Morning Advantage: Dear Internet, I Quit

Meet Brian Lam. Maybe you already know him, or someone like him. A few years ago, he was the editor of Gizmodo, Gawker's blog on gadgets and tech. "A trained Thai boxer," writes New York Times columnist David Carr, "he focused his aggression on cranking out enough copy to increase the site’s traffic, to a peak of 180 million page views from 13 million in the five years he was there."

Then he burned out. "I came to hate the Web, hated chasing the next post or rewriting other people’s posts just for the traffic," Lam told Carr. "People shouldn’t live like robots." So he quit, and later used his experience to create The Wirecutter, a very different kind of website that recommends the very best tech products without "complicated rankings or deep analytics on the entire category." The site only generates about 350,000 unique visitors a month, but it's harnessed a referral model that generates a remarkable 10 to 20% click rate. In essence, people know they're getting the very best product, and they're ready to buy when they click.

So, yes, you can be successful with a slow and deliberate business plan. And such a plan can make you love the digital space again.


The Anatomy of a Medical Horror Story (Fortune)

As the year comes to a close, I keep thinking about this well-written (and, frankly, terrifying) feature. It's an investigation into illegal trials of a bone cement product that resulted in patient deaths. Among the disastrous reasons why this occurred was the medical device company's "intimidating, hands-on" CEO whose "level of control could verge past micromanagement." He handpicked underlings who were "fiercely loyal"; the company didn't "tolerate dissent." In the end, any concerns about problematic trials were pushed under the rug in favor of profits.


Spanish Bank Bends Over Backward to Empower Customers and Workers ([email protected])

Enrique Goni, CEO of Spanish bank Caja Navarra, says customers should know how much the bank earns on his or her mortgage or credit card and should have the right to affect executive pay. In a video conversation with Wharton professor and HBR author Mauro F. Guillen, Goni says the bank bases leaders’ bonuses on the results of a customer survey that asks such things as whether the bank uses jargon or clear language. If customers give the company bad marks, executive pay takes a hit. The bank is run like a "republic," Goni says. —Andy O'Connell


You Can't Buy Anything Without It

How the Bar Code Took Over the World (Businessweek)
The Four Rich Countries Where Women Out-Earn Men (The Atlantic)
What If You Don't Want to Be a Manager? (HBR)

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