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HLG Notebook | October 2015

1. The Millennials in the Gray Flannel Suit

Sorry, Millennials: You’re boring. You are neither restless nor footloose. You are not job-hoppers, but yearn for a life of corporate stability. And despite all the advice we’ve heard about how to keep you employed – from CNBC, Fortune, and inevitably, The Huffington Posta new report from strategy+business sees a different story. S+B surveyed 25,000 Millennials and found that nearly half “would be happy to spend the rest of their career with their current organization”:

Our analysis revealed two primary motivations of millennial employees when it comes to career-related decisions: They are concerned about financial security, and they believe work–life integration is easier to attain when you stay with one organization for many years.

2. The Mysterious Persistence of Myers Briggs

What begins as a fascinating piece of business history by Merve Emre in Digg quickly becomes a searing send-up of the pyramid sales world of Myers-Briggs personality testing. One thing that makes the article so good is that it begins by trying to solve a mystery:

Though her creation is everywhere, Myers and the details of her life’s work are curiously absent from the public record. Not a single independent biography is in print today. Not one article details how Myers, an award-winning mystery writer who possessed no formal training in psychology or sociology, concocted a test routinely deployed by 89 of the Fortune 100 companies, the U.S. government, hundreds of universities, and online dating sites… And not one expert in the field of psychometric testing, a $500 million industry with over 2,500 different tests on offer in the U.S. alone, can explain why Myers-Briggs has so thoroughly surpassed its competition.

3. The Backlash Against Food “Allergies”

A wonderful screed in The Boston Globe against “the explosion of faddists and bandwagon-jumpers and attention-seekers who wrap their food dislikes in the packaging of allergy and disease”:

But for the love of Julia Child and the sake of every other soul in the restaurant, particularly the underpaid line cooks sweating their way through another Saturday night shift, please, please stop describing your food preferences as an allergy. That is a very specific medical term, and invoking it triggers an elaborate, time-consuming protocol in any self-respecting kitchen. It shouldn’t be tossed around as liberally as the sea salt on the house-made (gluten-free) breadsticks.

4. How Vulnerable is Your Car to Hacking? A Debate

Tesla recently sent a software package to its owners so that they could download and install “auto-pilot” features. Why then shouldn’t we believe that eventually all cars with digital components could be hacked? On this question, there is a great debate emerging between Yahoo columnist David Pogue in Scientific American and the editors at Wired. Pogue comes off as reasonable for accusing Wired of getting carried away about potential vulnerabilities, but Wired has a valid point when it denies Pogue his initial premise:

We take issue with Pogue’s fundamental argument: That reporting on the growing threat to vehicle cybersecurity isn’t legitimate because “car hacking is nearly impossible.” “Nearly impossible” means possible.

5. We Need an Energy Miracle: Interview with Bill Gates

Since stepping down as Microsoft CEO a few years ago, Bill Gates has become one of the most thoughtful observers of – and investors in – energy markets. His interview in The Atlantic is insightful throughout:

Almost everything that’s been invented in energy was invented more than 20 years before it got scaled usage. So if you go back to various energy innovators, they didn’t do that well financially. The rewards to society of these energy advances—not much of that is captured by the individual innovator, because it’s a very conservative market. So the R&D amount in energy is surprisingly low compared with medicine or digital stuff, where both the government spending and the private-sector spending is huge.

6. Whatz in a Name?

A jaded but much-needed lament on the current state of how businesses are named. The Economist complains that the current fashions for naming companies have become akin to the “hipster beard” – perhaps distinctive at first, but dull once the trend catches on. Spotify, QuickQuid, Buzz anything, and Diageo all fall beneath The Economist’s axe:

Companies are resorting to ever more desperate means in order to stand out from the crowd. They are running words together into a verbal hodgepodge (PingStamp), misspelling familiar words (Kabbage), or jamming unrelated words together (Digital Marmalade). The most irritating fashion is for creating names that look like typographic errors: dropping letters in arbitrary ways (Flickr) or adding ampersands for no apparent reason: poor old Booz & Company, a consultancy, has been taken over and forced to call itself Strategy &.