Here in the U.S. it’s that magic week before Labor Day, the calm before the storm, an opportunity not to be wasted. A week from tomorrow the country returns from vacation. All the work that has been put off for the past month will have to get done, and within an hour you’ll be buried in urgent minutiae. So whether you’re on vacation or it’s just a slow week at work, use these next seven days not just to relax and recharge, but also to do four things that will benefit your business and your life.
-Create a team to disrupt your organization. Whether your organization is a whole company, a division, an office, a non-profit, a government operation, a school, or anything else, someone is rethinking it from the ground up. You may believe you’re doing the same, and maybe you are, but probably not. To get ahead of disruptors, assign a subset of your team (or just one member if it’s a small team) to use everything they know to create a model for making your organization irrelevant or unnecessary. If possible, move them physically away; at least have them hold their meetings elsewhere. You may be amazed by what they imagine.
-Make the notes for your exit interview. Assume you’ve just quit or been fired, leaving never to return. You’re free to burn bridges or just to reflect on what you wish you or the organization had done or would do. Write it all down and stick it in a drawer. Then look at it every once in a while.
-Read a book of high-quality fiction. That is, not the usual beach reading by hit machines like James Patterson and John Grisham. Research shows that reading literary fiction builds empathy, which I strongly believe is the foundation of our economic value as technology advances (allow me to plug shamelessly my book Humans Are Underrated: What High Achievers Know That Brilliant Machines Never Will. But forget all that; it just makes us better people. If you’re a man, you probably read little or no fiction and may be wondering where to start. I like this list covering the period 1678 to 2000. For a more contemporary list (since 1969), you can’t beat the winners of the Man Booker Prize.
-Picture the speeches at your 80th birthday party. Stephen Covey championed this exercise. What will you be remembered for? All the speakers at your party will be nice, but will they sum you up in the way you’d like? Or will they only be able to cite actions that, while laudable, aren’t what you think you’re really all about?
Most of us feel that we almost never have time to lift our heads up from the demands of the day and reflect on the larger questions in our lives. This may be your best chance until the year-end holidays. Seize it.
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What We’re Reading Today
Mylan to offer a generic EpiPen
CEO Heather Bresch‘s response to the EpiPen price backlash continues, with Mylan now offering a generic version at $300, a 50% discount. After a recent hike, the pen’s price has increased 500% over the past nine years. Fortune
Fiat talks to Samsung
Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne‘s search for technology partners has already resulted in a deal with Larry Page‘s Alphabet for developing driverless vehicles. Now he’s discussing a tie-up with Oh-Hyun Kwon‘s Samsung, “both as a supplier and as a potential strategic partner,” says Marchionne. Samsung is in discussions to buy Magneti Marelli, a Fiat parts unit, and Marchionne wants to build a deeper partnership. Bloomberg
Investor claims Herbalife lied
Herbalife CEO Michael Johnson and his executives said they expected little disruption or long-term impact from a recent settlement with the FTC. But in an SEC filing, the company says the ruling could hurt it. The discrepancy has prompted a Florida investor who’s betting against Herbalife to demand an SEC investigation. It’s unclear if the SEC will investigate. Reuters
FDA approves emergency use of Zika test
The test from Severin Schwan‘s Roche enables doctors to screen patients for Zika. FDA Commissioner Robert Califf can clear the test under the Emergency Use Authorization. In just months the disease has spread from Brazil to Puerto Rico and now Florida. Yahoo Finance
Building a Better Leader
If you feel your career is on autopilot…
…cut long-term goals into a series of smaller goals with shorter deadlines and hold yourself to them. Reaching them will give you confidence to move on to more challenging goals. Training Mag
Workers on flex-time…
…tend to work more hours, not fewer. And the more control they have over their time, the more hours they work. Fortune
Startups react to a great reckoning…
…that hasn’t happened. Chris O’Neill‘s Evernote cut staff and perks last year as investor cash dried up, for example. But a long-feared Silicon Valley correction hasn’t come, and some think it might not. NYT
Donald Trump to offer major immigration speech
Looking to clarify his stance on immigration, Trump says he’ll address the topic on Wednesday in Arizona. Last week he wavered on his plan to deport every illegal immigrant, creating a rift in his campaign. Hardliners view any softening of his stance as abandoning the supporters who brought him the nomination. CNN
Amazon’s 30-hour work week…
…could test a potential response to automation. Jeff Bezos‘s company is adopting a system in which all members of some teams will work 30 hours a week with full benefits and 75% of a 40-hour week’s pay. While the move may also respond to bad publicity about the company’s demanding work culture, it could presage work in an era of advanced automation. Fortune
Ford runs into a problem in China
Chinese buyers loved the Ford Kuga when it was introduced, paying extra for early delivery. But now domestic carmakers offer far less expensive alternatives with much of the same technology, and Ford’s vehicle is struggling, even with deep discounts. Mark Fields‘s company, which will release a new lineup later this year, is seeking answers in a much tougher environment. WSJ
Up or Out
Michaels Cos. has named Denise Paulonis its new CFO. WSJ
Fortune Reads and Videos
Facebook’s “Trending” section…
…will be assembled solely by computer. Humans will monitor quality. Fortune
If the Dakota Access oil pipeline gets shut down…
…because of protests by Native American tribes, more oil would be delivered by train, which is often less safe than pipelines. Fortune
Pokémon Go users have dropped 30%…
…from the game’s peak usage. It began to plateau two weeks after launch. Fortune
Brian Chesky, co-founder and CEO of Airbnb, turns 35 today. CNBC
Senator John McCain turns 80. Biography