Issue #33
#33 - Company songs (?!), defining burnout -- and perspective on the changing world of work
September 02, 2022

What's up, everybody?

This week, we've got our three bullets as usual, and they're all interesting in their own right. But taken together, they also make for a bit of a theme: perspective on the changing world of work.

First up, we take a look at some of IBM's old "company songs" (spoiler alert: the lyrics are not going to get you up and 🕺🏻💃🏻 ).

Bullet two gives a a simple, insightful framework for understanding burnout. And it segues nicely into our final bullet, which asks if we're not lucky to get to fill our days and thoughts (and newsletters) with questions on meaning, purpose and fulfilment.

Thanks for reading -- and have a great week!

Aki & Usman


#Perspective #Cringeworthy

Company songs?

To sing to your president?

"Progressive men employ progressive methods"?

"I want a girl just like the girl who married dear old dad"?


Mind you, this wasn't some fringe company, folks -- this was IBM.

To be fair, we do, still, place corporate leaders on pedestals (see: Jack Welch, Steve Jobs, et al). But perhaps we can take solace in knowing that songs like these are, if not a thing of the past, then something that makes most of us cringe to the point of nausea.


#Wellness #Vocabulary

Yah, we had to look it up: an etiology is the cause of a given disease.

This tweet made us realize that for all the much-needed talk of burnout, it's rare to see it defined with nuance. The irony -- and the caveat -- is that Emmett is not a psychologist. He's just a thoughtful tech entrepreneur.

Be that as it may, we found his simple act of naming these concepts pretty empowering. The entire thread is superb, but here's the TL;DR -

Burnout is a modern affliction that we can classify into three main buckets:

  • "permanent on-call" - the always-connected devices we carry make boundaries hard to enforce
  • "broken steering" - when we make effort at work, but can't see (or feel) its impact
  • "mission doubt" - asking, "Why am I even doing this work in the first place?". A luxury-of-a-question that implies our more basic needs are being met.


#Perspective #Purpose #Meaning

This poignant, thought-provoking post from Bo Ren, an investor and technologist, picks up from the end of bullet #2 ⬆️ -- "Why am I even doing this in the first place?".

We've said before that TalentStories is about "making work better". In practice, that means understanding work, and how it's changing -- so we can improve our relationship to it.

It's worth reflecting then on how different our parents' relationship to work might have been. After all, depending on the parents, "work" could well have meant: a quest for survival itself; a search for any form of paying job; or slogging through a 40-year relationship with an employer they couldn't stand.

So our bullets today are meant for perspective. They meant to remind us that we're fortunate to get to ask what we think work should look like.

And they're meant to inspire, too. They're proof that work can get better; that it has in the past, and that it will again. 🙌🏻

Thanks for reading.

P. S. Which was your favorite bullet? Hit reply, and let us know!

Work moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.
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