Subtitle: Why does it have to be a career?
It’s difficult recalling the amount of correspondence I’ve written and forwarded in the past twenty years regarding employment. I am probably the best living example of a ”job jumper” anyone will ever find. Because of that, at forty-three I am unable to acquire a job where I can actually afford to live. Luckily I don’t pay rent or have any debt. I own nothing requiring a ”title”. I haven’t used a credit card in over three years. I will never own a home and have never in my life bought a ”new” car.
If you think that’s sad continue reading.
Within a ten year period I held at least five ”career”-like jobs at various global companies. I was an analyst, a researcher, a ”knowledge manager” (what a title eh ;-), and a project manager. At one time I actually managed more than five million dollars between Amsterdam, Stockholm and Böblingen (Germany). Recently I looked back and saw that most of the people I worked with over the years and who survived the purge of exuberance of the nineties are still there. I will never understand what motivates humans to put up with all this shit just so they can have a job and buy krapp.
I hated almost all of the jobs I ever had. But I guess survival is addictive and as much as I try, I’m no different then the next person. Usually when I got a new job within a few weeks I am already considering how I could leave and then find another job. The boredom of ”career-work” was overwhelming. For every third or fourth resume I sent out, I would turn one in-side-out and hang it by its ankles, splatter it with mucus and alcohol and then put it in a tumble dryer or feed it to a dog (I actually trained dogs to just chew it up and not swallow it). After it dried I’d send it to Mr. Employer. There were a few employers with whom I did this regularly: Nike, Apple Computer and IBM. The dotcoms were especially fun too because they were full of not just idiots but idiots that could afford nice lunches and served great cookies at interviews.
Examine for a moment the cause & effect of a society bent on ”education” for the sake of getting a job. I have been preoccupied with the ”effect” of this for most of my adult life. One of the reasons for this is when I moved to Europe I was privileged to work for one the world’s most prestigious management consulting firms this planet has to offer. Nothing but the cream, baby. But I was constantly deligated to menial tasks because I didn’t have a ”degree”. Which wasn’t my fault – I just couldn’t afford one. Those who had one would then say, ”Well, Tommi, that’s your problem because I worked hard to afford mine.” So I put one and three together and realized that ”interesting work” equals a degree – or the other way ’round. Obviously.
What’s the real issue here? At the time the ”work” didn’t really matter because I didn’t want a ”career” anyway. I had other plans. All I wanted was a job so I could afford to make theatre at night – that’s what I wanted to be my living standard. But controlling that living standard is how The Man works these days – or didn’t any of you know that? – and The Man don’t give a hoot what a person’s plans are.
Enough rambling. I’m not a class fighter! On to the entertainment. Below are examples of the language of the college educated career oriented mega-fools that rule everything, especially a living standard. These are just a few of the questions I’ve been asked at ”interviews” or during the job application process. Of course, I’ve also included my answers.
Note: Employment Question [in brackets], my answers not in brackets.
[Please tell me about a product – electronics, software, gadgets, hobby-related, etc. – that you use and love. Tell me what you like most about it and why you chose that product instead of other substitutes. If you could upgrade or change this product in any way, what would you do?]
Want of Living-Standard Answer (not in brakcets):
I am an avid note taker and journal writer. Whether writing down creative ideas, jockeying business ideas, or adding value to my little black book, I write thoughts down everyday and chronicle them according to my activities and the women I fuck. I have tried technologies, e.g. PDA and PCs but nothing comes close to the efficiency and accuracy of a good notebook and a pencil. Until recently I would use the traditional Composition notebooks that are sold to American school students. These are bound and very durable but they are large and sometimes cumbersome and get in the way when flirting at hotel bars and gymnasiums. Recently, as a gift, I received a, what I considered, overly fancy and designer Moleskine notebook. At first I was sceptical. But after using the notebook I was sold. Being sold is a good thing these days, right? These notebooks are thread bound with a heavy-duty cardboard cover and are configured for various needs such as: notebooks (lined and unlined), reporter pads (with a flip up cover), sketchbooks (for designers and artists) and address book, etc. I have actually made contact with the manufacturer and informed him that a CEO notebook is due. What is especially important is that the notebook can be shredded or easily disposed of and leaves no trace. What would also be really cool is a kind of invisible paper that when a person other than the owner picks up the book the paper becomes transparent preventing the false reader from seeing what the CEO has written on it. The book should come with a metal wire page marker, long enough to go around a persons neck. The inner cardboard pocket should be a bit larger then the other units so that the CEO can store the pics of the little boys he fucks during visits to exotic manufacturering places where kids enjoy sweating while hacking shoes together. A larger pocket will also help with storing legal testimonies. These books are small enough to fit in my back pocket or easily in a suit jacket (size: 9x14cm). The last thing I would suggest changing about this product is adding more pages as I tend to fill them up (both front and back of pages) within a very short period.
