Episode: 96 |
Louis Hyman:
Temp Work:


Louis Hyman

Temp Work

Show Notes

Louis Hyman is McKinsey alum and Associate Professor of Economic History at the School of Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University.

In this episode we talk about his new book: Temp: How American Work, American Business, and the American Dream Became Temporary.

The gig economy is not a new phenomenon – this book explores how we got to where we are today. It weaves together the stories of Manpower, Inc. McKinsey & Co., the Bracero program that legally brought seasonal farm laborers from Mexico to the United States.

There is also the story of how accounting firms became the big technology consulting firms. And how consultants helped encourage the rise of big conglomerates and then the reorganization and restructuring of those same companies.  Fascinating throughout.  To learn more, visit www.LouisHyman.com.

One weekly email with bonus materials and summaries of each new episode:

Will Bachman: Louis, welcome to the show.
Louis Hyman: Thanks for having me. It’s good to be here. I’m happy to chat about the history of consulting.
Will Bachman: We see in your book that there’s a lot of talk today about, “Oh, independent consulting, Uber, part-time work, temp labor,” as if it’s this new thing, but you really talk about the historical origins, and it started a lot longer ago. Talk to me about Manpower and some of the original drivers of temporary labor in the United States.
Louis Hyman: Sure. It’s easy to think that gig labor or temporary labor or this flexible economy was invented sometime in the last few years, but actually it has a pretty deep history. I’m a historian of the economy, and what was interesting to me was seeing how all of this was tangled up with the early history of the corporation in the 20th century. So as corporations in the 1930s and 1940s started to become more stable with innovations like [inaudible 00:01:10] and corporations, sort of multiplication of the bureaucracy, they needed people to help them manage that new complexity.
Louis Hyman: Enter this moment that you see the rise of management consulting, and you also see the rise of temporary labor to help shore up the promises of that new corporation.
Will Bachman: So, one question that I have for you about the research that you’ve done is rather that … We kind of think about, “Oh. So the secure jobs are disappearing,” right? And kind of the classic lifetime career employment with big companies is going away and we’re worried about that. But was that kind of our iconic idea of this career, or 40 year career, for either assembly line workers or for white collar jobs? Was that just a historical anomaly? Sort of like a one generation kind of blip after world war two? Probably a variety of factors.
Will Bachman: ‘Cause before then, my intuition is that it was a lot of agricultural jobs and small jobs and people going from job to job, picking up work here and there. Talk to me about that a little bit. Is the secure job really just a historical anomaly?
Louis Hyman: It very much is a historical anomaly. I think that certainly when we were raised, there was sense that that was the normal job. And that was the sort of future of work. But actually, historians have started to see this period from roughly the 1930s through the 1970s as what they call The Great Exception, that there is all kinds of differences in that kind of capitalism from what we see before or what we see after. And it’s not the case that before looks like the after. There are certainly echos in terms of trade and globalization and security, equality.
Louis Hyman: But this middle period is pretty different in terms of the way that corporations were managed, the way that people worked. And certainly, today, we are seeing something that looks quite different than the kinds of work that our parents had.
Will Bachman: One thing that I’ve noticed in the independent consulting world today is that there’s a big difference between countries in how common it is. So, at least my experience of the world today is that, there’s a lot of independent management consultants in the United States. There’s a lot in the United Kingdom. There’s a lot in Germany. But then, in some other countries where there’s maybe just as may, say, McKenzie consultants working at McKenzie, were proportionately very very few. So France, very few independent consultants. In China, very very few. In Australia, there’s a reasonable number.
Will Bachman: So I’m curious to get your historical perspective. Are there different kind of regulatory or cultural or structural issues, you think, from country to country that might be affecting how common temporary labor is?
Louis Hyman: The question of how work should be regulated is a very particular question for every one of these different countries. They have different histories of their corporations, different histories of the work, histories of the regulation. But I think the most important thing is what kind of expectations that people have. Certainly, in the US, in the UK, these are countries where people have long valued this kind of independence. Just that word Independent Consultant. In our culture, we celebrate independence and autonomy.
