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Joy at Work

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Joy at Work

A Revolutionary Approach To Fun On The Job

Pear Press,

15 min read
10 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

A company that touts its values over its profits is like a fish with fur or a cat with wings. But that’s what AES did.

Editorial Rating



  • Well Structured
  • Visionary
  • Inspiring


H. L. Mencken defined an idealist as, “One who, on noticing that a rose smells better than a cabbage, concludes that it will also make better soup.” His clever definition suits entrepreneur and author Dennis W. Bakke, who learned that you need both rosy ideas and practical outcomes, and that sometimes – but not always – you can have them simultaneously. He and his partner, Roger Sant, founded the Applied Energy Services Corporation (AES), an international energy giant that now serves 100 million customers in 29 countries and earns more than $13 billion annually. This is a remarkable achievement, particularly since from the very beginning the two founders prioritized ethics, values, corporate responsibility and respect for their workers ahead of profits. For many years, they made this idealistic formula work. Then came the energy-industry doldrums and the Enron collapse, and these practices were swept aside. Readers will find it refreshing to read about two businessmen who believed that how their company operated was more important than how much it earned. getAbstract recommends this uplifting book, and welcomes Bakke’s candor about how things went right – and wrong. As an entrepreneur and executive, he is an apt person to teach that businesses need both purpose and profit.


How Can Work Be Fun?

Dennis W. Bakke, the co-founder and former president and CEO of the Applied Energy Services Corporation (AES), acted on his belief that work should be enjoyable. He has some other strong beliefs as well. For instance, business leaders should think beyond increasing profits, reducing costs and improving efficiency. Highly centralized, hierarchal management stifles initiative. Managers should not regard employees as disposable “assets.” Each job should have meaning and employees should share in some exalted purpose. Integrity, ethics and transparency should be bottom-line considerations.

Bakke and his partner, Roger Sant, applied these ideas as founders of AES, an international energy firm with thousands of employees and millions of customers. They built a company where worker satisfaction and “fun” were as important as profits. Bakke and Sant put their money behind their beliefs to shape a remarkable corporate history.

The two men met when they worked for the Federal Energy Administration in the early 1970s. They jointly prepared a Mellon Institute study that called for a new energy industry paradigm: separating the generation of electricity...

About the Author

Dennis W. Bakke is the president and CEO of a U.S. charter school company. He co-founded AES, and served as its president and CEO for eight years.

Comment on this summary

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    L. E. 4 years ago
    A fun place to work is a productive place. Unhappy staff spend too much time focussed on their dissatisfaction at work
  • Avatar
    M. B. 4 years ago
    Very good

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