Categories
Life Work

Do you Live to Work?

Are you really free? If you’re like most middle-aged people, you’re probably living a life to serve the system.

Everyone starts with 24 hours:

  • 8 hours for sleep
  • 1 hour for showering, breakfast, etc. in the morning
  • 1 hour commute
  • 8-9 hours at work
  • 1 hour commute
  • 1 hour meal prep, eating, cleaning
  • 1 hour of exercise
  • 1 hour kids homework

What does that leave you? 1-2 hours of ‘freedom’. Yeah, your best hours to invest in yourself can begin after you’ve fully drained all your mental and physical energy.

Do you have hopes and dreams? Save them for between the hours of 10:00pm and 11:00pm.

You’ll notice I’m leaving out laundry, repairing the back stairs, mowing the lawn, dry-cleaning, picking up pencil crayons for your kid’s art project, and so on. That’s where your weekends go. And if you’re like many people, those obligatory social gatherings – after work drinks, in-law’s birthday party – might as well be minor forms of work too.

The time each of us has to actually do what we want is minimal. If you’re like me, you have to find enjoyment in the daily chores.

The funny thing is, most jobs don’t require 8-9 hours. How much of your day is wasted? This has become especially apparent when we started working from home. This new setup is amazing! I can get my work and daily errands done much faster than before.

But the system doesn’t like it. The system wants us indebted with little free time. This keeps us dependent on our employers for money. Moreover, with little spare time we blindly purchase short-lived dopamine hits – retail therapy, objects of desire. The house always wins.

Yeah, that’s it…your pusher wants you to happily return every penny he provides you so you’re totally dependent. It keeps you coming back for more, despite hating every minute of it.

Ever have a boss suggest you buy a bigger house or upgrade to a new car? Perhaps after they just gave you a raise? They certainly don’t want you using that extra money to pay down your debts to achieve financial freedom. If they’re to shape your behaviour they need you financially subservient. Highly mortgaged people with families to care for make the best indentured servants employees.

God forbid you smoke a little ganga when not on the clock and your employer tests. That stuff stays in your system for a while – doesn’t matter how good you are at your job. Even your free time is co-opted by the system.

In the end, you’re just an anonymous cog in a machine. Those people at work that call each other family will fall off the face of the earth as soon as they retire/quit/fired/die. Although turnover is a pain in the ass, in the long run everyone is replaceable.

So don’t give your life to work. Because work will happily take it. Break free by striving to become debt free while owning income-producing assets.

Categories
Work

And You Thought Your Job Was Hard!

You get up. Commute on a crowded bus and spend 50% of your waking hours in a space smaller than a prison cell. Your job sucks right? Maybe. Maybe not. Read the following anecdotes I sourced from Reddit. You might change your mind.

  1. Stuffed

I used to work at XYZ Buffet, and there were kids who would eat until they threw up- like alllll the time-

This one case that is seared into my mind was when I was once fixing up the salad bar and I heard ‘Billy Run!’ screamed from an ignorant parent and then I see this 12ish year old boy running to the bathroom, only he didn’t make it. An unholy amount of undigested red Jello-O came exploded out of him like a fucking volcano all over the Caesar Salad, the floor next to the cash register, and on about 5 or 6 diners waiting in line to get in. It looked like he had literally vomited his guts out in an arc about 10 feet in diameter. I had to sweep up the chunks with a broom until a dishwasher with a mop could take care of the rest.

2. Fishy

Fish monger in a grocery store. We got a large number of lobsters in, soft-shelled and already dieing. So my manager decided we could at least sell their tails. Apparently lobsters don’t really have a central nervous system, so when you sever the tails and put their tails on ice they freaking run away.

So I had to chase these tails down because they’ve escaped into the rest of the display case, onto the floor, and hidden under our prep tables. Never again.

3. Call of Doody

Bagging groceries at a major supermarket. The manager came over to tell me that I needed to clean up the bathroom. An elderly gentleman fell off the toilet while pooping and it was a literal shitshow. Apparently I was the most qualified because I was 16. I was handed a broom and a dustpan. I shit you not (sorry had to.) My reward for going above and beyond the call of duty? Five dollars in store coupons. Sometimes dreams really do come true.

4. The Horror

Plumber

Owner of a mobile home called and said they had a stinky yard.

