My Daughter

My Daughter
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Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Big Move

We just recently moved after looking for what seemed like forever for our new home. What a pain in the butt...! After arranging a million different details, then we still have to confront the actual move itself. We went with the rent a ruck & hire individuals method this time, which was a mistake.... broken furniture... missing items... tracking mud & dirt thought both houses... how I wish we had found these guys first. http://www.moveme.com

Conveyancing means more than just moving stuff, as we discovered. All the contract and legal work could have been done through a single vendor, but we tried to save money doing these things oursels and ended up spending even more money. All in all I sure wish we had done a little research before diving headfirst into this process without professional guidance.

We sure could have used this advice for a Conveyancing Quote.
The first mistake we made was being dependant on the sale of the old house to purchase the new house. This meant we could not close on the new property until we had cash in hand from the sale of our current property. This created all kinds of difficulties we could have avoided if we had used a service like MoveMe! Not only that but having professionals to help guide us through the entire process could have saved countless headaches as we went thorough the process of listing, closing, the old house as well as getting setup for the new house.... what a pain!
The key is finding Cheap Conveyancing of course. A little research suer would have saved us a ton of hassle, money and frustration. Make sure you do your homework on your next move and avoid these problems.

Hindsight is 20/20

Thursday, October 08, 2009

IBID

Sorry to serial-rant, but I should say that I think there is actually some hope in all of this....
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I should also explain that I used to work in one of those places where the incumbent technology was about 40 years old, the sales cycle for innovative products was about 10 years, because it is a basic-materials business that is pretty well commoditized, selling into a mature industry (the automotive supply chain, of course)....It's similar enough to the refinery business that I can figure out a lot of the economics....

In that kind of environment, it is pretty easy to build a nice career, and get a nice salary, by being an innovation killer. Here is how it works: Someone in engineering, or maybe customer service, has some idea about how to improve the product, or improve some aspect of service, delivery or logistics, and in one of the periodic communication meetings that happens would thoughtfully put out some kind of proposal..... Sometimes this happened informally, but from time to time, this would happen deliberately, and a lot of the planning and business modeling would be laid out in some detail.

Meetings would be held, the innovators were allowed to state their case, and it was at that point that the "counter-innovators" would come up with a lot of excuses for not doing it, question the base assumptions, and slow down, if not completely stop, the entire process. The reason that this was a successful career strategy is that it is easy to kill an idea, or starve it to death, because the default position, so to speak, let things go on the way they have, is risk-free. The basic assumption is, "that's the way it is... it's what made us successful all of these years...."

An innovation that fails, of course, makes the innovation killers look brilliant and the innovators look like idiots. It takes 100 times more energy and talent to innovate than it does to kill an innovation, so most of the time, the innovation killers have the odds in their favor.

Any changes to this massive-scale equipment was expensive, of course, and sometimes the business would have to make a pretty sizeable investment to make it work, so in a way, in the short run, they were right. In the long run, of course, it's a catastrohpe.

An offshoot of this, of course, is the Al Dunlaps and/or Nardellis of the world, who built their career on cutting..... reducing overhead and/or streamlining operations, which is a useful skill in and of itself because it improves economic efficiency, but is terrible from the standpoint of innovation, because by its very nature, innovation is messy and inefficient.....That was the subject of an earlier rant, that we can probably unearth....

The point of all of this is, that there gets to be a lot of tension between the innovators, who have ideas on how to improve the business and make it grow, and implement change, and the counter-innovators......and at least in the mature business that I was in.....It was particularly dangerous for an innovator to be put into any kind of position of authority, because the first thing he or she did was start to shake up the status quo.... which got people nervous....and violated Peter's first and foremost rule of organizational behavior: The Hierarchy Must Be Preserved....Typically, the innovation killers were the ones that were populating the higher levels....being as it was one of those mature industries....

And, of course it is the very reason, particularly in automotive and other manufacturing, that these companies refused to change, even in the face of catastrophe, and had to be bailed out by the government.


The bright side is, from time to time, the analysts and management figured out that the headcount was too high, so there was an overhead purge, and along with the skill-free yes people, occasionally the innovation killers that were running the place would use it as an excuse to get rid of some of the 1% of the people that ticked somebody off at some point........From the point of view of the organization, these people were a bit dangerous..... but from the point of view of the rest of the world, they are the ones who are bright, ambitious, determined, innovative, risk-taking, and not afraid to keep the ball in play even if they failed from time to time...Naturally they did not fit into the corporate structure.....especially in a mature industry where a "success" might take you five years... A lot of them even had cluttered desks... can you imagine?

With these seeds of creativity finally liberated from their protective pod, these people are free to develop new products, establish new business and industries, and generally make things better for the economy and society as a whole. Of course, there are plenty of failures that are liberated as part of this too.... and it's kind of hard to distinguish between the two in the early stages.... but that is not all bad...

Failure makes you smarter, provided you learn from it, and use it as a chance to change....

The point is, that situations like this have the potential free up a lot of human energy that, in maybe 1% of the cases, can sow the seeds of a new industry. It's definitely going to be rough for the 99%.....

