Reality 101

Reality 101 Rantings – At Work

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reality101-flag1Work is a very different world than anything you’ve ever been exposed to. Hopefully the following will save you from future pain and headache.

Don’t Expect it to Be Like School

It’s like night and day. Very simply, when you go to school, you pay someone to put up with you. When you go to work, someone has to pay you to put up with you. Get the point?

Maybe 5% of  What You Learned in School Will be Applied to the Workplace

Remember the point I made earlier about those job listings and what you learned at school? Well, the converse is true as well. You will find that much of the on-the-job training has nothing to do with what you learned in school. You likely will forget 95% of it, anyway.

It’s also sad to say that employers are becoming increasingly wary about hiring new college grads.

Grades in School Rarely Matter

More often than not, it’s how you perform at work that matters. Usually you’re asked what your last job was rather than how you scored in English Literature 101 a few years ago. It only matters when applying for a teaching job or going for higher education.

To Save Your Job, Justify Making Your Employer at Least 3-4 Times What You’re Getting Paid

It’s all about business when working in a business. An employer hires you for money so that you can somehow make him more money. If you are costing the employer money, then you are a liability to the company, not an asset.

A sad reality is when you sometimes need to justify your job when a company is downsizing due to an economic recession.

Be Young, Single, and Even Less Educated When Starting Out

Let’s face it: Employers want someone without experience to be able to be pushed around. While you shouldn’t every put yourself in that position, it helps to make the employer think that if he wants to, he can do so. The way to do so is to start working for minimum wage, or interning for no pay, while being young, single and still waiting to get your degree. Employers LOVE getting more work for less pay.

Small Mistakes are Big. Consider the Consequences

At work, when you make mistakes you may perceive as minor, they may actually be major when you consider the consequences. For example, a downed computer server means that many people, not just one, cannot do their job when their work is stored there. When you open an “incident” or “case” with a 3rd-party provider, remember that the company is paying money for that. Also, every second somehow magically feels like a minute or hour when the effects of the mistake are being realized.

As someone once mentioned, “50 attaboys (pats on the back) doesn’t amount to 1 oh-s**t.”

Micromanaging Generally Means a Company is Losing Money

When a company is micromanaging an employee’s work, it’s trying to analyze if/why an employee is costing the company money. Generally such an employee’s days are numbered and one of the main reasons an employer is doing such an exercise is to make sure that your replacement doesn’t exhibit the same mistakes as s/he thinks you are making.

Most Bosses are Pressure-Cookers

Nobody’s happy with their boss. There’s a reason why saying somebody’s “acting bossy” is not a good thing. The most commonly-used way to get employees to make money is to apply pressure – tons of it – to produce results.

Got Fired?

Prepare to be fired, laid off and embarrassed moreso than promoted. I still remember being fired from my first paid internship after 4 days, and while I moved on, it left a very bitter taste in my mouth. It was a traumatic experience. Sadly I found myself out of other various positions for different reasons. Some were because I “wasn’t technically up to par,” “lacked confidence,” “didn’t fit in,” that the “company was going bankrupt” or that it simply was an “at will” decision. In one case it had to do with my taking off for a religious holiday while I was within the first three months and they completely forgot about my religious requirements! And there are a million other ways or reasons why someone would get fired or laid off.

If you have a great place to work without any of these issues, consider yourself lucky (for now).

Promotions and Raises Aren’t for the Faint of Feart

Many people stay at their same salaries simply because they are afraid to ask for more money. It’s tough to ask for more money for doing the same job you were doing until now. Unless the demand for your job goes up overall, expect to stay at the same pay rate until you take on a new role, and even then…

Also, from past experience, salaries aren’t always directly proportional to the person’s skillset, rather, the balls one has when asking for money.

The only ways to negotiate a raise is (and this is a sample):

1. Justify your past performance and accomplishments, as well as hours/week spent in the office

2. Show that you are ready to grow in terms of past work experience and updated educational/certificate achievements

3. Look for another job, get a higher offer, and see if your current employer can match it (note: this may lead to getting fired within the next 3 months, so be absolutely sure you are ready to leave).

