375 episodes

"Work" is broken. We're overcommitted, underutilized, and out of whack. But it doesn't have to be this way. What Works is a podcast about rethinking work, business, and leadership as we navigate the 21st-century economy. When you're an entrepreneur, independent worker, or employee who doesn't want to lose yourself to the whims of late-stage capitalism, this show is for you. Host Tara McMullin covers money, management, culture, media, philosophy, and more to figure out what's working (and what's not) today. Tara offers a distinctly interdisciplinary approach to deep-dive analysis of how we work and how work shapes us.

What Works Tara McMullin

    • Business
    • 4.8 • 231 Ratings

"Work" is broken. We're overcommitted, underutilized, and out of whack. But it doesn't have to be this way. What Works is a podcast about rethinking work, business, and leadership as we navigate the 21st-century economy. When you're an entrepreneur, independent worker, or employee who doesn't want to lose yourself to the whims of late-stage capitalism, this show is for you. Host Tara McMullin covers money, management, culture, media, philosophy, and more to figure out what's working (and what's not) today. Tara offers a distinctly interdisciplinary approach to deep-dive analysis of how we work and how work shapes us.

    EP 473: Unpacking Attention Fetishism with Jess Shane

    EP 473: Unpacking Attention Fetishism with Jess Shane

    Our podcast feeds and streaming services are full of real stories of real people. And not all of those stories feel... true. I mean, even if the facts are accurate, the way something is edited, packaged, and marketed can dramatically alter a story's impact.
    Artist and audio producer Jess Shane wanted to create a project that would expose some of the problematic elements of this booming (and highly profitable) industry. The result is a podcast series for Radiotopia Presents called Shocking, Heartbreaking, Transformative. Listening to it made me deeply uncomfortable, so I knew I needed to have her on What Works to discuss it!
    In this episode, you'll get the behind-the-scenes on this project. And you'll learn what happens when attention becomes a fetish.
    Footnotes:
    Listen to Shocking, Heartbreaking, Transformative from Radiotopia PresentsFind out more about Jess ShaneCurated Stories: The Uses and Misuses of Storytelling by Sujatha FernandesThe Crisis of Narration by Byung-Chul Han

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    • 28 min
    EP 472: Speculative Investing Made Personal

    EP 472: Speculative Investing Made Personal

    Okay, this isn't really an episode about speculative investing. Well, it is. But I'm not talking about crypto or meme stocks. I'm talking about the challenges of living and working as a speculative investment.
    Today's episode is a brief reflection on self-speculation, the "anticipatory, speculative self," and why the second person is so ubiquitous on social media.
    Footnotes:
    "Verified: Self-presentation, identity management, and selfhood in the age of big data" by Alison Hearn in Self-(Re)presentation Now"The Truth About Influence" by Alison Hearn in Re-thinking Mediations of Post-Truth Politics and TrustPsychopolitics by Byung-Chul Han"What 'You' and 'We' Say About Me" by Ariana OrvellAs always, find an essay version of today's episode at whatworks.fyi


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    • 15 min
    EP 471: The Many Hats of Leigh Stein

    EP 471: The Many Hats of Leigh Stein

    What would happen if you archived all of your Instagram content, announced that you had taken a job at a fictional wellness company, and then got fired for disclosing your experience with company-mandated colonic hydrotherapy? Well, Leigh Stein did exactly that.
    Leigh wears many hats—novelist, poet, cultural critic, book coach, publishing expert. And when she realized that she wasn't wearing the hat she wanted to wear on Instagram, she decided to have some fun with a satirical performance art project.
    Listen for the whole story and a provocation to embrace your own social media use as a project of identity performance!
    Footnotes:
    Leigh Stein's books and cultural criticismLeigh Stein on Instagram, TikTok, and SubstackGender Trouble by Judith ButlerJudith Butler on Why Is This Happening with Chris HayesSarah Urist Green on performance art for The Art AssignmentPerformance by RoseLee Goldberg"From Work to Text" by Roland BarthesRuPaul explaining drag on The PreachersAlso in this series:
    Organizing Indie Labor with Chiarra Lohr of the Indie Sellers GuildFiguring Out the Creator Economy with Charlie Gilkey & Kate TysonBuilding Solidarity in the Creator Economy with Charlie Gilkey & Kate TysonRethinking Creativity: An Interlude
    Find an essay version of this episode at whatworks.fyi
    ***
    I'm teaching a new workshop on May 15 & 16, 2024! It's called World-Building for Business Owners, and it's based on a process I've been honing for more than a decade. I'll help you apply creative, even playful thinking to your business strategy—and help you create an internally consistent business that causes fewer headaches, meets your needs more efficiently, plays to your strengths, and creates satisfying work.

