When “List Season” Comes
It’s not about the placement. It’s about the criteria.
If it’s one aspect of the communications trade that focuses companies to the point of distraction, it’s industry lists.
In my career, I’d have to say that very few organizations with which I’ve worked very closely — call it fewer than one in six — have had any business achieving placement on the lists that they most obsess over. “Best places to work” lists are among the most consistently desired.
A lot of the time, companies don’t really know much about how these lists are compiled. “But I thought we had a relationship with this outlet!” is the usual reaction to a perceived inclusion miss.
Often, the lists are generated in partnership with a research house, with the editorial decisions coming into play only after the data comes back. Some are based solely on revenue or a hard metric that an organization doesn’t meet. Many times, to be perfectly frank, the list is clickbait that doesn’t actually matter.
The creative, constructive way to look at industry lists is to study the evaluation criteria with your employees and your leadership. Put another way, if you think that the list matters, engage with it beyond CTRL-F’ing for your company’s name.
Such questions worth exploring might include:
Do we meet the hard-number requirements, such as revenue, profitability, market capitalization, or headcount?
Do we meet the soft criteria? For example, are we really a “best” or even “good” place to work compared to the other companies on a best-place-to-work list?
Having examined that criteria and found them relevant, have we identified areas where our organization can improve?
Having examined same, what is the path to achieve this?
Making the list discussion just about inclusion in the list is a symptom of leadership-creativity deficiencies. When appropriate, take these perceived misses as an opportunity to lead meaningful change. It could be a way to inch your organization closer to the kind of workplace it strives to be.
No trees were cut down in the publication of this newsletter, however, I imagine a fair number of electrons were disturbed. But… I mean… Real talk? Just you and me, right? F**k those electrons. Seriously. Just subscribe. And, together, maybe we’ll mess with a few more subatomic particles along the way.
TRUE CRIME: “Maybe She Had So Much Money She Just Lost Track of It,” New York Magazine (2018) — If you’re watching the number-one limited series on the number-one streamer — Inventing Anna on Netflix — you owe it to yourself to read the New York Magazine article upon which it is based. Despite the disclaimer in the show’s intro (“This whole story is completely true, except for all the parts that are totally made up”), I’ve found that it hews more closely to the source material than many similar efforts. While you’re at it, go behind-the-scenes with the original article’s author for additional insight on how the show went from page to screen. Or check out this first-person account of someone who encountered her numerous times around the NYC party scene.
ECONOMICS: “Modern Monetary Theory Got a Pandemic Tryout. Inflation Is Now Testing It,” The New York Times (2022) — This is one of those times when prestige media appears to provide intellectual air cover for the academy’s really, really bad ideas. This one is a bit more even-handed than most, though. While cosmetically inserting criticisms of MMT for appearances’ sake, the piece still comes off as the usual “Wait until the right people try it and you’ll see!” Worth a read, though.
TECH: “Why Gamers Hate Crypto, and Music Fans Don’t,” Platformer (2022) — I’m not a gamer. In fact, the last console I owned was a Magnavox Odyssey II. But I’ve always thought that crypto and especially NFTs solve a problem of player-owned objects within digital worlds. The topic was a big part of my whitepaper for the American Association of Advertising Agencies, in fact. Today? Well, years of the gaming industry’s financial abuse of its customers have soured the latter on the idea. I still think this is a code that can be cracked, however. This article provides an excellent starting point for how this might happen.
Imagine showing up to The Pearly Gates. St. Peter looks into his book, sighs heavily, and asks “So… You’re one of those?”