Louis Hyman: And this is something that … When you look at surveys of independent consultants, of independent contractors, the thing they value most, if they can make enough money to live on, is their autonomy and ability to control their own hours and time. And this is just very deep as the bones of anglo American culture. And to the extent that other countries line up with that, like Australia. I think that is something that is a sort of shared heritage. And it’s something I think is too often neglected when talking about the emergence of the [inaudible 00:05:50] economy, or the flexible economy is that this idea of the secure job for 40 years may have created secure paychecks for office workers, for factory workers.
Louis Hyman: But people were deeply critical of that kind of system, even at the time, over what that meant for the kinds of ways in which we lived our lives, by the clock, whether that’s a time card or just that ever rotating GE clock that is outside the office. So I think that one of the appealing things about independent contracting, about independent management consulting, is this notion of self control
Will Bachman: You talk a lot in the book about the rise of the company Manpower Inc, which somewhat paradoxically would hire mainly women as temp labor.
Louis Hyman: That’s right. That’s right, yeah.
Will Bachman: So not the best named company. But talk to us about some of the regulatory aspects or the legal or the structural aspects that kind of encouraged the rise of Manpower and Kelly and other temp agencies. Was it sort of … and partly, one question for you, was it more supply driven, where Manpower did a really great job of really convincing companies to try out temp labor? Was it demand driven, where corporations were going out and seeking the service? I’d love to hear about the kind of the origins of temp labor and what Manpower did to encourage companies to go that route.
Louis Hyman: Yeah, so I am just fascinated by the rise of Manpower incorporated and it’s founder, Elmer Winter. It was founded in 1947 after the war, in this moment when all of our laws, all of our institutions were built around stable secure work for married white men. And so one of the things I kept thinking about when writing this book was how interesting it was that so many of the origins of today’s flexible economy, whether you are a high paid consultant or you’re a temp worker, or if you’re an undocumented migrant worker, you can trace back to this moment in the post war when America was struggling with, on one hand, creating security for the middle class white married families.
Louis Hyman: And on the other hand, who’d we leave out of that? And part of it is delivering on that promise. And that’s where Manpower finds it’s origins. You have companies that want to … they might have emergencies. So Elmer Winter, famously, he was a lawyer and he needed to hire someone to type up some of his legal briefs. And his secretary was sick. So what did he do? He goes out and he finds that this is really hard to find a secretary for a short period of time, and he realized that this is a business opportunity. So, it’s the spirit of entrepreneurship.
Louis Hyman: He then starts this company and supplies this service. He goes to many [inaudible 00:09:24] and finds that a lot of these big industrial corporations have the same kind of need. Now, it was very easy to … Not easy. I mean, it was really hard. But he grows very rapid. The company grows very rapidly over the late 1940s and 1950s because companies did need these kinds of emergency replacements. But then you begin seeing a barrier, a barrier where instead of selling emergency replacements, he wants to sell entire workforces. He wants to sell permanently leased temporary workers, what today we call permatemps.
Louis Hyman: And this is challenging for him because he begins to encounter the limits of that post war promise of stability. And it’s a really interesting case thinking about Manpower because, like McKenzie, it’s capital light, like all kind of services firms. There’s very little investment needed. And so, you can rapidly grow your firm, especially if you do it through a franchise, which is what Manpower does through … they franchise the business through the 1950s and quickly become a global firm.
Will Bachman: And the temp workers were actually W2 employees of Manpower. How did that work? They would only get paid for days that they actually worked?
Louis Hyman: Yeah. They were W2 employees. And this is where you start to see the differences between the kinds of flexible work we have now and the kinds of flexible work you have in the 19th century. So, in the 19th century, there was no IRS taxation. Most of the taxes that funded the federal government were tariffs that came through the port of New York. So we only really have mass income tax coming out of World War Two.
