The Economy is on the Mend

I’m ready to place my bet. The economy is on the mend. How do I know? Well, there are no eye witnesses, but there is so much evidence. I can point to observable messages being distributed in the market.

Message 1 – Ben Bernanke spoke to Congress and advised them that a recovery is likely to start sometime in 2009. This is slightly more optimistic than a month ago

Message 2 – President Obama addressed the nation in a very positive manner last night. The tone was positive and purposeful. The doom and gloom that he frequently mentioned prior to the stimulus bill becoming law is gone.

Message 3 – Sun Trust bank is airing commercials that reflect the mood of the average US citizen – living in excess is over. Saving and living with less is quite alright. Simple nights with family and reading a book are worth a lot.

Message 4 – James Surowiecki in the New Yorker is running an article and a couple of blog entries. The article is about how cutting pay is very rare and even though there are many layoffs happening, salaries are increasing. So if you can keep your job through your company’s layoffs then there is a good chance of reward. Your productivity will certainly warrant it. The blog entries discuss how authority figures (the President) simply talking about the Depression worsens the economy. It makes people hunker down. The focus going forward will be on the different successes and a more positive tone will come from people like the President.

Message 5 – There is a coming demand surge. Consumers can go without new shirts and pants, an updated refridgerator, and fancy restaurants. But at some point all those items, including the restaurant, will be needed again. In the mean time many companies will go out of business and there are deals to be had. The market will clean up the inefficiencies and several new power house companies will emerge.

Message 6 – Envy is taking a backseat to sensibility. Keeping up with the Joneses?

Message 7 – Northern Trust had a big party that is associated with golf, musical groups, and high end hotels and eateries. This is a company that was infused with Government money through TARP. And yet the reaction from the public isn’t all negative. People are let down by Northern Trust for being so lavish, but many understand why the party was held and that this isn’t the same as Citi bank. This is a profitable company conducting business, perhaps it is unwise in the current environment, but this management seems to be doing a lot right.

There are many more instances I’ve noticed but the point is made. The negative news still circulates, but the amount of positive news is growing and is diverse in its focus.

Working Thoughts 02/25/08
Ken Chenault 2007 vs 2006 Compensation

An Intro to Technology, Entertainment, and Design (TED) – Ideas Worth Spreading

Technology, Entertainment, and Design (TED) is an annual conference that brings in many leading thinkers of today. It puts them on stage for a speech of about 18 minutes. It is an “I have arrived” moment for many of these thought leaders. Here is what it says on the TED homepage:

TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design.
It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from
those three worlds. Since then its scope has become ever broader.

annual conference now brings together the world’s most fascinating
thinkers and doers, who are challenged to give the talk of their lives
(in 18 minutes).

This site makes the best talks and performances from TED available to the public, for free. More than 200 talks from our archive are now available, with more added each week. These videos are released under a Creative Commons license, so they can be freely shared and reposted.

Our mission: Spreading ideas.

believe passionately in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives
and ultimately, the world. So we’re building here a clearinghouse that
offers free knowledge and inspiration from the world’s most inspired
thinkers, and also a community of curious souls to engage with ideas
and each other. This site, launched April 2007, is an ever-evolving
work in progress, and you’re an important part of it. Have an idea? We
want to hear from you.

The TED Conference,
held annually in Long Beach, is still the heart of TED. More than a
thousand people now attend — indeed, the event sells out a year in
advance — and the content has expanded to include science, business,
the arts and the global issues facing our world. Over four days, 50
speakers each take an 18-minute slot, and there are many shorter pieces
of content, including music, performance and comedy. There are no
breakout groups. Everyone shares the same experience. It shouldn’t
work, but it does. It works because all of knowledge is connected.
Every so often it makes sense to emerge from the trenches we dig for a
living, and ascend to a 30,000-foot view, where we see, to our
astonishment, an intricately interconnected whole.

In recent years, TED has spawned some important extensions.

is a sister conference held every other year, and in a different
country on each occasion. The first conference was held in Oxford,
England, in 2005; the second, in June 2007, was held in Arusha,
Tanzania. The themes of the global conference are slightly more focused
on development issues, but the basic TED format is maintained.