I could smell it when I pulled up.

the mobile home was new and had only been set up for about 8 months. while setting it up, someone didn’t tighten a no-hub band of the toilet in the kids bathroom.

8 months of flushed toilet was all over the ground, under the home and had just started being noticed outside.

I told the homeowner to call the guys that set it up to come fix it. I wasn’t crawling under there.

5. Crawl Space

Back when I did plumbing went out to a job that required us to crawl into the crawl space of about a 200 year old mill house. I opened up the crawl space and shined my light in there across the crawl space to see all the rafters and pipes just draped in snake skins and some snakes slithering away into the darkness. Noped the fuck out of that one. I’d rather crawl though shit than snakes.

6. Options

Plumber as well. Had to do a tie for a 6″ waste stack main to offset it for a boiler to go in later at a hospital. Told all staff and had maintenance shut down bathrooms from 6am-8am for us to do the offsets. Had everything measured cut and ready to move into place. Fucking staff on every floor ignored the signs because we got constant flushes of fresh shit and shredded toliet paper. At one point I was holding the outlet side of a horizontal piece with my hardhat and trying to no hub band the fitting for it in place while shit literally rolled down my back and into my shirt, down my pants, my socks were soaked in the waste. Took us a total time of 45 minutes but scheduled a 2 hour window just in case. Worst part of this was that they had another bathroom option just down the hall. So inconsiderate… this trade sucks sometimes

7. Thankswhating?

After 4 months of not seeing my family because I was working full-time and only getting one day off a week, I finally quit without notice when they were gonna make me close last Thanksgiving. I had already requested and approved the day off a month prior. I left and never came back. The GM even tried pulling the “you can’t quit you’re fired” ahaha

8. Intellectual Property

When I was doing 90% of my boss’ job in hopes of a full time promotion that I had been promised for three years and he took all the credit and told me my promotion wasn’t in the budget.

9. Head Master

First day at the health department, I’m left at the reception desk alone while literally everyone else in the office went out to a farewell lunch for the person I was replacing. As I was on 90 day probation, wasn’t yet licensed and badged, my pay was $7.96/hr.

I’m sitting at reception, and some redneck comes in with a leaking garbage bag and drops it on my desk. It contains a newly beheaded javelina head. His buddy had been bitten, and it needed to be tested for rabies ASAP.

I had no fucking clue what to do with a leaking garbage bag of javelina head. He couldn’t wait for others to return, so he left a number and split.

Turns out, we don’t do that sort of thing at the health department. Guy refused to come back.

10. Giving

Grocery store cashier. The customer was angry because her cereal had rung up wrong. I called a price check and this lady berated me the whole time. I recall that she accused me of trying to steal from her. Said she was going to get me fired.

I looked at her and said, “I make $7.25 per hour no matter how much you pay for this cereal, so I do not give a shit how this situation turns out.”

She stared at me in shock. The price check comes back saying the price scanned correctly. Silence.

I said, “So do you want the cereal or not?” She said, “Yes.” And that was that. She did not complain to the manager.

11. Blue in the Face

I worked at a heating and air conditioning company doing bookkeeping. I was being trained by the companies accountant. If I made a mistake the owner would literally scream at me full voice. I overheard him talking to his brother and his brother had told him not to scream at me. The owner said, “you have to tear them down to build them up.” I decided I wasn’t going to take another day of his screaming after that.

12. Mom Vibes

I ran the entire company’s financials and general management for $14/hr. I had a meeting with the owner telling him I need a raise and to hire an assistant, he told me I wasn’t “business minded” and should be a stay at home mom. I quit the next day.

13. Insanity

I used to work in a mall music store, back when that was a thing. There was a corporate policy to play new music regularly, y’know, because that’s the fucking thing you’re trying to sell.

My boss, every single day she worked, would play the entire Madonna album, Ray of Light. Hours of the same eight fucking songs. For most of a year, until it was either go mad, commit murder, or bail. I bailed.

That music franchise went under a little over a year later. I hold Madonna and my old boss responsible.

