Bennett Green

March 22, 2021

B5L #014 -- Unions, Stacks, Trends, Tips, and Out-of-Offices

Unfortunately I’ve started my 2021 in a bit of a career-funk. It’s probably normal for the beginning of a new year, and given how woeful 2020 was I’m giving myself a pass for any lack of optimism and enthusiasm for the months ahead. 

But my bad mood has led me to some great resources for the start-of-the-year Monday-itis that you too might like to flick through if you’re feeling a similar way. 

A history of modern Labor

The first two links are part of the same series, in which Alex Marshall sets out her vision for the future of work. 

I chose to read this first post largely because I wanted to better understand the second, but as I was getting into it I found the history of how we got to where we are fascinating. 

Workers recognized employers were reliant on them to come to work to operate the machinery, so they had power in this equation. As a result, we saw a significant spike in organized labor. In fact, workers who were unionized increased from 12.7 percent before the war to about 22.2 percent after the war. They fought hard for worker protections that we now consider to be emblematic of a “good job”. The 1950 GM-United Auto Workers agreement (“Treaty of Detroit”) negotiated important worker benefits like cost-of-living adjustments, health insurance, and pension funds. In return, workers agreed to not strike and resolve issues via arbitration. 

Career Stack

Her second post is even better than the first. In the follow-up, she sets out her argument for viewing each person’s career as a ‘stack’ of skills, experiences, and networks, which can easily be adapted into different contexts to enable new career journeys, rather than the traditional ‘cast mould’ approach that sets a person on a fixed path for a predictable 30 years. She then puts her VC-hat on and identifies the developments and innovations needed to support that vision. 

The process of identifying the right career path and choosing an employer is daunting. It presumes an understanding of labor market trends, viable and growing career paths, what it takes to get into and succeed in that career, and insider information on specific employers. With an increasing amount of the workforce reskilling and shifting employers, the need for more effective exploration solutions is increasingly needed. The more that we are able to provide potential workers with support as they explore potential career paths, the more they can avoid potential pitfalls and actually focus on doing what it takes to achieve their goals

2021 Trends

The Jungle Gym put together a panel of founders, consultants, VCs and other ‘futurist-folk’ to list nine trends they believe will shape careers in 2021. It’s perhaps a bit new-agey, and even if 90% of them come to be you can bet only about 20% of them will ever make it to sleepy Australia, but a lot of what the Panel picked resonates with me. 

Instead of rigid plans coming top-down through department heads, companies will increasingly focus on building cultural structures that encourage employees to run experiments, flag problems, and teach colleagues what they know. 

In the coming years, the most successful leaders will be those who can empower their people with the skills and mindsets needed to deliver exceptional work in any scenario.

Out of Office

As we all drip back into the office from our New Year Breaks, check out these wonderful and fun out of office messages. 

I am on annual leave until dd/mm/yyyy. I will allow each sender one email and if you send me multiple emails, I will randomly delete your emails until there is only one remaining. Choose wisely. Please note that you have already sent me one email.


(via @benstapley)

Tips for a Better Life 

To finish on a warm and fuzzy note, I loved nearly each and every one of Conor Barnes’ tips for a better life. They’re not all career related but a number of them are particularly relevant to that sort of funk. 

8. When buying things, time and money trade-off against each other. If you’re low on money, take more time to find deals. If you’re low on time, stop looking for great deals and just buy things quickly online. 


28. You can improve your communication skills with practice much more effectively than you can improve your intelligence with practice. If you’re not that smart but can communicate ideas clearly, you have a great advantage over everybody who can’t communicate clearly.


87. Don’t punish people for trying. You teach them to not try with you. Punishing includes whining that it took them so long, that they did it badly, or that others have done it better. 
This was the first time I’ve tried to collate five links in a related theme. It was an experiment and I’m glad I gave it a go but I’m not sure it really works. Please feel free to reply to this email to let me know what you think :) 

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- Bennett Green

Photo by Patrick Tomasso on Unsplash