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February 18, 2006



Sounds like the article is an extended excerpt from E.L.'s upcoming book "Good to (sour)Grapes".

Jon Strande


Wow - you mean this guy is writing another book? How sad. More fuel for the fire of negativity. I hope none of my co-workers read it.




I don't know if he is or not, but I couldn't pass up a G2G-related joke opportunity. I get a big laugh out of his ability to parody bad motivational items, but I agree with you that an ability to mock the status quo does not mean you have a better alternative!

*cough*democrats*cough* (That one was for Mark when he shows up)

ben casnocha

I think he has a point - expectations for most non-entrepreneurs I know are WAY to high!!


He is simply living at a lower scale of Maslow's hierarchy of needs himself. Joke aside: I agree with you, Jon. How can HBR run such idea as something newsworhty? And, considering the "misery" in which some employees still live and work, the number of hours that are worked around the globe, the pressure that we are all under, wow, and he wants to pull back? I work 17 hours a day and be happy that I work? I would rather "expect" something fulfilling out of my 17 hours and hopefully will be appreciated by my company as well. Others will say that hard work is fun for them, and take the appreciation just as a candy aside. But to work somewhere where there is no gratitude, and only work, wow, that wouldn't inspire anybody. And then, ultimately, productivity would also go down.

BTW: Good to have you back :)

Jon Strande

Mike, yeah, I just KNOW that he will appreciate it! ;-)

Ben, okay, if expectations are way too high what should business leaders do? Help lower expectations? What's the solution?

Andreas, I'm with you - I spend more time working than I do with my wife, I really want to get something out of it, emotionally. Life is WAY to short to spend all that time doing something that doesn't make you happy.

All, thank you for the comments!!



Swoosh! Inbound seagull!

"Conventional wisdom blames such pervasive disgruntlement on poor leadership and lousy work environments. But have working conditions in the past decade really degenerated so much for so many?"

Perfect example of why "Despair, Inc" has found success in the marketplace and also, how dense and self-serving Kersten's piece is:

1. Shit isn't funny unless it offers a lamentable or ironic counterpoint to the S.N.A.F.U. that is usually off-limits. So Kersten's posters are passive-aggressive truths that none of us has the balls to state clearly at the Monday morning staff meeting. "Life isn't fair", "Why try harder?" and "dolts get ahead" seems to be the theme. True enough sometimes. But somehow, I don't think Collins would call it hedgehog-worthy. I would call it an argument for Communism.

2. "have working conditions degenerated so much?"

No. It's that other elements in our lives run so much more smoothly that than they used to. Business is still club-footed in a world more increasingly prone to graceful and seamless moments: Our cars start immediately on a cold morning. We can carry and enjoy our music collection wherever we go. We are more in control in more areas of choice--from bottom up, inside to out--than ever before. The one remaining command and control holdout? Institutions and the patterns of work.

And Mike, Kersten reminds of that rarefied animal, the "Southpark Republican". He wants to drink beer, slag off serious effort, yawn at serious analysis, cuss in front of grannies, and then claim he knows what makes America great while voting his balls. My preferred plan? The opposite of that, retaining the cussing, of course.


What's the opposite of 'drink beer' in your mind, Mark? I'm with you on the rest of the program, but that could be a deal breaker!


Horrible oversight! Of course we keep the beer. But only "one with lunch" so we can keep our priorities in order and give our full attention to the healthcare needs of those grannies we'll put into fibrillation. ;-)


Hey Jon,

Great post. I think this guy's entire premise is moot, unless he wants to reconstruct the American (Westernized) psyche.

Sure, does someone in a developing world feel 'grateful' for any job that provides sustenance. Duh! That's why so many companies are outsourcing a lot of lower paying, low satisfaction jobs to those desperate enough to do them. Mighty nice of them. ;-)

As for the argument, were we happier when life was about working and living simply? Maybe, but we cannot erase the past century. Anyone stupid enough to believe they can 'convince' their workforce otherwise is likely on a sinking ship.

Jon Strande


As usual, great comment! Take that 50% number of people who aren't satisified with their careers and you have a huge market of people who will identify with your message... but that doesn't make it right. It is what people wish they could say, as you point out.

Now... do I have to act as referee between you and Mike? ;-)

Aleah, sinking ship indeed! Great comment!!

Thank you all for the great comments!




You ask the question of:

"Do you think leadership is about lowering expectations or raising hope and optimism?"

From just reading your post here is my response.

Maybe business leaders should inspire, because paid work is in essence the exchange of one's life (time) for someone else's idea. If you inspire people with your idea, they will no longer work for you but with you. If employees are working with you they are engaged, which would or could lead to temporary satisfaction.

Think of Layoff’s two paradigms that exist with the political parties. Strict father and nurturing parent, now apply these to the general business models. People are hired to show up to work for a specific task in exchange for money that is all, strict father model. Now if work was done with the nurturing parent perspective, how might the outcome be different?

Fouro brings up an interesting point; other elements run smoothly so we expect business to be in line with are other life elements. Though my questions being are these results such as automatic car starters and portable music a direct result of what we do not achieve in our work environment? Another words when we begin to lack satisfaction in one aspect of our life do we begin to seek that satisfaction elsewhere?

Noel Guinane

Think about it: there will be some business owners or managers out there, fed up with unengaged employees, who read this, agree with it, and give up trying to discover how they can turn those lifeless bodies into vehicles of potential.

Jon, I don't think so. Not unless they're total jerks anyway. You might be missing Kersten's sense of humor. Check out his Corporate Spin videocasts (free) or better yet, read his book, The Art of Demotivation.

He's coming at it from an unusual angle, but much of what he has to say makes sense to me.


Hope and optimism grow with every rise.Once you fall,it disappears.Ambition is good but being too much ambitious is also not good because once you fall short of your expectations despite your best efforts,then it will result in despair.One has to learn to balance the act.This very few people do,and they are successful people.

Steven Burda, MBA

Good read! Thank you.

Steven Burda, MBA

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