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88 of 90 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Paradox of Success
This book clearly deserves more than 5 stars. It is Professor Robert Reich's best book, and the first to go beyond Professor Peter Drucker's thinking about the future of "knowledge" work. It is well written, and designed to stir a debate and self-examination . . . rather than answer all of the questions in an opinionated way. Nicely done!
In sharing an...
Published on January 9, 2001 by Donald Mitchell

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Robert Reich Was Too Busy To Write This Book
Having really enjoyed Robert Reich's regular commentaries on National Public Radio, I decided to try one of his books. The message of the book was good but the book wasn't punchy like his NPR stuff. You get the feeling he was just too busy to do a good job on this book.
He criticizes "Bowling Alone," but Reich's reserach doesn't hold a candle to...
Published on June 23, 2001 by E. S. Wilson


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88 of 90 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Paradox of Success, January 9, 2001
By 
Donald Mitchell "Jesus Loves You!" (Thanks for Providing My Reviews over 124,000 Helpful Votes Globally) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Future of Success (Hardcover)
This book clearly deserves more than 5 stars. It is Professor Robert Reich's best book, and the first to go beyond Professor Peter Drucker's thinking about the future of "knowledge" work. It is well written, and designed to stir a debate and self-examination . . . rather than answer all of the questions in an opinionated way. Nicely done!
In sharing an epiphany that he had, Professor Reich describes the trap of success that he ran into as Secretary of Labor for President Clinton. "My problem was that I loved my job and couldn't get enough of it." Sounds okay so far, doesn't it? Well, read on. " . . . [A]ll other parts of my life shriveled into a dried raisin." He quit after calling to tell his children that he would not be home before bedtime for the sixth night in a row, and he son begged him to wake the son during the night simply for the comfort of knowing his father was in the house. As a result of having had that experience and happily changing his life balance, "I am writing here about making a living and making a life . . . [and it's] geting harder to do both."
The book is an excellent summation of the reasons why the most successful people typically work the longest hours and the most intensely. Trends suggest that this imbalance is likely to get worse.
Basically, the current economy puts a huge premium on finding new, creative solutions whether as a technologist, designer of new business models, new product conceptualizer, or marketer. Most people cannot synthesize all of those roles into one person -- the perfect entrepreneur. Those who can are even more valuable. The digital society vastly increases the rewards for these innovations by making them available to more people faster. Much of this new work is "creative" rather than "knowledge" work. I think that distinction is a useful one that should be retained in examining the subject.
Some of the consequences of this situation are that personal lives are disappearing under the waves of career. Loyalty to anything but the current assignment is modest. Family life is shriveling. Naturally, that may be what you want. Or is it?
The book culminates in suggesting that each person more consciously consider the personal choices of how to allocate time. In addition, there is a choice that society must make about how hard to pursue economic opportunity versus creating a more balanced connection among people. The ultimate strivers tend to hang out and live with each other, and have less and less contact with those who are not the top performers. It is a new form of elitism that can undermine many of our social mores. He suggests that we think about this choice in both economic and moral terms.
In both cases he finds, "It's a question of a balanced society."
My own experience is that it's good to step back from concentration, even if your goal is only to achieve economically. That seems to give your subconscious time to come up with better solutions.
I also suspect that many people end up overcommitted to work because they do not have the skill to insulate themselves from work. That isn't taught anywhere. You have to learn it on your own. Unfortunately, many people have to crash and burn first . . . sometimes taking their families with them. That's the hard way. I'm sure we can find easier ways. With people living longer, it's even less reasonable to expect that everyone will want to or be able to keep up these enormous paces for many years. The most intense field (like investment banking) have always been mostly handled by the young. But what do you do for an encore?
However you decide what balance should mean for you, I do hope you will consider the question. You and those you love will be much better served by your conscious decisions as a result.
May you enjoy a wonderful balance of health, happiness, peace, and prosperity!
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61 of 62 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Why work is getting harder, and life more lonely. . ., June 20, 2002
Reich (personal bio covered by other reviewers) covers
some of the mega-trends that are affecting our lives.
