Newsletter #023 • 30 January 2019
Customer Centric
The weekly digest for the customer-obsessed
Dear Earthling,

Whenever my 60-year-old dad calls me he usually wants to talk about the weather. Too hot, too cold, too rainy. There’s not much else to discuss. But when I tell him about my heavy workload, he rehearses another conversation:

“Oh, that’s a good sign. A lot of work means you’re valuable to the company.”

To tell you the truth, it kind of annoys me — I wouldn’t mind some paternal sympathy and an invitation to dine out — but I get where he’s coming from. My dad saw me grow up and start a career in the midst of the financial crisis when once-booming industries were crumbling, and unemployment hit an all-time high.

The future looked so grim. Cloudy with a chance of thunderstorms, he would say. 

But since then, things have changed and those darker days are now behind us. 

However, despite the fact that we may no longer be worried about actually getting enough work, we have grown obsessed with it, my dad included. We’re working too much — and we even brag about it, styling our boasts as #hustle. 

Why does it always have to be crazy at work? When did we become workaholics? And how can we build a better work culture? 

Last Saturday, Erin Griffith wrote an article for the New York Times on why the greatest minds of her generation log 18-hour days, and how companies have totally miscalculated by encouraging employees to equate their work with their intrinsic value as human beings.

Happy readings! 


🔖  This week's top picks 
🤔 Why are young people pretending to love work?
Erin Griffith saw the greatest minds of her generation log 18-hour days — and then boast about #hustle on Instagram. When did performative workaholism become a lifestyle?

Welcome to hustle culture. It is obsessed with striving, relentlessly positive, devoid of humor, and — once you notice it — impossible to escape.
🗯️ A tale of two managers: why top leaders practice the ‘middle way’
Whether we’re leading a team of three or 300, it’s helpful to understand the two management extremes — and how to find a more productive, motivational middle ground.
🔮 We analyzed 16,625 papers to figure out where AI is headed next
Almost everything you hear about artificial intelligence today is thanks to deep learning. This category of algorithms works by using statistics to find patterns in data, and it has proved immensely powerful in mimicking human skills such as our ability to see and hear. But though deep learning has singlehandedly thrust AI into the public eye, when you zoom out on the whole history of the field, it’s easy to realize that it could soon be on its way out.
💔 The era of “move fast and break things” is over
Many of today’s entrepreneurs live by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s now-famous motto: “Move fast and break things.” Zuckerberg intended for this to inform internal design and management processes, but it aptly captures how entrepreneurs regard disruption: more is always better. We raced to put our products into consumers’ hands as fast as possible, without regard for the merit of—and rationale for—offline systems of governance. This is increasingly untenable.
🤗 People, not robots: bringing the humanity back to customer support
Good customer support is hard to find. We all dread calling the credit card company, the phone company, any service provider, including and maybe especially SaaS companies. Will robots make it better? Will we ever be able to remove human expertise from the process? 
💡 Speaking words of wisdom

The biggest transformation we can undertake is slowing down.

— André Barata
Pssst, tweet me.
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