The TED Prize
is designed to leverage the TED Community’s exceptional array of talent
and resources. It is awarded annually to three exceptional individuals
who each receive $100,000 and, much more important, the granting of
“One Wish to Change the World.” After several months of preparation, they unveil their wish
at an award ceremony held during the TED Conference. These wishes have
led to collaborative initiatives with far-reaching impact.

began as a simple attempt to share what happens at TED with the world.
Under the moniker “ideas worth spreading,” talks were released online.
They rapidly attracted a global audience in the millions. Indeed, the
reaction was so enthusiastic that the entire TED website has been
reengineered around TEDTalks, with the goal of giving everyone
on-demand access to the world’s most inspiring voices.

TED is therefore best thought of as a global community. It’s a
community welcoming people from every discipline and culture who have
just two things in common: they seek a deeper understanding of the
world, and they hope to turn that understanding into a better future
for us all.

Education is Getting an Overdue National Review

Over the past three months I’ve really noticed an increase in print media directed towards the needs of the US education system. The decline in prominence of the US over the last 18 months coupled with the financial crises has motivated people to look at root causes. And the root cause many are concluding is a lack in education prioritization.

Much of the wealth created over the last 100 years in the US has been attributed to the across the board schooling that took place between 1900 and 1960. This created better skilled workers, which improved productivity, which raised the buying power of the middle class. Over the last 50 years the advantage the US has had in terms of mass education has dwindled and is often surpassed. For instance, India gained independence in 1947 from England. One of their first prominent decisions was to make education a tenant of their new country. To do so they centralized the Sciences and Technologies in higher education curriculum and maintain the ability to extend mandates as needed. There are several occurrences throughout the last 60 years.

What is strange to me is how an educational program assembled in the late 1800s is still the one used today. This lack of adjustmemt assumes there is no cultural change, no technology change, and no competitors for attention. Each of these has eroded the effectiveness of a K-12 schooling. A good example of the cultural change is described in The Big Fix by David Leohardt. He wrote that a scholarship program in West Virginia called Promise has observed other state scholarship system’s and found a weakness – there isn’t an urgency to graduate in four years. Allowing students to take five years or longer doesn’t produce results for the cost. Many students just aren’t pushed to graduate. At one point in time this would be embarrassing, but now it is culturally accepted.

The economic stimulus is addressing many of the current shortfalls in education funding, but it isn’t launching new models. But I’m hopeful, primarily because it really all comes down to the teachers. Malcolm Gladwell wrote a couple of months ago about how a good teacher in a poor school will teach more to their students than a bad teacher in a good school will. His narrative depicts several examples. But one area he mentions as a possibility for teachers is also a possibility for all jobs – apprenticeships. It makes perfect sense because it is a flexibe learning program. It changes with culture, technology, and motivations.

I’m hoping for some new ideas, especially in the private sector, to come to the fore but in the meantime, here are a few more writings I enjoyed on the topic:

Our Greatest National Shame by Nicholas Kristof

The Race between Education and Technology by Claudia Goldin (Author), Lawrence F. Katz (Author)

Education PostsWorking Thoughts by Ben Leeson

Working Thoughts – 02/15/08 – Teachers Who Have Creative Freedom to Teach

20 Ideas for 2009 from the HBR

The Harvard Business Review, or HBR as some like to call it just redid its website. It is much easier to navigate now and I’ve ran across one segment that I want to highlight. It is called Breakthrough Ideas of 2009.

Here is the list of 20 ideas:

Just Because I’m nice, Don’t Assume I’m Dumb
Beware Global Cooling
Institutional Memory Goes Digital
Stumbling to a Longer Life
The Rise of Forensic Economics
State Capitalism Makes a Comeback
Now’s the Time to Invest in Africa
Consumer Safety for Consumer Credit
The Ikea Factor: When Labor leads to Love
Launching a Better Brain
A Central Nervous System for the Earth
A Looming American Diaspora
Harnessing Social Pressure
Western Union World
How Social Networks Network Best
Should You Outsource Your Brain
The Dynamics of Personal Influence
Forget Citibank, Borrow from Bob
The Business of Biomimicry
What you Need to Know about the Semantic Web

Many opportunities await.  I particularly like Launching a Better Brain because it reminds us that having fun learning stimulates the brain to develop new neurons and pathways.

