Category Archives: Work Life

The Pursuit of Money is Ruining the Pursuit of Money

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged here. I’ve been immersing myself deeply in shoujo and josei manga (Japanese comics for young and older women), so I haven’t been taking time to maintain this blog. Outside of that, there hasn’t been much for me to ramble on about. Maybe you’ve noticed like I have that not much has changed in the past 5 years. Just in my own life I’ve noticed my husband and I are driving the same cars and don’t feel the need to get new ones, we are still driving our entertainment off the same two laptops, I’m still using an iPad 2, and both of our “newer” laptops are equivalent to the Blackbirds we had 5-years ago.  I feel this enormous sense of stagnancy, and quite frankly most everything bores the hell out of me. Okay, okay, there are three things that excite me: Manga, 3-D printing, and drones — specifically the prospect of food delivery using drones (I want the taco-copter yesterday).

It would be too easy to blame the economy and the government gridlock for this stagnation. The economy is a symptom of stagnancy rather than a cause from my point of view. Companies and very rich people are sitting on huge piles of cash rather than using that money to create things and employ people.  Money is power, yet as long as companies and rich people sit on that money, it’s reduced to worthless paper, and thus diminished in power. Somewhere along the line monied people have forgotten about this and instead believe hoarding cash has some kind of meaning. We are seeing the value of money challenged by the Bitcoin “Revolt” (and yes, this is a revolutionary movement, because let’s face it, paper is just as worthless as bits), the rise of bartering, and the Maker movement. People simply have no money to trade, so some of us have gone back to actually trading useful stuff; you know that thing called “doing BUSINESS”. Anyhow… keep sitting on that paper, companies and rich people. The world will move on with or without your money. The question is do you want use your power to shape the future or are you playing “he who has the most paper when they die wins”?  Nobody cares about that beyond where your money, and hence your power, goes after you die.  So you may as well spend it all now and make the world in your model.  This thought brings me great sadness because so many idiots have lots of money.

I think it’s safe to say the stock markets are no longer engines of innovation. People put money in the stock market for short term gain and not because they believe in the long term vision of a company. Company chase the stock price quarter to quarter and concentrate on the paper rather than on the products that they sale. Hence the endless pursuit as cutting back to profit, a line of thinking that makes absolutely no sense. In this paradigm, R&D is another expense to minimize rather than the engine of growth. Instead strategies like currency exchange become the engines of growth to get more currency — worthless paper chasing after worthless paper. Meanwhile companies find themselves 3 to 5 years later with no new products in the pipeline, a bunch of worthless MBA spouting nonsense about hockey-sticks, and no actual engineers to design new products because they were all laid off in the relentless pursuit of the bottom line.  Raise your hand if this describes the current state of your workplace? Is your company going broke? Is your company’s stock price in the toilet? When will CEOs realize this is not “business”. The company’s stock is not the company’s product and the stock market brokers and analysts are not your customers.  Seriously, what does it matter whether Wall Street likes your latest product? They aren’t the ones buying your product. Your CUSTOMERS are the ones buying your product. Ignore the whims of the stock market and get back to selling actual stuff and services to paying customers.  When business is doing well, meaning your company is selling lots of stuff and services for a profit, stock market adulation will come.  I imagine as long as executives and boards are paid with stock and when they bonuses are dependent on hitting stock market targets, their focus will be on the stock market rather than on products and the customer.  And because these folks make money whether the company is doing well or not, executives could care less. They’ll move on to the next company to drain on the way to the bottom, without it being acknowledged that these executives may actually be a very poor manager.  It’s a vicious cycle. I wonder when a group of execs will get together and decide that this compensation scheme is doing to great harm to society on the whole and change compensation to focus on customer satisfaction and true market growth — as in actual paying customers — and not the stock “market”?

Another harmful consequence of chasing the bottom line is severe risk aversion. Executives don’t want to try something new and revolutionary because they fear if it’s not a hit, they’ll be clobbered by the stock market. I wish I could say it had nothing to do with getting executive bonuses, but it is human nature to put oneself before all others and everything.  This seems silly considering how much money big companies are sitting on. I suppose not every company is like this. To Microsoft’s credit, they tried with The Surface and they are trying with the XBox One, but they totally misread the market and are getting clobbered by customers. Honestly that sounds like a bunch of their tech leadership is completely out of touch of with everyday people, and  is usually a problem caused by lack of diversity, siloed organizations, and corporate inbreeding (driven by ranking). But I digress… Anyhow… I look around and ask myself, with the exception of Google, why don’t I see a 3-D printer from major tech giants who have giant printing divisions (Uh HP, cough, cough, Canon, ahem….cough, cough…the remnants of Kodak… hack… ugh… Whoo! I don’t know what frog got caught in my throat). Of course, it’ll be over once Amazon builds an army of 3-D printers and delivery drones that let people get whatever they want overnight… >_>…. Sigh… Bezos wasn’t kidding about that alarm clock. Wake the hell up and quit chasing the iPad. The iPad is a commodity. Quit piling on that.  Instead, why don’t you rehire the Engineers you laid off, pay them fairly, and let them loose on creating new markets. And, no creating new markets is not what an MBA does.  Masters of Business Administration are Administrators. They administrate.