Sometimes it may be out of your control. Family/health circumstances can change a lot of things in a heartbeat.

However, if you do get that raise, expect to work much harder than before.

To Make Significantly More Money, Apply to Another Company

Drawing on the previous tidbit, in terms of a raise you will only get so much. In a normal job, 4% is standard, and a 6%-8% increase is considered a “good” raise. Unless you are able to do items 1-3 in the previous point, expect to only make so much while working for someone else.

Beware of Nepotism

Most companies as a rule don’t allow hiring family members in order to separate business from personal. However, it’s inevitable when a boss at a small company is trying to help out a family member who cannot otherwise get a job elsewhere. What’s frightening is when one soon realizes why the person had a hard time with previous jobs (personality, performance, etc.).

Nepotism can come in many different forms. For example, you might get passed over for a promotion in favor of the boss’ cousin. On the other hand, the other person can be a real disturbance but can never get fired, while a small screw-up by you can land you in unemployment by tomorrow. It’s a tough situation where there’s really no sound advice other than to be firm and do what you can to boost yourself irrespective of the company or such employees.

Don’t Think, Unless You Are Paid To

Unless you are in a position of power to make and argue decisions, your role is to follow orders in order to maintain the flow of the organization. People that second-guess their managers/superiors which disrupt the work flow are forever deemed as troublemakers ready for the chopping block. If you feel that your opinion is to be voiced, either schedule a 5-10 minute meeting TOPS to pass on suggestions, or send an email. Emails today are the least intrusive option to send messages without disturbing someone’s work schedule.

Most Full-Time Employees Will Earn and Top Out Between $25k-$60k

Unless you are a top executive at a company, or at a company destined to fail, expect yourself to earn between $25k-$60k/year. A surprising very few individuals earn more than that. People don’t like to think about that and would like to earn more, but that’s one reason why one’s salary is very personal. Another reason why ones salary is personal is because everybody wants to make more than the next person – that’s human nature. If person A hears that person B is making more than him, person A will be brimming with jealousy. Believe me, that’s what it is.

Reality 101 Rantings – The Business World

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reality101-flag1The business world is cutt-throat – ever heard of that before? Well, it’s true.

More People Pump You for Information to Do it Themselves

I once heard from a former executive Yahoo! that the way they would make money through Search Marketing was by feeding TONS of information to someone, so much so that the amount would overwhelm the average person. Those people would then tell Yahoo! to do the search marketing for them since they had no time. This strategy apparently worked for Yahoo! and some SEO firms in the past, such as SEOMoz.

The reality today is that people are now more educated, and if you “give away the farm” people can and will use that information in-house and bypass the middleman. It’s cheaper that way.

For example at one of my former companies, a client offered us to pay us $50k: $10k for a specific document that outlined how to properly optimize a huge and complicated website for search engines, and $40k to do it. In the end they paid $10 and gave the actual job to two people in-house to do.

I’m also willing to bet that 99 our of 100 people that visit my Computer Support website or an SEO Company website to take the information and do it themselves rather than ask me for a paid consultation.

Therefore, the trick is to give away SOME information but not all.

“Dog Eat Dog” Often Means Compromising Moral Values

Unfortunately, in today’s competitive corporate world, there is a lot of backstabbing and taking credit for others’ work, simply to get that raise, promotion or job elsewhere with a 6 figure income. People look out for themselves and this comes at the cost of lying, cheating and stealing. Don’t be like that but don’t be a naive idiot, either.

CYA = Cover Your Ass(ets)

In the workplace, there’s a practice called CYA (cover your ass[sets]). What this means is to make sure that all bases are covered when asked about your role. CYA includes CCing/BCCing emails to other people, saying that you did your part and that “the ball is in the other person’s court,” etc.

Women Go to Different Extremes

In my experience with work and school, women would be the ones to go to opposite extremes. Some are very nice and let everything slide by, and some pay way too much attention to detail on items of low priority. This can be to the point where it holds back an entire operation and/or drives someone nuts.

As someone once mentioned to me, you have two people told to sketch a flower. One goes straight to sketching the flower, while the other has to sniff it, look at it from all angles, Google the flower type, etc.