The Future is Bright – R & openFrameworks

Stanley Bing is a writer for He provides a business viewpoint with a crusty tint to it. It is fun to read. The other day he wrote about a time when he was young. Several classmates went with him to see a farm and the they learned a life lesson – chickens run around after their head is chopped off. There is blood and there is twitching. The story was an analogy for the US economy and being graphic was intentional. I agree with what his viewpoint is, except it assumes there is only one chicken. But there isn’t. There are many chickens and life goes on. The point I’m trying to make is that there are a lot of great ideas in the US economy right now and these ideas are not simple “wouldn’t it be great” fluf” either. The future is bright.

Two examples of technologies I think are ready to launch:

The R Programming Language
It is making large amounts of data much easier to work with and not just for those that watched Stargate either. The language is fairly easy to pick up once you need to apply it. And that is what I see as most valuable. A new segment of the population is dealing with very large sets of data that before had to use an intermediary. This empowers them and it makes the challenge of ever increasing data scalable. Here are a few links to more information:

R (programming language) – Wikipedia
Data Analysts Captivated by R’s Power
– A NY Times article
R You Ready for R? – A NY Times blog entry
The R Project for Statistical Computing – An application of R

The Open Frameworks
This labels itself as “creative coding” and I have to agree. It names itself OF. Just watch the video and check the links below it.
made with openFrameworks from openFrameworks on Vimeo.

openFrameworks – Wikipedia
openFrameworks – Home
openFrameworks – Wiki

President Obama and My Four Components to the Future

This blog has really helped develop my sense of the economic future or at least a future I would like to see. It has four components to it. Two are tactical and very achievable and two are conceptual and high level.

They are:
Energy Innovation
Health Care Efficiency
Information Value
People Insight

I try to hit on these topics as much as I can as they related to the working world. For instance, I believe Energy Innovation and Health Care Efficiency are two areas ready to explode in growth. Smart entrepreneurs should be marshaling their resources in those two directions. The next five years are pivotal as to who the next big businesses are. Information Value and People Insight are skills that will be make or break for the next generation of leaders.

So, other than the obvious, what does this have to do with President Obama? His campaign and stimulus both hint at taking these four directions. For instance, here is an excerpt from his recent speech on January 8th, 2009:

And this plan begins with — this plan must begin today, a plan I am
confident will save or create at least 3 million jobs over the next few
years. It is not just another public-works program; it’s a plan that
recognizes both the paradox and the promise of this moment — the fact
that there are millions of Americans trying to find work even as, all
around the country, there’s so much work to be done. And that’s why
we’ll invest in priorities like energy and education; health care and a
new infrastructure that are necessary to keep us strong and competitive
in the 21st century. That’s why the overwhelming majority of the jobs
created will be in the private sector, while our plan will save the
public sector jobs of teachers, police officers, firefighters and
others who provide vital services.

To finally spark the creation of a clean-energy economy, we will double
the production of alternative energy in the next three years. We will
modernize more than 75 percent of federal buildings and improve the
energy efficiency of 2 million American homes, saving consumers and
taxpayers billions on our energy bills. In the process, we will put
Americans to work in new jobs that pay well and can’t be outsourced —
jobs building solar panels and wind turbines, constructing
fuel-efficient cars and buildings, and developing the new energy
technologies that will lead to even more jobs, more savings, and a
cleaner, safer planet in the bargain.

To improve the quality of our health care while lowering its cost, we
will make the immediate investments necessary to ensure that within
five years all of America’s medical records are computerized. This will
cut waste, eliminate red tape, and reduce the need to repeat expensive
medical tests. But it just won’t save billions of dollars and thousands
of jobs, it will save lives by reducing the deadly but preventable
medical errors that pervade our health care system.

Strangely, the undertone I most agree with is the idea that a 21st century economy begins with shovel and dirt. For too long we’ve become too elitist to attend to bridges, dams, and road projects correctly. But these areas are foundational and multipliers for the more advanced work that is sought.

I’m looking forward to what President Obama says at his inauguration. It is rare that someone gets the chance to be legendary… and knows it.

President Obama is Making 30 Year Decisions

Jocelyn Noveck wrote a piece for the AP this weekend (1/11/08) called In Obama, many see an end to the baby boomer era. She writes how President-Elect Obama, although technically a baby boomer, represents something different as President. Here is an excerpt to say it better:

He’s an example of a new pragmatism: idealistic but realistic,
post-partisan, unthreatened by dissent, eager and able to come up with
new ways to solve problems.