Louis Hyman: And so, this new kind of temporary work that … You could have always hired a bunch of men to work, have a crowd, in a 19th century factory or what have you. But this new kind of work is mediated through an agency, so a temp agency if you are a office worker, through a consultancy if you are a consultant, or through the government if you’re for instance a desk worker on a sort of short term program, like the Braceros migrant agricultural workers. And so you would work for this firm. You would be employed by this firm. But you would only … You’d be paid by the hour. You’d be paid by whatever. You’d be paid by the hour. And so this is …
Louis Hyman: You would not work directly for the client firm. And so in a lot of ways, it’s very parallel to consulting even though it seems like it’s quite different.
Will Bachman: And what’s your sense from the research that you’ve done? Did the temp workers prefer that arrangement? Would they have actually preferred to just have a secure full time job with the company that they were working at?
Louis Hyman: You know, that’s a really interesting question. Because certainly, today, people are quite divided. It depends on who you ask, whether people prefer it or not. And it really depends on if they’re making enough money and what they’re economic situation is. So it seems like these are mainly all women at first in the 40s and 50s. It becomes more men by 1960. So by 1960, manpower is about one third men. So for the women, it seems like they were trying to shore up their finances. And they seem to like it because of their other constraints, the constraints of family and children, the constraints of other kinds of obligations.
Louis Hyman: For the men, with the one third of the temps in 1960 that were men, they would have just preferred to have secured work, stable work. It’s not clear that any of them would have preferred this kind of job. So it’s just like today where there are just a lot of different kinds of experiences that people have. I’m sure that every [inaudible 00:13:39] appreciates not having to work on an odd Thursday or after a certain time. But that’s only the case if you already have enough money. So everybody prefers flexibility once you have money. You can be time wealthy as well as money wealthy.
Will Bachman: So then Manpower kind of started with serving this need of companies that needed emergency workers, maybe a big peak during the year, or someone being out on leave, to fill in the gaps. And then, they progressed on to actually staffing up kind of basically full time positions, maybe in the typing pool or something that the company felt was perhaps non core, as somewhat of kind of a labor arbitrage where the company could get away without paying the benefits on those employees that were temp labor.
Will Bachman: Do you see that as kind of a progression towards, eventually if you kind of keep drawing that line out, companies outsourcing or off shoring whole functions to overseas providers? Was that, you think, part of a continuum?
Louis Hyman: Yes. And it’s interesting. When we talk about this, it’s very hard not to use language like offshoring and core and non core, and it’s from a business language that we all use today. Of course, this language didn’t exist in the 1960s. And so, there wasn’t a sense of the BCG growth matrix which was being invented during this period. There wasn’t a sense of, “What ought we be focused on?”
Louis Hyman: And so, in the book what I talk about is this period in the 1960s when you have management consultants inventing these new ideas, with the firm trying to sell those ideas. You have people like Elmer Winter of Manpower trying to sell these long term employees, and not particularly successfully. And two things really happened in the 60s that begins to change business leaders minds. On the one hand, temps, you have the emergence of the computer, especially the IBM system 360, which just revolutionized the corporation and required enormous amount of data to move from paper to magnetic tape.
Louis Hyman: And data entry operators … And this is the first time that we see this sort of mass use of temps as sort of permanent parts or auxiliaries to the corporation, [inaudible 00:16:17] needing to have just massive amounts of data inputted. And they don’t want that to happen to their regular employees. So you have a bunch of overnight workers from temp agencies inputting the data. So they have this experience. So we think that we’re all swayed by reason. But we’re mostly swayed by experience. Just think about how many people are opposed to Uber who have never taken an Uber ride. And then, they happen to take an Uber ride, and they’re like, “Oh. This is very convenient and affordable. And now I’m gonna do this all the time.”
