DAN LYONS discusses his nonfiction book LAB RATS with KAREN GRIGSBY BATES

Lab Rats: How Silicon Valley Made Work Miserable for the Rest of Us (Hachette Books)

Welcome to your new job. 

First, you are lucky to be here. Also, we do not care about you. We offer no job security. This is not a career. We provide no training or career development. We will pay you as little as possible. You will work long hours under constant pressure and with no privacy. We will read your email. HR will not help you. Your managers may not know what they are doing. They also may be abusive. If you file a complaint you may be fired. You may be fired even though you’re doing a good job. You may be fired for no reason at all. We do not offer day care. There are snacks and beer in the kitchen.

At a time of soaring corporate profits and plenty of HR lip service about "wellness." millions of workers—in virtually every industry—are deeply unhappy. Why did work become so miserable? Who is responsible? And does any company have a model for doing it right? For two years, Dan Lyons ventured in search of answers. From the innovation-crazed headquarters of the Ford Motor Company in Detroit, to a cult-like "Holocracy" workshop in San Francisco, and to corporate trainers who specialize in ... Legos, Lyons immersed himself in the often half-baked and frequently lucrative world of what passes for management science today. In Lab Rats: How Silicon Valley Made Work Miserable for the Rest of Us, he shows how new tools, workplace practices, and business models championed by empathy-impaired power brokers in Silicon Valley have shattered the social contract that once existed between companies and their employees. These new, dystopian beliefs, which are now seeping into virtually every industry, are often masked by pithy slogans like "We're a Team, Not a Family." And they have dire consequences: millions of workers who are subject to constant change, dehumanizing technologies—even health risks. 

All across America, companies are modeling their work cultures after the brutal workplace practices of Silicon Valley (with some help from self-styled “management gurus” and creepy software, like “Agile”). The consequences are real and harrowing. Developments ranging from the homeless crisis in the Bay Area, rising suicide rates among tech and gig-economy workers, and a general decline in the mental and physical health of America’s workers are all tied to unhappiness in the workplace.

Who are the mad scientists behind the experiments that are making American workers feel like lab rats? And is there a way out of the maze?

A few companies do get it right. In Lab Rats, Lyons makes an impassioned plea for business leaders to look at how they are running their companies and employees (into the ground) and a case for a new “approach to work and business that puts people first, profitability serves customers, and makes the world a little bit better in the process” (Tom Peters, New York Times bestselling author of In Search of Excellence).

Dan Lyons is the New York Times bestselling author of Disrupted: My Misadventure in the Start-Up Bubble. Previously, he was a staff writer on the first two seasons of the Emmy-winning HBO series “Silicon Valley,” an editor at Newsweek and the creator of "The Secret Diary of Steve Jobs" (AKA "Fake Steve Jobs"). Lyons has written for the New York Times Magazine, GQ, Vanity Fair, and Wired, and has spoken at Google, Microsoft, Adobe, and conferences around the world. He lives in Winchester, MA.

Dan Lyons photo by Gretchen Ertl

Karen Grigsby Bates is the Los Angeles-based correspondent for NPR News. She has reported on politics, media, and breaking news. Before coming to NPR, Bates was a news reporter for People magazine. She was a contributing columnist to the Op Ed pages of the Los Angeles Times for ten years. Her work has appeared in Time, The New York Times, the Washington Post, Essence and Vogue. Bates is the author of Plain Brown Wrapper and Chosen People, mysteries featuring reporter-sleuth Alex Powell. She is co-author, with Karen E. Hudson, of Basic Black: Home Training for Modern Times, a best-selling etiquette book now in its second edition. Her work also appears in several writers' anthologies. Bates holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Wellesley College. Additionally she studied at the University of Ghana and completed the executive management program at Yale University's School of Organization and Management.

Event date: 
Saturday, November 3, 2018 - 5:00pm
Event address: 
1818 N Vermont Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90027
Lab Rats: How Silicon Valley Made Work Miserable for the Rest of Us Cover Image
ISBN: 9780316561860
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Hachette Books - October 23rd, 2018

Disrupted: My Misadventure in the Start-Up Bubble Cover Image
ISBN: 9780316306089
Availability: Not in stock. Available To Order.
Published: Hachette Books - April 5th, 2016