But this isn’t to say that he belongs to the Generation X group either. Gen X tends to be a pessimistic group and someone who writes a book about Hope is certainly not a pessimist.

And that is the power for President-Elect Obama, he transcend stories like this one. He is so different than anything easily pigeon holed. For example he is half black and half white, he grew up in Hawaii, he is mature, but not retirement age, and he smokes, but tries not to. There are aspects to his back story that practically anyone can identify with.

And because of this, the undertone of the story is spot on. This is the next chapter for American Leadership. America has changed and people who reflect that will slowly begin to be elected into office in Congress. President-Elect Obama was just the first because he figured out the formula. Just like President Clinton used The Arsenio Hall Show and MTV to get elected, President-Elect Obama used the internet, texting, and social networking sites. Others will too, some more successfully than others.

I’ve written before that I believe in 30 year Presidents. I don’t mean that literally, but from a large scale policy standpoint. For instance, the period that is about to end is very much reflective of President Ronald Reagan’s ideas. Before President Reagan it was Franklin D. Roosevelt that set the tone for the next 30ish years. And before him it was the youngest President, Theordore Roosevelt, who established how the US would conduct itself for three decades. I start to lose my sense of history, but I could argue that Abraham Lincoln was the first in this string (prior to Lincoln, the US has several democracy leaders that each added something during their term as the US evolved).

A valuable question to ask is what is the tipping point? If America has changed then it isn’t an overnight event. It is probably cumulative. And at some point it becomes apparent, like a 17 year old boy who puts on his school pants and realizes he grew two inches over the summer. Is it simply time? 30 Years?

On the Cusp?

We are the cusp of something very important.

The media is starting to write more positive economic stories and less doom and gloom. I don’t have any facts to back this up except for general observation, but I stand by this statement. For instance, over the weekend I saw two stories about how 2009 might be better than you think and three stories about innovation, intellectual property, and a growing post Katrina New Orleans. This is in addition to the numerous headlines that read along the lines of “Spending Less in 2009″ “Credit Card Companies are willing to work with those in debt” and “Investment Opportunities are Many.” If media companies aren’t writing doom and gloom stories then it means the US readership isn’t interested in them anymore. Just like sales of peanut butter and pasta foretell an oncoming recession, positive news stories precede an economic recovery.

The mental recession is over. The worst is in the past.

Not so fast… the Jobs Report on Friday could push everything back into the quicksand. But I don’t expect it to. I expect the number to come in around 500,000 jobs lost (still a huge number) and the revised number for November to be closer to 600,000. What is important is a plateau. The losses need to stop accelerating and start to turn the other way. Once people start to feel good about their situation they will generate efficiencies and innovative solutions. Couple that with the stimulus package and the US will be well on its way back to positive GDP. As I’ve said before, I believe the US can shift from upsizing to downsizing and back very quickly.

Anyway, here is a summary of the stories I ran across that I got a kick out of:

Some Forecasters See a Fast Economic Recovery
by Louis Uchitelle

There is a psychological factor that Robert Shiller, a Yale economist, hopes will come into play.

we have massive infrastructure spending and people feel that it is
working, it could create a sense that we are O.K. and people will go
back to normal,” he said. “The real problem is that we are on hold.
Everyone is.”

The expectation of most forecasters, several
report, is that most of the Obama administration’s stimulus will go for
public works projects and tax cuts.

With this sort of stimulus,
the gross domestic product, the chief measure of the nation’s output,
should begin to rise — if not in the third quarter, then certainly in
the fourth, the forecasters say, and the unemployment rate will finally
peak at 8 to 9 percent by early next year.

“The job insecurity is
very serious; that is the worst aspect of all this,” said Albert
Wojnilower, a consulting forecaster at Craig Drill Capital. “But most
upturns in the economy have begun with upturns in consumption, when
people who still have jobs stop worrying about losing them.”

2009 Could Be Better Than You Think by Alan Murray

I have no crystal ball. But a sense of history, some basic
economics, common sense and just a dash of congenital optimism leave me
convinced that this one won’t be all bad.

Oh, sure, there will be layoffs like we haven’t seen since the Great
Depression. And you can expect to see a proliferation of empty
storefronts and a heap of broken businesses.

But why focus on the negative? Here are five good reasons why 2009
could, if you make the most of it, be good for your financial health.

