social support I could not drink these shakes.
In the richer-parts of our society we have a solution to diet-and-exercise will-power problem. We hire a personal trainer (usually someone cheerful, younger and good looking) and they cajole us into weight-loss. This is a “for-hire” personal support group.
But Herbalife is another valid mechanism of getting personal support – and it clearly worked on the customers I saw."
The problem is that we have setup an implicit class system. Those that can afford to work for free readily accept unpaid internships that advance their future career because they have the financial backing to pursue such opportunities. Those that cannot work for free (and most likely accruing significant college loan debt) take whatever job pays. As the number of high quality and relevant paid internships is few, the result is they work in jobs that do little to advance their prospects. It is a two-tier system that locks people into tracks not of their own making and chipping away at our meritocracy.
Even worse is the fact that we are creating an implicit expectation that working for free is okay and an acceptable business practice. We couch this in talking about the valuable “experience” gained and that this is some “rite of passage”. Interns should feel “privileged” for the opportunity to work for these great companies for nothing. The undercurrent however is that we are essentially devaluing people, their talent, and their work. We are devaluing individuals over institutions."
A man’s chief loyalty must be to the woman who has joined her life to his; to the children who call him father; and to the business which feeds and clothes and houses them all. In my easy-going willingness to befriend the world at large, I was sacrificing my wife, my children, and my employer far more than I was sacrificing myself. As I look back, I marvel that my wife and the children should have borne with me as uncomplainingly as they did.
What was true of my family was true of the business as well. I thought I was being friendly to the customers of the house. As a matter of fact, I was too often being friendly to the customers at the expense of the house. It is a common fault in salesmen. They let a thousand trivial demands on the part of the men to whom they sell take their time and energy from the business of the men for whom they sell."