Believe it or not, this is consistent with women in general. The same woman that will fuss over which dress to wear, if the shoes matches her purse, etc., will fuss over little details in every aspect of her life.

Nobody cares more about your business than you

Although hiring employees may sound simple, you’ll quickly learn that no one will care for your company as much as you nor will they work as hard as you. Every once in a while you may find some rock star talent to help you out, but those won’t be the majority of the people that build up your team.

 

Next week I will be covering some tips on what happens at work. Stay tuned.

Reality 101 Rantings – Top 5 Things to Note When Applying for a Job

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reality101-flag1When applying for a job, you will likely get your share of frustrations. Here are some heads-up pointers.

1. Be Prepared for the Standard Interview Questions

Unless you are lucky to find a small, informal company/organization with cultural similarities, be prepared to answer standard interview questions. The reality is, it’s all a game that if you know the right answers, you go through to the next round. Many interviewers doubtfully want to know your answer more than how you answer their questions: an indicator of how you would perform under intense pressure and answering correctly.

An excellent resource I once ran into a few years ago is a bunch of videos made by Denham Resources on YouTube. I’ve personally fallen flat on my face prior to seeing these interview videos, with the standard questions and different answering styles, and passed a number of them since. Again, it’s all a game.

 

2. Don’t Be Surprised About Fake Interviews

Fake interviews are unfortunately all too common. Sometimes an employer will justify wasting other people’s valuable time because he wants to promote someone internally, and needs to either follow government regulations, or feeling out the playing field to see if someone internal is ready for a promotion. It’s unfortunately a fact of life.

My personal favorite one was when I once walked into a headhunting agency and was greeted by the wrong interviewer! The interviewer spoke with me, without mentioning my name, for a good 2-3 minutes before realizing that he was speaking with the wrong assigned person.

3. Job Fairs Stink

Job fairs do indeed suck. Most of the time they are crapshoots as recruiters are looking for someone very specific and only highly experienced people. That’s not to say that there are those that found their jobs at job fairs. It’s just a 1 in a million shot.

In my own personal experience I’ve been 0-for-umpteen.

4. Most Recruiters are Stupid Headhunters, and Are Out to Make Money From You

When I was applying for I.T. jobs, non-technical recruiters didn’t care that I knew database concepts or programming concepts. No, they were given a list of specific languages that a candidate needed to possess at that very moment. This was something that school did not prepare me for. They wanted someone with every skill listed without any variance. On-the-job training was not an option.

Also, from the recruiter’s mentality, if someone goes through them and makes $20 an hour, for each hour that employee works, the agency makes a healthy percentage off of that. That’s how it works.

5. Everyone Wants Someone 21 Years Old with 30 Years Experience

This classic line was stated by the late comedian Milton Berle. It’s true though that’s it’s a catch-22. Someone 21 years old generally will lack the experience needed to do the job for less money, and someone with the experience generally is too old for a job where the employer would like to pay less money.

Therefore, the only answer seems to be that someone needs to go through a 4-year program in 2 years, a Masters degree in 1 semester, and working 3 job shifts at 24 hours – all without breaking down – in order to get that job that will pay less than you deserve. Stop the madness!!!

 

Next week I will be covering some tips on the Business world in general. Stay tuned.

Reality 101 Rantings – The Cold, Cruel World in General

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reality101-flag1In general, the world isn’t all peaches and cream. You probably know that, but now it’s time to further state the following obvious facts.

Everyone is Out for Themselves

Nobody cares about you more than oneself. Man is inherently selfish that will do things for money or pleasure/feeling good. Even when one gives charity one mostly does it for ones own feeling of self-righteousness rather than for noble motives. A case in point is to see how you are after giving money either to a faker or a mentally deranged, drug-addicted ingrate. Just saying.

Also, if you aren’t perceived as someone that someone can utilize and serves no purpose, see how fast people don’t contact you. Also, pay attention when people unfriend you on Facebook and Linked-In, as that makes a huge statement considering you’re not even worth being kept on a superficial level.

