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Net Net: Promoting innovation and managing change

James Murdoch Takes a Stand

James Murdoch, son of Rupert Murdoch and Chairman and Chief Executive of News Corporation, Europe and Asia.
Miguel Villagran | Getty Images

Jefferson used one. Dickens did, too. Churchill could be found at his (when he wasn’t lounging in bed). And now, James Murdoch has his. The standing desk.

There’s gotta be something about conducting one’s business standing up, physically looming over employees and visitors, that readies one to speak as though preaching from a bully pulpit. Or a lectern, anyway.

Besides the obvious health benefits to using an upright desk—no more leg-lifts after being hunched over for an 18-hour workday—leaders and great minds throughout history have been drawn to the setup for its creative benefits, too. Churchill liked to spread his galley proofs out on his to have them easily at hand and moveable; Hemingway used his to rest his typewriter. It’s been said that being on your feet all day gives a more satisfying feeling of exhaustion at day’s end than that which comes from hunkering down in a swivel-chair.

And then there’s that whole “expression of power” thing.  Stand and deliver.

“I’m a big believer in standing up,” James Murdoch told the Economist in a profile a few years ago. He even went so far as to suggest everyone at News International employ his chest-height furniture of choice.

“I told some of the team at News International the other day that I thought they should get rid of their chairs. They weren’t very happy.

It was very funny. They didn’t know whether to take me seriously,” he said.


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