14. Shhhh

I’m a public librarian. I was helping someone in the computer room and turned to tell someone he needed to keep his exclamations at the video he was watching down. Just then, the woman I was helping leapt aside because the man I was shushing pissed himself. It ran down onto the jacket he had tied around his waist, down the chair, onto the ground. Turns out he’d snuck in alcohol and was totally black out drunk. I told him he had to leave. He put the piss covered jacket on and stumbled out. As I returned with gloves and cleaning supplies, another patron decided this was a good time to complain about some kids who were making noise. I took a deep breath and said “This is a good time for us all to appeal to our higher selves and do our best in the moment. Please just adapt for a minute”. Then I thought about the student loans I took out for the master’s degree as I scrubbed up piss.

15. Broccoli

Working for a popular grocery store, the amount of people that think the workers are stupid are astounding.. the produce all have codes and sometimes I forget. To the customer, this looks like I simply don’t know what a broccoli is. They’re like “it’s broccoli” in a condescending tone, and I just have to brush it off. It happens so many times, and though it’s not terrible it really gets me down sometimes. Most people assume retail workers are people with no goals, or even bums. That’s not true at all, everyone I work with including myself is planning to go to college or already enrolled.

16. Vomit

Bartender here. Grown man threw a lit cigarette at my face and threatened me with physical violence. This was a year or so ago but a 45 (maybe older) year old man behaving that way towards a 24 year old female was definitely one of those moments. Plus the people getting handsy and occasional cleaning of vomit I do not get paid enough.

17. Actions have Consequences

When I was 20 I had 3 jobs. I worked as a bank teller from 8-4, then as a closing shift manager at a coffee shop from 5-10, then as an overnight janitor from 11- 2 am.

This wasn’t every day but it was enough that it equated to about 80 hours a week between the 3 jobs, and yes you can imagine this would lead to burnout real fast.

So at the overnight janitor gig my “boss” comes over to me and asks me to come to the office for a review. This was weird, all I did was mop floors on a production line that made air train brakes. But whatever.

I go into his office and he closes the door behind me and pulls out a gay porn magazine and starts asking me about different dicks and put his hand on my shoulder.

I was surprisingly calm and just said I don’t like dicks and went back to work.

Then it hit me what happened. I called in sick the rest of the week and picked up my final paycheck when he wasn’t there.

It was a hard enough job without being sexually harassed for $8.50 an hour.

This was 15 years ago and everything is fine. I have a great career, and that guy was fired after other employees came forward with similar complaints. It was actually a very sad case. He was obviously very gay with a wife and kids. I know he was losing his house to her and his kid was dying of something, I think cancer. He ended up losing everything and I think he died homeless. I really don’t have any animosity towards the guy, I think he was broken and looking to find a little of himself, even though the way he did it was absolutely wrong.

It’s just sad.

18. Front Lines

When I was a 9-1-1 Telecommunicator. Taking all those suicide calls domestics with children, medical calls, people dying, officers getting shot, etc. Did it for 16 years before enough was enough.

19. Some Say He’s Still Waiting

I worked at ABC retailer for less than a month in 2009. I scanned a big box fan for a guy and it didn’t ring up, so I said “I gotta do a price check on this, I apologize.” The guy said “It’s $24.99 you fucking idiot.” I stared at him for a moment, then reached up and turned my little register light off, turned around, walked out to my car, and went home.

Fuck that shit.

20. The Biggest Turkey

Working in a grocery store meat department during Thanksgiving, when every third customer asks if you have any larger turkeys in the back. And insists you go back to the walk-in freezer and sift through multiple pallets of frozen turkeys for the 80th time today.

Categories
Work

4 Tips for Job Seekers

Over the course of my career I’ve hired dozens and interviewed hundreds. If you are looking for a job you need to understand what the hiring manager is going through.

Finding a job is hard. But so is hiring.

I’m currently trying to fill two investments marketing roles and this requires my full attention on top of what I should be doing every day. I enjoy the process, but doing a proper evaluation of all candidates requires a lot of time and energy.

Here are a few things you can do to make it easier for the hiring manager. And by making it easier for the hiring manager you make it easier for yourself.

