Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Cole Slaw

Here's where all the trouble started.

Most people who write blogs have the technical acumen of cole slaw. My own is right there on that same paper plate next to the slaw, burger and corn on the cob.

So I decide I'll write an blog entry today- the last day of the year- on why I think New Year's Resolutions are like the "Comments" section of a YouTube video: inane and pointless.

I click on "new blog post" and a message comes up that reads: Possible problem with your *. gwt.xml module file. The compile time user.agent value (IE9) does not match the runtime user.agent ...

This information to me is about as useful as telling a squirrel about the history of the telephone. I write a blog, I have no access to Technical Support and- if I did- The Technical Support person would begin his crack problem solving abilities by asking if 1.) My computer is plugged in and 2.) What version of Enterprise XML Java Beans BPEL I'm running.

The nation is running on an Emergency Supply of Common Sense. Google owns Blogger because they own everything now including your home and immediate family. Whoever at Google that is responsible for me seeing such an asinine "help" message that reads: Possible problem with your *. gwt.xml module file. The compile time user.agent value (IE9) does not match the runtime user.agent ... should be forced to successfully flirt with a girl while simultaneously carrying on a conversation with a stranger about something other than Tech, Science Fiction or niche Pop Culture.

Now let me get on with my grouchy 2104 self.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Pay Me

Start your own company.

Start your own company and decide what your salary will be.

I've been taking this stance lately with certain professionals who believe their compensation is unjust. Start your own company and you'll soon learn what the market thinks your value is. You can then complain to your customers that you don't charge them enough. Good luck with that.

Underpaid and overpaid is an opinion and I'm in the opinion that there are plenty of both in a thriving economy. I'm also in the opinion that most people are paid their market value. One could argue that as fact because the number that is your salary/compensation is a fact and you are part of the labor market. However, unlike some unapologetic capitalists, I don't believe the market is infinitely intelligent and always right. In some cases, the market can be rigged...it's happened many times in human history therefore the market is not necessarily always correct or inherently right. But the laws of supply and demand do a pretty good job in determining what a Snickers Bar costs and what a middle manager is paid.

If you feel your underpaid then I'm afraid you will need to prove it to an employer or a market....or both.

I don't particularly like that an amazing school teacher might make 50K a year while a clearly average hedge fund manager might make that in a week. But I'll take that over a bureaucrat in a planned economy deciding my salary.

All of the above has been true for as long as free market capitalism has existed. Globalization has taken this truth to another level.

There is no "fair". When the unknowing tobacco farmer was told 60 years ago that his crop kills people, he had to make a decision. When your W2 says you made $37,000 this year, you too might have to make a decision. Don't make the decision to assign blame. Accept it or make an all-out effort to change it. If you can't change it, be grateful for what you have. More than 3 billion people on this earth live on less than $3 a day.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Color Green and P.T. Barnum

I love the old homily that tells us about the guy driving around Manhattan in his Rolls Royce while getting financial advice from someone on Wall Street- and they got to work using public transportation.

It’s the classic “what’s wrong with this picture?” tale. The business world is full of these paradoxical truths.

How many business books are written every year by Academics who’ve never run a business in their lives?
It’s as insane as two guys blind from birth having a heated argument over what the color green looks like. They don’t know! Just like the Academic can’t explain to you what it feels like when you might not meet payroll this week.

People can tell you all day long about something- any subject, really- but its value is almost always worthless. Even if the world’s leading authority on something. Your hearing about other people’s experiences seen and felt through their own eyes. File it under: Good to know-thanks.

Can you teach a young child what honey tastes like? Or an adult what it feels like when you see the incredible green of the Irish countryside for the first time? (don’t get the aforementioned guys involved). Real learning comes from experiencing things for yourself. Everything else is just the gathering of information.

Often a person is dead for years until the masses realize how right they were. Get a consensus opinion on something and then go the other way. That’s what a bookie does for a living. This is not a blanket statement- there are countless exceptions. But the “safety in numbers” ideology is so frequently an illusion.

Unsolicited advice. If you’re around these types- run like the wind. If you’re lucky enough to know a few people who are truly happy, a few people who are at peace with the world exactly as it is- you will NEVER get unsolicited advice from them.

Even people who lived and died as recently as the early 1990’s couldn’t fathom our world today. 50% of the adult population and 85% of teenagers aren’t technically even alive. They just stare and tap at their iPhones, day and night, faintly aware of the world going on around them. They are a bit actor in someone else’s reality. On those rare occasions where they look up- usually to look at a different type of LCD screen- they are told what they need to be happy and successful by experts. P.T. Barnum lived in the wrong century.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Social Media is a Time Vampire

I use some Social Media but often hate myself in the morning.

