TIME Business

The Road Not Taken: How Getting Fired Boosted My Career

TV host Mika Brzezinski attends Children Roots of Resilience Gala on Sept. 9, 2014 in New York City.
TV host Mika Brzezinski attends Children Roots of Resilience Gala on Sept. 9, 2014 in New York City. Paul Morigi—2014 Getty Images

Mika Brzezinski is the Co-Host of MSNBC's Morning Joe.

"Each job interview set me deeper back; deeper into knowing it was over"

This Influencer post originally appeared on LinkedIn. In this series of posts, Influencers explain how their career paths might have changed. Read all the stories here and write your own (please include the hashtag #RoadNotTaken in the body of your post).

The road I took was set in stone for me at a very early age, influenced by two dynamic parents. My father exposed me to the medium of television — tagging me along on his interviews at “Nightline” and “Charlie Rose.” I got the TV bug immediately as a preteen. I loved how news stories were put together and presented on air.

My mother, a sculptor, tells stories as well — she has a 50-year career of using an axe and a chainsaw to reveal the “stories” inside massive tree trunks. Twelve pieces are on display right now at the Kreeger Museum in Washington, D.C., including my all-time favorite, “Lament.”

So the road started early for me. Telling stories. Communicating a message. Developing my voice in this evolving medium over the course of more than two decades. Sometimes there is no way to take a different path when it is what you love — even when it doesn’t love you back.

I trudged through 10 years in local news, worked overnights at CBS News for four years, hosted a cable show for women for two years after that until finally settling into what I thought would be a life-long career as a correspondent for CBS News. My first week on the job was 9/11. I traveled America finding stories for “The CBS Evening News,” “CBS Sunday Morning,” even “60 Minutes.” Anchoring the CBS Evening News Sunday edition felt like a feather in my cap.

Just shy of my 40th birthday, the road ended. I was called down to the office of the President of CBS News and was told, “They were moving in a different direction.” I was being fired. I. Was. Fired. They liked my work… but didn’t like it anymore… or just had other people coming in… Whatever it was, my days at CBS News had abruptly come to an end.

Being fired is an out-of-body experience. I remember it like it was yesterday. A mixture of anger, feeling victimized, feeling exhilarated and free, and feeling scared shitless all at once. But then the time starts to pass, and if you are like I was, the NEXT job couldn’t come soon enough.

I sent my work to other networks and the response was… crickets. I went from everything to everyone to nothing to no one. If I did get an interview, the first question was: Why were you fired? I didn’t have an answer because I didn’t really know. Each job interview set me deeper back; deeper into knowing it was over. It’s hard to fight nothing. No phone ringing. No calls back. Just “No thank you,” from everywhere I applied. I would re-apply six months later. Nothing.

I did get an audition to anchor the local news at the ABC affiliate in Washington. I was told I was close… down to three. I went for the audition and was desperate for the job. So desperate it was written all over my face. They gave it to the talented Alison Starling who is still there to this day.

At about nine months of nothing, with severance running out, I knew I had to find another road. I began the task of applying for any job anywhere. I was overqualified for many jobs I applied for online, but still got no calls. Slowly… ever so slowly, I got responses from a few major PR firms. One, just one, called me in for an interview. I had the skills and the experience to do PR well.

It was at this time that a good friend — a talented producer at CBS News — was in the process of getter fired too (or “released from her contract”). The turnover was continuing there and this time, it was my friend’s turn. Since I had been through it, I was coaching her through the process — the hurt, the anger, the loss, the fear. I was reliving it all with her. Knowing the place and the players, it really was like my loss all over again. She was one of the best producers there and had taught me everything I know about voice control, studio tracking and storytelling.

My job interview turned into another one until it was down to a final round. A job as a VP at a major PR firm. Real money. It was the kind of money that would keep the family moving forward. We were at a dead stop with no hope in sight. This job was a potential lifeline… right there for the taking.

I was waiting for the call to line up the last round. I’ll never forget the moment. Driving my pickup up the hill near my house, the ’93 Ford 150 with roll-up windows just stopped… Stalled out and died. I knew that meant another $500 at the shop. $500 that I did not have. Then my cell phone rings. It’s the PR firm. Wanting to know if I can come in this week…

I put the truck in park in the middle of the road and listened to myself as I said, “I’d love to come in but I have to be honest; I know someone better for the job. Perfect actually.” I then began to sing the praises of my soon-to-be fired friend. It came out of my mouth as if I had been practicing it forever… So easy to say, because it was true. She was perfect for the job, and I was not. I knew this road, as much as I needed one, would not be taken by me.

I remember clunking my head on the steering wheel after I hung up asking myself: “Why, WHY?? You need a job so badly!” But I knew it even then. There was still only one road for me… and that this one wasn’t it. I knew even then I would have to find my way back to that road I chose at 13 years old. Somehow.

It took many more months, but I called every network known to man and begged for ANY job they had available. I found myself LEAPING at the opportunity to work a day rate, part-time, freelance job at MSNBC reading 30 second news cut-ins — a job I probably would have scoffed at 15 years prior.

Eight weeks into working the “cut-in shift” at MSNBC, Don Imus was knocked off the air for making unfortunate comments. MSNBC was on the hunt for a new morning show…

I was back on the road again.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Business

How Do I Know If It’s Time for Me to Change Jobs?