  1. It’s easy to get lost in the noise during the early stages of the hiring process. When a posting goes live, the hiring manager is often inundated with emails, calls and LinkedIn messages offering to chat about the role. I try to talk to as many people as possible, but the volume of conversations can be overwhelming. In addition, the hiring manager must go through hundreds of resumes. Names and faces get mixed up and good candidates can get accidentally looked-over or forgotten. Make it your responsibility to ensure you stay on the agenda – particularly during the early days of the hiring process.
  2. My next tip might seem like it contradicts the first. While you need to remain top of mind, you must avoid pestering the hiring manager. If they hint that you might not be a good fit for the role, accept it. If they say they’ll get back to you Thursday, wait until Friday to follow up if you haven’t heard anything. To help manage your own expectations don’t hesitate to ask about the process and timing.
  3. If you’re interested in a role, don’t wait for the hiring manager to ask you to apply online. First of all, those postings are only live for a limited time. Second, it’s a pain in the ass when people try to go around the online application portal. It’s there for a reason – it effectively becomes a database of interested candidates. If you’re not captured in the database, the train might leave without you.
  4. Be true to yourself. Do you really want the job and are you really a good fit? That initial conversation with the hiring manager is your opportunity to probe and figure out what you’re really applying for. I always start out with a 20 minute casual phone call to plainly state what I’m looking for. I expect candidates to do the same.
Categories
Work

10 Things You Can Do To Succeed in a New Job

Over the years I’ve employed dozens of people, many of whom were just starting their careers. I’ve helped many people transition from entry-level staff to senior managers and directors within the investments industry.

I am always willing to invest my time in someone who first commits to investing in themselves. I say this because while many people talk about growing their careers, not everyone puts the energy into doing so. If you are just starting out and want to build a career, you must first look inward.

What can you do to help yourself? It’s quite simple:

  1. Absorb as much information as possible, whether it comes from industry research, department meetings, competitive intelligence, and so on. If you’re new, almost everyone around you knows more than you. Respect this fact and use it to your advantage to learn.
  2. Understand what your firm does, who it serves and what makes it different from its competitors. Determine industry threats and opportunities, and company weaknesses and strengths. Get a sense of the competitive landscape.
  3. Take the time to connect with the people you serve – internal or external clients. Ask them a lot of questions about their opinions on the business and listen. Some people see the vague offer for an open-ended ‘coffee chat’ as a waste of time. Instead, get to the point and say “I’d like to get your thoughts on topic X”. First, email them the question. If they’d rather talk on the phone or meet for coffee they’ll let you know.
  4. Observe the successful people in your industry and emulate them to a degree. Of course, you shouldn’t uncomfortably adopt a fake persona but if you see a common theme among successful people you might have no choice but to try new things.
  5. Ask for feedback and learn from that feeback. Your boss is paid to be your mentor. Take advantage of that, but also reach out to colleagues for feedback. A lot of work is subjective so you want to get multiple opinions on your work. As you get feedback, remember it and incorporate it into future efforts.
  6. Make lists. Every time you get a new task add it to a list in a notebook. At the end of each day cross completed items off your list and copy incomplete items onto a new list on the next page of your notebook. Lists are a critical tool to help ensure you get things done. It’s simple, but it works. Lists were key to my success.
  7. Do what you say you’re going to do. So many people in big companies get complacent and after saying they’ll do something never follow through. While they might not get in trouble, they do lose credibility.
  8. Arrive early and work late. I’m sorry, this one sucks. But if you want to build your career you need to invest in your work. One of the simplest ways to set yourself from others is to work harder than others. Of course, don’t allow yourself to burn out or become unproductive. If it’s 7pm and you’re just spinning your wheels it might be time to call it a day. Personally, what takes me an hour at 6pm might take me 10 minutes the next morning.
  9. Remember: We’re all just winging it. The only thing setting you apart from more experienced people is knowledge and experience. They aren’t better or more skillful. So don’t feel inferior. After all, more experienced people are still making it up as they go – they just have more information to depend on.
  10. Promote your work. After you’ve completed a task send an email to the team or present it in your department meeting. Teach people how to use your work. Show people what you’ve done and what you’re capable of.

I think by doing these 10 things consistently, a junior level employee can start to set themselves apart from the pack.

Categories
Work

Career Day: Amazon has 33k Available Jobs

Amazon Career Day is a virtual event that will offer 33,000 corporate and tech jobs across the country plus 20,000 free, individual career coaching sessions available to all job seekers. Amazon is mobilizing 1,000 recruiters to provide advice and personalized coaching to navigate the current jobs market – to apply for a job at Amazon or elsewhere. Anyone can participate in Career Day and register to book an appointment with an Amazon recruiter.

