I have been preaching this for years. In reality, "work hard and play by the rules" was never a guarantee to success. Presidents Clinton and Obama are pointing to post WWII America when they use that phrase. Businesses still failed then. But as Friedman points out, the closed system we lived in then made failure of large employers relatively rare.
What Friedman leaves out here is why the mantra doesn't play today. In a global economy mass production jobs simply don't pay enough to afford the house, cabin, car and college for the kids. That they ever did was a post-war anomaly. And thinking renergized uinons can again squeeze that lifestyle out of large companies is a fantasy.
Here's where Friedman is right; what the public wants changes at the speed of thought. No, we can't all be Steve Jobs. But we need to understand that innovation comes faster than ever before and we can't settle into one job for life. And I don't disagree with Friedman that ongoing learning is important, I think he misses the larger point. People using their individual talents to innovate, to at least some degree, is what is needed in the future.