Louis Hyman: Well, this is the same thing for the use of temporary labor. They have that on the one hand, and then you have this sort of crisis at the end of the 1960s, where people begin to see the corporation as bloated, as bureaucratic, as inefficient. And a bunch of the corporations, especially the sort of leading corporations, the so called conglomerates, like [inaudible 00:17:12] TV, Lidden Industries, Gulf or Western, these all begin to fall apart.
Louis Hyman: And enter this space that people, organizations like McKenzie and Manpower and EVG and Kelly begin to offer a different interpretation of how the corporation ought to be organized and how work should occur there. And we start to see these things that have been imagined for a decade or so begin to be implemented in the 1970s.
Will Bachman: One thing that I found fascinating in your book is, which I had never really thought about, was why are the big four consulting firms associated with these accounting firms? And you talk about how the accounting firms got into technology consulting because they were the ones helping companies set up computers, because some of the first uses were for accounting. And so just as an adjunct of their accounting work, they had to help the client set up computers. And then they found out that that’s actually a pretty lucrative path. Talk about that a little bit. That to me was a revelation.
Louis Hyman: I’m pretty sure only you and I think the history of accounting is interesting, but thank you for asking. I think it’s … It was pretty fascinating to me to see this question, because when you talk about consulting, people thin about McKenzie and BCG and things like that, these big strategy firms. But really, the most consultants are technology consultants, the Accentures, and certainly a lot of independent consultants. And so, one of the things that I research in the book is this path.
Louis Hyman: How do you take a bunch of CPAs and turn them into consultants and there is just this tremendous lure from installing those computers to help with the audit function or the tax function, which is why they were installed in the 1960s. And then they start to realize, “Well, if we know the books really well, and we know their technology, well maybe we can help them.” And this is … And it turns out that those services are ongoing and more lucrative than a once a year audit function or tax consulting. And there is this tension, beginning in the 1960s, in all of the [inaudible 00:19:46], between consulting and [inaudible 00:19:49].
Louis Hyman: And fierce rivalries, physical rivalries, that I talk about in the book between the CPAs and who think that they are the real company, and the consultants may or may not have a CPA, who are bringing them more money. And you see this play out in lots of ways. At the end of the book, I write a lot about the sort of Anderson split and the Anderson rivalry between the consulting wing and the accounting wing, and the relationship between those two. And thinking about what that means for selling ideas about how our work lives should be organized. And what that means about who watches the watcher. So at the beginning of the book, I write a lot about the way in which Martin Bower, who is the founder of McKinsey, rejected having accounting as part of the firm.
Louis Hyman: And he was in this moment, in the 1930s, when there was a lot of anxiety, as you remember, about the Great Depression and the failure of all these corporations. And he thought that the people who inspect should not be the same people who advised, that these two things should be kept separate. And this would keep corporations honest. And this would keep our corporations stable. And one of the sort of unfortunate things is that there is just so much money to be made that people, even when accountant fee split off from their consultant fees, they get drawn in again and again and again because there’s just so much money there, which is understandable. But also, it’s something that we should think about as we wanna understand how we keep our corporate books honest, which is essential for the efficient operation of investment.
Louis Hyman: And how do we make sure that they are improving their efficiency operations without just sort of financial engineering. So these are important questions. I also thought it was pretty interesting to see those connections. I was fortunate to find the Price Waterhousecoopers archive at Columbia University, which allowed me to really tell the story.
Will Bachman: Now, you also talked a lot about McKinsey and Martin Bower. And we should point out that you were a consultant at McKinsey for some time.
Louis Hyman: True.
Will Bachman: We’d love to hear any experience, and I think you were at McKinsey before you became a historian, I think. Talk about any experiences or projects you had at McKinsey that might have kind of been in your mind or got you thinking about “Some day, I’m gonna become a historian and write about temp labor.” Any lessons that you drew on from your McKinsey days as you were writing the book?