    Click here for all the details or go to explorewhatworks.com/world


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    • 32 min
    EP 470: Rethinking Creativity—A Cautionary Tale

    EP 470: Rethinking Creativity—A Cautionary Tale

    Good luck going anywhere today without running into a message about creativity.
    I was going to say, "anywhere online," but really, it's just about anywhere. We get creative in the kitchen. Creative in our workouts. Creative in bed. And of course, creative at work. Creativity is somewhat of a "cult object," as Samuel Franklin put it in his cultural history of creativity.
    Today, I want to get uncomfortably close to that cult object and ask, "What is our fascination with creativity hiding?" So join me as I venture onto the third rail of the 21st-century economy.
    Footnotes:
    The Cult of Creativity: A Surprisingly Recent History by Samuel W. Franklin"The Surprising Origins of Our Obsession with Creativity" by Samuel W. Franklin in Behavioral Scientist"The Origins of Creativity" by Louis Menard (book review) in The New YorkerCapitalist Realism by Mark FisherAlso in this series:
    Organizing Indie Labor with Chiarra Lohr of the Indie Sellers GuildFiguring Out the Creator Economy with Charlie Gilkey & Kate TysonBuilding Solidarity in the Creator Economy with Charlie Gilkey & Kate Tyson
    Find an essay version of this episode at whatworks.fyi
    ***
    I'm teaching a new workshop on May 15 & 16, 2024! It's called World-Building for Business Owners, and it's based on a process I've been honing for more than a decade. I'll help you apply creative, even playful thinking to your business strategy—and help you create an internally consistent business that causes fewer headaches, meets your needs more efficiently, plays to your strengths, and creates satisfying work.
    Click here for all the details or go to explorewhatworks.com/world
    ***
    If you enjoy What Works, please consider supporting this work by becoming a premium subscriber for just $7 per month.


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    • 21 min
    NEW: World-Building for Business Owners

    NEW: World-Building for Business Owners

    I'm teaching a new workshop on May 15 & 16, 2024! It's called World-Building for Business Owners, and it's based on a process I've been honing for more than a decade. I'll help you apply creative, even playful thinking to your business strategy—and help you create an internally consistent business that causes fewer headaches, meets your needs more efficiently, plays to your strengths, and creates satisfying work.
    Click here for all the details or go to explorewhatworks.com/world


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    • 9 min
    EP 469: Building Solidarity in the Creator Economy with Kate Tyson & Charlie Gilkey

    EP 469: Building Solidarity in the Creator Economy with Kate Tyson & Charlie Gilkey

    "How do I want to live?" Philosopher Rahel Jaeggi says this question is bound up in the concept of alienation. Our disconnection and dissatisfaction keep us from answering that question—but they also keep us from asking it in the first place.
    So in this episode, Kate, Charlie, and I ask that question—and five more. We examine how work in the creator economy can reinforce competition and individualism when what we really need is solidarity and collective action. If you're curious what you can do to join with others for your own success and theirs, this episode has some ideas.
    Footnotes:
    Kate Tyson: Whiskey Fridays (podcast), Wanderings (on Substack) and Wanderwell ConsultingCharlie Gilkey: Productive Flourishing and Better Team Habits"What the creator economy promises and what it actually does" by Kyla Chayka in The New Yorker"Surplus populations are all around us" by Tara McMullinAlienation by Rahel Jaeggi"Metrics, Incentives, and the Seduction of Clarity" by Tara McMullinCasey Newton on Decoder with Nilay Patel"Algorithms at Work" (algoactivism) by Katherine Kellogg, Melissa Valentine, and Angéle ChristinAs always, find an essay version of today's episode at whatworks.fyi
    And speaking of the creator economy, if you appreciate the work I do, I'd be so grateful if you became a premium subscriber of What Works for just $7/month. Your support makes a world of difference when it comes to my ability to do this work.


    ★ Support this podcast ★

    • 34 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
231 Ratings

231 Ratings

Amanda_6 ,

Fanastic Resource!

If you’re looking for inspiration on how to be an intentional entrepreneur, this is the podcast for you. I recently listened to episode #407 about going slow and it stopped me in my tracks. Tara’s analogy of baking bread encouraged me to take a longer walk that day and has stuck with me ever since. I tend to go-go-go as an entrepreneur and her words have helped me slow down and embrace whatever moment I’m in.

PaigeBPodcasting ,

Great Show!

Listening to this podcast is very informative. Tara discusses a wide array useful topics and invites the top experts to contribute. You’ll be sure to walk away with a better understanding of the steps you need to take to increase the success of your business.

Carolyn Mackin ,

Helpful and inspiring

Tara has been a guiding light for many years to help me navigate my art business. I’m especially loving the tone she set for 2023 as I continue to make my business and life work for me and my family.

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