I flat-out quit Facebook a year ago and wish I did it three years ago.

I use LinkedIn because it's the worlds greatest free contact management system. If you can get beyond all the lies people broadcast about their success on their profiles, remember they at least keep their b.s. current.

I'm told every day how important Social Media is to business. My guess is the person telling me is engaged in roughly six activities at once and knows lots and lots about business. So much so that their employer doesn't even pay them to work- but they really know how modern corporations can't survive unless they understand Social Media. (I mean, like, ya know, companies need to, like, realize that their younger customers, ya know, like use social media to communicate and, like, these companies will lose all their business to, like, social media savvy customers).

The same has been said about every new technology- I get it. Just remember that the next time you see someone texting at 75 MPH or adding to their Facebook News Feed while the waiter attempts to take their order. People didn't watch television while driving on the highway- but they do know with Hulu on their iPhone.

Social Media may one day be a really good thing. Right now it is a colossal time suck that reduces everything to a possible photo, video or other vapid version of "Look at me!!!...Look at me!!"..Look at how much FUN I am!!"

Thursday, September 12, 2013


So you're at work and your phone rings. You pick up and immediately regret it. It's a headhunter though they claim their title includes the words "talent" or organizational and "executive" or some other horsebleep.

Though you've NEVER talked to this person in this life or any of your previous lives, they have an earth-shattering opportunity and they thought how perfect it was for you. I mean, how lucky are you? Not only does this person know how to operate a telephone, they can read minds. I just described 99% of all cold recruiting calls in the advanced year of 2013. Resources like LinkedIn now allows recruiters to more intelligently target candidates but recruiters still choose- or are ordered- to use sales-laden language better suited for a guy in a plaid jacket with a stogie dangling from his piehole.

The phone is an amazing tool- still the best one in the business of doing business. There are times where I learn or read something and I need to speak to a person RIGHT NOW. This person doesn't know me from The Tooth Fairy but I don't care because I KNOW I have something that they need. And in that rare occasion my information is wrong, I'll know quickly. And because I treat the call and the person with great care, the call ends amicably. MY POINT IS the phone still can be the best tool BUT DON'T CALL STRANGERS ALL DAY and pretend to know their needs.

Don't do it for the same reason you wouldn't try to teach a pig to sing.

The numbers game element isn't going away but GET BETTER NUMBERS. And stop sounding like a scripted infomercial. But wait....THERE'S MORE!! ($19.95)

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Put a Price on that Head

Nobody grows up hoping to be a [INSERT JOB TITLE HERE].

Many occupations could adequately fill this space- including mine: Headhunter. Fact is, I like my line of work though I used to hate recruiters before I was one. Partly because I thought I knew what their job was (and I was wrong); the other part was anyone can be one- and with that means some real peaches call themselves recruiters.

Headhunters help almost exclusively people with a very specialized skillset or business professionals who have PROVEN they are more effective than MOST of their peers.

If you don't fall into either group, there's still plenty of jobs out there- including interesting and/or high-paying gigs. It's just a headhunter can't help you. Oddly, many wildly successful headhunters didn't fall into either of the above groups either. But they somehow found their way into Professional Recruiting. THAT was the thing they did better than their peers and the indisputable proof is 95% of people who get into recruiting either fail completely or tread water. More of the former than the latter.

Have a good headhunter in your mix because even if you have highly marketable skills and/or you've proven to be above the fray in your line of work- shit happens. Stuff COMPLETELY out of your sphere of influence. The chance of this occurring even to the most successful people in their work is high. At some point in your career, it will happen. It might happen more than once. People, preferences, personalities, politics. It's really out of your control.

The other reason to know a good headhunter: Reality. Reality says that you will some day outgrow what your employer can provide. No bad guys here, This isn't a people, preferences, personalities or politics case study here. This is a case study in reality. A good recruiter knows things you NEED to know.

Next week is Be Kind to Headhunters Week so if one gives you a call..

Tuesday, July 9, 2013


I’ve joked the only business advice worth an damn I could give a young person is DON’T click the “send” button on an email until you are CERTAIN who’s about to receive it. The Founding Fathers of my selfdom have drafted an amendment.

Don’t be COMPLETELY financially dependent on an employer.

They’re not completely dependent on you- nor should they be.

Unless you can live without most of what you have accumulated, get used to the idea that your income could be wildly reduced on short notice. There are tens of millions of people who have never experienced the aforementioned. They are very good at what they do. Many are SO good they think they are indispensable. Just remember these two corporate maxims. 1.) Increase productivity 2.) Reduce cost.

Can someone out there do 70% of your output at 50% of your pay? Those percentages are not your friend if you earn a decent living and find yourself searching for things to do.