Louis Hyman: It’s funny. I think that you also were at McKinsey. I joined the firm after I finished my PhD actually. I was already a historian. I was a business historian. And I thought, “You know what? I’m gonna see how this is. Maybe it’s for me.” It turned out not to be for me. I like to work on my own projects. So I was there for a while. But I … You know, it was interesting being at McKinsey and having that experience of being in a room full of very smart, very good, well intentioned people and seeing how they advise firms. And I think there’s often this, for people who are outside the industry, they imagine there’s a lot of anti consultant animus. They think that they don’t know what they’re talking about, they are a world conspiracy.
Louis Hyman: I think we delivered a lot of value to our clients, which I can’t really talk about of course. I’m still covered by that intense NDA. But what it did allow me to do was ask particular questions, having had that experience. So I know what the smell of a team room is like. I know what matters in terms of the PowerPoint production sketch. So in the book, I write a lot about the sort of day to day experiences of consultants in the past and how they change over time, how you go from an intense but sort of intermittently kind of job. Towards by the 1970s, those ridiculous hours that we know all experienced, the up all night, making the presentation, et cetera et cetera. And you can really see the trajectory from the Marvin Bower kind of past interest in making sure that firms and the economy are well run, to a lot of the embarrassing events of the last ten years.
Louis Hyman: Looking at McKinsey partners, ex McKinsey partners, McKinsey leadership, and one of the things I wonder about is the sort of erosion of ethics by consultants and accountants, and in the turn towards more money making. Because I think it’s a larger sense that there’s just a lot more money to be made in the world. And it erodes the values of other kinds of professions. And this kind of differential between consultants and lawyers and bankers didn’t exist in the post war. Those wonderful banker hours were not the same as the investment bankers “crushing it” of today. So I think one of the things that … One of the three lines of the book is thinking about how the rising inequality after 1970 is kind of corrosive to the operations of our firms and to the ethics of some people in consulting and accounting.
Louis Hyman: And I was really glad to work with McKinsey, incredibly smart people. I learned a lot about business. And I think it really made the book possible. ‘Cause certainly, I realized … As a teenager, I had worked as a temp doing data entry. And the origin of the book was seeing … My very first day, I was sitting in this big board room with a beautiful view and a nice suit, and I was looking out the window. And I thought, “Oh my God. I am a temp again. I’m just a much better paid temp.” And so, I began to think about how these two things were similar and how they were different. And of course, there’s incredible differences. But there are sort of a surprising number of similarities as well, particularly in how corporations make use of consultants. That was a bit long winded. I apologize. But I just sort of think it’s an interesting point.
Will Bachman: Now, you also have a fair bit in the book about Mexican workers, the United States. And not everybody might be aware, particularly with all the dialogue around immigration today. Not everybody might be aware that for a period, there was a program where Mexican workers were coming into the United States legally under the Bracero Program to work in fields. And they’d come in seasonally. And then, they’d go back home when the season ended. But then that program ended. But there was still the farmers that owned the fields. They still needed the help. Talk a little bit about the history of Mexican immigration and how that relates to this idea of temp workers.
Louis Hyman: Yeah. So it’s exactly the same time as corporations are looking to shore up their promises of secure work that there’s a lot of people, Americans, who are moving from the farm to the city, and to the factories and the offices. Well, harvest still needs to come in. And so, the US Government sets up a training for guest worker program, called the Braceros Program, during World War Two, to make sure … as many of our men were overseas. And it continues through the mid 1960s as a way to bring in hundreds of thousands of workers every year. And these men are coming to America, they’re working, they’re going back. They’re doing this for decades and their sons are doing it. And it’s this whole movement of population.
Louis Hyman: And then, in the mid 1960s, we see two things. We shut down this program. And we also change our immigration laws. So in 1965, we pass the immigration bill. It does two things. So the US had banned immigration more or less from southern and eastern Europe since 1924 in the name of not allowing unassemblable peoples into the US. So there was a belief that Jews and Italians and Slovaks and all these other people couldn’t be assimilated into American culture. And so they were banned, beginning in 1924. Well that changes in ’65, when the children of those people, the Italian and Jewish people who are now in Congress say, “Look, we actually assimilated.” And the borders are opened again.