The book follows this train of thought, if only roughly.
1) Technology and globalization is breaking down barriers for competition. With so many suppliers, buyers have more choice. There are better deals everywhere and switching costs are going down. You can change (your house, job, lifestyle) easier than ever before.
- Every year 17% of American¡¯s change residences, and 20% of them change jobs.
2) It is a buyers market and sellers are forced to innovate. Everything must be better, faster, and cheaper. The innovators are increasingly independent, and networked free agents (rather than a vertically-integrated conglomerate). These free agents seek market visibility by associating with large recognized brand portals: Disney, Dell, Harvard, and AOL.
- 90% of the 7,000 entertainment firms in Los Angeles have fewer than 10 employees.
3) Loyalty? Companies are constantly trying to cut costs and looking for cheaper suppliers (and employees). "The underlying cause isn¡¯t a change in the American character. It is to be found in the increasing ease by which buyers and investors can get better deals, and the competitive pressure this imposes on all enterprises. As the pressure intensifies, institutional bonds are loosening.¡± (page 71)
4) The nature of work has changed. There is more emphasis on the individual; they must provided for themselves, and constantly define their value. It is an opportunity, but also a great source of insecurity.
The gap in wealth is increasing.
- In the US, the top 1% of people hold 18% of the wealth.
- CEO pay (as a % of typical worker¡¯s salary) has risen from 40x (1980) to 85x (1990) to 419x (2000)
5) Americans are working longer hours. The opportunity cost of not work is very high: people are compelled to work for that marginal income. The free agent culture: People take their work home with them
- Americans work 350 hours a year more than Japanese and Europeans
- 30% of families are supported by single parents
6) As free agents, we sell ourselves constantly. (Not just when applying for a job) ¡°Individuals now blaze their own career paths by making reputations in their fields, not in their organizations.¡± (page 143)
7) Families are shrinking, as both women and men feel compelled to work more. Many of the functions for the family are being outsourced: meals, childcare, shopping.
- The percentage of unmarried people with no children is 32% (1998)
- In Massachusetts, more babies are born to women over thirty (than under thirty)
- Spending on take-out & restaurants exceeds the spending on groceries.
8) Although technology is making our lives easier, more efficient, we are very alone. As a result, we are paying for attention: spas, clubs, counseling, childcare, and brokerage. Companies are segmenting their markets by their customers¡¯ ability to pay for service (or attention). Invariably, this trend will continue as more people work longer hours and spend less time at home and with their families.
9) Communities are becoming commodities. People are more mobile. We choose our location, neighbors and lifestyles. Friendships start and end easier. We choose the communities that offer the best return on investment: lifestyle, schools, and real estate value. Society is becoming more segregated as people bargain for something better; no one wants to subsidize anyone else.
10) Leadership is about attracting and keeping talent; governance is salesmanship (section title pg. 209).
Finally, Reich discusses the choices we must make in light of the world we live in. Overall, it is an insightful and organized view of the hectic life we live.
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63 of 65 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, comprehensive overview but..., January 21, 2001
This review is from: The Future of Success (Hardcover)
What Former Labor Secretary Reich does say, he says with insight and clarity: the transformation of society into one that is obsessively "bottom line" driven, whether it be a company seeking highest profitable returns or an on-line customer seeking the quickest delivery time for an item. However the result of this thinking, according to the author creates two major problems: it widens the income gap between economic classes and it makes "time is money" the paradigm of the new millenium--at the expense of personal and family relations, self-reflection and understanding, enjoyment of life outside of work. The well-off have access to service (massage, personal trainers, limousines,); as for the poor: let them do stretching exercises, jog, and take the bus. The author insists that as the more affluent become more insular, they do not intentionally separate themselves from the needy or disadvantaged; it's just that they follow the dictates of common sense that says why not get the best bang for the buck (for example, not caring or acting on the fact that low prices of computers is at least due in part to woefully low wages among foreign workers who produce the chips). We need to reassess our values, according to Reich, and ask ourselves whether indeed do we really want to live overworked if pampered lives with less and less time for those things which traditionally display our humanity. All in all, a very inclusive, incisive book with such disparate citations as Oscar Hammerstein and brain chemistry research to promote the thesis. Two small issues I have though: 1) I wonder if we really aren't so aware of the injustices around us and simply have a "that's life" attitude; and 2) I believe the author might have included a bit more regarding the role of the media in influencing opinion, especially given that other opinion forums are not much examined or respected. Nevertheless, anyone who is concerned about the future of work, American culture, and "family values" should enjoy and receive insights from this book even if he or she doesn't totally agree with it.
