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What Really Led to Last Summer’s Most Notorious Firing

Geplaatst op nov 9, 2013 in News

Patch Woes

The Story Behind Why AOL CEO Tim Armstrong Fired An Employee In Front Of 1,000 Coworkers

Business Insider

For a few days last August, it was one of the most talked-about business stories in America: Tim Armstrong, the CEO of AOL, fired someone abruptly during a meeting. A recording of the incident went viral. What made the typically affable Armstrong snap? In this massive piece, Nicholas Carlson analyzes Armstrong’s rise from his days as the owner of a strawberry business, uncovering a leadership trajectory that culminated in a proxy war with an activist investor and a final realization that his baby — local-news and listings provider Patch — needed to be trimmed, or else.

A thread running through the story is Armstrong’s likability and loyalty. He was the “golden boy,” so well-liked that he was able to overstep boundaries. At Google, he knew he needed to simplify his huge sales staff, but instead of making hard choices that could damage friendships, he put off any decisions and later left for AOL.

There’s so much more in the full article, particularly about Patch, which was supposed to be AOL’s savior and instead became an even bigger elephant in the room than Google’s complex sales arm. Armstrong told his board he could make Patch profitable within a year, but it didn’t happen. Last August, feeling awful, he knew he had to face the consequences and make unpopular choices. “For so long, it was a price he had never had to pay,” writes Carlson. Armstrong was so emotional that it didn’t take much to provoke him. And we all know what happened next.

Networking with Nobodies

Stroke of Luck: How Entrepreneurs Can Increase Their Chances

Australian School of Business

Hoping for a little luck in your efforts to become an entrepreneur? There are things you can do to put yourself in luck’s way, says Martin Bliemel of the Australian School of Business. Such as search harder for sources of inspiration. Instead of monitoring the media for new ideas, attend trade shows and conferences and go to talks in areas that are out of your area of knowledge. Also, ask for more than you can reasonably expect. “Don’t be afraid to tell others what you are looking for, even if you think it would be foolish for them to help you,” he says. And network with people – even those who don’t seem to matter. Many entrepreneurs have found opportunities through serendipitous connections. Entrepreneurs have to hone their ability to extract good ideas from surprising sources and turn them into something no one else has thought of. —Andy O’Connell 

The Highest Stakes

Lead or Die

Fast Company

Lt. Col. Phil Treglia wasn’t your typical management adviser. A Marine with years of combat experience, he’d never actually advised anyone before. But he volunteered to lead a team to help the Afghan Army transition to self-reliance in advance of the U.S. military withdrawal. Treglia’s mission, as handed down from the higher-ups, was to use his large team to work side-by-side with the Afghan Army — military helicopter parenting, so to speak. The team was given no deliverables; the only end-game message was vague: Give Afghans the ability to be independent after the U.S. leaves.

Treglia decided that, due to this open-ended goal and the difficulty of getting the Afghan Army to learn to do things on their own amid a swarm of advisers, he would go over the heads of his superiors and craft a strategy that relied on a few key takeaways. One: In the long term, soft skills such as mentoring, inspiring, and “selling” (of concepts and goals) would be much more effective than combat drills. Another: Afghan soldiers needed to learn how to be confident in their skills — and that couldn’t happen with tons of advisers looking over their shoulders. So he drastically reduced the numbers on site. Lastly: If you’re in a big bureaucracy and you’re making changes to what’s happening on the ground, pretend everything’s normal and no one will notice until your plans succeed. “By the time staffers at the regional command fully grasped the change, the program had been humming along for two months and showing good results.” And it still is: the British have taken notice of Treglia’s methods, and the team he advised is now a model case.

The Most Boring Plotlines Are Our Lives

Your Phone Is Ruining You For Us

The Awl

Robert Lanham, a fiction writer and satirist, refuses to set his stories after 2002, roughly the time when our daily activities and emotions started revolving around our smart phones. If he were to write about the present, he’d have to show how boring and uninspired we’ve become, staring minute after minute at those shiny devices. That would make for mind-numbingly dull reading. Even the concept of “unplugging” for a night or a weekend is boring. “Digital detoxes lack passion,” he writes. “They’re pretentious. They’re the commitment equivalent of the hedge funder who uses LED light bulbs on his private jet to be ‘environmental.'” Even our outrage is boring — we become insipidly incensed about “some guy who had his phone up in the air for, like, 20 seconds during the glockenspiel solo” of an Arcade Fire concert.

“We need to be embarrassed,” he says. “We need to be mortified by how monotonous we’ve become.” So maybe we should turn our phones off until we actually need them: “Who knows who you’ve actually become while you were desperately not paying attention?”


Toyota Made a 4-Wheeled Segway That You Bond With Like a Horse


It has always seemed sad to me that after thousands of years of being bonded with horses, humans have largely lost that relationship. But now there’s Toyota’s FV2, a hybrid vehicle that you drive standing up. In that sense, it’s like a chariot, but you’re supposed to bond with it, just as you would with a horse. It’s controlled like a Segway — there’s no steering wheel. To make it move, you shift your body forward, back, left, or right. Funnest of all, the machine uses facial-expression recognition to determine your mood, and the exterior changes color accordingly, says Wired. —Andy O’Connell


Some Companies You May Have Heard Of

Dell Officially Goes Private: Inside the Nastiest Tech Buyout Ever (Forbes)
The Hidden Technology That Makes Twitter Huge (Businessweek)
Blockbuster Video: 1985-2013 (Grantland)

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