Required reading

Plus: Preschool play and pro-union presidencies this week in The Memo.
Required reading

Hello, Quartz at Work readers!

We’ve entered the last days of August—meaning that in plenty of places around the world, students are headed back to schoolyards and college campuses. But no matter if you (or your family) are on your way to the classroom, Quartz contributor Kara Cutruzzula writes, you could benefit from some back-to-school energy, too.

Namely, she writes, your next project should take a page from a first-day standard: the humble syllabus.

A syllabus can help us put a structure to projects both professional and personal. Want to kick-start your consulting business? Get that newsletter off the ground? Fall into the photography habit you’d always wanted to begin? There’s a case for getting a formal plan in place—one that allows you to set expectations for your learning and growth, then map a course ahead. Sound familiar? It’s a syllabus.

“Anyone can benefit from creating a plan around one part—or multiple parts—of their working life,” Cutruzzula adds. “A syllabus is a contract with yourself—and a promise of progress.”

When you write a project plan like a syllabus, you start thinking like a student. You’re able to say, Today is the first day of my own course. You’ve got an intention, and you’ve got a plan for the path ahead. You’ve also got a reminder that an achievable goal has just one objective: After all, Cutruzzula writes, there’s no class that offers “Intro to Psychology and Aerospace Engineering.”

📝 For those of us hitting the late-summer doldrums, a syllabus might be a way to inject leaf-turning, new-season energy into the project you want to tackle next. In Quartz, Cutruzzula outlines exactly how to start your own.


Answer this one with your gut: On the whole, are people more creative when they’re younger, or older?

We usually associate creativity with youth—take, for example, the imaginative play of preschoolers. But as far as our working lives go, this might surprise you: according to research, creativity actually has two peaks. The first is in our mid-twenties. The second? It’s in our mid-fifties.

In today’s workplace, we tend to define (and divide) ourselves by age or generation. But the Wharton School’s Mauro Guillén argues that we’re ready to move beyond them.

For too long, he writes in a new book, we’ve organized our lives in a rigid set of stages: learn, work, retire. But as lives trend longer and technology moves faster, those stages can become more fluid. Why not learn, work, go back to learning, find new lessons, find new peaks?

As it turns out, there’s a lot to gain when we lose the generational outlook. Quartz’s Gabriela Riccardi talks to Guillén about the benefits we pick up when we go age-agnostic.


20%: How much more the median American union worker earns compared to their non-union counterpart.

That’s from a new report out of the US Treasury Department, and announced by Janet Yellen in an official call this week. According to Yellen, the department’s research finds that unions “fuel equality” by increasing salaries across all demographic groups. The strong show of support for labor organizing is no surprise from this White House administration, considering its commander calls himself the most “pro-union” president in US history.

Now a major union may be pushing wages even further in one industry this fall. Quartz’s Diego Lasarte explains which is the one to watch. (Here’s a hint: it involves 🚘 workers.)


Pop quiz: Workplace diversity programs are facing a new legal challenge in the US—this time from the same conservative activist who took affirmative action in college admissions to the US Supreme Court. What industry is he targeting now?

A. Public schools
B. Law firms
C. Hedge funds
D. Country clubs

On the heels of SCOTUS’s strikedown of affirmative action, conservatives continue to target corporate America’s diversity initiatives. While plenty of workplaces are sticking to their inclusion programs, Quartz’s Ananya Bhattacharya reports on the latest challenge from the US’s anti-diversity crusader in chief. The answer’s in her story.


A few questions can help you figure out if a job is the right fit. You might know the feeling: You’re interviewing for a new role, and you want to make sure the company’s a match for you. But you don’t know which questions will get you honest answers. Should you ask about culture? Mentorship? Something else?

“We’ve surveyed tens of thousands of people about what makes their work lives most satisfying and meaningful,” writes a team from workplace strategy firm Stone Mantel in a guest post for Quartz at Work. Based on those responses, they offer four questions to start off with.

💬 Here’s just one: What are some of the little things that make working here meaningful? Find the rest in the story.


🍼 Companies are trying a new kind of family leave—for grandparents 

🏢 To improve team performance, start by reframing the role of manager 

🎓 3 things we gain when we stop fixating on generational divides in the workplace 

🫧 Obsessing over your productivity? Try percolation instead 

💬 4 questions to ask in a job interview to make sure the new position is a fit 


Send questions, comments, and stories of your syllabi to This edition of The Memo was written by Gabriela Riccardi.