Rethinking with Dror Poleg
By Dror Poleg
Dror Poleg is an author and speaker focused on the future of work and cities. His insights have been featured in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, NBC, Bloomberg, and beyond.
Dror’s work draws on two decades of hands-on experience in private equity and tech. He regularly briefs and advises multibillion-dollar companies such as UBS, Bank of America, HSBC, Recruit Holdings, and CBRE.
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Rethinking with Dror PolegDec 03, 2021
The Irony of Automation
NVIDIA: The Distributed Rocketship
The Weird Future of Work
Remote Is Not Enough
🚀 The upcoming cohort of Practical AI begins next week! Sign up here to master the latest tools for financial analysis, marketing, and business automation. I course is 100% online and 100% live, but sessions and tutorials are also recorded for you to revisit the material at your own pace. Come learn!
Let AI Steal Your Ideas
Let AI steal your ideas. It might be the only way to protect them. Written by Dror Poleg. Published on August 15, 2023, here.
Thank you for listening. To harness AI for your own work, check out my upcoming Practical AI course. We’ll clarify all the jargon and hype and get hands-on experience with tools and workflows for marketing, financial analysis, and general business automation. Learn more here.
An Office Is Not The Office
A recent announcement from Zoom gives hope to the pro-office crowd. But reading beyond the headlines shows we're never going back to the old normal. Originally published on August 7, 2023, here. Written by Dror Poleg.
Check out the upcoming Practical AI course to master the latest tools for marketing, financial analysis, and general business automation.
Who Gains From AI?
Living (Near) Your Life
Tragedy of the Uncommon
After Office: Beyond the New Normal
This week’s podcast is an excerpt from my upcoming book, After Office. My premium newsletter subscribers receive excerpts like this every week. To sign up, visit DrorPoleg.com. I hope you enjoy this excerpt.
In other news, the upcoming cohort of my practical AI course begins next month. If you’re interested in mastering the latest AI tools and workflows for marketing, financial analysis, and general business automation, check out the course on HypeFreeAI.com.
Vision Pro and the Office
Don’t Try Anything New.
AI and The Offline Moat
In a world of abundant content, businesses that control physical touchpoints have a unique advantage. But they also carry unique risks. Published on May 22, 2023, here. Written by Dror Poleg.
Join Dror later this month for a deeper dive into AI's impact on industries and careers. Learn more at HypeFreeAI.com.
How scalable is your job?
Whatever job you're in, technology can multiply your productivity, reach, and rewards. Here's a simple formula to help you get started. Published on May 19, 2023, here. Written by Dror Poleg.
Only 11 days left to register for Dror's Hype-Free AI course. We have a great group of people from around the world. Join us to learn what AI can do for you and explore its impact on your industry. Learn more here.
Is Your Job Safe?
The Quiet Luxury of Language
When everyone can sound smart, elite conversations will become less intelligible to regular people. Published on May 16, 2023, here. Written by Dror Poleg.
Your Boss Has No Clue
In today's episode, we dive into the challenges and confusion that the corporate world faces in the era of remote work and AI. Explore the complexities of productivity, the need for adaptability, and how company leaders can embrace uncertainty by encouraging experimentation and diverse workstyles. Join us as we discuss the future of work and the role of bosses in navigating this non-linear economy. Written by Dror Poleg. Originally published on May 9, here.
Oh, and speaking of the future of work — what do you know about AI? What can it do for you? Later this month, Dror will be teaching a Hype-Free AI Course— providing a practical introduction to the tools and trends reshaping the world of work. Come see what it means for your business or career. Click here to learn more and sign up.
Unilateral Ignorance and Scalable Style
Thinking Fast and Slopes: Kahneman, Taleb, and the Future of Business
In a networked economy, overestimating low-probability events is not irrational — it's optimal. In a rapidly changing and interconnected world, traditional decision-making theories may no longer fully encompass the complexities of the modern economy. The rise of non-linear dynamics, power law distributions, and extreme outcomes has led to an environment where risk-taking and adaptability are increasingly crucial. In this article, we will explore the limitations of prospect theory, introduced by Daniel Kahneman in his book "Thinking, Fast and Slow," and discuss how it may not be entirely applicable to our current economic landscape. We will also consider how embracing both caution and boldness can enable individuals, companies, and societies to navigate this new era of uncertainty and capitalize on the opportunities it presents.
