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Lab Rats

How Silicon Valley Made Work Miserable for the Rest of Us
By: Dan Lyons
Narrated by: Dan Lyons
Length: 8 hrs and 59 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (170 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Why do so many Americans hate their jobs? From New York Times best-selling author Dan Lyons, Lab Rats is a groundbreaking, incisive examination of how the Internet - and ideas championed by Silicon Valley power brokers - changed the way we work, damaged our brains, and left us poorer and insecure.

In the months following the publication of Disrupted, Dan Lyons was astonished as hundreds wrote to him with their own harrowing stories of discrimination, fear-mongering managers, and companies denigrating employees in pursuit of quick profit. The letter writers felt helpless, confused, and victimized. 

Lyons began to understand how the problems he had identified in the start-up world are infecting virtually every kind of job in America. Paradoxically, the misery index is soaring at a time when companies are giving more lip service than ever about finding ways to make employees happy. What happened to work in America? Who is responsible? And does any company have a model for doing it right? 

As Lyons ventured across America in pursuit of answers, he came to understand how a cluster of ideas enabled by the Internet and promoted by Silicon Valley companies spread to workplaces across the country and the globe. These new notions about work have broken the social contract that once existed between companies and their employees, making us poorer, insecure, and subject to constant change and dehumanizing technologies that have altered our very psychology. 

A few companies, however, get it right. With Lab Rats, Lyons makes a passionate plea for business leaders to understand this dangerous transformation and shows how profit and happy employees can indeed coexist.

©2018 Dan Lyons (P)2018 Hachette Audio

Critic Reviews

"Dan Lyons's Lab Rats defies easy description. It is hilarious, but not funny. I sputtered laughing and choked crying (literally, not figuratively) as I read it. Yes, to an extreme, Lyons gives Silicon Valley the thrashing that it, alas, largely deserves. But in the final third of the book, he offers us an effectively illustrated way out - an approach to work and business that puts people first, profitably serves customers, and makes the world a little bit better in the process." (Tom Peters, New York Times best-selling author of In Search of Excellence)

"[Lyons] argues persuasively.... A passionate indictment of brutal workplace culture." (Kirkus Reviews)

"I loved Dan Lyons's book Disrupted. With Lab Rats, he takes his critique of the modern workplace to the next level, to show how Silicon Valley's sometimes disturbing ideas about how to treat employees now pervade many workplaces. This is a fascinating, thought-provoking, hilarious, and sometimes harrowing account of current work culture." (Gretchen Rubin, number-one New York Times best-selling author of The Happiness Project and The Four Tendencies)

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Loved “Disrupted”, and this starts strong, but…

“Disrupted” was such a triumph in indictment of nonsense business models, frat boy culture, “this time is different” thinking, and ageism, all of which ran into the author like a buzzsaw. Of course, there was also two seasons righting for “Silicon Valley” and all the other landmark work (“not Steve Jobs”, etc), so when I first noticed I could pre-order “Lab Rats”, I was likely among the earliest to do so.

And, it starts out really strong, with a continuation and updated skewering of Amazon, Netflix, Reed Hoffman, Reed Hastings, Jeff Bozos, and so many others. His general thesis is fantastic — that old line businesses, desperately wanting to remain relevant, have been porting “practices” (such as they are) and film-flam management techniques, grafting these onto their certainly challenged business models (like Ford, as a good example).

But the last 3-4 chapters or so squandered all this good momentum. Dan’s antidote to amoral bro culture and Uber-like practices that dehumanize workers is … a floor cleaning business, or something, that gives its employees “true vacations” and “an opportunity to grow into senior management”.

Dan fails to recognize structural changes occurring in the way work is done, and no, we aren’t all going to pivot and launch mopping startups.

I may revise this later, but having just finished the audiobook, I was left uneven with the entirety of the effort.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Sometimes it seems like the author still has some unresolved resentment

While overall the book is balanced and author explains his statements well, sometimes he seems to have blind fits of rage where he just hurls insults or rants without much explanation and facts.
This book has encouraged me to look deeper into Basecamp and stuff by their owners.

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Nice polemic - just wait till he talks about something you have experience with

Companies struggle with Agile. Yes they implement in stupid ways. Does not mean that Agile is bad, or that it’s not better than the waterfall method. To me it means it’s a new way that is not well understand. Also when old school execs try to implement something new, it doesn’t always work well - no shocker there.

His talks about stress and the high tech environment are more balanced and better informed.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Not even close to his last book Disrupted.

So I read Dans previous book Disturbed and loved it.. Love it so much, I purchased his new book Labs Rats. I think the difference between the books is striking.. Dans last book was a fantastic story of what really happen to the new .dot working world.. His Lab Rats book not a story at all, just a sting of complains about employers ad and how bad all the new tech companies are and how bad they treat their workers.. Nothing entertaining about it.. Constant complaining about the big techs like: netflix, amazon, linkedin, uber..... Come on Dan, give us a story that is funny, and interesting.. Not babble about how bad every company on the planet is..

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • fjv
  • 07670
  • 03-22-19

An eye opener

This is a great book for managers and entrepreneurs alike. Truly valuable and insightful views on the value of creating great workplaces

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

A much needed perspective on humanizing work

I was a Dan Lyons since he was writing Fake Steve Jobs. He is witty, direct, and mostly right. Disrupted was a great read. I know a number of people who work at HiubSpot and his story is candid, fun to read, and insightful.

When I started reading Lab Rats I was expecting a follow-up to Disrupted. It's not. but don't be disappointed. This book is even more important. It's about the need to make work more human. It's a call against greed, and for socially-responsible capitalism (even though the author does not use this term).

It's a fun read, as I expected. Dan's message is important. One everyone that should be mandatory for every startup executive. Dan is right about what is wrong in Silicon Valley, and to an extent, across the US.

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Leftist drivel

Leftist drivel and opinion overwhelms a reasonably simple business philosophy: take care of your employees who will then take care of your customers.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful