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Punching In: One Man's Undercover Adventures on the Front Lines of America's Best-Known Companies Paperback – Bargain Price, November 18, 2008
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“I see Alex Frankel as the Jane Goodall of the modern Workplace jungle.” (Po Bronson, author of What Should I Do With My Life? )
“Like an intrepid anthropologist, Frankel immerses himself in self-contained commercial cultures and resurfaces to write with empathy and insight.” (Dan Gross, Newsweek columnist and author of Pop! Why Bubbles Are Great for the Economy )
“Insightful, personal, and funny. Frankel does the impossible—he gives corporate culture a soul.” (Rodney Rothman, author of Early Bird )
“Savor the reporting on offer...” (Wall Street Journal )
“A book that takes readers behind the scenes at some of the country’s best-known companies...” (Washington Post )
From the Back Cover
"I see Alex Frankel as the Jane Goodall of the modern workplace jungle."
--Po Bronson, author of What Should I Do With My Life?
"Like an intrepid anthropologist, Frankel immerses himself in self-contained commercial cultures-UPS, Gap, Starbucks--and resurfaces to write with great empathy and keen insight about the workings of the service economy. Punching In will make you think twice-and think differently-about the human interactions that lay behind our every-day transactions."
--Dan Gross, Newsweek columnist and author of Pop! Why Bubbles Are Great for the Economy
"Insightful, personal, and funny. Frankel does the impossible--he gives corporate culture a soul."
--Rodney Rothman, author of Early Bird. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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He delivered packages for UPS during the holiday season in San Francisco, was a salesman at the Apple Store, folded clothes at Gap, became a rental agent for Enterprise Rent-A-Car, and trained to become a barista at Starbucks.
Frankel was interested in how various companies trained their employees for the job and how effective the training was. He was surprised to found out the differences between the jobs. For example, even though the UPS delivery job was physically exhausting, he grew to admire the company and how efficiently it was run. Folding jeans at Gap, however, was mind-numbing and apparently counter-productive. At Starbucks, it was difficult to remember all the different ways that drinks could be made. At Enterprise, the job was not really about renting cars, but about persuading customers to buy "extras".
What I like best about this book is that Frankel did not come in with too many pre-conceived notions about what each job would entail. He came in with a positive attitude instead of coming in with a negative mind-set.
Punching In is a fascinating look at how companies choose and train their employees. It is highly recommended.
While reading the book, it quickly became apparent that there are many companies that want bodies to fill space and do menial tasks, while there are some companies who are looking for intelligent people to think and be individuals, even in the front line of retail. The authors take on what each company wanted and how they tried to get an employee to that point was fascinating. I enjoyed the inside look at the companies, and I can say that I will not look at some of these companies in the same light ever again.
The reader is left with the impression that Frankel worked for four to six weeks at each job. If that's true, then perhaps that wasn't enough time for him to really evaluate what impact a particular company's corporate culture had on its employees. Thus, while the book is concisely written and contains some interesting anecdotes, it doesn't deliver what it sets out to deliver. Given that flaw, I'm not sure too many readers will want to shell out money for a lightly concealed psychological profile of Alex Frankel.
All that said, this was a quick read for me and I'd recommend it especially when it comes out at the paperback price.