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Sold On Working For Joy And Profit

That's what members of the AES board felt happened at their company, where Bakke shocked with his advocacy of "fun" on the job, he writes, even as he dispersed thousands of decisions from the hands of executives to the rest of the workforce.

"Several of my board colleagues suggested that putting so much emphasis on creating a fun workplace was a major cause of the company's problems," he writes. "My efforts to change the views of my colleagues on the board had been fruitless."


(Bill O'Leary--The Washington Post)

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Metro Business: Coverage of Washington area businesses and the local economy.

The book represents a sort of second chance to put his ideas to work.

Eschewing traditional book publishing practices -- get an agent, sell a book proposal to a major publisher, hope for some publicity -- Bakke handed sales and promotion over to Mark Pearson, a 24-year-old with just one self-published book (about backpacking in Europe) to his name. Pearson's uncle is married to Bakke's sister. Bakke said he wanted to entrust the book to a publisher who would get it out to the masses and "start a revolution."

With a marketing budget of $500,000, Pearson has relied on some traditional tactics, including several New York Times ads, a 31-city book tour, and back cover blurbs from such notables as former president Bill Clinton and former New York congressman Jack Kemp. But he also hired a network of people in their twenties and thirties to promote the book in 13 targeted cities.

"We're actually operating on the principles in the book, trusting people to make decisions," Pearson said. The person in charge of Washington, D.C., for example, assembled a team to distribute 15,000 "Joy at Work" marketing pamphlets at locations like Metro stations and the World Bank.

Although neither Pearson or Bakke would discuss the source of the funds for publishing and marketing, Bakke was on Forbes's World's Richest People list in 2001, with net worth of more than $1 billion. And with the right financial backing, experts in the publishing industry say the book could become a success.

"Every so often, someone decides that by putting unlimited amounts of money into a subject, they can make a book and make themselves famous," said Peter Osnos, publisher and chief executive of Public Affairs.

The practice is not entirely uncommon, Osnos and other book industry experts said. Every few years, a former company leader, some who have fallen from grace, others who feel they have a tale to tell, will publish their story.

Part vanity, part rehabilitation, many have the funds to market the book enough to get it on bestseller lists. Jack Dreyfus, a former Wall Street financier, wrote a book called "The Story of a Remarkable Medicine" that detailed his fight with depression and his cure with the drug Dilantin. Others say Jack Welch, former head of General Electric Co., could be counted among authors who used narrative as catharsis.


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