Ugh… okay, enough rambling for now and back to enjoy my manga.

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The Trouble with Checking out Potential Employees on the Internet

I made the mistake again of Googling my true name.  AUGH…the Internet presence of my name clones is growing and most of them are up to no good in terms of job seeking.  I’m VERY frustrated because how is an employer to know which person I am and are potential employers stupid enough to believe that names are unique.  I’ve written about this topic before, but now that it could affect my ability to keep my roof above my head, I feel a certain sense of urgency on the matter.  I do love the Internet, but how some people use it is questionable.

Giving what I’ve seen from Googling myself, I see that the Internet is, indeed, a sewage filled wasteland.  There’s are some people who are up to things that may be objectionable to employers all sharing my name and all very active on the Internet.  What’s a dull engineer like me to do to reclaim my identity and assert my dull, non-controversial self as a safe hire?  Do I put on my resume that I’m the “dull engineer” with patents and not these other folks?  How many job opportunities have passed me by because a potential employer Googled my name and found other people with the same name and then decided that I was unemployable based on prejudice and bias towards my name clones?

It is my belief that the Internet is not a reliable source of information about the personality or activities of a person.  Googling a name is pointless because there are many people on this Earth with the same name.  If a person explicitly gives you Internet URLs to check out, then I think it’s safe to say that is their Internet presence, or at least the Internet presence they want to feature as a potential employee.  I know I could shout this to the wind and get laws passed outlawing Google as a tool for hiring and, regardless, people are still going to be curious and do an Internet search.  However, keep in mind, that you REALLY have no idea what you’ve found and that you may be missing an opportunity to hire a great employee by “interviewing” the Internet, rather than the actual person who applied.

Welcome, 2010…

According to the movie, this is the year we should be orbiting Jupiter and checking out what’s the deal with Io.  It seems that we are about as far from that as we can be.  We’re navel gazing as we try to figure out where the money and jobs went and worrying about nebulous threats from people we don’t understand.   UGH, I wonder if we, collectively, can get any more pathetic and depressed.  I can’t say that my state of mind matches the collective depression.  I still maintain there’s too much that needs to be done and this level of unemployment and collective “meh” is completely unnecessary.  We also need to try a new strategy when dealing with the folks that don’t like us (showing fear, dropping bombs, reacting in a knee-jerk fashion, infringing upon civil liberties, and randomly fondling people at the airport aren’t working well).   I wonder will 2010 be the year some brave leader steps forwards and says, “SNAP OUT OF IT!!! Let’s hire some people to solve some of these tough problems!

Here are some things that have me excited that I would love to work on:

  • Perfecting e-readers and tablet computers — technology, UI, UX, and media distribution
  • The future of the newspaper — let’s really put the power of the Internet to work!
  • Dreaming up “bone headed” ways we can save our environment
  • Dreaming up fabulously cool ways we can save out environment — some of the wild ideas about creating synthetic plants to process CO2 and light into energy and water sound cool!
  • 3D that doesn’t make my head hurt!!!
  • Infrastructure —  both physical and Internet!!!
  • Figuring out EFFECTIVE ways to deal with our enemies (we could start by not making more of them…as well as change US management culture, use the full power of the Internet, cultural diplomacy, cultural transfer (AKA some clever and innocuous propaganda — Movies, music, and books are powerful things…and when combined with the Internet, spreading culture couldn’t be easier … our enemies are doing it, so what’s stopping us from a countering.)

Anyhow, if you are a person with some influence, be a brave leader and kick things off.  Come on, don’t you want to be the beacon that leads us out of this foggy funk?  I know you do :).  You’ll go down in history as our savior.  Hahaha!!!  Putting it that way, it sounds drop-dead easy for a company with deep pockets to jump and hire 5000 people for something dreamy.  I like a recent seed from Rahul Sood:  “Want to find technology to help create a fully renewable green server farm, runs off the sun, and re-cycles the heat into power. Ideas?”  (http://twitter.com/rahulsood)

Now, everyone, find a groove to dance to and shake it!   Hellz Yeah! 2010!!!  And if that doesn’t make you happy, then you are truly hopeless ;p

Standing Around the Accident – Meltdowns in Blogs and Twitter

Living life on the Internet continues to interest me.  One of the things I’ve seen recently are people, mostly young women, complaining about having web stalkers or people who flame them in Internet after they write or tweet soul bearing confessionals.   This reinforces my belief that people who bare their souls on the Internet will eventually get hurt emotionally.