[Please tell us about a project where you identified the need for the project, persuaded your managers to let you do it, the challenges you faced in completing the project, and the how the project turned out.]
Project: Knowledge Management (KM) implementation, Darmstadt, Germany, for more than 2000 professional service employees. One of the foundations of KM is the exchange of personal information. This includes, name, title, place of work and other info. Although the system would be in a secured corporate intranet, it is neverthe- less a complicated legal issue publishing such info in Germany where the caching of such information is strictly regulated by laws made right after the Nazis got their asses kicked. There is also the universie-like hurdle with benevolent German workers union. This is called the Betriebsrat. Translated this is the same as saying the bottom should also rule. During early project scoping I suggested to the board of management that we move to develop the system in Spain instead of Germany which would allow us to bypass time consuming bureaucracies and the stupid fuck pˆbel on the Betriebsrat. Also, in Spain we could be under EU jurisdiction in case the Betriebsrat decided to pursue us or give us away to the German non-authoritative authorities. I knew that I was going beyond the call of duty here it could turn out to be an issue of national pride, at least for the German software developers. So I polished my German presentation skills and American diplomacy and prepared three project plans (plan A, plan B, and, of course, plan D). I presented A & B to the board and my recommendation was to use B which included the transfer of all work to Spain. D was the plan that would be presented to the Betriebsrat and basically contained a list of great perks all the pseudo-socialists would receive if they just went along with something in order to make it seem like their followers were doing something. To my surprise, the German board overwhelmingly supported both A and B but wanted both done in Spain. I ended up saving six months (at least) of legal haggling, mostly with the moronic Betriebsrat, and was able to deliver a functional prototype for Phase 1 of the project on time and to budget.
[Please tell us about your favourite job – what it was and why you liked it.]
I started my career in research and analytics for strategic management consultants. The most challenging part of that work was coordinating and managing large research projects. With such experience I applied to a project man- agement position for a German software company at the end of 1998. I was hired on a contract basis in Darmstadt, Germany, to manage three projects over eight months. The projects were: 1) Develop a knowledge management system for 2500 professional services consultants, 2) fix what the company fucked up in the first place regarding the development of an object oriented methodology for one of the companies products, and, 3) the chairman of the board wants to publish a corporate book that promotes the companies knowledge of E-Commerce because hes bored and has nothing better to do which makes life good for me because then I can have a job. I delivered all three projects on time and to budget. I thoroughly enjoyed the interaction with the techies and the constant demand of coordinating activities and resources and facilitating communication among players, contractors and hosts and bar maidens at the variouls whore-houses.
[What is an area of technology that interests you right now? What are the technical and business issues that are defining this area?]
VoIP. I started using internet telephony this year. The effect was immediate. Once again the frustration of the PC which hit us in the early 80s returned. Within a few weeks I reduced my use of both land-line and mobile telephone services and finally reached a blood pressure peak that I wasnt supposed to reach till my fifties.
Technically, the first problem is the connection. It is not an issue of bandwidth. Current DSL or cable modem speeds are adequate. Instead, the problem is inherent in IP. IP does not provide a way to guarantee that data- packets are delivered in sequential and consistent order. A result of this is latency, inconsistency and service quality. Although I could always place a call, for example from USA to Germany, after only talking for a few minutes the connection would break up and sometimes the application would hang-up. The solution was to simply place the call again. Which was fun because, if you spoke German, where the verb is always at the end of the sentence, it didn’t matter if you were cut-off. Other problems include firewalls. In many cases the call went through a particular firewall but with inconsistencies. When talking with friends in Germany there was obvious loss of packets.
