Taking Work Back
Peter Weddle is about the last guy you’d expect to propose a revolution. The head of the Employment Websites Association is a retired Army Officer, a West Point graduate, a mountain climber, a novelist and a publisher. He’s a tireless advocate for job hunters.
When Weddle starts preaching “economic disobedience”, it’s time to look around. There’s trouble in the heartland.
Weddle’s latest opus is a business-y novel about the importance of not settling. With a not-so-small nod to Ayn Rand, Weddle weaves a tale of a world in which the really talented refuse to work for a certain range of people. His target is the patrician class of wealthy people who have made their money exploiting their employees.
At the core of the plot is a utopian group nown as Wladen 4g (or Wally). Wally is a a group of folks who contribute to an online database that chronicles the realities of working inside of the best and worst companies in America. They evaluate the policies, politics and practices of those companies and enable database users to make clear choices about who they invest their time in.
Weddle describes a kind of career activism that places the worker at the center of the equation. By focusing on the consequences of investing your time in this company or that, he sees a way to bring personal responsibility back to the employment equation.
Like most revolutionaries, Weddle is fundamentally a patriot. The subtitle of the book is “A Novel About Rediscovering the American Dream’.
Echoing the great visonaries of American culture, Weddle persuades that utopia can be a personal creation. That happiness is a pursuit rooted in the fulfillment of one’s talent. Talent, he says, is a gift that one has to discover and nourish within oneself.
It would be easy to dismiss Weddle’s work as an update of the Horatio Alger stories of inspirational people. In the early 20th Century, popular literature was focused on portraying the journey from the bottom of the class structure to the top. Somewhere right about where 50 Shades of Gray fits in, there used to be inspirational literature focused on personal fulfillment through accomplishment and persistence.
Weddle evokes those older points of view while staying contemporary in his organization. The evil in society, from Wally’s point of view, comes from unthinknigly giving the fruits of your labor to an employer who doesn’t deserve them. This is what he means by economic disobedience.
In one of the novel’s bright moments, a woman who has been looking for work for months gets a job offer. She goes and visits the company. She turns the job down once it’s offered because the company is not the right place for her talent.
That sort of looking discomfort right in the face is at the heart of Weddle’s vison for career activists who make themselves better by seeking the right places and the right people to join.
The most interesting aspect of this work is that it proposes a radical solution that can be implemented without bloodshed or massive social upheaval. By focusing on the perfection of our talents and refusing to taint them for the sake of money, Weddle points to a viable approach for the Occupy movement’s future. The real place for revolution is in your own life.
You might take a look at A Multitude of Hope: A Novel About Rediscovering the American Dream. It’s a surprising and delightful work from one of the elder statesmen of our industry.