If you’re hoping that the people above you don’t think about these things, hope is a terrible strategy.

Where your talents meet the world’s need lies your occupation. Preferably on your own but tied into a network of mutual reciprocity and equal exchange of value is ideal. The modern corporation as we know it has only been around a fraction of the time of large-scale trade in the world. It made a ton of business sense for a long time because markets required what it could provide. This is not an opinion.

Companies are currently sitting on unprecedented piles of cash with 70% of their previous workforce. Where do you think that 70% number is headed?

How many people in the last 20 years have walked by a co-workers desk and saw non-work related activity showing on the screen? Let’s be honest. Most people have spent massive amounts of their work hours not working, frequently because they needed work to do. Markets would pay that wage because when the market wanted something, it wanted it now. Only fully staffed companies could provide that.

Makers of products or providers of services can now get much of that output on demand.

We all need to re-tool, there’s nothing to be frightened of. What’s frightening is not being needed.

Thursday, April 11, 2013


We've all been told that numbers don't lie.

Statistics are numbers and politicians and other assorted shady characters have learned how to make these numbers lie. "There are lies, there are Goddammn lies...and there are statistics" once quipped M. Twain. I digress.

I spend a fair amount of my waking hours recruiting construction professionals. I have to pass on many talented people more than capable of doing the work the positions entails. Why? Because their numbers are working against them.

People who invest in other people in the labor market attempt to increase their chances of the proverbial "good hire". Good not just in their work but good in that they'll likely still be working at the company in 5 years- preferably much longer. If their work history includes long stints at previous employers, are they more likely to stick than someone who changes jobs frequently? Ummm...I'm going to opine in the affirmative, Sparky.

If I've learned anything- other than Boston drivers routinely disobey The Laws of Physics- it's life is inherently unfair. How about my life versus a child born in Afghanistan? Or someone born in a loving home that valued altruism and education versus a baby born in a crack house? My point is people change or lose jobs for MANY legitimate reasons, often due to circumstances that clearly could be deemed unfair. If you're one of them, understand the numbers game is not working in your favor. If you think it sucks- you're right- but the kid in Afghanistan thinks your life is pretty "fair".

A great line from a lousy late 80's movie proclaimed: "...all things end badly; otherwise they wouldn't end at all.." Never forgot that line though I'll never get those two hours back. In my line of work, this nugget of wisdom holds weight. Don't be so sure you left your last company in mutual good terms. Just because they presented you with a cake and a couple of drafts at Applebees doesn't mean things got real sticky after you decided to Get Out of Dodge.

It's sounds awful but most companies interviewing you are subtly looking for reasons NOT to hire you. Companies are treated like people in the eyes of the law. Like people, companies have a self-preservation mechanism. Doesn't mean you have to like considering changing jobs or being out of work and looking for a new one. Just understand the reality of what's going on. If you're one of the tens of millions reading this-relatively speaking- your life has been more fair than most people stumbling around the planet.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Plan Accordingly

Today on Wall Street, several hundred people who were at their high school prom 10 years ago will make more money today than you'll make in the next three months.

Meanwhile, an inner-city teacher will put in extra hours of their own time to help three bright kids whose mothers have a taste for crack the way you have a taste for Hazlenut. For the day, after taxes, that teacher will take home $126.91.

The market decides. I don't like the above example of the market at work but it beats the hell out of a planned economy in which a political ideology decides what you earn.

I'm a headhunter but I wasn't always. I worked for some recognized companies in the past and for that reason alone, headhunters would call me. Roughly 4 nanoseconds after my saying "hello", I was asked how much money I made last year. Before I could answer or decide if I wanted to answer, the uber-aggressive headhunter might ask about the last three years of W2's. It pissed me off but the guy was playing the odds and, quite frankly, doing his job. I'm a salesguy and he wants to know how good I am. If I made a ton of dough but wanted to change jobs, we might be able to help each other out

The market- unbeknownst to certain Tea Party nutjobs- sometimes doesn't always reflect value and rarely truth. There are millions of underpayed and overpaid people. The reasons for this are too many to list here but often it's because a person or hierarchy that makes such decisions puts the money somewhere else. If you think that's not fair- you're right- but you need to fix it if it really bothers you.

The world in infinitely unfair. Where and to whom you are born is where you're positioned at the starting gate of life. I was born and raised in New England. What if I was born and raised somewhere in Somalia? There's no bootstraps to pull yourself up there. If you're professionally and/or financially successful, be thankful. If you contribute meaningfully to society with your work- I thank you. If you feel the need to pat yourself on the back- go for it. If you get dealt a good hand at birth, it's up to you to find your own way.