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Paul Bradbury—Getty Images/Caiaimage

Marty Nemko holds a Ph.D. in educational psychology from UC Berkeley and is a career and personal coach.

Instead of a pros-and-cons list, try this

Should you change jobs? Even make a radical career change? Most articles on the subject offer a checklist or pros-and-cons list. Here I offer a different approach: an internal debate.

Person: I’m sick of my job. I’m ready for something new and there’s too little opportunity here.

Alter ego: But I don’t have the time or energy to look for another job when I’m working 45 hours a week already. It can take months, sometimes longer to find a good job, especially if I try to change careers. And I doubt anyone wants to hire a newbie at anywhere near my salary.

Person: But, God, I don’t want to stay at Western Widget Works, Inc. forever.

Alter ego: No, but I worry that after all that job hunting, I won’t even like my new job or career any better.

Person: I need to remember that I don’t have to take that new job. I just need to take a little time to see if I can find something better. If not, I’ll stay put. I’ll just start networking.

Alter ego: But I hate networking and I’m lousy at it. I just don’t make a good first impression, no matter how much I practice. I’m better off spending the time improving my skills: tech stuff, public speaking.

Person: Okay, maybe I should do that, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be looking for a job. If I don’t want to network, I’ll just answer some on-target ads, one a week.

Alter ego: But if that’s all I do, a year or two from now, I’ll probably still be at Western Widget. Ugh.

Person: So, fine. I’ll apply to three jobs a week.

Alter ego: But every job opening gets so many applications.

Person: I really have to make mine better—Write a cover letter that, point by point, explains how I meet the job’s requirements.

Alter ego: But if I’m changing careers, I won’t be meeting most of the requirements.

Person: Okay, then I’ll include a white paper, like a term paper, on a topic related to the new job that would interest that employer. That will show current chops and interest, and a concrete work sample.

Alter ego: But that will take a ton of time.

Person: No it won’t. A few-page white paper is like one of those papers I wrote in college. One day I knew nothing about the topic and two days later, I knew a lot and cranked out a good paper.I need to stop complaining. It’s better than staying at Western Widget. Right?

Alter ego: Maybe. What if the problem isn’t the job but me? If I’m honest with myself, as I look back on all my jobs, I’ve always struggled.

Person: Do I have to face that I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed?

Alter ego: That may be part of it. I know that I can’t seem to make myself consistently care enough about work. I do my job but I can’t seem to maintain the fire in my belly. I’m not sure I can change that.

Person: So maybe I need to downscale my job aspirations. Up isn’t the only way. I fought my way to be a manager, but maybe I’d be happier and more successful if I did something less demanding.

Alter ego: Am I the poster boy for the Peter Principle, rising to my level of incompetence?

Person: Maybe. I’ve always tried to compete with my high-achieving friends. Isn’t that silly? Maybe by trying to be what I’m not, I’m making myself miserable and ensuring I don’t succeed.

Alter ego: But what should I do?

Person: Maybe I should go back to being an individual contributor or a support person. I’m organized and good at details. Maybe I should go back to being a coordinator, a marketing coordinator. Maybe I should talk with my boss or HR about getting that kind of job at Western Widget?

Alter ego: Actually, I don’t give a crap about marketing widgets.

Person: I need to remember that as long as the widget is worth marketing, it’s worth doing.

Alter ego: Stop with the pious preaching.

Person: How sure am I that I’ll care more about work if I were doing something else? I say I care about gifted kids being ignored in today’s elementary schools but would I really, after a honeymoon period, be that much more motivated to work hard on some job related to that, or will my laziness come along with me wherever I go?

Alter ego: I don’t want to think I’m doomed to mediocrity. I can’t be sure whether I’ll be any happier on behalf of gifted kids but maybe I should try.

Person: That’s probably right. I should volunteer a few hours a week at some school with a lot of bright kids or maybe even for a school district’s director of programs for the gifted. I should do a little networking, make the case that my skills in marketing and being organized and detail oriented would be valuable there. I should apply to jobs anywhere I might be willing to live that excite me. If I get hired, fine. And if not, I’ll feel better for having tried. And who knows? In spending time around those people quite different from those at Western Widget, I may learn about something or about myself that I wouldn’t know if I just kept on keeping on with my same-old routine.

Alter ego: I’ll think about it.

Marty Nemko holds a Ph.D. specializing in education evaluation from U.C. Berkeley and subsequently taught there. He is the author of seven books and an award-winning career coach, writer, speaker and public radio host specializing in career/workplace issues and education reform. His writings and radio programs are archived on www.martynemko.com.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Business

Execs Like Emil Michael Don’t Hate Women—They’re Terrified of Them

Emil Michael senior vice president of business for Uber Technologies Inc. stands for a photograph after a Bloomberg Television interview in San Francisco on July 29, 2014.
Emil Michael senior vice president of business for Uber Technologies Inc. stands for a photograph after a Bloomberg Television interview in San Francisco on July 29, 2014. Paul Morris—Bloomberg/Getty Images

Laura Kipnis is the author of Men: Notes from an Ongoing Investigation.

