Matthew Budman

I'm author of the forthcoming Book Collecting Now: The Value of Print in a Digital Age. As an editor and freelance writer, I've spent my life immersed in words, and it's great to have a place to put many of them. Here are most of my post-college bylined articles, organized loosely by category, including a section with entire issues of The Conference Board Review, which I edited for six years.

Can We Turn Back the Rising Tide of Incompetence?

You know who they are. And if you don’t know, be assured that everyone else does. They’re the incompetents. And they’re everyone’s greatest frustration: This department would run so well if it weren’t for that guy. In almost any division, department, office, there’s a weak link—someone who has to be worked around, someone everyone knows never to involve in key projects, someone who makes everyone’s life a little more difficult, someone who holds back the rest of the group.

The Lost Evening: Drinking the Night Away with Hemingway and Bailey

It was a warm summer night and we walked into the bar and started looking for the men we were supposed to meet and one of them saw us and walked over. "Matthew?" he said. "Mark Bailey." He looked a little tight already even though no one had started drinking yet and we followed him to a table where his partner sat and the partner stood up and put out his hand. "Eddie Hemingway," he said.

Men Not at Work: Q&A with Hanna Rosin

“For women, there’s still the question of diversity at the very top,” says Hanna Rosin, and indeed, articles and books continue to lament how few female CEOs and directors populate the corner offices of corporate America. But just a level or two down, women not only have achieved equity—in many industries and professions, they have surpassed men, and that fact has enormous implications for both employers and employees. Rosin’s new book, "The End of Men and the Rise of Women" (Riverhead), ventures far beyond the workplace, but that’s where the story begins: with male-dominated professions waning and men failing to adapt to new economic realities. The result is men losing power and authority both at work and at home. Even as ambitious women continue to struggle with “having it all” issues of balancing careers and family, men increasingly grapple with an unfamiliar feeling of dispossession.

Openers: Corporate Unsustainability

To many people outside the business world, sustainability is just corporatespeak for environmental concerns. Inside, its meaning keeps expanding to encompass every point at which an organization interacts with the rest of the world—supply chains, product life cycles, risk. Indeed, for many companies, after years of work reducing emissions and waste, it’s easy being green—it’s everything else that’s a problem.

A Higher Consciousness: Q&A with Whole Foods co-CEO John Mackey

“Do you know how most corporations get their mission statement?” John Mackey asks. “They hire consultants who come in and write it for them. So it’s not authentic; it didn’t come out of the essence of what that business is.” Mackey, cofounder and co-CEO of Whole Foods, is severely critical of business as traditionally practiced. Basically, he’d like every company to be run as his own is: highly collaborative, egalitarian, empowering, green, and closely integrated with the community—in other words, conscious. Businesses that are so enlightened, he insists, will not only outperform competitors that look no further than the stock ticker—they will rescue society from its various ills. Mackey has spent the last thirty-plus years building a company epitomizing these values and the last several evangelizing to the world in speeches and at conferences; with "Conscious Capitalism: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business" (Harvard Business Review Press), written with Raj Sisodia, he expands his thinking to book length. “We believe,” they write, “that the way forward for humankind is to liberate the heroic spirit of business and our collective entrepreneurial creativity so they can be free to solve the many daunting challenges we face.”

Balancing Act: Q&A with Gen. George Casey, U.S. Army chief of staff

These are turbulent times for the U.S. Army, a massive organization that’s still not quite big enough to handle the extraordinary demands being placed on it. As chief of staff, Gen. George W. Casey Jr. is on the hook for recruiting, training, and retaining troops to fight two wars—and planning for any number of unforeseen crises—all while operating at a level of accountability and transparency that your average Fortune 500 CEO would find untenable.

It's huge, it's horrifying, it's . . . a Stephen King novel!

I think I started with "The Dead Zone" and "Firestarter," and maybe "Night Shift," all from the local library. And I remember carrying home "Christine" the week it showed up on the NEW shelf and reading it in one three-hour Saturday sitting. That was 1983. Since then I guess I've read—give or take a few—about a thousand novels. Maybe half have had Stephen King's name emblazoned in huge red or gold letters on the cover. All right. A minor exaggeration.

Capitalism vs. America: Q&A with Robert Reich

Regardless of whether the U.S. economy is heading for recession or boom times, there's no question that today's consumers and investors are in many ways far better off than their parents: Just think of the ever-expanding product choices, the ever-widening investment opportunities, the ever-improving consumer technology. Under what Robert B. Reich calls "supercapitalism," Americans have gained tremendous economic power—and, partly as a result, lost their voices as citizens.

Will We All Be Unemployed?

When we hear about manufacturing jobs moving overseas— whether in steel, cotton, textiles, or Buicks—it doesn’t sting all that much anymore, unless, of course, a family member is among the pink-slipped unlucky. Somehow it seems inevitable—progress, even: The United States is continuing its forward movement, leaving behind the remnants of the Industrial Age and bringing its diverse workforce into the Information Age, ready to lead the way.

Collapse: Q&A with former Circuit City CEO Alan Wurtzel

When a company is cruising along, earnings and share price high, every move seems like the right one, inexorably leading to success, as though it were planned that way. On a downward trajectory, every strategic shift looks disastrous—in retrospect, obviously so. Circuit City enjoyed a run as a good company before becoming a great company, one worthy of a Jim Collins profile in his 2001 bestseller "Good to Great." And then, after fifty years in business, everything went to hell. The reason wasn’t a hostile takeover, an accounting scandal, a class-action lawsuit, or an act of God—it was, simply, that the consumer landscape shifted and Circuit City failed to keep pace, leaving room for Best Buy to become the default place for people to buy TVs and audio cables and DVD players and videogames.

The Rage Within: For African-American Scholar Cornel West, Anger Can Be a Good Thing

It's become palpable enough to taste. Gunfire rings out in the night; local TV news programs lead with what bleeds. Polls proclaim that a majority of Californians feel something must be done about the "immigrant problem." Politicians, unwilling to embrace progressive economic policies, decry affirmative action and welfare programs and promise to build more prisons. Like rats deserting a sinking ship, we crawl over the top of each other in order to survive. Call it fear. Call it hate. Call it rage,

Who's Winning the Hunger Games?: Q&A with Michael Moss

For years, New York Times reporter Michael Moss has been delivering the inside story on what we eat, and the result hasn’t always made readers hungry—in 2010, he won a Pulitzer Prize for “relentless reporting on contaminated hamburger and other food safety issues.” Two words: pink slime. In his new book, "Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us" (Random House), Moss writes about far more appealing grocery items: Lay’s Potato Chips and Dr Pepper and Snickers and Hot Pockets and Chips Ahoy! and Pop-Tarts and Capri Sun and Frosted Mini-Wheats. As much as we know we should bypass those colorful packages—really, we should skip those store aisles altogether—most of us can’t help being sucked in. Why? After years of manufacturers’ loading up processed foods with salt, sugar, and fat, we’re hardwired to crave those ingredients.
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