Monthly Archives: May 2014

My New Book — The Alliance: Managing Talent in the Networked Age

I’m delighted to share the news that I’m co-author of a new book called The Alliance: Managing Talent in the Networked Age, coming out on July 8th from Harvard Business Review Press.allinacecover

A year ago, we published an article in Harvard Business Review titled Tours of Duty, which attracted a decent amount of attention. The book builds on those themes, with significantly more nuance, especially around the concept of the tour of duty. We show how you can reclaim the loyalty and trust in the workplace that’s been lost over the past 50 years by designing an employer-employee relationship that emphasizes mutual trust, mutual benefit, mutual investment. With honest conversation about what each side wants out of the employment relationship, employees are able to do their best, most innovative work, and companies are able to retain them for a meaningful period of time.

In one sense, the new book is an evolution from The Start-Up of You, which Reid and I published about two years ago. That book was for individuals. We argued that individuals can and must think of themselves as entrepreneurs, deploying a full range of entrepreneurial skills in their career, even if they work at someone else’s company. The Alliance is for managers. All managers, to be sure, but especially those who are keen on recruiting, managing, and retaining the kinds of flexible, creative, adaptive employees who’ve been reading The Start-Up of You.

As with the HBR article, Reid and I teamed up with my longtime partner-in-crime Chris Yeh to co-author the book. It’s a ton of work to conceive, write, edit, publish, and market a book. Over the past year and a half, I’ve had the uncommon pleasure of being able to partner with two of my closest friends at once during this long journey.

I’ve already spoken about The Alliance to corporate audiences. Based on those experiences, the reaction to the article, and early feedback on the book, I believe The Alliance has the potential to be a big idea in talent management.

If you manage people — or want to better understand how your managers should be managing you — please pre-order The Alliance!

Marc Benioff Commencement Speech

Marc is an inspiring human being. His 20 minute commencement speech at USC this year nicely sums up his life story and how he became committed to his model of integrated philanthropy.

The College Premium

The everyone-should-attend-college camp often cites the “college premium” — people with college degrees make a lot more money in life than those who do not.

In his recent Econtalk interview, Bryan Caplan adds interesting nuance to this claim. The most important takeaways, in my own words:

  • An average college grad makes 83% more money in an average year than an average high school grad.
  • Folks with some college (who don’t graduate) make on average 10% more than high school grads.
  • Why is there such a premium? The usual story points to the value of the college education itself. Bryan sooner points to the kind of people who attend college.
  • There’s a big difference at the starting point of college. Those who sign up to go to college are, at the outset, going to have higher IQs and an accumulation of other initial advantages than those who choose not to sign up. It stands to reason that those inclined to sign up were going to succeed either way — it has less to do with what they actually learn in school.
  • The 5-year graduation rate for a 4-year college degree (i.e., giving someone five years to graduate) is roughly 55%. In other words, almost half of people who start college do not finish.
  • It’s pretty predictable who will drop out: those with weak academic ability in high school will probably not graduate. Caplan: “For students in the bottom quartile of academic ability [in high school], paying a year’s college tuition is almost as foolish as buying 10,000 lottery tickets.” I previously blogged about this phenomenon in my post Who Should and Should Not Be Going to College.

Bottom Line: The earnings premium college grads enjoy is complicated and may not have much to do with college per se. And fewer people should be attending college — especially those who struggle in high school.

Write About What You Know (So Don’t Write About Yourself)

“Write about what you know,” the creative-writing teachers advise, hoping to avoid twenty-five stories about robots in love on Mars. And what could you know better than the inside of your own head?

Almost anything. And almost anyone else is better positioned than you are to write about the foreign land between your ears. You are the person least qualified to be writing about changes in your own brain, since you need your brain to comprehend those changes. It’s like trying to fix a hammer by using the hammer you’re trying to fix.

That’s the always-interesting Michael Kinsley in the New Yorker, writing about Parkinson’s.