Uber mensches they are not—they're simply scared, and women should not contribute to their power

In Neil LaBute’s coruscating black comedy In the Company of Men, two reptilian male executives concoct a scheme to deceive and emotionally humiliate a vulnerable deaf secretary who works at the branch office they’ve been temporarily assigned to. The plan is to shower her with attention, get her to fall in love with both of them, then simultaneously drop her. Why? Because they can. Because they’re angry at women. Because they think women have power over them.

Over the last few days we witnessed a scenario that could have been authored by LaBute, our bard of misogyny, play out in real life, a terrific satire about corporate America, sexual swaggering and contemporary masculine angst, improvised by a couple of executives at Uber. Yes, in case you haven’t heard, another male in a position of power has created another dungstorm by making ill-considered remarks in a public setting; the usual swell of public indignation has ensued.

“His remarks showed a lack of leadership, a lack of humanity, and a departure from our values and ideals,” tweeted Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, about Emil Michael, his senior vice president of business. Kalanick was referring to threats Michael issued at a dinner attended by a number of prominent journalists, involving a harebrained plan to do opposition research aimed at Uber-critical journalists. He was going to dig up dirt on their personal lives, their families, and give the media a taste of its own medicine. Michael later said he thought the dinner was off the record, and that he was just venting, not serious.

Why am I so much less outraged than everyone seems to be about the story? To begin with, who ever thought such guys were role models for enlightened masculinity anyway? Social responsibility? Come on. New corporations and start-ups come and go these days in a flurry of mergers, acquisitions and rebranding, in it for a quick payday. They owe no one anything—not in their eyes, anyway. The Great Recession was brought to us by just such swashbucklers, who still believe they earn their unconscionable incomes by taking insane risks with other people’s money and turning the economy into a casino. Ever since Reagan, corporate America’s indifference to any value other than profits has been writ large in their refusal to pay their fair share of taxes. They’re not role models for anyone other than pirates.

The mistake is to regard Uber and its execs are though they’re the exception to something. Indifference to customers? Sounds like the airlines. Silicon Valley corporate greed? It pales compared to Wall Street corporate greed. Misogynist mud-throwing aimed at a threatening woman? Consider the ongoing and deeply ugly Republican war on Hillary Clinton.

In this case it was one woman in particular— Sarah Lacy, editor of the Silicon Valley website PandoDaily—who was the special target of Michael’s animus. Lacy has repeatedly taken Uber to task for what she calls the company’s outrageous sexism, including CEO Kalanick’s boasts that he gets so much “tail” since starting Uber that the company should really be called “Boober.”

Her response to hearing about Michael’s dinner-party threats, Lacy has recently written, was a shocked sense of her own vulnerability, and fears for her children’s well-being. She imagined them at home in their kitten and dinosaur pajamas and felt terror.

The pajamas are a nice touch (heartstrings tugged!). But what Lacy neglects to say is that she has these guys running scared. They’re afraid of her. Lacy should be taking a victory lap. Her opponents are acting like “scared little girls” in the current idiom—they’re simply masking it behind a lot of macho posturing. Which is exactly what most macho posturing generally comes down to: fear of one sort or another. And pathos. And, vulnerability, real or imaginary. We have a habit of forgetting that.

Let me say something else that might be controversial. I’m rather intrigued by Kalanick’s references to how much sex he’s getting just because he’s Uber’s CEO. Here’s another hard truth of the sort that Neil LaBute is so good at exposing: As much as some women protest the kind of misogynist culture that Uber apparently exemplifies, there are plenty of other women who eroticize male power and wish to bask in its aura, even when it comes packaged in buffoonish and objectionable forms. This is a contradiction worth examining. Women, too, play a contributing role in upholding the conditions that also abject us, something we’re in the habit of forgetting.

Memo to the “tail” of which Kalanick speaks: Ladies! You can do better.

For my part, I’d far rather hear what guys like Michael say when behind closed doors than carefully burnished platitudes from some PR firm. When people go off-message, or mistakenly think they’re off the record, or un-mic’ed (don’t forget Mitt Romney uttered the fatal “47%” line when he thought he was among friends), what you usually hear is what they actually think, as opposed to what they think they’re supposed to say. The only thing that was outrageous about this latest episode was getting socked in the face with a few unvarnished truths.

Laura Kipnis’s new book, Men: Notes from an Ongoing Investigation, is out this week.

 

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Business

Uber’s Real Crime Is Giving In to Politics as Usual

Adam Berry—Getty Images

Nick Gillespie is the editor in chief of Reason.com and Reason.tv.

The company once fought unfair regulation—now it wants its own

So does Uber, the smartphone-enabled ridesharing service, have “an a–hole problem” that threatens the company’s very future? The New York Times warns that “Uber’s hard-charging [corporate] culture…can become a losing proposition faster than you might imagine.”

That seems to be the growing consensus among observers as the company’s list of real and imagined sins starts growing longer by the minute. Some of the complaints are serious and some are frivolous. But there’s one truly anti-competitive move Uber is pulling that it should definitely called out on—and hasn’t been yet.

In just a few years, Uber has gone from being universally praised to being universally dumped on. “Uber is software [that] eats taxis,” enthused Marc Andreessen, the man who invented the first popular web browser and is now a leading venture capitalist in Silicon Valley, back in 2011. “It’s a killer experience.”

