Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Who to hire?...and no job, no truck

Trump Clinton Hiring qualifications
This weekend I broke a rim on my truck making a tight right turn that resulted in an encounter with a 18" tall 6" concrete post protecting a fire hydrant.  It's a long story but it's because someone (not me) was helpful and chose to return a lost item.

Monday the truck was towed to the dealer.  The encounter left the vehicle with a tendency to only go in a circle to the right...serious alignment issue.

The dealer has confirmed the broken wheel and recommended a replacement tire.  Alignment issues were confirmed but it was more.  "The right rear axle housing is bent.  The part is about $3000 and the labor will be an additional $1000."  The total is now $4500+ from a 2 MPH confrontation.  The redeeming part is that now it's an insurance claim with a company that is a leader in online policy management and claims reporting.  All, now, is in process.  The downside is not having the F-150 for a week plus.  My insurance covers a rental vehicle but floods and hail have depleted the nation's fleet of vehicles. Global weather change hits home.

This AM I asked my better half if I could use her vehicle.  "You don't even have a real job.  You have no where to go."  Nice reminder.

When I did have a job I had the opportunity to hire people.  The challenge for the applicant is to get through the screening process, the review of resumes, including the right 'key words' (#keyword #resume #applicant #wantthisjobbad) and get an interview.  Reviewing resumes, mountains of them, was tedious but enjoyable.  My normal approach was to spend about 30 seconds on each resume.  You look for form, style, relevant experience and typos.  Typos typically indicate that they can't spell and you don't need them or that they are human and did not use a professional service to make a 'good resume.'  So much for logic and deductive reasoning.  Hiring needs intuition.

My interviews were always for an hour, the first never one-on-one.  I brought one of my staff.  It's good to put a face on the people they might work with; I was in charge but they needed to be part of a team.  My  role was scorekeeper, linesman, referee, umpire, etc., making and breaking rules and guidelines and convention.  My goal was to put the interviewee at ease, to ask a few questions, probe their knowledge, find out their individual working styles and learn about their interests.  Musicians always make good IT people.  My staff always wanted conventional candidates.  They all started as my unconventional choices.  It worked.

It's been a while since I interviewed anyone.  Last night's debate was a good opportunity to run through the "would this person be a good hire?" routine.

Attribute Donald Trump Hillary Clinton
Appearance/Dress/td> Professional Professional
Grooming Polished. Power tie & suit. Polished. Pants suit.
Facial Tattoo None. None
Visible Tattoo None None
'Private' Tattoo 'Donald Trump' 'Bill'
Grammar Choppy Polished, planned
Experience Only at own business Progressively more demanding government
Relevant Experience Probably not Yes
Sense of Humor None apparent Not sure. Laughs at odd times.
Has a Pet Yes & No. Unclear. One cat, two dogs.
Listening Skills None. Only to worthy.
Speaking Skills Not really. Shouts. Rehearsed. To detailed.
Demeanor Arrogant. Elitist. Arrogant. Elitist.
Can take direction No. Can't. Could but won't.
Years of Preparation Not enough. Too many.
Ego Explosive. Huge
Team Player No. Only wants to be captain. Would agree to be co-captain.
Would respect me No. Would tolerate me for a while.
Pleasant at happy hour? Might pick up tab. Would leverage time.
Plays a musical instrument Unclear. Appears not.

My conclusion:  I'm going to run through the stack of submitted resumes a second time.  This is tough.

Sunday, September 11, 2016


The Wall Street Journal has been direct in it's analysis of the current Presidential campaign candidates.  Offering up this election's offerings as a choice of locusts or frogs was good.  One candidate talks like AM talk radio and lacks depth and spins.  That might be broad brush America today.  The other, vastly more knowledgeable, struggles to appear sincere, totally open and honest, and is also good at spinning.  I'm not sure either are honest but when was total honesty a attribute in politics?

Fortune had a short piece contrasting the idealism of the early internet and the brash, money-driven and bad behavior of the internet we face today.  The words left by people are a bit shocking.  What you say is there forever and not anonymous even if your public name is BigFootForever2.