Talent, Scarcity, and Culture
This article delves into the relationship between talent scarcity and corporate culture, structure, and the future of work. Based on Nadia Asparouhova's theory, companies can be classified into three types: Industrial, Modern, and Creative, depending on the distribution of talent within them. Industrial companies have a balanced talent distribution and rely on strict processes, while Modern companies have a Pareto distribution, seeking to hire as many high-ability individuals as possible. Creative companies have a bimodal distribution and depend on "linchpins," uniquely gifted individuals who drive the company's success.
The type of talent a company relies on determines its management style, office culture, and even urban planning. Software and creative industries attract linchpins due to their unlimited problem-solving possibilities and flexibility. The article concludes that talent scarcity and distribution play a significant role in shaping corporate culture, structure, and the future of work.
You Have to Own
As technology tilts power towards capital, individuals must adapt by investing in diverse assets and embracing innovative approaches to secure their future. Written by Dror Poleg. Originally published on April 28, 2023, here.
AI and Remote Work: A Match Made in Heaven
Remote work enables AI to take on more jobs. Stronger AI enables more humans to work remotely. Originally published on May 2, 2023, here. Written by Dror Poleg.
As mentioned: Later this month, I will be teaching a Hype-Free AI Course — providing a practical introduction to the tools and trends that are reshaping the world of work. Join us! Click here to learn more and sign up.
Lauren Razavi on Digital Nomads and Remote Work
Many people can work from anywhere. By some estimates, 35 million people already live as “digital nomads”— taking their work with them to various destinations for months at a time. These people tend to earn more and spend more.And they’re just getting started. With the advent of remote work, the number of digital nomads is set to explode. And by “nomads,” I’m no longer talking about people who live on the road, work alone, or never set foot in an office.
What can cities and countries do to attract them? How can employers appeal to them? And what can you do to become one?
I had a live and lively conversation with Lauren Razavi, the author of Global Natives, a just-published book about how digital nomads will shape the future of work, travel, innovation, and migration.Lauren has lived as a digital nomad in over 50 countries, working on digital tools and a legal framework to facilitate remote collaboration and the mobility rights of people everywhere. Her work has been featured in the BBC, Time Magazine, NPR, Le Monde, and beyond.
The video of the recording is available here.
Remote Banking Crisis
Alain Bertaud on 15-Minute Cities, Remote Work, Zoning, and More
Technology is forcing our cities to evolve. It is redefining the meaning of location and accessibility, it changes the way we work and move around, and it forces us to reconsider many of our basic assumptions.
How should cities respond? What can be done to increase opportunity and tackle inequality? What is the connection between commuting, remote work, and overall prosperity? What should we make of all the trendy ideas that are currently being proposed? And what’s so good about cities anyway?
This is a recording of a conversation between Dror Poleg and Alain Bertaud.
Alain Bertaud is one of the most influential voices on the topic of cities, urban labor markets, and urban transportation networks. He is the author of Order Without Design, a Distinguished Visiting Scholar at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, and a Senior Fellow at NYU’s Marron Institute of Urban Management. Previously, Bertaud served as the principal urban planner at the World Bank as a resident urban planner across the globe — from Bangkok and Sana’a to Paris and New York. He even worked as a draftsman for Le Corbusier in India.
A Faster Office
Distributed work is a natural evolution of the office itself. To remain attractive, physical offices should stop thinking about productivity. Originally published on March 10, 2023, here. Written and read by Dror Poleg.
Judy Stephenson on The History of Working from Home
Earlier this week, I hosted Dr. Judy Stephenson for a chat about the history of working from home and mixed-use cities. The transcript and more information is available here.
Judy Stephenson is an Associate Professor at University College London, specializing in the history of labor markets and the built environment. In addition, Judy is a research associate at both the Oxford Centre for Economic and Social History and The Cambridge Group for the History of Population and Social Structure, and a Director at the Long Run Institute. Her insights have been featured by The Economist, Financial Times, and beyond.