Louis Hyman: Well at the same time, we then passed laws that regulate the migration of people from Latin America who are coming in more numbers. So on the one hand, the opening back to Europe, but also the restriction of the border with our southern neighbors. And what’s interesting after that period is these populations that are now restricted, the guest worker programs are shut down, are still coming. They still have to find work. And those farms are still dependent on them. But you also find that after 1970, that more people who are apprehended by the INS, the forerunner to today’s ICE, were working in industrial jobs than in agricultural jobs. So a big part of the group, based on the Waterhouse archives is about this shift in another form of temporary work, which is sort of undocumented migrants who make up a huge part of the work force in especially the electronics industry and the mid conductor industry in the 1970s and ’80s.
Louis Hyman: And it’s here that we see the real explosion of Silicon Valley. And so, what I’m trying to do in the book is sort of show how there a path from the undocumented migrants of this period through the creation of Silicon Valley as we know it today. And in fact, [inaudible 00:30:58]. And it’s a pretty striking history because it shows how the exclusion of people from our laws, the people who are not American citizens are given the dirtiest and cheapest worst paid work in our country. Meanwhile, at the top of course, we have increasing number of immigrants who become part of our consulting workforce. So it’s this interesting parallel of legal and illegal migration in the development [inaudible 00:31:29].
Will Bachman: How do you see … Following up on that, there’s forces that today are benefiting from the fact that there are undocumented immigrants in the United States. Certain employers may prefer that kind of situation, because the workers have less ability to seek legal regress. Could you talk a little bit about that, about some of the kinds of work that undocumented immigrants in the US are doing today, and some of the forces that might be resisting legalization because it would reduce their power over those workers?
Louis Hyman: Yeah. Undocumented migrants have long been a source of extraordinary profits because they can’t organize. Effectively, they can be denied any kinds of benefits. And they can be given work that is illegal to do, so a big part of the book, I write about toxic work in the semi conductor industry where you have these Mexican men in Quonset huts, standing over boiling vats of acid and other kinds of chemicals, doing work that would not be legal to do under OSHA regulations. And yet, it makes possible all kinds of other industries. And I think today you see these workers doing all kinds of things. They’re working in factories, whether these factories are chicken processing factories or other kinds of …
Louis Hyman: Of course, many of the semi conductor and electronics work is gonna be shipped overseas, or in construction. I write a lot about the history of construction work. And these are jobs that Americans would do if they were safe and if they were paid a market wage. And so, I think for me anyway, I think a lot about these people. And I think that everybody counts. Everybody deserves to be safe and paid at least a market wage. And I think that as we look to reform this, it’s very easy to think, “Well, we should just sanction the employers.” Well, in 1970, California passed a law doing just that, passing giant sanctions for employers. And everyone thought this was the moral thing, that we shouldn’t just deport people, that we should just sanction employers.
Louis Hyman: Well it turned out that that law was never enforced, not once. And it’d be in the book for 15 years. Immediately after that, the California government gutted the department that was supposed to enforce that. So there was only one guy to enforce that law for the entire state. So it’s very tricky because you often have curious alliances between people who claim they represent Mexican or Guatemalan communities on the one hand, and employers who want access to that cheap labor. And I think, as a country, we’re gonna have to reconcile with that. How do we acknowledge that there are all these millions and millions of people in America living here, doing jobs, and we need to figure out ways to include them in our labor and our labor laws, our employment laws, that make it safe for them. And I think, for me anyway, that is the way that we’re gonna deal with “illegal immigration” by making it not any more advantageous for the employer.
Louis Hyman: But we still have to be cautious. That’s very hard to force these types of employer based laws, which is why we are in this situation right now where we are enforcing laws harshly and dividing families. And personally, I feel like this is not the America I wanna live in. I would wanna live in an America that’s welcoming to immigrants, but also make sure that when they come, they have a chance at their own slice of the American dream, which is not the state we live in now.
