What Works explores how we navigate the 21st-century economy. Host Tara McMullin talks with small business owners, thinkers, and creatives about the questions that drive them to build more humane and sustainable businesses. You'll find transformative ideas, as well as practical applications, in every episode. What Works is the podcast that helps you think differently about how you do business and the impact you can have in your community.
EP 382: Context Clues: What makes for a fair refund policy?
No one likes being asked for a refund. In fact, I find the thought of it stomach churning. And when what’s being refunded is the product of your time, experience, and expertise… it’s tempting to put every obstacle you can think of between a customer and a refund. In this episode, I’ll take you on a journey from the 17th century all the way through the modern era of online business refund policies to answer the question: What make for a fair refund policy?
* About Josiah Wedgwood* “Josiah Wedgwood: An Eighteenth-Century Entrepreneur in Salesmanship and Marketing Techniques” by Neil McKendrick* “Beyond The Pottery: The Creative Giant, Josiah Wedgwood” on YouTube* “They Broke It” by Judith Flanders* “What a Hundred-Year-Old Department Store Can Tell Us About the Overlap of Retail, Religion and Politics” by Tobias Carroll* “Many (Un)happy Returns? The Changing Nature of Retail Product Returns and Future Research Directions” Journal of Retailing* Online Outlier & Regina Anaejionu* More on “caveat emptor” (the buyer beware)* “Is the customer always right?” The Merck Report, June 1915* “Is the customer the enemy?” by Chris MacDonald* “The Customer As Enemy” by Michael Schrage* Kaye Publicity & Dana Kaye
Full written versions of each new episode are available on Fridays or sign up for What Works Weekly to receive them in your inbox.
EP 381: What happens when you take a 4-month break from business as usual?
At the end of 2021, I stepped away from my business: left our community, off-boarded my employee to another company, and focused on my mental health. Over the next 4 months, I wrote a book and thought about what might be next for me and my work. In this episode, I share what I’ve been up to in that time and what I might do in the months to come.
* What Works: A Comprehensive Framework For Changing The Way We Approach Goal Setting* NYU’s Intro To Creative Nonfiction course* Catapult’s Writing Pitches That Land Bylines* How Your Personal Priorities Shape The Way You Design Your Business
Essay versions of new What Works episodes are posted on Thursdays. Sign up for What Works Weekly to get it in your inbox!
EP 380: When does overdelivering become overcompensating? with Allison Davis
I’m sure you’ve heard it before: underpromise and overdeliver. But is that really the best way to do business? Or does it just give us a permission slip for self-exploitation? When does overdelivering become overcompensating? And when does being generous just morph into entrepreneurial martyrdom? I sat down with sales coach Allison Davis to talk about overdelivering, generosity, and when it all gets to be too much. We talk pricing and scope of work—but we also talk about familiar relationship patterns and how they play out in our expectations for ourselves or others.
* Allison Davis* Down Girl: The Logic Of Misogyny by Kate Manne* Kate Manne on Forever35* Living A Feminist Life by Sara Ahmed* EP 371: How does emotional labor impact our work?
EP 379: Why do we choose squeezing more in over taking time off? (Time & Money 8)
I’m bringing our Time & Money series to a close this week by exploring why we choose squeezing more in over taking time off. I share how The Squeeze works, why work gets more intense over time, and some of the economic incentives that keep us from making different choices.
* “Feeling The Squeeze? Why Your Business Feels So Tight” by Tara McMullin* “Busy vs Squeezed: How To Tell The Difference & Why It Matters” by Tara McMullin* “Economic Possibilities For Our Grandchildren” by John Maynard Keynes* Capitalist Realism by Mark Fisher* Protestant Ethic & The Spirit Of Capitalism by Max Weber* “When Time Is Money: Contested Rationalities of Time and Challenges to the Theory and Practice of Work” by Barbara Adam* Can’t Even by Anne Helen Petersen* Wintering by Katherine May
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EP 378: How much time do you work? with Anne Ditmeyer (Time & Money 7)
A lot of the work we do today doesn’t much look like “work.” The divide between work-life and life-life is flexible and porous. So what does that mean for the way we spend our time? Or how we earn a living? In this episode, I share designer, coach, and consultant Anne Ditmeyer’s story of rethinking how she works thanks to a big move to Paris. And, I argue that perhaps we need a radically different way of thinking about what work is—instead of a better “work-life balance.”
* Learn more about Anne Ditmeyer* Lost In Work, by Amelia Horgan* Episode 349 with Brittany Berger
EP 377: What game are you playing? (Time & Money 6)
The systems we operate in all have different incentive systems: our business models, the social media platforms, our economy, the culture at large… And many of these incentive systems have become simplified and gamified—changing the way we view the results of our work and the goals that we hold. In this episode, I explore how the philosophy of games can help us identify when we’re just trying to “game the system” instead of taking effective action based on our own values and goals.
* C. Thi Nguyen at the Royal Institute of Philosophy* Nguyen on The Ezra Klein Show* How Twitter Gamifies Communication* *What Tech Calls Thinking* by Adrian Daub* *Games: Agency As Art* by C. Thi Nguyen
More podcasts like this, please!
It is clear that this podcast is created with very clear intentions. Each episode I’ve listened to is well researched and thoughtful. The thing I like best, though, is that Tara asks more questions then she gives answers. This is a podcast that you listen to as a prompt for personal reflection and continued exploration. Not one that instructs you what to do or how. I’m here for it.
I really enjoy your show, after listening to a few episodes I was totally hooked, it has great direction, it deals with very instructive and interesting topics. I really love this program!
This podcast is informative and empowering! Tara is a thoughtful and knowledgeable host whose conversations with guests reveal heartfelt experiences and transformative insights. Highly recommend!