Judy’s upcoming book, Wages before Machines, explores salaries and bargaining in the pre-industrial world. Follow her on Twitter @JudyZara.
Productivity and Bullshit
Technology creates more work. More work creates technology. But the way it does so is increasingly unclear. Originally published on March 3, 2023 here.
A few housekeeping notes:
📚 Last week, I published additional pages from my upcoming book about the future of cities, companies, and careers. Premium subscribers can read them here. Additional pages will be published early next week.
🗄️ The History of Working from Home: Later this week, I'm hosting a live chat with Dr. Judy Stephenson about the history of home-offices and the evolution of cities. Sign up for free here.
🗺️ Urban Planning, Work, and Transportation: Later this month, I'm hosting a live chat with Alain Bertaud about the interaction between technology, labor markets, and urban form. Sign up for free here.
How to Revive Our Cities? — with Tracy Hadden Loh
Earlier this week, I spoke to Tracy Hadden Loh about the challenges facing cities, and some policies that can address them — covering housing, transit, taxation, office conversions, and more.
Tracy is a Fellow at the Brookings Institution, where she researches the interaction between urban policy, real estate development, and local communities. She is a data scientist, with a Ph.D. in city and regional planning, and a former local government representative.
How to Spread the Fruits of Innovation?
In our current economic system, the more successful some people become, the harder it is for everyone else to become successful, and the less likely it is for society to continue to flourish. A few weeks ago, Dror Poleg wrote an article proposing a radical new way to increase innovation and improve how tech profits are distributed. Today, we're trying a new format: Instead of an audio version of the article, Dror is chatting about the article with Zach Valenta. Zach is a software developer, writer, and avid reader.
I am writing a book, and I need your help. The book explores what happens to cities, companies, and careers when office jobs become scalable and distributed. It will provide actionable insights for anyone interested in the future of work and its impact on how we spend our time, design our cities, and structure our organizations and investments.
The book does not predict offices will disappear, everyone will stay home, or that AI will replace most jobs. Still, it describes a once-in-a-century shift with unique opportunities for investors, managers, and elected officials. How can you make the most of these opportunities?
I'll share more about the book's content in a moment. But first, let me tell you how I'm writing it and how you can help.How am I writing this book?
I am serializing it: Every week, I will share a new chapter with my premium subscribers. Such subscribers will get advance access to the book's insights — and their feedback will help shape the final draft.
In addition, premium subscribers will get the following:
📔 A copy of the final book. Physical or digital - your pick.
❤️ An acknowledgment of your name and support in the book itself.
🥂 An exclusive invitation to book launch event(s) in New York, London, and two other cities that will be determined by your votes.
I expect to complete the book in about five months. Do I have your support?
- Upgrade to a premium subscription to help provide feedback on the weekly chapters and unlock exclusive perks.
- Share this post with friends and colleagues who might find this project interesting.
- Share with me any relevant data, case studies, ideas, or potential introductions you think are relevant — from your own company and career or someone else's.
I am excited and a little terrified to embark on this journey. Thank you again for your support!
To kick off this process, let me share with you the opening page:We built the world around the office. Office buildings dominated our skyline and defined the center of cities. Workplaces dictated where we lived, how far we commuted, and how much time we spent with family and friends.
The office shaped life even for those still too young - or already too old - to work. In childhood, school was preparation for office routines. In retirement, pensions were anchored by predictable dividends generated from long-term office leases.
The office is more than a place. It embodies an economic system, a level of technological development, and a moment in time. That moment has passed.
Offices will not disappear. But like farms and factories before them, they will lose their grip over our lifestyle and environment.
After Office explores the financial, social, and cultural implications of a world where offices are no longer the focal point. It provides a winning playbook for cities, companies, and individuals who want to make the most of a once-in-a-century shift.
The book is divided into three main sections, exploring where, how, and why humans work. Each section considers the ideas, technologies, and behaviors that shaped the world as we know it — and the emerging ideas, technologies, and behaviors that are now reshaping it beyond recognition.
Let me know what you think, and don't forget to subscribe.
It's the Company, Stupid
Can Offices Become Housing? Dror Poleg in conversation with Steven Paynter
30% of office buildings can be converted into housing.