We have an acquaintance making a lot of money from their food blog.  Containing great photography and recipes and all written with an uplifting, fun style it appeals to a certain demographic, probably women, mothers in the 25-40 category.  They've leveraged big data and evolving social media and really good marketing companies to leverage and build their following which now results of tens of thousands of hits per day, month, whatever.  They continue to put on little seminars for other wanna-be bloggers.  The charge a good rate for that but I think it's also an effort to make their blog production appears legitimate, more real, countering the reality of the internet being an incestuous churning of sites and ads.  A recent Bloomberg Business Week identified 75% of all web site hits coming from bots, automated search/click/hit servers.  All of this plays back into selling into big business advertising dollars.

Facebook shows me people that I might like to friend.  Some of them are former co-workers, some from my home town and others who appear to walked some of the streets.  A consulting psychiatrist recently found that Facebook was presenting her patients to each other as potential friends.  The psychiatrist was not a 'friend' with any of her patients.  It appeared to be connections through geographic data.  Normally I use Facebook at my desktop (geek) so I should really only be presented friend options from perhaps the plumber or the guy mowing his yard next door.  I have been presented as 'friend' options people who have sent me unsolicited email in my Gmail account.  Perhaps Mark Zuckerberg will be at my door if I continue with this thought.

My iPhone had a pop-up ad promoting 'three things to do to avoid dementia.'  That was yesterday.  1. learn a new word in a foreign language. 2. I have no idea.  3.  Each certain foods.   I did not follow the link for 'certain foods.' 

Mobility and Brevity Versus 'Quaint'
Yesterday I saw the PC mode I like best referred to as 'the desktop age' and I read that as 'horse and buggy.'  It's not always that I want to work at Starbucks with earbuds and a $6 coffee.  New devices (tablets & convertible notebooks) do have keyboard options.  It's possible that the 'swipe' generation will look upon this users as horse people, too.  In the small business we did a favor for an instructor at a neighboring large college.  He was teaching a class in marketing and required student groups to take on a small business as a project.  The four kids showed up wearing hats, two backwards.  One messed w/ his phone during two meetings.  They were inarticulate, could not spell or write complete sentences.  All had career goals of working in large advertising firms, hoping to start as account executives.

I guess I'll get a saddle seat for my desktop and continue to improve my typing skills and vocabulary (I am weak in foreign language potential).

Regarding brevity...it's 140 characters, hashtags and abbreviations, a constant feed of not sound bites but code bites, created, opened, closed and deleted with a thumb swipe.  It seems that Elon Musk could do all that for us.  Blogging, like this, sharing thoughts, dealing with life in sentences and images and a story line or disjointed connection of thoughts  is now considered quaint. Henceforce #idontevenhaveadumbjob #quaint

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Buried In Paper In An Electronic Age

Buried in Books...
Douglas MacArthurOne of the blogs I frequent is written by someone self-described as totally cool and really hip with their American Caesar a wonderful biography of Douglas MacArthur written by William Manchester.  Apparently we're all messed up and driven by our parents obsessions, strengths and weaknesses.
reading of books.  Lacking coolness but good at copying people who are, I am sharing what I'm reading (which also distracts me from writing).

Tananarive Due, a writer of some accomplishment has nine books, eight collaborations and articles and
stories in wordsmith credits.  The first was written in a wooden, straight-back chair at ten years of age.  Forty years later it remains part of the creative process.

My chair has been far less productive in its' place before the keyboard.  As a new office desk chair in 1990 it served well until a corporate 'office move' in 2001.  At that point I simply took it home.  With 26 years in front of my keyboard it has produced nothing of publishing quality, perhaps hundreds of letters, thousands of emails, many attempts at work of interest...and sixteen years of tax returns.  I have annoyed a lot of people.  A few have chuckled.

A broader posterior or small cleaning effort would make it as good as new...but without that there's still a future and duct tape repair is not imminent.

Buried in Small Business...
After six years we're getting some media coverage on the local CBS station.  Like all businesses it's a balance of resources and effort and endless time of being too busy or not busy enough.  The media coverage will change the equation.

Buried in Rental/Tenants/Mediation/Farming...
Years ago I removed myself from the landlord business.  I'm weak and again a landlord.  My labor day was spent mediating a conflict and misunderstanding between the tenant who farms the land and watches his emerging plantings, and the housing tenant who perhaps should have walked across the field to shoot geese rather than drive a pickup.  In elementary school they remind you to keep to your own space.  Good advice.