Even as Uber has expanded to 45 countries and more than 200 cities and is valued at more than $18 billion, the only press the company seems to get these days is bad press. It’s not a pretty list, to be sure. Uber’s seemingly cavalier attitude toward its customers’ privacy has been a public relations problem pretty much since Day One, and the company has been criticized for trying to steal drivers from rival services and for allegedly tying up competing services with fake ride requests. The latter is churlish and underhanded (management says any such incidents were isolated) but the luring drivers away from other companies by paying them more? Come on, already: That’s called capitalism, and it’s a win for workers.

There have been more serious matters. Earlier this year, when an Uber driver in San Francisco struck and killed a six-year-old girl while between fares, the company first tried to dodge any responsibility but ultimately expanded its insurance coverage for drivers. Another driver not only assaulted a passenger but had somehow managed to pass the company’s background check despite being on probation for battery and having “multiple drug-related felony convictions” under his belt. These and other similar incidents are terrible and need to be dealt with better than they have been, even as the same sorts of complaints happen all the time with traditional taxi services. With Uber and other services at least, you really can pinpoint the malefactors immediately. Try doing that with a traditional cab company.

Much of the media-centric anger at Uber concerns its top management. Uber’s co-founder Travis Kalanick drew ire when he commented to GQ that his newfound wealth and fame had led to something like girlfriends on demand. “We call that Boob-er,” he joked. Both the quality of the joke and the mind-set it reveals are adolescent, but customers aren’t riding with Kalanick. The latest outrage is just a few days old and explains more of the media’s newfound vitriol toward Uber. After a particularly critical article about the company appeared, Senior Vice President of Business Emil Michael talked about spending “a million dollars” to look into critical journalists’ “personal lives” and “families.” He quickly apologized and Kalanick distanced himself from the comments in a 13-tweet-long act of contrition that reads about as sophisticated as his “Boob-er” gag (the main point was the Michael is not in the position to carry out such threats, not the best line of defense).

It’s this sort of not-ready-for-prime-time stupidity that may well end up eating into Uber’s customer base even as the company provides a great and appreciated service. None of us wants to do business with “a–holes,” but we also don’t expect businesses to be run by saints or be our best friends, either. If the company goes too far, people can always vote with their dollars for other ridesharing services, such as Lyft and Sidecar.

What actually troubles me the most about Uber is its newfound willingness to work with local governments to come up with regulations it can live with—but which put its existing and future competitors at a disadvantage. Not long ago, Uber was refreshing in its attitude that it didn’t need any government’s permission as long as it was serving customers’ needs who voluntarily downloaded its app and summoned its cars. That’s exactly how things should be in a free market.

Early Uber investor Ashton Kutcher explained it well on Jimmy Kimmel Live back in January. With “Uber cab or [room-sharing service] airbnb or any of these new peer-to-peer networks,” said Kutcher, “you have old-school monopolies and incumbents, and old-school governments that get kickbacks from various people that don’t want the new guy to come in so they try to kick them out of their city. But the people are going to have what the people want and the people say they want Uber and the people say they want airbnb.” Across the country, Uber faced down taxi commissions and other agencies that tried to shut it down even as residents clamored for alternatives to traditional cabs.

In September, though, the company hired former Barack Obama adviser David Plouffe specifically to work with local governments. “Uber should be regulated,” says Plouffe, who hails the legislation he hammered out in Washington, D.C. as “groundbreaking legislation [that] provides a model going forward.”

That model is one that gives clear advantages to Uber, which has more market share and political clout than its rivals such as Lyft and Sidecar. What the legislation does is establish “burdensome new ridesharing regulations” dictating minimum ages of drivers and other requirements that will make it more difficult for competitors to catch up to Uber or enter new markets in the first place.

In The Myth of the Robber Barons, historian Burton W. Folsom made a distinction between market entrepreneurs, who got rich by providing goods and services to people at cheaply and efficiently, and political entrepreneurs, who maintained and grew their market share by lobbying for regulations and special privileges that gave them an edge. Folsom underscored that it’s common for market entrepreneurs to become political entrepreneurs (think Thomas Edison, who used all sorts of political connections to kneecap market rivals).

Uber’s latest strategy may make sense from a business point of view—Plouffe even calls it “Uber-mentum”—but if you believe in free markets, it’s just as dispiriting as most of the other things that have ginned up anti-Uber fervor. And to the extent that new regulations make it that much harder for the next great disruptive business to come along, it’s worse still.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME

Your Pharmacist Called. You Owe $1.3 trillion

A new report predicts that drug spending will shoot up 30% by 2018

Here’s a shocker: global spending on drugs is going up. Way up.

A new report from IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics projects the world will shell out $1.3 trillion for medications in 2018, a 30% increase over the figure in 2013.

The proliferation of new, pricey specialty medications like Sovaldi, Gilead’s $84,000 Hepatitis C wonder drug, has something to do with this spending increase, particularly in developed markets, but so does an aging population and increased accessibility of healthcare around the globe.

Take the U.S., the world’s largest drug market, where spending is forecast to rise 11.7% in 2014. New innovative treatments— particularly for cancer, diabetes, and autoimmune disorders—are one bigger driver for this, but so is Obamacare, which has expanded the number of individuals receiving medical care. (The spending increase in the U.S. this year was particularly dramatic because of the small number of drugs that went off patent. Also, the $1.3 trillion figure does not reflect the impact of rebates and discounts, pricing adjustments that are increasingly common in the modern health care landscape.)