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dissects the modern Work/Life balance problem, August 28, 2002
By 
Christopher Hefele (Lawrenceville, NJ United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This was a great, insightful, enjoyable, well-written book. It clearly dissects the problem of why it's so hard to achieve a suitable work/life balance today, and clearly describes some underlying causes. For me, it certainly lived up to the praise it has gotten.
In short, Reich's central idea is this: as consumers, we love the terrific products and deals we're getting in today's marketplace as a result of increased competition. However, the dark site of this is that we must work longer hours as employees and be more innovative to ensure our companies outpace the competition. These time pressures are fragmenting our personal lives as we reduce the time we spend with friends, family and community. Reich has many interesting insights and observations beyond this overall theme as well. Overall, I recommend this book -- reading it was time well spent.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Insightful, January 31, 2001
By 
This review is from: The Future of Success (Hardcover)
Reich articulates the dilemma of the modern time...that essentially, middle to upper income professionals can now simple dial in the number of hours they work to receive a set of fixed income and other benefits. As a physician, I found that Reich describes what many physicians have long experienced...long hours, always "on call", higher pay, stress on family time, etc. Physicians have also long had a direct correlation between hours worked and income for the most part. The hard part was choosing not to work and too spend time on other pursuits. In the new economy, a greater number of workers are now operating under this model of work, work, work and they find that it is stressful.
The value of Reich's book is that he explains why all of this is happening due to rapid equalization of access to information. Why should you read it? Because it will help you understand the choices that will have to be made as you define "success" for the next twenty to thirty years of your career. In the new economy, YOU have the power to make that decision.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Commentary On Our Changing Workplace, August 27, 2003
By 
Although the title is overly ambitious, The Future of Success is an interesting commentary on our changing workplace. The author, Robert Reich, a Brandeis University professor, was the Secretary of Labor during President Clinton's first term. Consumed by work and neglecting his family, Reich decided that the toll was too great and left his cabinet position to return to academia and write this book.
Reich's work is important because he explains the drivers of our new economy with its great consumer deals, endless workweeks and vanishing job security. In this new world, rewards are given for results, not seniority within the company. We can conclude therefore, that since teams are typically formed to achieve specific results, they will continue to be an important organizational structure in the new economy. Increased competition is driving most businesses to focus on results. This philosophy favors a results-based organization structure in which teams are the basic building block.
Although the reader expects Reich to end this book with stunning insight on balancing the vast benefits of the new economy with its requirement of personal sacrifice, the author provides no specific recommendations. Instead, the disappointing final chapter provides some vague recommendations for increased dialogue and improved public policy. Nevertheless, the book's compelling content makes up for its tepid epilogue.
Reich's background gives him unique qualifications to describe the driving factors behind the new workplace. I recommend that you put this on your list.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book, Great Thinker, Great Insights, June 17, 2002
By A Customer
A lot of people missed this book. Maybe it is not a best-seller.
Maybe the book title, The Future of Success misled people, making them assume that this is just another cliche' self-help book.
Not quite the case, if you have really read this book, and get
astounded by its rigorous analysis on both future and present
social and economic trends.
Actually a lot of people still don't quite get it! They question
why they have such a good education and years of solid professional experience, and yet they lost their jobs.
Yes, depreciation of college degrees, oversupply of professionals, rise of Free Agents economy, death of job security
and staff loyalty,internet and information technologies eliminating non-value-adding jobs, and deep cuts on company expenses have all contributed to such a tough job market---which have also created
negative impacts on social life, work life, and more importantly
family/marital life.