Buried Septic History...
The farm has a quaint farmhouse which has been rented out continuously.  At the time of purchase a decade ago we were aware of the non-complying septic system.  It a perfect septic world the products flushed end up in a solid tank, the solids settle and the overflow runs off to a drain field where it is purified draining back through the sandy soil.  This septic tank was farmer-made of silo bricks and leaked.  It was a good solution for the day when walking out to the little house was no longer convenient.  As we've conducted our septic archaeology survey it appears that there are three farmer-made tanks serving various effluent production devices and two drain fields.  It's an October project.  Hopefully the next owner will appreciate our investment to relocate what goes downhill.

Digitally Buried...
Certainly we're in a paperless world.  Digital.  Electronic.  People I owe money to don't want my checks or 
credit cards but simply want my bank routing number and account number and they suck the money out.  That's fine.  Writing checks, paper or electronic is tedious and the credit card companies collect fees at unfairly high rates.  Despite all this new form of communication and payment the paper continues to accumulate and my recycling barrel becomes full every two weeks and my keyboard is disappearing (yes, that is probably a 15 year old keyboard.  Somewhere I have newer that match the black of my current desktops (one keyboard, three PCs) but I don't want to trace the cables under the stacks of important papers and I don't want to go to a wireless keyboard (no good reason).

Even the companies give me an option to print out receipts for payments, registrations, purchases, etc.  I'm certain that "print a copy of this for safekeeping" will ultimately bury me or be good tinder (for all those buried cables).

Sunday, September 4, 2016

"What a Nightmare" "Business Relationships & Treading Water"

If you can't swim you need to be good a treading water. While employed you're surrounded by organizational resources and people who use you and you them. Once out in the open water, unemployed, that helping hand is gone.

I always told my employees to develop their skills and be immediately employable elsewhere.  That's easy.  In-service options abound and money can always be found for training and development.  The second part of being employable is to 'know people.'  Work harder on this part.  You're more likely to be employable if you actually have developed your network people.  Even with rusty or weak skills good contacts will help you get your work life together.

Social media is invaluable but real people, real handshakes and face-ed to-face conversations leave an impression.  This is better done while employed. Once unemployed your former co-workers become as weak as a 2nd level LinkedIn contact.

Work at treading. Survive.  Others sink.  Ships pass.

You brand, the part that gets you a new gig is swimming, not treading.

"What A Nightmare"

We've owned rental property for years.  It's still not clear if that makes sense but it is what it is.  A new tenant is coming September 5th.  Fortunately the previous tenant left a couple of days early.  You never know what you're going to find when you walk in the door.  This time is was not bad and the routine was the standard cleaning and light repair and adding to the list of what really should be done.  It's call the "after this tenant list."  After this tenant we'll re-do the kitchen and bath, replace the windows and carpet...make it really nice, spend $20,000 and get another $75/month in rent.

You work through the list in your head, the obvious issues, the likely issues and what you might find that you anticipate and the things that might be there that would be bad.  If you plan on making three trips it will probably be six.  You find that the tenant took all the light bulbs and you did not bring any or a work light.  

It's all good practice.  Scenarios.  Paradigm-busting.  "I've never had a tenant leave voodoo dolls of me with pins through their head."  Actually I have.  That was not a scenario that I'd planned for.  Now I open each cupboard, closet and drawer and look for the pin-through-the-head doll.  Business scenario planning needs to give thought to these outliers, too. Not every hole in the road is a 2008 recession.

Late in the evening Saturday I know there is one more trip on Sunday to finish painting and final cleanup.  One more pass at the tub/shower is completed but the water won't go down.  The drain open/close mechanism did work but has failed.  Thanks for YouTube.  It's simple, sort of to take apart.

As the part comes out it's clear that the linkage component is broken.  Skipping dinner (it's 8:30 PM) I head to Menard's in search of part(s).  The first young man responds that he is not a plumbing expert but will find one.  A jovial guy appears.  I show him the part.  His response "what a nightmare" is about what I expected.  Menard's is a 50,000 SQFT store.  "We don't have anything like that.  You'll have to visit xxx.  They are closed until Tuesday.

"Coming Home Crazy" was one of regional writer Bill Holm's works.  Written in the 1980s it inspired me to find words in each days passage and frustration.  He wrote of simple things, drawing in part from his Icelandic heritage and a simple life in Minneota, MN.  Once I wrote to him offering thanks that his example allowed me to write creatively about snaking a floor drain.

Now it's fifteen years later and I've not been as diligent about this writing challenge as I should have been.  I'm thinking that Bill was talking to me, the new plumbing breakage is a sign as were his words channeled to me "oh, what a nightmare."