A growing middle class and the adoption of universal healthcare is fueling drug spending in other parts of the world. Generics, rather than branded drugs, dominate these markets: IMS predicts spending on pain medication, the largest category of drugs in developing marketing, will increase roughly 10% annually. (IMS pegs the compound annual growth rate at between 8% and 11%.)

The rise in drug spending isn’t inexorable. The research firm points out that France and Spain are likely to see drug spending decrease, thanks in part to cost containment efforts.

The world is in a relative sweet spot for drug innovation. Whisked along by the FDA’s new breakthrough drug designations, the number of launches of novel medications will remain high in the coming years, IMS says. That’s particularly true in oncology. Cancer drugs account for 30% of the world’s pharmaceutical pipeline, and sales are expected to top $100 billion in 2018, largely because of breakthrough immunotherapy treatments.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com

TIME Business

GE Makes a Big Bet on Manufacturing

Rana Foroohar is TIME's assistant managing editor in charge of economics and business.

The company’s plan to make things again is a test for the entire American economy

If one company mirrors the travails of American business over the past decade, it’s General Electric. The manufacturing giant founded by Thomas Edison in 1892–and the last of the original firms in the Dow Jones industrial average still listed on that index–grew into a multinational powerhouse that made everything from lightbulbs to locomotives as the U.S. became the world’s lone superpower. Its nickname said everything: Generous Electric. But by the time the 2008 economic crisis hit, GE had gone from being an industrial innovator to being the country’s sixth largest bank, relying on financial wizardry rather than engineering to satisfy investors.

Perhaps the most enduring quality of the broader economic recovery since then has been the gap between reality and perception. While growth and jobs are up, only about 1 in 4 Americans believes the economy is getting stronger, according to a recent survey by the investment firm BlackRock. The reason is clear: personal incomes aren’t rising, except at the very top. Historically, the key to achieving broad income growth has been creating more middle-income jobs. And those have traditionally come from the manufacturing sector.

Which is partly why, in order to save his company, CEO Jeffrey Immelt borrowed $3 billion from Warren Buffett and vowed to retool GE–away from complex financial schemes and back toward making things. GE, in other words, is trying to do what the U.S. as a whole needed to do: rebalance its economy and get back to basics.

So, six years on from disaster, how is it going?

Immelt has made progress. With the recent spin-off of GE’s consumer-finance division, which peddles financial products ranging from private-label credit cards to auto loans, the share of profits that comes from finance has gone from more than half to about 40%. The target is to get it back down to around 25%. As CFO Jeff Bornstein recently put it to me, “We had to decide whether we wanted to be a tech company that solves the world’s big problems or a finance company that makes a few things.”

GE’s executives are betting on a few megatrends, including the belief that emerging-market economies are entering a period very much like the post–World War II period in the U.S. Those countries will need new houses, bridges, roads, airports and all types of consumer goods in unprecedented quantities. The McKinsey Global Institute estimates that by 2025, emerging-economy nations will spend more than $20 trillion a year in this way. That means that future economic growth may well be centered on making things, rather than trading on their value.

To help capture its share of that action, GE is trying to copy some of Silicon Valley’s methods. The company has set up a “growth board” that operates like an internal venture-capital firm, vetting new ideas presented by employees and then dishing out a bit of time and capital to explore them. The result is that production cycles for projects like new oil-drilling equipment or LED lighting systems are shortening dramatically. An idea that once took two years to test might go from paper to production in 45 days.

The firm is also sourcing new ideas from the crowd. One recent design for a bracket on a jet engine came from a 22-year-old in Indonesia who had tapped into a website where the company posts problems and offers payouts to whoever can solve them.

Still, the big question is just how many good new jobs America’s industrial firms, small and large, will actually create in the coming years. So far, the trends are positive. In October, the Boston Consulting Group’s annual survey of senior manufacturing executives found that the number of respondents bringing production back from China to the U.S. had risen 20% in the past year. GE’s new hub in San Ramon, Calif., which was launched more than two years ago to explore the burgeoning “Internet of things” (i.e., machine-to-machine communication via the Internet), has gone from zero employees to more than 1,000. The company is also using more local small and midsize suppliers, thanks to new technologies like 3-D printing that let startups achieve more speed and scale.

Such trends at GE and elsewhere have yet to replace the 1.6 million manufacturing jobs lost in the recession. The good news about our postcrisis economy is that it is smarter and nimbler and growing in the right sectors. The bad news is that it still doesn’t have enough good jobs for those who need them. The way forward may be clear, but getting there is another story.

TO READ JOE’S BLOG POSTS, GO TO time.com/swampland

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Business

Dismantling Tech’s Sexist Culture Isn’t Easy, But Deleting Uber Sure Is

Uber Technologies Inc. Senior Vice President Of Business Emil Michael Interview
Emil Michael, senior vice president of business for Uber Technologies Inc., speaks during a Bloomberg Television interview in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Tuesday, July 29, 2014. Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

Nilofer Merchant is an author and speaker based in Silicon Valley, California.