This book is an eye-opener. It tells you how to cope with the
changing world, and has provided a road map for us to understand
both our work life and personal life better.
Personally, I am a heavy books-consumer. I read at least 1 to 2
books per week. I think, in recent years, this book" hits" me
most, and have" Whack the Side of my Head" most.
Read it, and I am sure Robert B. Reich will not disappoint you!
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Relevant, readable, and compelling, June 19, 2001
By 
This review is from: The Future of Success (Hardcover)
Robert Reich provides a convincing answer to one of the central paradoxes of modern American life - everyone talks of seeking balance and their willingness to tradeoff less income for more time for family and leisure, and then finds themselves working longer and harder. After reading "The Future of Success" you realize we are not so irrational. Contrary to other Amazon reviewers, I came away from this book lamenting that I will need to abandon recent efforts to focus less on work (at least until Reich is back in power with a Democrat administration).
The first third of The Future of Success struck me as familiar territory, and I almost abandoned the book. That new technology is changing how work is organized and rewarded has been exhaustingly covered elsewhere. I am glad I stuck with it -- this section does lay the groundwork for the new and powerful arguments that Reich makes later.
I found Reich's Personal Choice chapter the most entertaining-- his skewering of time management self-help books is particularly effective. His ridicule of the simplicity movement is amusing, but less compelling - I don't think it is necessary to go so far as trapping small animals for one to make useful choices that simplify one's life.
I believe the time is not yet right for Reich's social policy suggestions to receive wide reception. Popular opinion today is still intoxicated by recent new economy success stories, and worships self-reliance. Hopefully enough people will take the time to read the whole book, and I think we will see these ideas gain influence as political and economic conditions evolve over the coming years.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Accurate diagnosis, but not sure about the solution, July 18, 2001
By 
Dennis Muzza (Monterrey, Mexico) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Future of Success (Hardcover)
This is one of few books that show in a clear, concise, and convincing way the human costs involved in the New Economy. Other, more optimistic books, such as Kevin Kelly's New Rules for the New Economy, see the increasing rate of churn (creation and destruction of jobs and businesses) as beneficial to the economy at large, and it certainly is, but they overlook the implications for individuals: being constantly worried about losing a job, being forced to sell oneself at every opportunity, working long hours while work is available to make up for future unemployment, uncertainty about how the bills will get paid next month, etc. On the other hand, like many intellectual works with a bent on theory, a drawback of this book is that it's much longer on criticism than it is on solutions, and the author is much better at the former than the latter. The sweeping income and capital tax hikes that he proposes would never make it through Congress, Republican or Democrat, and even if they did, they wouln't prosper on a worldwide scale. Developing countries would face devastating capital flights at the slightest attempt to raise taxes on investments, and this inability to have uniform worker protection policies would discourage any nation to try to implement them on their own if they want to remain competitive. In spite of this limitation this is an excellent work that will raise consciousness on a previously overlooked issue, stimulate debate, and eventually lead others to more practical, workable solutions.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not a good book -- a GREAT one, March 8, 2001
By 
David Siegel (New York, ny United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Future of Success (Hardcover)
To use the word "visionary" would be to undersell this author. Robert Reich is perhaps the single key individual bridging the divide between the old and new economies. From his vantage point as former secretary of labor, a brilliant economist, and having written seven previous books, we are priveleged to see a clear picture of a new time, a new way of life, and myriad new opportunities. Reich has taken it upon himself to explain how the economy works to millions of Americans in clear, plain English. I have already bought this book for several friends and just today found a signed copy! I'm so excited. His joy of writing and communicating is so clear -- it's as much fun to read as it must have been to write.
This is THE book of the year -- I don't care what comes next. If it doesn't change your perspective or give you more confidence in your decisions, e-mail me and I'll buy your copy from you. The Future of Success is perhaps the most underlined book i've finished reading in years.
NOTE: I would love to meet Robert Reich. If you have any suggestions on how to meet him, please contact me.
David Siegel, author
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The Future of Success
The Future of Success by Robert B. Reich (Hardcover - January 9, 2001)
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