Game Plan

Game Plan

United States

You spend more time at your job than just about anywhere else. Game Plan, a weekly show hosted by Bloomberg reporter Rebecca Greenfield and editor Francesca Levy, takes a close look at the way we live our lives at work. Greenfield and Levy dive into everything from how we started speaking in office jargon to the strategic value of being nice to your colleagues. It turns out that there’s a lot more to say about the office grind than you may have realized.

Episodes

Hard Work Isn’t The Reason For Your Success  

Silicon Valley types like to say the quality of your work is all that matters, and good ideas rise to the top, no matter whom they come from. But why do the people who rise to the top in a meritocracy tend to be the ones with all the advantages? Francesca and Rebecca talk to Ryan Carson, the chief executive officer of Treehouse Island Inc., a coding school, about why he once believed in meritocracy and then—suddenly—didn’t.

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Yes, Your Political Beliefs Can Get You Fired  

We live in politically polarized times, and those tensions are seeping into the workplace in all sorts of ways. In liberal enclaves like Silicon Valley, conservatives feel isolated and judged at the office. People on the other end of the spectrum feel attacked by the administration's policies—and have no problem telling their bosses their views. For some, the increased political chatter in the office has led to increased hostility and stress. And it can have even more extreme consequences: The wrong political view could even get you canned.  
 
When do political beliefs become too extreme for the workplace? Can what you believe ever get you fired? Rebecca and Francesca talk to Art Leonard, a labor law and first amendment expert, about what can and can't get workers in trouble. Does the First Amendment protect us all or does at-will employment mean anyone is at risk of termination at any time for anything they do? The short answer is: It's complicated.

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You Don’t Really Need a Mentor  

People just starting out in their careers get one piece of big advice: Find a mentor. And that’s true—research has found the many benefits of having a career guru. But finding the right person often feels stressful and forced. Instead of getting anxious about finding that special someone, it’s time rethink the idea of mentors. Francesca and Rebecca talk to Phyllis Korkki, the executive editor of the story-telling app Hooked, about how to seek out unconventional mentors.

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Can Boomers and Millennials Get Along?  

In 2015, Millennials became the biggest generation in the American workforce. Last year, they overtook Boomers as the biggest generation overall in the U.S. These changing demographics have led to some tension at work for people both old and young. Rebecca and Francesca speak with Karen Wickre, a 66-year-old Silicon Valley veteran, about what it’s like to work among the youngs. We can all learn to get along!

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There's an Easier Way to Change Careers  

Maybe you're dying to change careers—or being forced to because your job is going to a robot—but it just seems impossible to start over in a new field. There might be a better way. Francesca and Rebecca look at the skills-based approach to job switching; a way to assess what unrelated jobs may be unexpectedly similar to yours. We talk to Claire Cain Miller, a New York Times reporter who embarked on a major data study to cross-reference thousands of skills and jobs.

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What to Do About Your Office Crush  

Workplaces can be the perfect breeding ground for crushes, but there are major downsides to getting romantic with colleagues. Francesca and guest host Jenny Kaplan talk to author and advice columnist Cheryl Strayed about the advice she gives lovelorn workers—and how to handle yourself when friendships at work grow into something more.

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Why Your Office is Always the Wrong Temperature  

Rebecca and Francesca head to an office that lets everyone control their own desk temperature using a phone app. We'll see if it's possible to resolve the annual office air conditioning wars, or whether someone's always doomed to be uncomfortable.

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How to Cope With a Coworker Who Interrupts  

Is there anything more annoying than coworkers who interrupt you? Research has shown that women get interrupted more than men. Author and Professor Chris Karpowitz talks to Francesca and Rebecca about how that affects the kinds of conversations and decisions that happen at companies, and what can be done about it.

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Yes, Your Commute Really Is Getting Worse  

A big part of our work lives takes place not in the office, but instead stuck in traffic or on a crowded train en route to and from our jobs. The average American spends 25 minutes getting to work, up from 21.7 minutes in 1980—and people living in major metropolitan areas have it much worse. We are spending a lot of time shuttling between work and home. These increasingly long rides to work are stressful, frustrating and bad for our health and the economy. Is there a way to make commuting tolerable again? Rebecca and Francesca talk to Richard Florida, an urban studies theorist and author of The New Urban Crisis about how traveling to our jobs got this bad and the piecemeal initiatives that are attempting to make our commutes to work a teeny bit better.

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Your Company Could Be Tricking You With Perks  

Among a certain set of companies competing for talent, there’s been a perks arms race. Health benefits and vacation days aren’t enough to sweeten a good salary anymore. Companies now offer to pay off student debt, subsidize egg-freezing services and provide cash stipends for employees to go on vacation. Francesca and Rebecca talk about the state of cushy workplaces and whether anything can compensate for a job you just don’t like. Jason Fried, chief executive officer and co-founder of Chicago-based software company Basecamp joins us to discuss all the things he’s done to keep employees happy (and keep them from departing for the coasts) and what is—and isn’t—working.

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Let's Hear It For Petty Office Gripes  

Each week on Game Plan, Francesca and Rebecca share their half-baked takes, a segment where they talk about their not super well thought out ideas and opinions on work and work related activities.  In the spirit of the summer slack off, this week Francesca and Rebecca outsourced that task to their colleagues to present the very first half-baked take marathon. In it, they talk about important office topics like office footwear, the case for coffee in the afternoon, and an innovative idea to make open offices more habitable.

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Are You Sure You're Working Enough?  