As history has shown, if we wait for those in power in Silicon Valley to do something, we might wait forever

News Monday of car-service company Uber wanting to launch a smear campaign (to the tune of $1 million) against a female journalist should worry you for obvious reasons. In response, actor and Uber investor Ashton Kutcher tweeted “what is so wrong about digging up dirt against a shady journalist?”

Oh, boy. Or, should I say, boys.

We should all be concerned with what’s going on with Uber—not just for what it says about tech, but for what it means for business and culture as a whole. One truism I’ve learned in the last 20 years of being up-close in the tech industry is that as Silicon Valley Companies Do, so Does the Rest of the Industry. From key ideas to key leaders, what happens here in Silicon Valley spreads fast.

Some people have called this latest news just another “clueless” move by inexperienced and young company executives. But that defies evidence of a pattern at play in tech, business and society overall: that women are threatened and oppressed for having an opinion. And perhaps more to the point, that men and their inaction allow this attitude to propagate. “Boys will be boys.”

Both Uber CEO Travis Kalanick and the executive involved in the latest scandal, Emil Michael, have been publicly shamed into saying “I’m sorry.” But an apology is not the only thing this situation merits. Michael, as of now, still works for Uber. And the company’s recruitment of top political talent implies that it’s more interested in spinning the news, not changing its ways.

This is not an isolated incident in tech. It’s part of a pattern. Take, for example, Gamergate, a controversy that began earlier this fall of online harassment of women in video gaming culture. Social media attacks, particularly those from website forums 4chan and Reddit, were widely condemned for their sexism and misogyny. Just last month, media critic and feminist Anita Sarkeesian became the subject of terrorist threats against her planned lecture at Utah State University, which made international headlines.

And let’s not forget that Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said a few weeks ago that it was “good karma” for women to wait for a pay raise, rather than ask, and then suggested some elusive “industry” fix this problem.

Point being, the dynamics in tech are not new, or even unknown. The ‘bro’ culture has just been left unchecked.

Let’s remember, the people “in charge” today could have already made much needed changes. But Uber’s investors and board have chosen to remain silent on the safety of women issue, despite the company’s well-known and widely reported frat-bro culture, as summarized by Elizabeth Plank in Mic:

It’s hard to count all of the ways Uber has degraded, diminished and generally harmed women since its founding in 2009. Whether it’s the CEO openly referring to the company as “Boober,” the company’s chauvinistic ad campaigns, the alleged slut-shaming of female passengers who accused drivers of assault, or the reports that drivers “choked” and even attempted to abduct female passengers, the company has built a reputation for an increasingly problematic and misogynistic management style and culture. And that’s saying something in Silicon Valley.

And, so that begs the question, is this changeable?

Sarah Lacy, the journalist targeted for the smear campaign, wrote, “unless forces more powerful than me in the Valley see this latest horror as a wakeup call and decide this is enough, nothing will change.”

She’s right in one way. But I’m not convinced they need to be more powerful than her. People who share in a common purpose need to join forces with her. Because if we wait for “those in power” in Silicon Valley today to do something, we might wait forever.

Rather than waiting for “those in power” to act, we should start with each of us acting. So, today, you should delete your Uber account and put a dent in their estimated annualized billion-dollar revenue stream. In the social era, connected individuals can now do what once only large centralized organizations could. Yes, you can be as or more powerful as any top tier venture capitalist by banding together with others in this protest.

Mind you, I’m not limiting this action to women. This is not just a gender issue, but one of human values. It’s about the kind of world you want to live in. Uber counts on your desire for convenience to subsidize its untouchable ‘bro’ culture. That’s a big cost for convenience.

It’s going to take using the power available to each of us to act as one. And if Uber does change its ways because of our collective action, we can always return to them.

Nilofer Merchant’s high-tech business experience spans shipping 100 products, resulting in $18B in revenues. An author of two books on collaborative work, her next one is on how to make your ideas powerful enough to dent the world (Viking, 2016).

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Business

A Historical Argument Against Uber: Taxi Regulations Are There for a Reason

Taxi Rank
Yellow cabs waiting in line at LaGuardia Airport, New York City, in March of 1974 Michael Brennan—Getty Images

The author of a cultural history of the NYC taxi — a former cabbie himself — explains why he believes oversight is necessary

New York taxis used to have a reputation for smelly cars, ripped seats and eccentric drivers. Today, New York cabs are nearly all clean and well-maintained. Drivers don’t usually say much unprompted. The cabs feel safe. In other words, they’re boring. And maybe that’s a good thing, because they’re vying against a polished new competitor.

Uber, the ride-sharing app, has grown explosively in the five years since its inception, challenging established taxi services, expanding its annual revenue to a projected $10 billion by the end of next year and attracting drivers away from its competitors. Uber drivers get 80% of a fare, and the company only takes a 20% cut. Uber’s cars are mostly slick, clean and easy to hail via the company’s app.

But a big reason Uber has grown so quickly is that it’s not regulated the same way that traditional taxi services are. Uber proponents say it’s about time for monopolistic, overregulated city cab services to be broken up. Riders deserve options, they say, and better pricing, and more nimble technology. Still, the company is no stranger to controversy, most recently over reports of executives abusing the company’s ability to track riders.