Most people have their own agenda, and will not hesitate to pump you for free information in order to do things themselves “in-house” or give the work to a competitor, or to leave you “high and dry” by leaving to another company without telling you first.

People Will Be in a Rush to Get Things from You, But in No Rush to Do Things for You

In all my years I have yet to see the above not be true. I would get multiple emails a day from people looking for something from me, but when I ask for a favour in return, either people don’t reply at all or they reply only a few days later. People are “always busy” when it doesn’t serve their best interest. That’s the way things are.

It’s better to either not be in such a rush to do things for others, and/or make it worth the other person’s while to rush something out for you. Most of the time this works, but in certain cases even that doesn’t work.

People Only Call You When They Need You. Otherwise You Are Dead to Them

As stated above, people use other people when it best serves their goals. Rare is the person that merely wants to see how you are. Why do you think people you visit or call ask you “how can I help you?” Simply because they know that there are few reasons you would otherwise come to them.

There are countless examples I can throw, from the time my alma mater practically ceased contact with me when they found that I was laid off from my first real job after 8 months (and therefore wasn’t the success they hoped due to this bump in my road career-wise), to the time that people I would have worked for (and knew personally) stopped contacting me when, for very valid reasons, I stayed at my current place of employment, and didn’t even contact me when my own son was sick and sadly passed away at a very young age.

While there are the few out there that seem genuinely concerned about you, the majority don’t. Get used to it.

People Will Take Advantage of You, and Even Use You, if You Let Them. Learn to Say No and Stand Up.

In every society this holds true. One thing I found was that certain clients, “friends” and co-workers exploited my nice-guy persona and my inability to say “no” to the point where I was feeling over-stressed in “having” to get everything done at the same time, for no pay. We all need to become more firm and say “no” to certain things to the dismay of others. Also remember that no matter how much you try to please everyone there will always be someone not pleased with you. Get used to it.

Promises Are Made to be Broken. Get it in Writing!!!

If I had a nickel for each and every time that someone made me a broken promise, I’d be rich. Talk is cheap. Unless something is written on a piece of paper with a signature, someone’s word is useless.

More often than not, whenever I mentioned the word “money” or “contract” I found people run away faster than the speed of light!

Need Instant Cash? Scare the Pants Off Someone!

More places will sue than follow through. There is a big business in scaring the pants off of people to give cash away. Don’t be stupid and naive by letting those thieves take away your hard-earned money.

There’s something called legal extortion, where companies go after smaller clients claiming that they need to protect their own clients. One such company recently went after me in the amount of $1,130 and, after speaking with a lawyer about it, was advised to ignore such a letter, as for them to escalate the case further into small claims would cost them more than what I’m allegedly being sued for.

However, there are a small number of people that will get scared and pay the money right away. It’s this kind of fear that financially justifies such extortion.

 Two Kinds of People: Those That Get Caught and Those That Don’t

In today’s world, you will be hard-pressed to find too many workers with moral integrity. Therefore, those that got caught were simply too unlucky. If nobody sees the tree falling, then it didn’t fall. That’s today’s mentality. Get used to it.

Nobody wants to be held accountable

Whenever something bad happens, nobody did anything. That’s just how it is. Also, in the event when someone does get trouble, there’s a sense of self-satisfaction from others “well, at least it’s not me.”

While There Are Some Things Money Can’t Buy, Money Can Buy Most Things (Unless, Someone Simply Cannot Stand You)

Don’t think money isn’t a huge motivator. It is. If you want to hire someone’s services, there’s usually a price tag attached.

There are some people in this world that stand up to their values instead of the price tag, but those people are few and far between.

Numbers Almost Always Are Exaggerated

When numbers are brought out in the news, there’s usually a motive. Generally numbers are over- or under-exaggerated in order to make the locals feel good about themselves.

Examples:

  • Toronto doesn’t have 250k Jews, maybe 20-25k tops.
  • Wikipedia skews numbers in order to keep the real numbers classified.
  • Not knowing something generally will make you overvalue something. A 4-5 year old child will think that his/her parents are at least 100 years old.
  • Countless more examples.

