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Alex Frankel on Working Undercover at America’s Top Companies

How do some of the giants of commerce turn thousands of average job applicants into loyal—even fanatical—workers?

Date: March 21, 2008

Podcast #: 08-12

Price: Free


AMA_Edgewise_0812.mp3 [m]: Play in Popup



Curious to know just what happens behind the "employees only" doors of big companies, journalist Alex Frankel embarked on an undercover reporting project to find out how some of America's well-known companies win the hearts and minds of their retail and service employees.

Punching In (HarperCollins, 2007) chronicles his two-year urban adventure through the world of commerce. Frankel applied for and was hired by a half-dozen companies: he proudly wore the brown uniform of the UPS driver, folded endless stacks of T-shirts at Gap, brewed espressos for the hordes at Starbucks, interviewed (but failed to get hired) at Whole Foods, enrolled in management training at Enterprise Rent-A-Car, and sold iPods at the Apple Store. In this lively and entertaining narrative, Frankel takes readers on a personal journey into the land of front-line employees to discover why some workers are so eager to drink the corporate Kool-Aid and which companies know how to serve it up best.

Alex Frankel is a writer and brand observer based in San Francisco, California. Besides Punching In, he is author of WORDCRAFT (2004) and has written for Fast Company, The New York Times Magazine, Wired and Outside. He works with clients through his consulting firm, Ground Level Research.

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