In general, I don’t like to read to these types of blogs for the same reason I turn my head when I spot an accident on the side of the road.  I don’t want to see the gore.  However, I don’t think that’s how most people are.  There are people who love to stare at accidents and then comment on it as if they know what happened and where to place the blame.

One thing I can say is, unless the person is a professional blogger, blogging in public, in general, doesn’t help a person’s career.  Ranting backfires.  Readers may enjoy reading the author’s meltdown, but in the end, whether the reader agrees with the rant or not, I don’t think much respect is gained by the ranter.  Furthermore, some conservative readers may even think someone who rants is mentally unstable.   This I’ve learned first hand and, due to that tough lesson, I now keep my blog rants private.

I’ve questioned now that I’m in the middle of a job search whether I should continue to blog and whether I should make a potential employer aware of my Internet activities.  In general, I think employers view blogs and participation in social networks as a risk.  I only advertise my web presence when I think it’s an asset for the job.  But when I apply for a job that doesn’t involve the Internet or when applying to “conservative” companies, I remove of all of my web activities, with the exception of an e-mail address from my resume.

So here are some blogging rules I abide by in order keep my nose relatively clean (nothing I list will be original):

  • Never blog about anything negative in your personal life.  Yeah, yeah, you want to blog about your health problems — but before you do that, ask yourself whether this would give your employer or potential employer a reason to get rid of you or not hire you at all.  Also, there are large factions of people who believe that expressions of negativity are taboo, evil, and denotes a person who is depressed or crazy.
  • Never blog or tweet about your drug, drinking, sexual, and taboo lifestyle activities — and please don’t post pictures of your escapades
  • Never blog about religion or politics
  • Never write about non-celebrities or non-public people by their name
  • Never blog about your workplace, co-workers, or anything having to do with your job.
  • If there is an internal blog or social network in your company,  DO NOT use them unless you have to and limit it strictly to work related matters.  Don’t express any personal opinions about the company, management, projects, or anything.  Remove all emotion other than positivity and  keep to the facts — in other words, use the tools to encourage and inform.  NOTHING will get you fired or laid-off sooner than posting something to the public that pisses off a manager or executive, regardless of whether you post internal or external to the company.
  • Keep your rants private
  • Keep your self righteousness to yourself (still working on that myself)
  • Don’t follow or allow yourself to be followed by people who violate any of rules above.  Following and be followed is tacit consent, so don’t consort with anyone you wouldn’t want your employer to know about.  (If you want to follow a “train wreck,” pull RSS feed into a reader or your e-mail program.)
  • Use an alias

The Internet is one big landmine.  Hopefully, things will improve as more web savvy people move into leadership positions.  Until then, though, my suggestion is to put a lid on it and keep your negative emotions and life’s details private.

Give me a Break! Carly Fiorina

Buwhahahahaha!!!

She says the government should stay out of determining executive pay when a company receives a TARP bailout.  Ummm … OH REALLY, Miss-I-was-paid-$20-Million + to-leave-HP-after-failing-as-a-CEO?  Does she even understand how much R&D could have been funded with her “failure bonus”?  (And that goes to the rest of you tech CEO’s receiving millions in bonuses while cutting R&D spending and jobs …)

Buwahahahahaha!!!  Whooo!!!  My sides hurt!!!  I can’t stop laughing!!!!

Here’s a link to the nonsense that dribbled out of Ms. Fiorina’s mouth.

Learning about Leadership Through MMORPGs, Part 1

I never thought playing a video game would teach me so much about real life and myself.  Yep, you can learn about leadership, teamwork, and yourself as a leader and a team player by playing MMORPGs.  I had an encounter tonight with a player who was quite a control freak.  This person claimed to be leading 4 Warbands in an effort to lock one of the tier 4 zones in “Warhammer Online”.  He was telling players who were below level 40 to refrain from playing in contested scenarios because he or she wanted to have only his or her pre-made groups in scenarios.  I popped into a contested scenario without knowing what was going on and then was promptly asked not to queue up anymore.  My feeling was that I paid to play the game, and so I will play however I please.  This guy then proceeded to ramble on about how low level players will cause our side to lose.  I was laughing pretty hard because his pre-made parties were getting their asses handed to them in this particular scenario and I felt he needed all the help he could get.  Continue reading Learning about Leadership Through MMORPGs, Part 1