12 months ago, most cities and landlords didn't want to hear about this possibility. But over the past 6 months, there has been an explosion of interest.
Office conversions can create hundreds of thousands of new apartments in the heart of cities like New York, San Francisco, London, and Toronto.
Adding new housing stock can make cities more affordable, more equitable, safer — and more fun. Instead of relying on commuters that show up a couple of times a week, cities can enable more people to live near work and within walking distance of schools, shops, parks, theatres, and other urban amenities.
Beyond the benefits for people, it's also good for the planet! Buildings make up a huge proportion of overall carbon emissions. 50% of these emissions are generated during construction. Reusing and repurposing buildings helps drive down emissions dramatically.
And it doesn't end there. By enabling more people to live in cities, we reduce car emissions and energy usage for heating, cooling, and ventilation.
In early 2020 — *before* the pandemic — Steven Paynter from Gensler started developing an "algorithm" to assess which office buildings can become apartment buildings. Since then, Steven and his team evaluated more than 500 buildings across North America — 50 of which are now being converted.
I chatted with Steven about the challenges and opportunities, and what politicians, investors, and employers can do to make cities more pleasant, affordable, and attractive.
Stop The Music
The disruption of creative work has been going on for a long time. And yet, we always assume it won't affect us. Written and read by Dror Poleg. Originally published on December 29, 2022 here.
🙏🏻 To welcome 2023, I am launching a Premium Subscription for my newsletter. Premium subscribers will receive bonus weekly posts, digests with recommended articles and books, access to comments, and join exclusive Ask-Me-Anything webinars.
Your support enables me to dive deeper into the technologies, strategies, and ideas that will define the coming decades. If you find it valuable, consider a premium subscription. It costs like two cups of coffee, but it lasts longer. Get yours here. 🙏🏻
I wrote more about my writing agenda for 2023 and my favorite quotes and book of 2022 here.
Best of 2022 + What's Next?
Zucked and Musked
Why Inequality is Efficient
The physical and cultural constraints that gave rise to a normal income distribution are losing their power. The difference between highway and airline networks explains why. Originally published on December 14, 2022 here. Written and read by Dror Poleg. Subscribe to Dror's newsletter and follow him on Twitter.
The Middle Class Is Dead. Long Live the Long Tail Class.
A networked, creative economy cannot produce a normal distribution of income. Our focus should shift to providing a minimum-viable lifestyle to a growing long-tail class. Cities have a critical role to play in that process. Originally published on December 13, 2022 here. Written and read by Dror Poleg. Subscribe to Dror's newsletter and follow him on Twitter.
Cities are Instagram
Housing Is the New Office
Can an oversupply of offices create an oversupply of housing? (Generally, no. Occasionally, yes.) Published on December 6, 2022 here.
Later today, I'm speaking at a free webinar about the future of housing. I'll share some key trends and analysis — and answer any questions you may have. Click here to register. It's free.
Can't make it to the live session? Register, and we'll email you the recording.
Airbnb is WeWork
You can change a giant market even if you don't control it. WeWork changed the way most major offices are leased, operated, and designed. Airbnb will do the same to housing. Published on December 5, 2022 here.
On Tuesday, December 6, I'm speaking at a free webinar about the future of housing. I'll share some key trends and analysis — and answer any questions you may have. Click here to register. It's free.
Can't make it to the live session? Register, and we'll email you the recording.
Airbnb's Double Disruption
Airbnb is a housing company. Always has been. Landlords, property managers, and brokers should start paying attention. Published on November 30, 2022 here.
Next week, I'm presenting my latest thoughts on the future of housing, followed by a Q&A moderated by AppFolio's Sean Forster. Click here to register. It's free.
The Scalable Imagination
We tend to underestimate technology's power to turn in-person work into scalable work. On the verge of the 20th Century, the world's leading economist thought that singers would never make too much money because their voices could not reach beyond a single room. What happened to music is obvious to us. But we have our own failures of imagination. We assume that other professions cannot be scaled in the same way. But there is already evidence that many in-person professions can be performed online — from fitness instructors and doctors to strippers and teachers. Many things that seem ridiculous to us now will seem obvious to our grandkids. I'll write more about this soon.
