Brand U Work in the Disruption Economy

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Work Life Balance

Common comments often heard were: ‘Why should we bend over backwards if management is not committed to us,’ and ‘just because I’m single and childless doesn’t mean I have the will or the desire to work a 12-hour day, six days a week.’

There is a hierarchy of work-life needs that if unmet result in workplace tension, work dissatisfaction, and marital conflict. The most basic worklife need is individual respect followed by balancing time on and off the job, and work flexibility.

Chicken Soup Stories

‘Touchy and feely’ are in as companies promote inspiration and creativity. Companies can’t cut employees anymore since many cut to the bone. Many people feel cynical, dispirited and demoralized. What can be done?

Why not have Chicken Soup consultants read uplifting stories about people overcoming adversity in life and at work. One story explains how a client empathized and reacted to finding a friend’s mother was dying of cancer.

Power of Communications

How well we communicate is determined not by how well we say things but by how well we are understood.

Andrew Grove, CEO Intel

Getting Things Done in Flat Organizations

Positional or hierarchal power allows command and control or management by decree. But how do things get done in flat, cross-functional teamed and virtual organizations? More often, it is through influence tied to knowledge, access to resources, and persuasion.

Brand U Managers

Being a Brand U manager has its power, money, and perks. The rich but unhappy syndrome is called ‘affluenza.’ But, there is a high price to being a manager these days. But why are so many rich but unhappy.

The hours are long for a typical Brand U manager. Forget 45 hours a week. Two highly paid Brand U managers may now do the work of three. Also even with telecommunications, customers want personal contact – high touch, high tech. This means that many managers and professionals must commute or fly more often resulting in less time with the family. More unhappiness.

Poor Execution

In this Brand U world, all the rules are different and people don’t know what to do in what order because their 30 years of experience haven’t prepared them for all the change – think disruption.

So, it’s not a lack of ideas. It more often comes down to poor execution, which may mean not getting things done, being indecisive, or not delivering on commitments

Get a Life!

The problem is that work is consuming more time. Family, social, and community activities eventually suffer. The ‘work until you drop’ mentality has lost much of its allure. A balanced life, especially to those of us who must juggle career and family has become a status symbol. More Brand U’s are hearing the refrain, ‘get a life.’

More than one in twelve Brand U’s has consciously made a life change such as reducing hours on the job or refusing a promotion to gain time with our families

Taking Personal Responsibility

Something happens and the immediate response is they caused, forced, or did it to me. We’ve all become extraordinarily good at the blame game. Personal responsibility has disappeared and become replaced by victimization.

They did it to me! In some cases this is true. But in the majority of cases, it seems a person didn’t exercise a wise choice, made a bad decision, or didn’t say one simple word, ‘no.’

Shifting Pay

Pay is also shifting to motivate and reward measurable results. A part of a paycheck may even be at risk. A clerical person may find 5% of his or her annual salary at-risk while a senior manager may find 30% or more of a salary at risk.

If the company meets all its goals then the employee receives all of the salary. If only certain goals are reached then the salary is adjusted accordingly.

I’m Scared of Problem Sets


Now, I’ve got your attention.

My name is Margaux. I’m 16. I’m studying STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) subjects and interning at a tech startup –

So, what’s my problem?

I’m scared of problem sets? Say what?

What are Problem Sets?

Problem sets are problem solving and decision making STEM based homework and exercises, that I have to suffer through daily as a homeschooler.

Aside from doing the problem set, I’m expected to write a narrative on how to solve the problem.

I study on math, software (Java), and physics problem sets every day. Some are easy. Some are OK. Some are brain busters.

When they are brain busters, things happen. I stab my pencil on my notebook. I scream like crazy (OK, internally). I have to walk around until I can get back to the problem set.

I think all STEM kids go through this because we are under pressure to do good in really hard STEM subjects.

The Head Game

My frustrations:

My biggest battles are not with the problem sets but with what’s going on in my head. Specifically the messages I give myself.

I think that I can’t do the problems before I have even worked on them. I don’t want my teachers (my parents) to look at me with disappointment, disapproval, and frustration. It makes me ashamed.

Even though I understand the subjects, I’m not confident that I can do the problem sets. I freak out and go through a mental list of bad things that can happen because I don’t think I understand the material.

There’s a voice in my head that tells me:

“You might have to re-learn this.” “Don’t get too confident.” “You might have to do more problems and you’ll be behind on all of your other work.”

I get antsy and lose focus.

When I become like this, I forget how to solve the problem or I won’t try at all. I’ll stare at the problem, but I’m not trying to solve it. I’m trying to figure out how I can escape the frustration that comes with solving the hard problem.

Mastering the Game

I’m learning how to beat the mental game. How to clear my head when I get frustrated. How to stop escaping the problem. How to figure out how to solve the problem.

At these times, I give myself a lot of reassurance. I become my imaginary cheerleader.

Even though I still dislike going through the grit of doing problem sets, I’m building resilience and self-discipline. Those are hard lessons to learn. I’m learning what engineers, programmers, and entrepreneurs do day-in and day-out:

Solving problems and fighting the head game.

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