Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Robert Reich Appraises Obama's First Year At Emerge Fundraiser

Here's a photo of me introducing Carla Marinucci and Robert Reich. Ms. Marinucci interviewed Professor Reich at a fundraiser for Emerge America last night at Joanna Rees and John Hamm's home (thank you!). Professor Reich suggested that one of Obama's flaws was that he has an "indignity" deficit. He noted that past politicians including Teddy Kennedy and FDR used indignation effectively to wield power. Without indignation, Obama (along with Geithner and Summers) had a tin ear with regards to the bank bailout. He also cautioned against growing cries for populism, and Obama's call for a budget freeze. He noted that Keynes needs to be exhumed! He also emphasized Williams Jennings Bryan's "Cross of Gold" speech brand of populism: building democracy and the economy with the masses.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Accidental Entrepeneurs

Businessweek's cover story "The Disposable Worker" describes a longstanding shift of the fixed costs of labor from companies to individuals. Employers increasingly value flexibility and the ability to tie their labor costs to market conditions. This means a significant shift from expensive permanent employees with benefits to part-time contractors with no benefits, retirement, vacation or job security.

This shift may partially explain the increased malaise in the America workforce. The Jan 5 Conference Board survey stood at the lowest level of job satisfaction in 22 years - only 45% of workers were satisfied with their work. Ouch! Do you know what percent of your employees are fully engaged?

Individuals will need a more entrepeneurial view of their career. And, I'm not just talking about "professional" workers. They should be prepared to market themselves on an ongoing basis and invest in their leadership skills so that they are more effective when they have work assignments. Companies will also need to invest in keeping the morale of their remaining "permanent" employees high.