Many People Will Talk Behind Your Back

In the real world, people will talk behind your back. They will never tell you about you straight to your face. The only people I know that told me the cold hard truth were my parents, my wife, and my academic teachers/professors. Nobody else.

People have their own incentive to tell things straight up to you. Otherwise they’d rather not as to not lose face. Most people are wimps.

People will also say things behind your back, sometimes to hurt you, in order to improve their own self-image. Therefore, watch your back.

Too Many People Are Full of S**t

Many people never “made it” in their real lives, and in today’s day in age of identity theft and RPG, it’s easier for people to more comfortably inflate their egos in the name of embellishment. More people are full of hot air, and the trick is to see how they perform under real life tests.

Do Not Complain to Other People

This leads to one of two things: Either people look at you negatively because you are a negative person, or people will take that information to apply for themselves. Nobody cares about you, they only care about themselves.

Watch Out for Credit Hogs

There are people that will wrongfully take credit for your hard-earned work. You need to stand up for yourself, even if it might cost you your job, or else you will always get recognition taken away from you.

Agenda. Everyone has an agenda.

Never take things at face value. People that tell you something are doing it for a reason and in some cases manipulating you to do what they want. Very few in real life do things because they are genuinely good. In this world, people do things because they want something in return.

 

People will talk behind your back. They will never tell you about you straight to your face.

In my experience, the only people that told me things “straight up” were my parents, wife,  teachers, and Sepharadim. My parents and wife have to live with me, and teachers usually were paid $$$ to do so. Unless it’s someone that has an interest in saying things straight-up to you, people will say things behind your back. Don’t think everything is so cozy.

Everybody’s Busy

The older we get, the more responsibilities we have at work, with family, and everything in between. I have personally yet to meet someone in their 20’s or 30’s that’s bored. On one hand that’s good, but oftentimes we all need a break once in a while.

 

Next week I will be covering some tips on when applying for a job. Stay tuned.

Reality 101 Rantings

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reality101-flag1Some universities and colleges will hire someone in the working world that “made it” to give a lecture in the “real world.” From my personal experience, I didn’t find those too helpful from the ones I attended.

One person called to lecture attended Harvard university many years ago and when he lectured shortly after the dot-com bubble burst, he announced that “there are still jobs out there” when there really weren’t for the average person. Another person lectured the following year and was this big venture (vulture?) capitalist that a) was boring, b) said “uhhhh…..” before every sentence, and c) spoke without any Powerpoint presentation to make it easy to follow him!

With that in mind, on one hand I have half-an-idea to ask for my money back as I didn’t gain the real preparation I needed for the “real world.” Therefore, I, a regular worker, aim to expose people to the realities of this cold, cruel world and how it relates to business with some quick pointers.

So, what credentials do I possess? I’m not some high-powered executive at a Fortune 500 company  or doctor making a 6-7 figure income. I’m just a regular working guy. Chances are, at least 90% of people reading this will turn out this way. This I feel makes me much more qualified to talk about “the real world” than the people I described above as I can more easily relate with most of you than someone “at the top” can.

With this, I hope that people will realize that life is tough, and it’s much easier to live at home. To quote the late comedian Rodney Dangerfield from the video “Back to School” from 1985, “And so, to all you graduates… as you go out into the world, my advice to you is… don’t go! It’s rough out there. Move back with your parents. Let them worry about it!”

That having been said, the following don’t apply to every person and every case. However, the following happens too often to ignore. Also, the below list is far from an “end-all and be-all.” TONS of books and blog posts have been written that elaborate on the following points. This is just a list that summarizes things “as they are.”

I’ve been meaning to get this off my chest for some while and hope that these points will either enlighten someone, or at least strengthen ones own opinion about the outside world. I’m going to go all Jerry McGuire on how I see things since no one else will.

I apologize if my upcoming comments sound like those of someone that’s cynical and bitter, but it’s better to get the truth now rather than find out yourself (which you’re likely to do very soon, anyway). I also apologize if I gain a few enemies by saying what I perceive as “the truth” and “nothing but.”

Here are a list of upcoming articles that address different sections of the world as I see it, from my own personal worldview.

 

The following topics will be covered one by one weekly. Follow up each Sunday to see the next segment.