BTW a side point: I think the current argument about universal health care completely ignores the fact that a lot of bright people right now are dumbing themselves down, and putting up with a lot of BS in a corporate type environment, so that they can work in a place that has health insurance, rather than going out and innovating......

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

w/ population growth, a jobs recovery is now impossible

Quote:
Just to stay even with where we are today, and keep our total unemployed number stable, we'd have to add 144,000 jobs a month.


Well, the population growth thing is a two edged sword, naturally, because population growth also equals "more customers"....

There is a school of thought that says that the population growth in the country is too slow, thanks to us baby boomers discovering artificial birth control, and having smaller families than the two previous generations. We got into the preposterous situation of this baby boom generation all reaching middle age, and not consuming as much as we used to. There's now way for the echo generation/gen Y to buy as much crap as we did....particularly in light of the fact that we have screwed them out of decent entry level jobs, as documented elsewhere, hence the big slowdown....

I think the demographers have been worried about this for years... The solution: Import the most productive segment population from south of the border, so that they can buy cars, cellphones, and rent our apartment buildings. and pop out a few babies to keep the game going...Same can be said for the H1B cases that we were talking about the other day.....In either case, we are not going to tell 10 million people at the prime of their consumption phase to go back home......You never hear that argument....

Quote:
Those in their 50s who remain unemployed for any serious length of time are completely screwed. They are too old to go back to school and too expensive to insure. Moreover, these are exactly the people who have been draining their home equity to fund consumption.


I just have to comment on this, as well.....since I am in this age group....I am focused on the 50-year old white collar worker at the moment....

I've been around some corporate-type environments, and I have to say that it never ceases to amaze me how many people there are in some of these places that add no real value to the business....They show up every day, email things back and forth to one another, have important meetings to determine the agenda for the next meeting and do a lot of wheel spinning, and a lot of them get paid a lot of money for it. How did such a thing come about? There was a 25 year period without a serious business downturn, and during this time, a lot of weak managers got jobs they shouldn't have, and set up their organization full of attractive people with good lines of BS but no real skills....There was no "cleansing" period during which some of the excess could be wrung out of the system.

The modern "HR" systems added to the problem. If you could manage somehow to get a job, all you had to do is be pleasant around the office, ideally well-dressed and good looking, and you'd get a favorable job review every year, because the systems are set up, as Laurence J. Peter suggests, to measure "input", that is, your participation in the system, rather than "output", the performance of some measurable amount of work....

So year after year, even at the high levels, these companies were populated by people who got where they were by agreeing with the boss, looking good around the place, and making as few waves as possible. Some of these people actually became managers. A lot of them, not all, have never run any actual business more complicated than a lemonade stand...

This did no favors to the employees, as we are now seeing. You get a job, you figure out the corporate environment, you keep your head low, and make sure to show up at the company christmas party and play nice during the meetings, and you get a good review and you do exactly the same thing the next year.... so there is no incentive to innovate, to take risks, develop new skills, and do anything if there is a potential of failure. You get people in their jobs who have not developed any sort of risk-taking skills, have no real self-assessment ability, since all they did was agree with the boss for all of those years....You get your 3% raise every year, and eventually, you are making pretty good money doing nothing of real value to the organization.

Naturally, you go out and buy a bigger house, you get a nice car, so that you can be seen as powerful around the office, you take your vacations to Cancun, put your kids in private school.... I suppose I do not need to rant at this point.....because Tyler is exactly right.... this is where the spending habits entrap them even more into the situation.

So the business hits a brick wall, the few competent managers around finally correctly start to question some of the activities, and start to lay people off, and before long, a lot of these people find their way onto the street....The situation is correctly described above: No relevant job skills except agreeing with the boss, a lot of overhead to pay for, maybe you are smart enough to save and maybe not, and you get a lot of fearful people....the most fearful, of course, are the stepford/trophy wives, that are at home taking care of the status symbols.... and have themselves developed no useful skills since getting their MRS degree in 1985 and then retiring....This adds one more source of irritation to the already frustrated man of the house..

A lot of them got overweight during this period too. Just saying.

Ironically, well, not ironically but tragically, the reality is, that a lot of these people know that they're trapped. They are not emotionally or intellectually satisfied with their jobs either (it is soul-robbing to spend your career being a yes-man )..This causes just as much stress and frustration, and makes it pretty unsatisfying to show up at the office every day.

So, what ought to be a blessing, a chance to be liberated from this kind of environment, be creative, be all you can be, and reset your career to something fun, which gives you a sense of accomplishment, becomes a life catastrophe for some of these guys. They sit around and whine, and do their outplacement which is a placebo version of what their job was, and wait....I am sure the suicide rates among these people are increasing, but suicide requires a bit of initiative, so it would not surprise me if it did not....Their stepford wives go into panic mode, at the prospect of losing their gravy train, which makes the situation even worse....So the divorce rate starts to climb....The health insurance thing makes it even worse.... I can name at least 3 overweight 50-55 year olds that need hip replacements....

So, what is going to happen? Well, these are the flower children of the 60-'s and 70's... They will use their political power (it's a democracy, after all) to do what they always did, which is to whine so that someone comes and bails them out.

So that is what is going to happen. This will go on as long as it can.

BTW my personal attitude toward this issue is completely different than most....