Time Will Tell

by Matthew Stollak on Friday, December 30, 2011

It is winter break where I work, which as given me a little time off, and an opportunity to catch up on a little TV and pop culture.

The latter half of 2011 was dominated by #occupywallstreet and its various spinoffs throughout the U.S.  Anger as a result of stagnating wages, growing income inequality, and an uneven playing field resulted in many rising up in protest.  However, those under attack have had enough.  A fascinating piece by Max Abelson in Bloomberg highlights the perspective of the more economically fortunate:

Home Depot co-founder Bernard Marcus says “Who gives a crap about some imbecile?”  “Are you kidding me?”

Tom Golisano, the billionaire owner of the billing firm Paychex, offered his wisdom while his half-his-age former tennis champion girlfriend, Monica Seles, hung on his arm: If I hear a politician use the term ‘paying your fair share’ one more time, I’m going to vomit.”
One would believe based on these comments that America hates the rich.  However, a smattering of TV viewing actually demonstrates the opposite perspective.
In the 1980s, audiences were kept rapt by the wealthy inhabitants of "Dallas," "Dynasty" and "Falcon Crest." Robin Leach signed off each episode of the syndicated "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous" wishing each viewer "champagne wishes and cavier dreams."
In the 2000s, MTV introduced America to "Cribs," featuring tours of the homes of wealthy celebrities.
Today, in the midst of a housing crisis and underwater mortgages, HGTV has "hits" such as "House Hunters," "Selling L.A." and "Selling New York," which aren't exactly showing a 700 square foot studio apartment in West Hollywood or the Village.
People still love and want to be rich.  Which brings us to...
A&E's "Storage Wars."  "Storage Wars" features four  sets of auction hunters who scour foreclosed storage units in search of items left behind that could potentially valuable.  A unit becomes available, interested buyers have 5 minutes to peer into the locker (they can't go in!), and then the highest bidder gets the rights to the contents found within.  Will they discover someone's trash, or will there be antiquities worth thousand of dollars?
With 3% salary increases and limited career growth opportunities, "Storage Wars," perfectly captures today's times...millions losing their assets, while others finding the only way to get ahead is the luck of the draw.

Happy New Year everyone.

Dark Angel

by Matthew Stollak on Thursday, December 1, 2011

I love this!

At the recent Republican Governor's Association meeting in Florida, Republican strategist Frank Luntz was trying to assist Republicans on how to address the growing dissatisfaction represented by Occupy Wall Street.

One such way is to focus on "jobs" rather than "careers."  According to Chris Moody, the conversation should go as follows:

4. Don't talk about 'jobs.' Talk about 'careers.'

"Everyone in this room talks about 'jobs,'" Luntz said. "Watch this."

He then asked everyone to raise their hand if they want a "job." Few hands went up. Then he asked who wants a "career." Almost every hand was raised.

"So why are we talking about jobs?"
 Luntz further goes on to say:

Don't say 'bonus!'

Luntz advised that if they give their employees an income boost during the holiday season, they should never refer to it as a "bonus."

"If you give out a bonus at a time of financial hardship, you're going to make people angry. It's 'pay for performance.'"
 I love this...with millions unemployed and unable to find work, and countless others trying to make ends meet by holding 2 (or more) jobs, the answer to our economic woes is the continual Orwellization of the struggle.

  • It's tough to talk about careers when people need a job first
  • It's tough to talk about careers, when its not "careers" being outsourced to other countries
  • Why talk about "pay for performance," when executives get the same "performance" enhancements at the same time each year?
  • Careers are long-term.  They involve expectations of the future.  Most people are looking for work today.  
  • People definitely want careers, but the current economy make it tough to turn a job into a career.
  • Jobs are temporary; careers involve commitment by an employment partner.
How do these "solutions" being offered really create "careers" and the resulting "pay for performance?"


by Matthew Stollak on Monday, November 28, 2011

In this weekend's New York Times, Floyd Norris highlighted the latest statistics for workers and corporations.  He writes:

In the eight decades before the recent recession, there was never a period when as much as 9 percent of American gross domestic product went to companies in the form of after-tax profits. Now the figure is over 10 percent.

During the same period, there never was a quarter when wage and salary income amounted to less than 45 percent of the economy. Now the figure is below 44 percent.
Accompanying his article, were a number of charts, including the below to highlight his point:

For decades, the success of workers and corporations were intertwined.  As corporations did well and had high profitability, benefits expanded and wages increased.  A rising tide lifts all boats, right?

In the 1910s, Henry Ford knew if workers worked long hours at low pay, they could neither afford nor consume the product they were making.  So, he lowered the work day to 8 hours and the work week to 5 days, while offering $5 a day in wages (doubling wages).  Check out his thoughts here.

When did organizations decide that workers no longer deserved to share in the success of the organization?