Categories
Work

People Who Love Their Jobs: What Do They Do?

I sort of assume that everyone hates their job, and those that seem like they enjoy it are either faking it or psychopaths. Of course, I’m wrong. There are people out there who genuinely love their jobs. Some days I genuinely love my job. When you strip away the corporate bullshit there is a lot to like.

Below is a collection of comments from people describing why they love their jobs. If you or anyone you know are looking for some career direction, this might be the place to start.

Let me know if you see the pattern.

People who like their job, what do you do?

I think up and draw cartoons. Every day. A syndicated comic for newspapers. Only learned to draw at age 43 so it’s been a cool midlife turn. I’m one of those handful of people trying to be at least a fraction of what Gary Larson was/is.


I am a speech therapist working with stroke patients. I love rehab. I tried pediatrics but it was not my thing. Rehab is for me.


Matte painter for film

It’s fun and lives at the intersection between having to have artistic talent and technical experience. Honestly sometimes it can be maddening as I come from a creative background (traditional illustration and sculpture) so certain programs are like going from speaking French to speaking Chinese.

But all in all it’s fun to see your work when it’s composited into a film and get to see the shots before any VFX goes in.

Frankly it’s surprising just how many movies use VFX and I can assure you it’s almost everything you’ve seen including smaller independent films.


Seaplane pilot – charters, sightseeing, fly-in-fishing, & seaplane flight training.


I make replicas of dinosaur fossils for museum display. The company I work for does full sized replicas, but I primarily work in the division that creates teeth and claw replicas, and a few scaled down skull replicas, for gift shops.


I’m a night shift worker at a manufacturing facility. I love being able to set all my machines, read a book (or play on my 3DS), and be by myself. Once all my machines are set, I just need to change finished parts for new blanks every 15-20 minutes.


Waste management. I drive a garbage truck. I start early but there are days I’m off at noon. A full 8 hours for me ends at 1:30 and I work 5 minutes from my house. I am in the AC all day and left alone. It’s wonderful.


I’m a locomotive engineer. It’s badass controlling thousands of horsepower and tons all with my hands. I love running with the window open listening to the power working and waving a people when they wave with more than one finger.


I work at a grocery store. I love my coworkers, we’re tight, my managers are really helpful and understanding, and I guess I just like working? I’ve done a lot of volunteering before this so now that I’m still doing things for others but getting paid (!) it’s pretty wild. Also, my coworkers are so fun. Did I mention them?


Facilities—a glorified janitor.

The position has morphed, I started by cleaning floors and toilets. Now so many of my creative strengths are used. We’re updating our campus, so we build furniture, construct new walls and stages, choose paint colors, engineer unique solutions for an aging campus, and so much more. I’ve learned electrical, concrete work, welding, sound engineering, drywall, installation of floors, ceilings, doors, stage backdrops, you name it. If something needs be be done, we get it done. I love it.


Before the pandemic shut everything down I was a Broadway dresser! I got to work backstage on some awesome shows with pretty costumes and be a part of the magic, it was such a rewarding feeling.


I’m a Meteorologist. I look at weather all around the world and work directly with Fortune 500 companies to help them prepare for natural disasters.

Considering I’ve wanted to be a Meteorologist since I was 5, it’s a dream come true and I feel blessed.


Public Library

Everything is free.

I don’t have to sell anything.

People come in because they want to be there.

I get to help people who want to be helped, or provide and environment where they can chill and relax.

They only owe money when stuff is late.


I’m a social worker. Currently I work with seniors who live alone with a disability and have no family to take care of them. I plan on getting my masters and becoming a therapist. After working construction for 8 years and getting a degree in business I said fuck it and followed my passion regardless of what everybody in my life said. I am so. Fucking. Glad. That i made that decision. It was really hard to get myself into the mindset that it’s not too late. Once I was there though, I wasn’t leaving. I put my foot down and was determined. Went to a community college, got 12 credits, working an entry level social work job and will be applying for my masters once this shit show of a pandemic is over… or maybe when i cave and decide to do online classes. Either way I feel like i’m living my dream, even though i’m not nearly where I want to be… yet.


Freelance illustrator and graphic designer.

