Summary of Joy at Work

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Joy at Work book summary


8 Overall

6 Importance

7 Innovation

8 Style


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.

In this summary, you will learn

  • How Dennis W. Bakke and Roger Sant formed energy giant AES;
  • How being value-oriented made it a great place to work;
  • What happened when its stock tanked; and
  • What keeps other firms from following AES’ philosophy.

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.



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...

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