1 This will be a good year to invest in stocks.

No one can tell you exactly when or where the market will bottom.
But most business-cycle experts agree that the bottom will be found
sometime this year, and that it probably won’t be too far below where
the market is today.

So a smart strategy will be to put some money in the market today,
and keep doing it over the course of the year. If you’re still shaken
over massive losses from last year, this may be hard advice to swallow.
But the biggest mistake you can make as an investor is to ride the
market down, lose faith, pull out and miss the upturn.

Even in the Great Depression, the market bottomed out in 1932, with
the Dow Jones Industrial Average at 41, down from a peak of 381 in
1929. By 1937, it had climbed back to a respectable 194. That didn’t
make investors whole. But for those who stayed in, it certainly soothed
the wounds.

2 It will be a good year to invest in real estate.

3 Americans will learn to live within their means.

4 President Obama will have a historic opportunity to reshape public policy.

Speaking at the Wall Street Journal’s CEO conference in November,
Mr. Obama’s chief-of-staff-designate, Rahm Emanuel, said the words that
have become his team’s rallying cry for 2009: “You never want a serious
crisis to go to waste. This crisis provides the opportunity for us to
do things that you could not do before.”

The Obama team is busily preparing a stimulus package that, when all
is said and done, will total between $750 billion and $1 trillion —
far larger than any fiscal stimulus in the history of the world. And
with the economy still sliding downward, it’s a good bet few
politicians will want to stand in the way.

That will give the new president an opportunity to do things his
predecessors could only dream about. Roads will be rebuilt, schools
will be refurbished, medical records will be computerized, and
windmills will be constructed, all across the land.

Will some of that money be wasted? Of course. But the sums involved
are so huge that there’s a good chance someone, somewhere, will benefit.

5 Your (federal) taxes won’t rise.

This, too, is unsustainable. A reckoning will come. But that’s a problem for 2010 and beyond.

In the meantime, enjoy the new year!

Dreamers and Doers by John Schwartz

“Any school can teach entrepreneurship,” he says, “but at Babson, we live entrepreneurship.”

let’s not get carried away: as a reporter and as a parent, I find
myself on plenty of college campuses these days, and many of the
students I meet are indistinguishable from the dull-eyed slackers I
went to college with (when dinosaurs roamed the Earth and Pluto was
still a planet). But then there are those who have this . . . THING,
this go-getting excitement to start something, make something. They
want money, sure. But the overwhelming desire seems to be to carve out
something of their own.

Today’s students have grown up hearing
more about Bill Gates than F.D.R., and they live in a world where
startling innovations are commonplace. The current crop of
18-year-olds, after all, were 8 when Google was ­founded by two
students at Stanford; Mark Zuckerberg founded Facebook in 2004 while he
was at Harvard and they were entering high school. Having “grown up
digital” (to borrow the title of Don Tapscott’s recent book on the Net
Generation), they are impatient to get on with life.

“They’re great collaborators, with friends, online, at work,” Mr. Tapscott wrote. “They thrive on speed. They love to innovate.”

Innovation Should Mean More Jobs, Not Less by Janet Rae-Dupree

The problem, as they see it, is a centuries-old misconception that
innovation is synonymous with automation, which in turn leads to the
elimination of jobs.

“If you invest in a technology that makes
something more efficient, the fear is that people will be put out of
work,” says Kevin Efrusy, the venture capitalist whose firm Accel
Partners is the lead funder of several important Silicon Valley
start-ups, including Facebook.
“But it’s just the opposite. When anything becomes cheaper, we consume
a lot more of it. The overall economic effect is, you create and expand
entire new industries and employment goes up.”

“Innovation is the lifeblood of the American economy,” says Jim Hock, a
spokesman for TechNet. “We’re only as good as our next innovation.
TechNet believes we shouldn’t be picking and choosing technologies to
back with a tax credit. We should be technology-neutral and create an
atmosphere of innovation that will let a thousand flowers bloom.”

“America is probably the best culture in the world at failing,” he
said. “We’re willing to navigate in a fog and keep moving forward. Our
competitive advantage tends to be at the fuzzy front end of things when
you’re still finding your way. Once the way has been found, we’re back
at a disadvantage. So, yes, investing in innovation is critical.”