Originally published in August 4, 2022, here. Subscribe to Dror's newsletter on DrorPoleg.com
Crypto and the Conservation of Centralization
You can't decentralize the web. At best, you can kill old winners and pick new ones. Here's how. Originally published in November 2021 here. Subscribe to Dror's newsletter on DrorPoleg.com.
The web is broken. A handful of companies dominates it: Google (and Baidu) tracks all our queries, Facebook (and Tencent) monitors our social interactions, Twitter (and Weibo) decides what we're allowed to share, Amazon (and Alibaba) dominates retail, etc. Above these corporate giants, governments from Beijing to D.C. encroach on the free flow of information in the name of "social harmony" or "public health."
Crypto and blockchain-based applications aim to steer the web toward its original vision: an open network, based on public-domain protocols, controlled by no one. It promises to enable "decentralized" alternatives to the tech and government giants we all know and love.
This effort can be divided into two main fronts: Decentralized Utility and Decentralized Ownership.
Decentralized Utility aims to provide online services without relying on a centralized system. For example, instead of storing your files on server farms owned by Amazon (AWS) or Microsoft (Azure), you can store them on Arweave, Storj, Filecoin. The latter will keep your files encrypted on a network of computers governed by a protocol that cannot be stopped or altered by any individual entity.
Decentralized Ownership aims to share the ownership and governance of digital platforms with their users and stakeholders. Mirror, for example, enables writers to publish their content online, monetize it, as well as own a piece of the publishing platform itself and vote on how it is operated. Helium and Livepeer operate networks of wireless hotspots and video streaming infrastructure. These networks are maintained and secured by users who own specific tokens that compensate them for their services and enable them to participate in governance.
These crypto projects are still small and experimental. They point towards an alternative way of building, maintaining, and marketing the type of services that giant, centralized corporations currently provide.
But decentralizing one class of internet companies does not guarantee that a new class of centralized giants will not emerge in their stead. In fact, decentralizing power from one pair of hands is almost guaranteed to concentrate that power in another pair of hands.
A powerful theory and the history of the internet itself explain why. Let's start with the theory.
How To Speak Venture
A letter from FTX's most conservative investor explains why they'll do it again. Written and read by Dror Poleg. Originally published here. Read more and subscribe to Dror's newsletter on DrorPoleg.com.
Financial Hits and Misses
In a complex world, success only makes sense after it happens. Originally published on November 17, 2022 here. This is a follow-up piece to Reasonable FOMO. It looks at FTX's collapse in contrast to the ultimate success of Airbnb, Uber, and Coinbase and explains why investors can't afford to miss a chance at a big success.
Subscribe to Dror's newsletter here: https://www.drorpoleg.com/
Reasonable FOMO: Lessons from the collapse of FTX
A more competitive market means a stronger need for unsustainable incentives and more "dumb" bets by smart investors. Here's how to make the most of it.
Originally published on November 15, 2022 here. Written and read by Dror Poleg.
Remote Work: Is Elon Musk Making a Mistake?
Elon Musk is banning remote work. In a letter to employees, Twitter's new owner decreed that "employees must be in the office for a minimum of 40 hours per week."
As Profesor Nick Bloom rightfully pointed out, under normal conditions, Musk's new policy would likely have a negative impact on morale, productivity, and recruitment.
But these aren't normal times.
Twitter is at war. It is undergoing a rapid pivot on multiple fronts — changing its product, business model, and ownership structure. The company is trying to shed employees, reset its corporate culture, and eliminate anyone who isn't on board with the new direction.
And perhaps most importantly: Twitter has "pent-up productivity." The company has been incredibly unproductive over the past few years — judging by the pace of product improvements and overall revenue per employee.
Twitter might fail anyway, but if it is to succeed — a jolt to the system could be just what the doctor ordered. And even if it isn't, unlocking the company's pent-up productivity (regardless of where people work) might offset the negative cost of forbidding remote work.
At least for a while.
What do you think? Let me know on Twitter. Subscribe to this podcast to receive all future pieces directly to your phone. And subscribe on DrorPoleg.com for my newsletter.