Will Bachman: How do you see the market for temp labor evolving? Do you see it somewhat as inevitable that more and more jobs will become temp type jobs? Or do you think it more or less depends on choices that the government makes?
Louis Hyman: I think all of this depends on choices, choices by regulators over … We talked about W2 workers versus 1099 workers. These are not laws. These are just enforcement mechanisms created by the IRS, which is a pretty democratic way to regulate an economy. We also have labor laws, the Fair Labor Standards Act, which different people are arguing could be more occupations to include independent contractors as well as convention workers. But it’s also about business norms, about who should be included in the “family” of the workforce. And so … as well as the investors class, as we think about what should we be investing in for the short term or for the long term.
Louis Hyman: So I think the solution to thinking about temporary work is, do we want this to be an opportunity for Americans to be more independent, to control their own time, to piece together work that they find meaningful? Or do you want it to be sort of a race to the bottom, where we’re just finding cheap workers and sliding them in and out as rapidly as possible? And I think that is, either of those states is, inevitable. We’re always constrained by profit and making profit. Profit is how you tell in the long run if a firm is sustainable. There’s a lot of different ways that that money can work. There’s a lot of different ways that we can create that. Certainly, in the post war period, we had incredibly profitable corporations that employed millions of people, that delivered incredible benefits to society, that we saw a fifty percent rise in the real wage over just a few decades.
Louis Hyman: Whereas, we haven’t had a rise in the median real wage since the 1970s. So I think one other question is, do we want the economy to work for us or we want to have it just work us over? And I think those are the choices we need to make as business leaders, as policy makers, as citizens.
Will Bachman: One question I always ask, Louis, of guests, is on your own personal life, in terms of routines, are there any routines, either a morning routine or something that you do pretty commonly, regularly, that you found make you yourself more effective and productive?
Louis Hyman: I’m pretty committed when writing. So I’m a writer. I teach and I write. I think that I try to use technology as much as possible. I try to make sure that I am aware of new technology. I’m pretty enamored, for instance, of Google Drive and its ability to instantly OCR every document or picture that I upload to it in terms of searching for materials or using materials. I find that that works really well for me. I think it’s really also important. So, when it’s sort of practical, every day I do that. For me, in terms of actually getting work done. I try to cultivate boredom.
Louis Hyman: I find it’s very easy in today’s society to constantly be reading or listening or engaged. And I try to find time in a day where I’m bored, the way you could be before the smart phone. And I find that when I do that, it’s easier to focus more deeply on the rest of my day. So I would just encourage your listeners to take ten minutes a day and stare at a wall and do nothing. You don’t even have to meditate. You could just be kind of bored. And I find that if I do that, I’m much more engaged the rest of the day.
Will Bachman: Any books other than your own, which is awesome and I love and I recommend, any books that you have personally gifted or recommended to friends?
Louis Hyman: Well, the other really good book that I recommend on the history of consulting is The World’s Newest Profession by Chris McKenna. That’s a pretty amazing book on the sort of history of the debate over professionalization of consulting. I also recently read an amazing book called Risk and Ruin: Enron and the Culture of American Capitalism, by Gavin Benke. And it’s basically the first real history of Enron, placing it in its context of hiring all these ex McKinsey folks and the history of Houston, rather than just being the story of a few bad apples, thinking about how capitalism has changed over the last few decades.
Will Bachman: And Louis, if people wanted to follow up with you, learn more about your writing beyond this book, what’s the best website or way to get in touch and find out more about you?
Louis Hyman: Sure. The other books, which are on the history of personal debt, are on Louishyman.com, you can also follow me on Twitter @louishyman. So either way, it was great to chat with you. And hopefully, I will hear more from your listeners.
Will Bachman: Fantastic. Louis, thanks so much for joining.
Louis Hyman: My pleasure. Thank you so much Will.

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