Venture capitalist Keith Rabois set off a Silicon Valley firestorm earlier this month about what it takes to succeed. When another tech investor wrote on Twitter that working on the weekends and burning out isn’t cool—and doesn’t work—Rabois fired back. “Totally false,” he said, suggesting that dogged dedication (usually measured by long hours) was the only way to reach the top. Lots of people objected to his assessment. Francesca and Rebecca speak with one of Keith's critics, startup founder and engineer Sara Mauskopf, about why she thinks flexible hours and a healthy work-life balance can actually make your product better. Then we check in with Keith to see whether he has revised his opinion.

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Here's How to Actually Live and Work Abroad  

So, you want to move to Canada? Or New Zealand, or Australia or another English-speaking, culturally adjacent country to the U.S. that doesn’t have our current president. After every election, Americans threaten to get out of dodge—and 2016 was no different. Rebecca and Francesca talk about the realities of starting over in another country and what it takes to actually pick up and move your life to a new place. They talk to author Suketu Mehta, who grew up in India and came to America when his family immigrated to New York in the 1970s. In a recent piece for the New York Times, Mehta urged more Americans to consider the expat life, arguing that it’s not just a fantasy of the elite.

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Is Working From Home Too Good to Be True?  

Letting employees occasionally work from home makes them happy, can save companies money and there's research to suggest it could help close the gender pay gap. But some companies, like IBM, say remote work encourages habits that hurt collaboration, innovation and productivity. Last month the company told hundreds of thousands of employees they had to report to headquarters. So what's the future of work? Guest Christopher Mims, a technology columnist and a 10-year veteran of working from home, explains why he believes companies can't curb the trend of working from a distance.

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It's Not Just You—Everyone Feels Like a Fraud at Work  

Fake it 'til you make it! That's the career advice many of us get upon first entering the workforce. Since you're a newbie, and won't understand lots of parts of your job, just pretend — and one day, all of a sudden, you'll be a bona fide expert. It's not bad advice, and research has even found that it works. But what happens when you still feel as if you're faking it, long after you've actually made it? Francesca and Rebecca discuss the phenomenon known as imposter syndrome. Many competent (often female) professionals go through their entire careers with the sneaking suspicion that they'll be revealed as frauds — even when they're more than qualified. Is there a way to combat this haunting feeling? Dr. Suzanne Koven, a primary care physician at Mass General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, explains how she recently got over her own imposter syndrome and helps Francesca and Rebecca deal with their own inner work demons.

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The Expert's Guide to Not Freaking Out About Student Debt  

Student debt doesn't only affect students and recent grads. It’s a burden that can follow people through their working life and influence every financial and career decision they make. It’s easy to feel panicked by doom-and-gloom news, so to separate worries from reality, Francesca and Becca talk with Bloomberg's Shahien Nasiripour, who covers student debt and education policy.

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How to Talk About Trump (And Other Tough Topics) at Work  

Workers used to leave their opinions and feelings at home. No talking at work about politics, religion or other personal stuff was the rule. Not anymore! Companies ask us to bring our whole selves to the office. But for those of us averse to sharing with our coworkers, the current political climate and social media have made it impossible to resist. These days, many of us talk to coworkers about Trump, our personal lives or something we just spotted on Facebook. But is putting it all out there necessarily a good thing? This week on Game Plan, Rebecca and Francesca discuss whether we need to revisit what's acceptable to say at work and how to say it. If we're going to talk about sensitive, divisive and uncomfortable topics at work, we need better rules and etiquette. To help us, we turn to Ijeoma Oluo, the author of “So You Want to Talk About Race." She provides practical tips for having productive conversations at work about a topic both political and personal: race.

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The Art of Listening to Music at Work  

Francesca and Rebecca talk about when listening to music out loud, and with your co-workers—becomes a job requirement. They report from various scenes of communal workplace listening, including retail chains, where employees have to listen to whatever somebody at headquarters decided fits a store's vibe, and a public relations firm that's experimenting with a cooperative DJ-ing environment. Even in operating rooms, many surgeons use music to focus on their high-stakes work, but one—Becca's dad—bans tunes except during the holidays. They look at the effect of music on our productivity and happiness at work, and ask whether forced-music regimes can make people's jobs better, or if jamming should remain a solo pursuit.

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Real Talk About Disabilities and Work  

We're used to seeing accessible bathrooms and wheelchair ramps at the office, thanks to the Americans with Disabilities Act. But in many ways, employers still don't go far enough to accommodate people with disabilities. The unemployment rate is two times higher for disabled people than the general population. Those who do find work get paid less, making 63 cents on the dollar, on average. And, of course, there's workplace bias. Francesca and Rebecca talk to Gideon Goldberg, a software developer at The Guardian with cerebral palsy about what it's like to work with a disability. He talks about all the small things he has to consider in his working life that most people don't. Like: How his limited spacial awareness makes navigating to job interviews slightly more difficult. But, thanks to accommodations he's entitled to by law in his native U.K., he doesn't have to worry too much about doing his job.

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The Working Family Has Changed. Why Hasn't the Workplace?  

Families in America used to look pretty similar. Moms in the 1970s were far more likely to stay home with the kids, while dads went to the office and paid the bills. That paradigm has shifted dramatically. Now, more households have two working parents than ever. America also has more single-parent households — and more female breadwinners. Yet the rules and norms of office life — commuting to the office, spending most of the weekday there, and working late if you have to — haven’t adapted to the realities of modern families. In addition to running on a rigid 9-to-5 schedule, many offices don’t offer paid family leave and still punish working women. On this week's show, we discuss that disconnect. Guest Ashley Ford, a senior features writer at Refinery29, polled 130 millennial women to find out how they felt about making more money than their male partners. She talks to Francesca and Rebecca being a female breadwinner in a world that isn’t sure it's ready for that.

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