Monthly Archives: February 2010

Vermont Proposes Creating A “Beneficial Business” Corporation

Now this is interesting:  Legislation has been introduced in Vermont to create a new kind of corporation.  Different from a non-profit, it would provide social good for the community, while returning gains to investors.  In a Burlington FreePress article describing this legislation, Seventh Generation co-founder Jeffrey Hollender is quoted as syaing that the bill “provides Vermont with a very unique and important leadership opportunity.”

The FreePress reports that the legislation calls for new and existing for-profit corporations to elect status as a for-benefit corporation with the purpose, among other things, of creating public benefit.  The bill, called the Vermont Benefit Corporation Act, defines “public benefit” as “a material positive impact on society and the environment, as measured by a third-party standard, through activities that promote some combination of specific public benefits.”

Will Patten, executive director of Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility, backs the measure, saying “It’s a no-cost, positive piece of legislation that might have an impact on Vermont’s economy.”  Green Mountain Roasters is reportedly a prime candidate to become a benefit corporation, upon approval by two-thirds of shareholders, should the legislation become law.  Click here for the complete article.

This kind of hybrid corporation makes good sense in this era of economic and organizational turmoil and change — one that calls for out-of-the-box thinking about ways to combine economic success and service to the common good.  Increasingly, economists and others are observing that our institutions and their leadership vision are locked into 20th Century thinking and realities; and that new kinds of thinking and structures are needed to address the complex, interconnected issues facing societies and people today.  Harvard’s Umair Haque, among others, has been addressing these issues in his writings.


Gen X and Gen Y Careerists – Harbingers Of Change In Business and Personal Lives

I often hear a similar lament from both younger and older careerists….about each other.  The younger workers say, “These older people just don’t get it.  They expect us to just fall into line, follow bureaucratic rules, and they don’t show us respect for what we know.”

And the older one’s say, “These young people just don’t understand how to function within an organization.  They want recognition, promotion, everything before they’ve earned it, like we have.  That’s not how reality is.”

It reminds me of a couple that once said about each other – “It’s not that we see things differently.  It’s worse than that:  We’re seeing different things!

Exactly.  So, what can we make of this?  Is it simply the current generation gap?  I think it’s more than that.  It’s part of a broader, growing shift in the mentality of adults towards career, personal life and the role of business in society.  But it’s more visible and pronounced in the so-called Gen X and Gen Y workers, who are the offspring of those “older” workers – the Baby Boom generation now at midlife.

Some interesting research and survey data sheds light on what’s occurring.  For example, a study of 3,500 wage earners conducted by the Families and Work Institute of younger workers.  One finding was a dramatic shift among younger workers in how they handle hostile or abusive work environments:  They won’t stay very long in them, in contrast to how older workers traditionally behave – acceptance and suffering.  The younger workers tend to leave, confident that they’ll find something better.  Or, they “play” with the situation, not letting it get to them emotionally, while they craft an exit strategy.

Puzzling to older workers is that younger careerists want to know, “How quickly will I take on new responsibilities? How meaningful will my work be — immediately?”  They look for a collaborative atmosphere in which all members of a hardworking team share responsibilities.  Older people see this as Continue reading


What Is The “4.0” Career?

Some readers have asked me to explain why I have a category labeled “Work and Career ‘4.0.’”  Fair enough: A few of these blog posts are tagged that way, but I haven’t described what I mean by that designation.

What I call 4.0 is a shorthand way of describing a new evolution I see in people’s attitudes, behavior and desires about their work and career.  Think of 1.0” as more of a survival orientation to work.  It’s how people think about and engage in their work when they’re in situations of extreme hardship, political upheaval, or within socio-economic conditions that limit their opportunity and choices.  That probably describes the situation for the masses of people throughout most of history, and of course it exists today.  In such situations, just earning enough of a living to survive and support yourself and your family is your target, your criteria of  “success.”  Today, the conflicts that people experience within version 1.0 often concern working conditions, discrimination and limited opportunities for getting onto a career path that can lead to something better.

Version 2.0 emerged with the political and economic environments that gave rise to the modern “career”; that is, mostly within increasingly large, bureaucratic organizations from about the late 1800s into the early 20th Century.  Those organizations required layers of management and administration – white-collar jobs.  Advancement became possible along a defined path, and was available to people who could gain a foothold within it, usually because of educational opportunities and/or social class advantages they were born into.  Seeking recognition, power, status, and material perks from steady advancement define success with Version 2.0.  It still predominates within today’s career culture.  It’s where you find the conditions that generate, for example, work-life conflict, boredom, workplace bullying, hostile management practices, and subtle racial and gender barriers to moving up.

Version 3.0 arose just in the last few decades.  It reflects Continue reading


Our Adolescent Model of Adult Love and Sexual Relationships

Like most men and women today, you and your partner are almost guaranteed to descend into what I call the “Functional Relationship.”  One that lopes along OK, but with declining energy and connection, emotionally and sexually.   That’s because most people learn a way of relating within romantic and sexual relationships that is a version of adolescent romance.  “But I’m an adult,” you may protest.  “I grew out of that teen-age romance stuff long ago.”

Not quite.  We’re socially conditioned into intimate relationships that are basically extensions of the adolescent experience.  That is, the features of normal adolescent romance shapes and defines most of the expectations, behavior, and experience about romance and sexuality that you carry into your adult life.  Few realize it, because most don’t learn any other way.  And that’s a big problem, because adolescent romance is incompatible with building an adult love relationship.

Take a look at some typical features of adolescent romance:  Short-term intense arousal from a new partner.  Infatuation and idealization of the new love, often followed by deflation and feelings of loss.  Intense longing and yearning — especially when the person is unattainable or elusive.  Emotional upheaval and turmoil.  The novelist Graham Greene captured much of this in The Heart of the Matter, in which he described  “…the intense interest one feels in a stranger’s life, the interest the young mistake for love.”

Emotional tumult and intense emotional-sexual arousal by a new partner are part of what a person experiences when such feelings are new – physiologically and emotionally.  That’s a part of normal developmental experience for hormone-driven teenagers.  Dion captured the anguish this can cause in his classic song, “Why Must I Be A Teen-Ager In Love?” The problem is, most people are still singing the same tune at 40.

Men and women tend to become frozen within the residue of adolescent romance by the time they enter adulthood.  It morphs into the Functional Relationship the longer a couple stays together.  The reason is that adolescent love extended into adulthood undercuts sustained the vitality and connection needed for a long-term relationship.  You can see the features of adolescent romance in what adults do when they are seeking or forming a new relationship.  For example, manipulation and game playing; trying to find the right “strategy” to get and possess the partner; jockeying around for control, and so forth.  Generally, we learn to associate intensity of feelings with “real love.”

Even though most people don’t really enjoy being caught up in all this, most learn to accept it as part of “normal” love relationships. But a more accurate understanding is that such experiences reflect an enthrallment with our own feeling of being “in love,” much more than a response to the other.  The former is part of the adolescent experience. Continue reading