I’ve always liked the idea of making things that are useful to people in any way, and I always try to apply this mentality into my work. Not to mention that stimulating my creativity is something I’ve always enjoyed, and something this line of work requires on a constant basis.

Of course, creative blocks are an issue occasionally, but it’s still something I truly enjoy.


I work for a grocery store and I am the person who picks out what specialty cheese, crackers, salamis and olives all our stores carry.


I’m currently a factory worker making sheet metal roofing and siding, it’s one of the easiest jobs I’ve ever had. The work is relatively repetitive, but there’s enough variation to keep it from getting boring. The people I work with are kind and funny, management actually gives a shit about us, and the benefits are fantastic. I love working manual labor, I could never have a desk job.


Marine engineer. I like solving problems, and the moment you figure out how to do something is a golden feeling.


Park ranger

I work for the national park service. I started off seasonal and got to visit 6 different national parks, getting paid to live peoples vacation and be in most beautiful places. Now I am settled permanently on The National Mall where i get to work with special events, getting to see first hand all the amazing events that go on in Washington dc and be apart of it all.

I have worked in zoos my entire career (mostly as a zookeeper) and now get to travel and work in conservation. Incredibly gratifying and truly feel I have never worked a day in my life with this career.


I’m a Medical Specialized Interpreter! (And also general one)

I like it that much that im mastering 2 other languages at the same time (Italian and French) to be an interpreter English- Italian-Spanish-French.


E-discovery. We help people deal with data and fact finding in litigation and investigations. It’s extremely stressful but every day is different. Every day is a new challenge. You have to constantly be learning and growing. The moment someone comes up with a new chat systen, or file system, or collaboration system you immediately have to understand how it works and how to forensically grab the data quickly. You have to know technology, law, statistics, and how to argue (a lot). It’s one of those business that has a steep learning curve that never really stops going up.


Physics in optics research. I have a massive selection of lenses, mirrors, and light sources, and I use them to measure non-uniform diffractive gratings (they basically just make a rainbow). It’s like a big lego set with no instructions, and I don’t really know what I’m looking for, but today my boss told me “having a lot of good ideas is better than knowing something for certain.” Love that shit.


Architecture during quarantine I was doing 60 to +90 hours a week. The only thing holding me was my passion for the profession.


Hair stylist! I chose this career instead of pursuing a career with my college degree. It allows me to be creative, work in a social environment, I can wear whatever I want, and I get to help people feel good about themselves when they look in the mirror!


Server/bartender

Idk everyone sees it as something they want to get out of. I can see the wisdom in getting a career in a growing and stable field, but I honestly enjoy it. The craziness, the good guests the bad guests, people having fun being super inappropriate, people being pissed off for something that really doesn’t matter. It’s a lot of fun, and for the most part you’re in control over how much money you make. Even if I find a “big boy job” I’d still try and work some shifts at a bar or restaurant. Pay for groceries/gas and have fun doing it.


I’m a data analyst!

I set up and maintain a large amount of data flowing in to a database and process it so that it’s useable within BI tools and for machine learning projects.

Then after it’s in a good format I use BI tools to make cool visualizations so that a few couple hundred users who want different things from this data can all go in and be able to find what they need efficiently.

Sometimes I also get to do some machine learning projects!


IT inside a hospital. I go out if something breaks or we deploy PCs for new practices etc. Everyone appreciates me and the pay and benefits are great.


I teach history and government at a small rural high school. My students are extremely polite and respectful (it’s not often the younger generation calls their elders, “sir”), I love what I teach, and I get along with all of my co-workers.

Categories
Life Work

The Half Life of Knowledge

The following chart by Marc Rosenberg illustrates historical estimates and future predictions about the rate of growth in humankind’s collective knowledge.

Note: Pre-1982 estimates were by futurist R. Buckminster Fuller. The 2020 prediction was made by IBM.

IBM predicted by 2020 total human knowledge would double every 12 hours, as the Internet of Things expanded. While this is difficult to accurately measure, we all recognize that in 2020 we are drinking from a fire-hose of information. 

Knowledge today is growing rapidly as every click, search, purchase becomes a data point that forms the tapestry of our digital identity. Data aggregators have claimed to have over 5000 data points on every US voter, from which countless insights and predictions can be made. Every day, data is being collected across numerous digital platforms. However, this information is concentrated in the hands of the few.