And, says one taxi expert, history shows that the larger reason to be concerned about Uber is that those regulations were established for a good reason.

Graham Hodges is the author of Taxi! A Cultural History of the New York City Cabdriver and a professor at Colgate University — and a former cabbie himself, who patrolled New York’s dangerous streets in the early 1970s for a fare. Hodges is suspicious of upstarts like Uber and says that the cab industry needs to be regulated.

Hodges’ argument? Taxis are pretty much a public utility. Like subway and bus systems, the electric grid or the sewage system, taxis provide an invaluable service to cities like New York, and the government should play an important role in regulating them. They shouldn’t be, Hodges argues, fair game for a private corporation like Uber to take over and control, any more than an inner-city bus service should be privatized.

Without getting too much into the nitty-gritty of taxi rules, what do passengers get out of cab regulation? Regular taxi maintenance, says Hodges, which taxi commissions like New York’s require. “You want to know you’re getting in a safe cab that’s been checked recently,” he explains. “They’re taking a pounding every day.” Knowing your fare is fixed to a predictable formula is important, too, says Hodges. (Uber does that, though the company’s surge pricing at peak hours can really up the cost.) And you want to know that your driver has had a background check, which established taxi services usually require, so that you can be less afraid of being attacked with a hammer, abducted or led on a high-speed chase, as has allegedly happened on some Uber trips.

Regulations have been around for a long time, Hodges says: “Taxi regulations developed out of livery and hansom-cab regulations from the 19th century. They’re a necessary part of urban transportation. They’ve been that way since the metropolitization of cities in the 1850s. And those in turn are based on a long-term precedent in Europe and other parts of the world. From hard-earned experience, those regulations ensure fairness and safety.”

In the 1970s, when Hodges drove, those regulations ensured that a driver made a decent living, and could comfortably choose his or her own hours. (“I made $75 the first night I was out,” he says. “I felt fantastic.”) The golden days of cab driving, Hodges continues, were even earlier, in the ’50s and ’60s. Think sometime before seedy New York full of troubled men like Robert De Niro in Taxi Driver (1976), and more like the omnipresent, wise-seeming driver of Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961).

“Back then, drivers stayed on for a long time,” says Hodges. “They were beloved. They were culturally familiar. That’s where you get the classic cabbie and someone who was an encyclopedia of the city. Those are guys who dedicated their lives to the job and owned their taxis. They had a vested interest in a clean, well-managed auto that lasted a long time.”

Today, Uber drivers do enjoy some of those benefits. Though they’re hardly known for an encyclopedic knowledge of the cities they drive, or as cultural touchstones, they own their own cabs and have a lot at stake in driving. What’s more, they get a large cut of each fare and have a lot of freedom. And regulation doesn’t always work the way it’s supposed to: even after the Taxi and Limousine Commission started more closely regulating taxi drivers in the 1970s, riders were often in for a surprise. Taxis were rusty tin-bins and drivers were erratic.

In 1976, TIME offered a sardonic view of the New York cab ride:

A taxi ride is the chief means by which New York City tests the mettle of its people. A driver, for example, is chosen for his ability to abuse the passenger in extremely colorful language, the absence of any impulse to help little crippled old ladies into the cab, ignorance of any landmark destination, an uncanny facility for shooting headlong into the most heavily trafficked streets in the city, a foot whose weight on the accelerator is exceeded only by its spine-snapping authority in applying the brakes. Extra marks are awarded the driver who traverses the most potholes in any trip; these are charted for him by the New York City Department of Craters, whose job it is to perforate perfectly good roadways into moonscapes.

The taxi machines are selected with equally rigorous care. Most are not acceptable until they have been driven for 200,000 miles in Morocco. After that, dealer preparation calls for denting the body, littering the passenger compartment with refuse, removing the shock absorbers, sliding the front seat back as far as it will go, and installing a claustrophobic bulletproof shield between driver and passenger—whose single aperture is cunningly contrived to pass only money forward and cigar smoke back. All this is designed to induce in the customer a paralytic yoga position: fists clenched into the white-knuckles mode, knees to the chin, eyes glazed or glued shut, bones a-rattle, teeth a-grit. To a lesser extent, the same conditions prevail in other taxi-ridden U.S. communities.

In the end, Hodges says, cabbies and passengers have always wanted the same things — “We don’t want to have hyper competition, we don’t want reckless driving, we don’t want drivers about whom we don’t know very much,” he says — and, whether or not it always works perfectly, he believes that history has shown that regulation is the best way to get there.

TIME Business

How to Get the Most Value From a Career Counselor

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nullplus—Getty Images

Marty Nemko holds a Ph.D. in educational psychology from UC Berkeley and is a career and personal coach.

They're likely to help you the most after you've landed a job

Many people consider career counselors a joke: “They give you B.S. tests that, in the end, always say you should be a funeral director or a forest ranger.” While that’s stretching it, career counselors are often less useful than they could be.

Choosing a career

The most likely reason you’d choose to see a career counselor is because you’re still not sure what you want to be when you grow up even though you’re already a grown-up. Alas, career counseling clients too often don’t end up contentedly employed because:

  • No one career stands out.
  • Too many careers stand out.
  • Their goal is too popular. For example, they want to work in media, entertainment, or for the environment but so does half the continent. Career counselors’ unofficial motto, “Do what you love and the money will follow,” often ends up being untrue.
  • Their goal sounded good but once in the career, they dislike it because the field or particular job turned out different than the career counselor suggested it would be.

