Book review: Rebooting Work by Maynard Webb

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 03 February, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 18 February, 2013, 4:37pm

Rebooting Work: Transform How You Work in the Age of Entrepreneurship
by Maynard Webb

Tycoon Marc Andreessen once said, on starting a firm: "You only ever experience two emotions: euphoria and terror. And I find that lack of sleep enhances them both."

That statement, quoted in Rebooting Work: Transform How You Work in the Age of Entrepreneurship, underlines how fanatical entrepreneurs can be. The author, Silicon Valley "go-to guy" Maynard Webb, is in that mould. Webb is chairman of the cloud-based contact centre LiveOps, former chief operating officer of auction giant eBay, and founder of his own fiscal firm, Webb Investment Network (WIN).

He is also a board member of Yahoo and enterprise cloud computing company and so embodies the buzz phrase "tech titan".

In Rebooting Work, Webb identifies four working mindsets: company man, CEO of your own destiny, disenchanted employee, and aspiring entrepreneur. No prizes for guessing which "frame" he champions.

He writes: "Frame 2 - CEO of Your Own Destiny - is the sweet spot that more people need to know about, where they are not dependent on a corporation or hindered by their own frustrations. As this is where most workplaces are headed - there is no longer any job security - this is the mindset individuals need to adopt to be successful today and in the future."

Webb's perspective is hands-on. He prides himself on his willingness to do "heavy-lifting", citing as an example the way he restored eBay's crashing servers in two months - at least six times faster than expected, he claims."I'm a strong proponent of meritocracy, of the value of hard work over entitlement, of talent over tenure, and of transparency over closed systems, probably because of where I came from - and because of where I am today," Webb writes.

His aggressively anti-entitlement stance grates, being disturbingly reminiscent of failed United States presidential contender Mitt Romney. Many readers may resent his suggestion that workers should be ruthlessly appraised the same way as supremely well-paid National Football League athletes.

Worse, Webb sounds manic - borderline workaholic. But he does try to show how to make more time to spend with family through harnessing productivity-boosting technology.

As he says, he got lucky graduating from IBM physical security guard to digital security guard partly through being in the right place at the right time, as happened "in several industries". Most start-ups, he reminds us, fail. So the trailblazing path he champions seems like too much terror, too little sleep.