To be fair, I didn't make it all that far into into Focus. Goleman opens the book with a lengthy diatribe on "today's youth" and how all the ding-dang social media and the new-fangled contraptions are ruining their brains – essentially the sort of "back in my day" argument you can get for free at your local barber shop or assisted living center.
After skipping forward to subsequent chapters, it became clear that Goleman is intent on shaming those who have embraced technology and its faster pace of information flow than providing any sort of real insight or instruction into managing and leveraging it.
I'm not terribly interested in reminiscing about an obsolete lifestyle or being told that accepting the advantages of progress is going to rot my brain or make me somehow emotionally retarded. A discussion of how to better focus by embracing available tools rather than running away from them would have been much more welcomed.
Goleman's general sentiment toward what he broadly generalized as "distractions" was disheartening to say the least. I found the strength of his argument in this regard reductive, weak, and somewhat pejorative.
There was nothing glaringly bad about his narration.
Most of it? Or perhaps everything that made him sound like a man bitterly holding onto the final vestiges of a "golden era" that never truly existed by belittling younger generations.
Fried and Hansson's borderline-indignant disregard for corporate and professional norms is well-documented both in their previous book and on the 37Singals blog. In a culture chained by institutionalization and (mostly) very slow to adapt to change, their willingness to question every single aspect of professional life and take risks are both inspiring and frustrating to those of us still chained to our desks, dreading commutes and struggling to fight the devastating consequences of interminable meetings.
The wide range of examples and possibilities they present – both from their own experience and from other organizations of every all sizes – aggregate to more of a framework or platform than set of instructions. Essentially, they argue that there is room for some level of remote work in almost every knowledge-based industry and that testing and implementing it has potential to make a very real impact both on productivity and the company's bottom line.
More memorable than any single moment in the book is the general perspective Fried and Hansson provide on management. Their belief in the creativity and drive of their own employees, leveraged by their willingness to trust them and bolstered by their relentless investment in their well-being, is at first jarring and then awe-inspiring.
Typically, non-fiction books read by narrators other than the author lose a bit of author's quality of tone, but Lowman expertly managed to preserve it.
There's a moment very near the end of the book, in which she is rattling of an absurd URL string, that her voice takes a very distinct "we're both aware this is ridiculous, right?" tone that, for whatever reason, had me doubled over with laughter. Literally. Like, I had to stop the treadmill.
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