Part of the problem is that career counselors’ main tools, career inventories, poorly predict how successful and happy you’ll be in a given career. For example, the popular Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, administered to over 2.5 million people each year, severely lacks reliability, let alone predictive validity. Penn-Wharton Professor of Psychology, Adam Grant, in a Huffington Post review of the Myers-Briggs, concluded, “we all need to recognize that four letters [the Myers-Briggs' 16 categories each have four letters] don’t do justice to anyone’s identity. So leaders, consultants, counselors, coaches, and teachers, join me in delivering this message: MBTI, I’m breaking up with you.”

Now in my 30th year as a career counselor and coach, despite honors and praise from most clients, I wonder whether helping people pick a career is a cost- and time-effective use of people’s money and time. Do career counselors, especially paid ones, often-enough add sufficient value over what you might get by simply using software such as O*Net or Eureka, which inventory your skills and interests and then provide descriptions of matching careers, including training requirements, and supplementing that with some Googling and informational interviews?

Landing the job

Career counselors tend to be more effective in helping you land a job. They can teach the art of networking, how to create a good LinkedIn profile and how to write a good resume and cover letter. Indeed, some counselors cross the ethical line and write or so heavily edit your work that it more represents the counselor’s writing, thinking and organizational skills than yours. Career counselors can prep you for interviews, helping you craft ideal answers for likely interview questions and videoing you to show you when you don’t appear credible and winsome.

Even if the counselor doesn’t write your resume and cover letter nor feed you model answers, much job-search coaching, despite its ubiquity, in my view, is unethical and inimical to the common good. The people willing to pay a job-search coach are disproportionately those who, on their own, failed to find decent employment, a pool that, on average, is less intelligent, less skilled, less motivated and/or more high-maintenance than the pool of people that get hired without paying a job coach. So when career counselors do the aforementioned packaging of a client, they’re often making an applicant look superior to more worthy candidates. As I mentioned in a recent TIME article, that’s, of course, unfair to the better candidates, especially to low-income ones that can’t afford a job-search coach. That’s also unfair to employers who thereby are deceived into hiring a worse employee than they otherwise would have hired. And that hurts all of us: The quality of the goods and services we receive is affected by the quality of people that get hired. There will always be a percentage of people who are unemployed. In an ideal world, they’d be the people who’d be the worst employees. But job-seeker packagers mitigate that. So, ironically, job-search coaching, which would seem to be a pro-social profession, may, overall, actually make the world worse.

Where a good career counselor or coach may most help

Most career counselors don’t continue to work with you after you’ve landed a job. Ironically, that’s when one is most likely to do the most good. Fortunately, some, by temperament and training, can help clients succeed on the job. You might want to hire someone to help you with one or more of these:

  • Onramping. The first 30 days are crucial. As they say, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. To onramp successfully, you must quickly learn that workplace’s unspoken rules and culture, what to prioritize and the quality of work expected. You must develop relationships, especially with key people, who may or may not appear key on the organizational chart, for example, that veteran administrative assistant who has seen it all. Such skills are often not taught in college.
  • Communication. Many people think they’re more effective communicators than they, in fact, are. For example, they may be unclear, or clear but lacking in emotional intelligence. They may be long-winded. Their speech and writing may too often embed anger.
  • Time management. Managing time and avoiding procrastination is key to career success but tough for many people.
  • Organization. No, you needn’t be a neat freak but being functionally organized is important and, in some people, lacking.
  • Management and leadership. The art of supervising people and budgets requires much subtlety. Also, one must know how to develop processes that are detailed enough but not unduly constraining, and how to manage and lead more by inspiring than micromanaging.

Many career counselors and coaches, while rich in counseling skills, are lacking in these areas and might be wise to acquire them, whether via self-study, courses, and/or real-world experience as an employee of an organization.

The takeaway

If more career counselors and coaches focused on the sort of work proposed in the previous section, they could greatly improve our worklives, for our own betterment, employers’, and society’s.

Marty Nemko holds a Ph.D. specializing in education evaluation from U.C. Berkeley and subsequently taught there. He is the author of seven books and an award-winning career coach, writer, speaker and public radio host specializing in career/workplace issues and education reform. His writings and radio programs are archived on www.martynemko.com.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME movies

You Can Live in ‘The Godfather’ House for About $3 Million

And it has a "man cave" in it

Here’s a real estate offer you can’t refuse: The house that was used as the Corleone family home in The Godfather is on the market for a cool $2.895 million.

The 6,248-square-foot English Tudor in the Emerson Hill area of Staten Island was home to Don Vito Corleone in Francis Ford Coppola’s iconic 1972 movie. The home has changed hands only once since Marlon Brando and Al Pacino filmed there.

The exterior and nearby gardens were the setting for Corleone’s daughter’s wedding at the beginning of the movie. And while the interior of the house wasn’t used in the film, the owners renovated it in 2012 to make some rooms look like the ones in the movie.

The real-estate listing for the property notes that the house has an English pub and a “man cave” area. Sounds perfect for watching, well, The Godfather.

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