IBM predicted by 2020 total human knowledge would double every 12 hours

For the few with access and computational power, knowledge is power. But those without access must run faster to keep up, as the half-life (the time it takes for half the knowledge in a particular area to become stale) of knowledge shrinks. This divide will grow as the ability to leverage information is powerful and profitable.

Those with power are unlikely to give it up voluntarily. Thus, the useful application of knowledge will consolidate even further into the hands of few. The majority of humans will simply remain overwhelmed by information and the inability to fully capture, interpret and analyze it to their advantage.

This has implications across many fields and industries. For example, how is an individual investor or even a boutique professional portfolio management team meant to out-store massive databases and outperform the computational capabilities of algorithms to fully exploit information?

We will need to be more humble about our abilities by recognizing the sheer volume of unknown unknowns. Unfortunately, the competitive nature of various segments of society and the economy will leave the average person behind.

So how do you as an individual compete? Continuous learning seems like a fruitless task as there is more to learn than is possible to ever grasp. Yet, it is still imperative if one is to outrun other individuals.

However, there are other ways to create value that might not be captured by the algorithms.

While computers are able to monopolize measurable bits of information (clicks, data points, dollars, etc.), humans still retain an advantage when identifying, analyzing and interpreting intangible cues. I’m talking about emotions, gut instinct. That feeling you get when the hairs on the back of your neck stand up is your brain analyzing millions of immeasurable pieces of information to warn you of danger.

Humans possess the ability to synthesize new information not captured by computational models. This is what we must exploit if we are to survive as individuals.

Categories
Work

Build Your Personal Brand to Grow Your Career

If you want to grow your career you must build your personal brand. The sooner you realize that skill alone isn’t what it takes to be successful the better.

History is filled with talented, smart people who remained stuck at the bottom-rung of life’s hierarchy. They failed to rise any further because they didn’t build their personal brand.

Whether you know it or not, every group has a formal or informal hierarchy. Sometimes people rise to the top organically and other times they fight to get to the top. Often, people at the top have some sort of power assigned to them. However, this is not always the case.

Many capable people fail to rise in hierarchy because they don’t know how to position themselves within a group. For most people, this requires a deliberate effort to understand their own competencies and develop a personal narrative based on some of those competencies. They must then communicate that narrative to others.

Years ago, a mentor explained it to me simply: “How do you want others to perceive you? Now be that guy.”

Of course, you have to be able to deliver on your promises so who you WANT to be must connect with your ACTUAL core competencies. But without communicating that narrative to others, you’re allowing others to shape your personal brand for you. Sometimes it works in your favour. Often it does not.

Build your personal brand to grow your career

I suggest you spend some time thinking about what you want, who you are and what you’re good at. You might find that the answers to these questions are long and varied. Great – that means you’re an interesting person with a lot to work with. The bad news is that others have a limited capacity for information so you must carefully craft your story. Often, less is more.

To do this, figure out how you can match your characteristics and skills to the needs of your audience (e.g. coworkers, friends, family, whoever). Consider what they want and what they need to know. What problems do you solve?

For example, you might be a great illustrator in your spare time, but that is not something your boss cares about. So carve a relevant narrative that simplifies the story you tell others about yourself and the reasons they should care. Then repeatedly tell that story by communicating and acting accordingly. Ensure it’s memorable and repeatable.

Keep on message and you will build a personal brand. Eventually, even people you haven’t met will start to know your brand because others have repeated your story.

Your personal brand combined with your actual skills will be the combined force that helps elevates your career.

Categories
Work

Free Skills Training

Perhaps you’ve been laid off. Or maybe you want to add to your toolbox of skills to make yourself more marketable in an uncertain economy. Microsoft, Github and LinkedIn recently made available free skills training for 10 different learning paths to build practical knowledge for in-demand careers.

The lessons are provided via a number of videos (e.g. ‘Become a Project Manager’ path includes 11 videos), requiring dozens of hours of commitment. This is real learning for those who make the most of it.

Once you complete a learning path you will receive a certificate.

True, you’re not getting a degree or diploma, but many of the learning paths offered don’t necessarily require one. Moreover, these learning paths can complement your existing formal training while elevating your skills to 2020.

