A thought-provoking take on shaking up business as usual once the pandemic has passed.

OUT OF OFFICE

THE BIG PROBLEM AND BIGGER PROMISE OF WORKING FROM HOME

The ongoing pandemic has changed the culture of the office forever—for good, perhaps, and certainly for ill.

“Remote work…is not a cure for shitty management or a bad business model or a bad product. It is merely an organizing principle.” So write business journalists Warzel and Petersen, who investigate what has been happening to many organizing principles of corporate life in the last two years. Some of the changes have been decidedly negative. One example is that the CDC has urged commuters to travel in personal vehicles rather than on mass transit even though, as one scholar observes, there is no strong link between disease transmission and public transportation. In addition, with isolation and remote working, the boundaries between work and life, already fuzzy, became a blur. Corporations expect their workers to be available at all times, and workers deploy tactics such as replying to emails in the middle of the night, showing their devotion. Much of the authors’ argument, repeated a few times too often, centers on their insistence that it’s up to the workers to establish and maintain guidelines for keeping personal time safe and otherwise driving changes in corporate culture. Extending this, they urge reshaping business so that work is not the be-all and end-all of life, arguing that a healthy corporate culture would allow and encourage workers to devote time to community endeavors, self-care, education, and other matters not easily reduced to the bottom line. A flexible work life—with some days in the office and others at home—would improve cities by giving people access to parks and other amenities outside the weekend and by encouraging the formation of communities. Of course, write the authors, “organizations are naturally resistant to change,” and our current form of capitalism puts human considerations well behind financial ones, even if the pandemic showed us a different way to conduct our work lives.

A thought-provoking take on shaking up business as usual once the pandemic has passed.

Pub Date: Dec. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-32009-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2021

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A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

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GREENLIGHTS

All right, all right, all right: The affable, laconic actor delivers a combination of memoir and self-help book.

“This is an approach book,” writes McConaughey, adding that it contains “philosophies that can be objectively understood, and if you choose, subjectively adopted, by either changing your reality, or changing how you see it. This is a playbook, based on adventures in my life.” Some of those philosophies come in the form of apothegms: “When you can design your own weather, blow in the breeze”; “Simplify, focus, conserve to liberate.” Others come in the form of sometimes rambling stories that never take the shortest route from point A to point B, as when he recounts a dream-spurred, challenging visit to the Malian musician Ali Farka Touré, who offered a significant lesson in how disagreement can be expressed politely and without rancor. Fans of McConaughey will enjoy his memories—which line up squarely with other accounts in Melissa Maerz’s recent oral history, Alright, Alright, Alright—of his debut in Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, to which he contributed not just that signature phrase, but also a kind of too-cool-for-school hipness that dissolves a bit upon realizing that he’s an older guy on the prowl for teenage girls. McConaughey’s prep to settle into the role of Wooderson involved inhabiting the mind of a dude who digs cars, rock ’n’ roll, and “chicks,” and he ran with it, reminding readers that the film originally had only three scripted scenes for his character. The lesson: “Do one thing well, then another. Once, then once more.” It’s clear that the author is a thoughtful man, even an intellectual of sorts, though without the earnestness of Ethan Hawke or James Franco. Though some of the sentiments are greeting card–ish, this book is entertaining and full of good lessons.

A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-13913-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our...

THINKING, FAST AND SLOW

A psychologist and Nobel Prize winner summarizes and synthesizes the recent decades of research on intuition and systematic thinking.

The author of several scholarly texts, Kahneman (Emeritus Psychology and Public Affairs/Princeton Univ.) now offers general readers not just the findings of psychological research but also a better understanding of how research questions arise and how scholars systematically frame and answer them. He begins with the distinction between System 1 and System 2 mental operations, the former referring to quick, automatic thought, the latter to more effortful, overt thinking. We rely heavily, writes, on System 1, resorting to the higher-energy System 2 only when we need or want to. Kahneman continually refers to System 2 as “lazy”: We don’t want to think rigorously about something. The author then explores the nuances of our two-system minds, showing how they perform in various situations. Psychological experiments have repeatedly revealed that our intuitions are generally wrong, that our assessments are based on biases and that our System 1 hates doubt and despises ambiguity. Kahneman largely avoids jargon; when he does use some (“heuristics,” for example), he argues that such terms really ought to join our everyday vocabulary. He reviews many fundamental concepts in psychology and statistics (regression to the mean, the narrative fallacy, the optimistic bias), showing how they relate to his overall concerns about how we think and why we make the decisions that we do. Some of the later chapters (dealing with risk-taking and statistics and probabilities) are denser than others (some readers may resent such demands on System 2!), but the passages that deal with the economic and political implications of the research are gripping.

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our minds.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-374-27563-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

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