Still Waiting For the Recession in New Orleans by Steven Gray

What’s more, the region’s (New Orleans) housing market remains relatively robust,
mainly because post-Katrina demand for suitable housing remains strong
and local banks haven’t engaged in the sort of risky mortgages that
have caused problems elsewhere in the country.

Researchers predict the region’s economic recovery will last at
least seven years — far beyond the expected end of the national
recession sometime in 2010. Even so, there will be some downward pull
from the U.S. economic slump. In 2009, for instance, they expect some
8,000 jobs to be added here, a figure that will drop to 6,500 jobs in
2010. “While the rest of the United States is in a deeper recession
than anyone expected, we’re certainly in a better place — we are an
economy that’s still looking for workers,” says Janet Speyrer,
associate dean for research at the University of New Orleans and an
author of the report.

That optimism, however, feels as fragile and uneven as this region’s recovery. Huge swaths of the city, particularly the Lower Ninth Ward,
New Orleans East and the city’s heart, appear as they did in the months
immediately following Katrina: there are scores of vacant homes,
potential magnets for crime.

Strange Decision by the NY Times

I just caught up on some reading that I’ve neglected. One writer I like is Marci Alboher. She authors a blog for the NY Times called Shifting Careers. Since my blog is about work, I tend to check out other blogs that are similar in nature. So it surprised me when I caught up with my reading to see that her blog is being discontinued. I know the newspaper industry isn’t doing well, but this is an online blog about something that is very prevalent right now – employment.

I’m astonished at this decision by the NY Times. Perhaps the plan is to diversify this topic a little for the paper. That is probably a better strategy overall. But I’m not confident in that assumption.

Here is an excerpt from Alboher’s last post. It is dead on:

Not surprisingly,
a remarkable number of people reminded me that career growth generally
happens out of disappointments like this. 

Trying Times for the Profession of Recruiting

This is one of the most trying times for the profession of recruiting. There is the obvious reason – income is tight so hiring is tight. But there is also the cultural ramifications of the current situation. For instance, a writer that reflects the Generation Y opinion, Nadira A. Hira, is stating in a piece called Yers won’t settle that Gen Yers are observing the shortcomings of the baby boomer and Gen X careers and reflecting on what they want in life. Her opinion sounds a little self righteous and speculative, but she has a point. Why would a well skilled 23 year old join the ranks of corporate life? Here is a good excerpt:

As a high-profile Los Angeles businesswoman told me last week, what
said schadenfreuders don’t realize is that the outcome of the financial
crisis may not be a defeated Gen Y, but a more determined one —
determined, that is, to follow fulfilling work. “There won’t be any
trust in companies,” she said. And the fact of the matter is, without
that trust, corporate America becomes even less attractive to standout
young employees than it was before the recession hit. The security that
a Lehman Brothers or Merrill Lynch business card used to mean — never
mind the cachet that they carried — began to evaporate as even those
peers who chose the “stable” path of, say, financial services found
themselves jobless. And as the list of the white-collar unemployed grows longer every day, it’s beginning to look like they’re gone for good.

There are many careers where the work itself gets you out of bed in the morning. It could be running a local charity, working for a Non Government Organization in a foreign nation, or doing some low stress work like sowing. Often the pay is adequate because the goal isn’t to get rich. Its an experience.

But another avenue is entrepreneurship. Suppose you were 23, you live with your parents, you have a used car, a high speed internet connection, a network of sharp friends, and time. Would you sign up for a corporate life where:

  • a boss doesn’t understand your lifestyle
  • your pay increase is 5% (and it is communicated to you like you blew the doors off the allowance for that year because everyone else was getting 3%)
  • the speed at which you achieve anything is about a quarter you would expect because you have to get sign offs, agreement from teammates, and teach those that haven’t been paying attention
  • And there is nothing to believe in because your commitment to a project lasts only as long as your funding

Or would you maybe start a graphic design company just for kicks? Or create a website where small businesses can share components of how they do things that are innovative? There are all kinds of low risk entrepreneurial experiences.

Back to my initial statement. Recruiters have something a couple of weeks ago I called a Hiring Brand. How are they known from a human capital perspective. GE has a great hiring brand. So does McKinsey. The Investment Banks used to be on this list, but now they aren’t. Some companies will use this as a means to join the GEs and McKinseys as great places to work, but many businesses will take the short sighted approach and undermine their pool of talent for years. Its high stakes.