I believe the courses are connected to your LinkedIn account, so you might need to be logged in to access them. Below are the 10 free learning paths offered:

  1. Software developer – Become a Software Developer
  2. Sales representative – Become a Sales Representative
  3. Project manager – Become a Project Manager
  4. IT Administrator – Prepare for CompTIA Network+ Certification
  5. Customer service specialist – Become a Customer Service Specialist
  6. Digital marketer – Become a Digital Marketing Specialist
  7. IT support/help desk – Prepare for the CompTIA A+ Certification   
  8. Data analyst  – Become a Data Analyst
  9. Financial analyst – Become a Financial Analyst
  10. Graphic designer – Become a Graphic Designer

Categories
Work

My Boss Quit

A couple weeks ago my boss, who is part the executive team at my company, told he he quit.

Good for him.

He’s been screwed over by the company too many times and his career hit a brick wall. He is leaving for a better position (and presumably better pay).

His departure creates a vacuum for my department. That vacuum attracts all sorts of people vying for power. But it also raises the question for me, as one of his natural successors: do I go for his job?

Of course, this assumes the company doesn’t restructure my boss’s position away to save money. We could all just get haphazardly lumped into another group. After all, budgets are under huge pressure so getting replacement headcount is very difficult.

But let’s imagine his position is made available.

Before simply applying I have to know if I really want his position. I’ve risen in the ranks enough to have a good-enough income and a great balance between strategy and execution. I’ll be honest…I’m comfortable. Ten years ago I wanted to aggressively increase my income. Today I’m more interested in writing, family, health and becoming financially independent than climbing the corporate ladder. I’d rather build alternate sources of income (which I’m doing) than double-down on my current source.

Besides, do I really want to be even less in touch with the day-to-day action and more involved with corporate bureaucracy?

The higher you go the more you need to align with the corporate propaganda, which I already find sickening. Is it worth selling your soul for a better title and slightly better paycheque.

People who are promoted tend to get less money than those who move to other companies. Most employers are cheap. They think they’re doing you a huge favour by promoting you, which they use as justification for a weak raise.

Moreover, you must consider the after tax impact of whatever pitiful raise you get. Often, if you break it down it might come down to an extra $50-100 per week in your pocket. For many, that wouldn’t be worth the extra work and stress.

A pay raise on its own – regardless of how insignificant – might still sound enticing. Why not just take the extra money?

In reality, there’s more to the decision than just money. The new position will come with huge expectations and uncertainties. You are selling your time, comfort and health for additional money that might not really make a difference to your life.

Of course, many just chase the titles. If that’s your bag then all the power to you. But if you have a life outside of work, then you need to look at the full picture.

If I don’t apply for my boss’s old position, others will. That opens up a whole other set of issues. A new person will want to make their own imprint and might try to fix things that don’t need fixing for the sake of ‘making a difference’. Do I really want to report to someone that doesn’t know what they’re doing?

A new boss from outside the company would also come with a new set of pressures. He or she would need to live up to high expectations, meaning the people reporting to him must follow suit. So regardless of whether I take the job or not, the pressure will be on.

Alternatively, perhaps a more familiar face – one of my colleagues for example – gets the job. If this happened, the pressure wouldn’t be as intense as if an outsider took the role. But how will it feel to report to someone who was once my equal? Indeed, there’s the possibility that I would report to someone who reported to me three years ago. That admittedly would be a big hit to my ego.

I have to remove emotions from the decision. I care about money, return on effort, intellectual stimulation, freedom and balance. I don’t care about titles, personal empires or corporate politics. I just want my highly specialized team and I to support the business the best we can.

This is not a decision to take lightly. Either I go for it or I don’t. Rejecting an offer on the table from your employer is a career limiting move. If I reject them, they will never make another offer to me again. If I apply for the role, I have to be prepared to accept it if offered. If I have conditions (e.g. pay), I have to be clear on day one what they are.

Even if I don’t apply, if they offer the role to me it is a potentially limiting move (although less so) to turn it down. To do so would require explanation, and I can’t think of any honest explanation that wouldn’t come across as apathetic or disengaged.

I’m still working through my thought process, but I think if they offered me the role I’d take it. I would do my best to maintain my current work-life balance and I’d craft the position into something I’d enjoy. Importantly, I wouldn’t lose sight of my ultimate goal to create lasting wealth and financial independence.

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