Issue #17
#17 - On power: Airbnb; PwC vs. "Lord Sugar" -- and "power casual" business attire?
May 13, 2022

What's up, everybody?

The takes on where we're headed with work are many, and they are all over the place:

"Employees have the leverage."

"Once the recession hits, people will beg to go to office".

"Hybrid work is doomed."

"Employers miscalculated."

But no matter how you slice it -- or where you think we'll end up -- we are in the midst of a massive renegotiation: a power struggle between employees and employers over the fundamentals: who gets to work, where (and when).

This week, we have two contrasting takes, from two very different leaders: Brian Chesky, the CEO and cofounder of Airbnb; and Lord Sugar, "a British business magnate, media personality, author, politician and political adviser."

Then we end with a fun look at how work fashion is changing post the great remote experiment, as more and more people find themselves returning to office -- and asking what the heck to wear!

Enjoy, and thanks for reading,

Aki & Usman


#Power #GenerationalDivides #KindaHilarious

I for one did not know who Lord Sugar was before this Tweet. But the man has 5.5 million followers, and a bit of a larger-than-life media personality; on top of his business magnate-ism (and, it deserves be said, a brilliant, can't-make-it-up name).

Suffice to say, Sugars is fired UP by PwC giving employees Friday afternoons off over the summer. (The firm put in place the policy last year, and after a 90% employee approval rating -- and, I reckon, an acceptable level of productivity tradeoff -- they're going with the policy this year too).

Contrast Lord Sugar's less-than-sweet rant with the take, below, by a CEO cut from a different cloth: Brian Chesky of Airbnb. The contrast reminded me that for as much attention as generational divides -- gen X, millenials, boomers, gen Z, etc. -- do get, they're still under-appreciated for their ability to shed light not just on macro-level work tensions, but on so much of why the world is the way it is.


#power #GenerationalDivides

As background, Airbnb just announced it would let its employees live and work wherever they want. Chesky Tweeted: “1. You can work from home or the office—whatever works best for you. 2. You can move anywhere in the [US], like from San Francisco to Nashville, and your compensation won't change 3. You have the flexibility to live and work in 170 countries for up to 90 days a year in each location." Pretty progressive stuff, and it makes the entire (condensed) interview above 👆🏻, well-worth the read.

Say what you will about these two approaches, the smart thing about the CEO's taking such clear, public stances is the talent ROI:

One, you might be #TeamChesky or #TeamSugar -- but as a potential employee, you at least know which of the companies you'll apply to. That's super efficient from an employer and hiring standpoint.

Two, once you commit like this, you can get busy building or reinforcing the internal, organizational muscles required to run your company. If you're Chesky, you're now all-in on learning to hire, manage, retain etc a global, distributed workforce. If you're Sugar, you're doubling down on the way things have always been; undistracted by the need to build a new set of muscles.

For the record, we lean way, way Chesky. But we admire both these CEO's for drawing a line in the sand and making clear what working for them will be like. What's the word for that again? Ah, that's right, it's called leadership.


#ThingsThatMakeYouGo🤔 #KindaHilariousKindaReal

I struggle to classify this one, and can't tell if the New York Times meant to be cheeky and fun, or anthropological. Because depending on the quote, insight and, um, fashion tip, it reads as somewhere on the spectrum between hilarious, and fascinating. To wit:

"[O'Donnell] advises job hunters to wear clothing suitable for visiting their grandmothers." 🤔

"Most of Ann Taylor’s new suits for spring are linen blend, and my response is just, ‘Where am I wearing that?’...This isn’t 1925. I’m not headed to a party at Jay Gatsby’s house." 🤣

"[Hitchcock]...had been fielding daily requests from executives to bridge the gap between “pre-Covid norms and post-Covid ‘woke’ expression.”

"After a two-year hiatus, men and women “want to have that kind of message that I’ve been gone, I’ve been away, I’ve been somewhat tuned out and working on myself and here I am."

There's also an element of comedy to the notion of retailers not knowing what to make or market -- because their customers are so-darn-confused about what they should, now, be wearing back to work. (Does anything capture that retail uncertainty like the term in the title of the piece, btw -- "power casual"?)

But then I also think that our confusion about what to wear is very real, and stressful.

I'm reminded of how much more stressful dressing for work is -- has always been -- for women, than for men. 😔

I'm encouraged that "sneakers-for-the-commute, and high heels-in-the-desk", seems to be going away in favor of flatter, more comfortable shoes for women:

"While the [online clothing] site has seen a surge in heels consignment, demand for low heels, wedges and ballet flats has soared."). 🙌🏻

And I'm encouraged, too, by lines like this:

"It can be very easy to say right now that [employers are] lucky to even have me walk through the door, so I just don’t care about my appearance right now." 👏🏻

So where do I net out? What's the sentiment that ultimately captures how the read made me feel? It's the one we return to time and again in this newsletter: grace.

The reminder that this stuff is darn messy and complex; of the value of bearing that in mind as we go through it; and as we do, of the need to offer some kindness and grace to ourselves. And to our wardrobes, too.

Thanks for reading and have a great weekend! 🙏🏻

Work moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.
Join over 1,000 subscribers — sign up today for free.
© 2021 TalentStories, Inc. All rights reserved.