The advantage to users of this technology is neat-o. First, the quality of sound is phenomenal. There is no blurri- ness in what is being said which eliminates having people repeat their words. Does anyone remember how it was in the early 50s? Other advantages are being able to set up conference calls, control who can call you, having an integrated phone-book or a contact list and, eventually, using a web-cam. This stuff is so cool that even Steve Jobs may end up crying in public after Larry Ellison admits that the two have been having a love affair which started soon after Bill Gates rejected Ellison.
[What are the three most important areas of personal development for you in your next job?] To die a lonely death…
[What is your strongest area of technical expertise & why?]
I am able to integrate and facilitate both technical and business issues. With my experience I am particularly adapt at answering questions and providing human solution based answers. I know this doesn’t usually fit into the corporate world today but with proper motivation I can become an asshole like the rest of you. Although a believer in common sense, I can also rely heavily on tech-savvies and keen business acumen, as long as the employer supplies particular heterosexual favours. I can easily weave and thread complex issues and make them palatable to a varying audience, especially well educated men who prefer their women topless on most occasions. Although I am not a techie-ass, per say, I am comfortable with any technology because I understand the complexity of 0s and 1s and can facilitate among desperate organizations because it all isnt really about math. Speaking of programmers there is no such thing. If there were, they would be in India or some other place where the idea of family, friendship, frolicking (the eternal three fs trying to free them selves from Walt Disney & Co.) still have meaning.
[Tell me about an experience where you helped managed a customer or partner relationship on your own.]
Philips, Amsterdam, had an extensive strategic plan to implement an e-commerce system in 2000. Wow. What a really great organization. Every manager I interacted with was educated at some high-end US university. They were all so gun-ho about having lunch with a native American (I lied a bit about my identity) that I thought I would have to print tickets. Anyway, they wanted to integrate retailers into their online offering so that they can control the presentation of their products. Hewlett Packard (HP) was the system integrator and Broadvision (BV) the POS application. BV lacked a turnkey solution for integrating the retailers and BV thought they were really cool because the bottom of dotcom mania hadnt yet reared its ugly head; essentially BV was a one-to-one content provider and POS app which, of course, caused them to conflict with Philips empircal plan. For Philips the issue was complicated further by the fact that in Europe manufacturers are limited in their ability to sell directly to customers.
I was working for a small software company that had the solution that would create a virtual selling environment that combined the (product) content of the manufacturer with the content of the retailers; we also enabled POS functionality within this virtual environment and therefore could bypass the legal issues mentioned above. It was clear to me in the beginning of this project that HP would not favour a small company chosen by Philips (without HP influence; they were already having to deal with BV). In every meeting, statement-of-work, project document, I was conscious of that fact and always maintained a submissive and cooperative attitude with HP I also wore loose pants. Also, because our system was relatively small and required nothing more than a server (for prototype devel- opment) I convinced Philips to allow us to have two development environments. Again, youll see my management savvies rearing their head here, not unlike what I experienced at the above mentioned German company. In order to avoid costs I bought a cheap server on eBay for around twenty-five dollars and was able to smuggle it into the HP facilities in Bˆbligen, Germany. This avoided unnecessary conflict with HP because they had initially agreed to provide us with ONE server. Keep in mind, that the basis of our functionality was the re-routing of URLs. It was such a simple technology that enabled our company to acquire zillions in stock-market funding that most HP execs I encountered could do nothing but roll their eyes in either gratitude or disbelief. This integration was something that had to be done manually and so I once again went on eBay and bought some cheap labour to take care of this task. They were even easier to smuggle into the Bˆblingen facility. When an HP exec saw me in one of the cubicles with two Brazilian honeys I just handed him a post-it with their hotel address. This also made life easier when we needed access to BV, who were in a cubicle around the corner. Eventually I changed our strategy and asked Philips if they would take over the part of integrating URLs. They gladly agreed and assigned one of their internal developers to my team. My strategy, as a project manager / business analyst, was to maintain a serious and inclusive dialog among partners and proved to be successful as the first prototype. Our implementation took place at Philips in Sweden after only three months of development. I saved Philips millions!
[What is the technically most complex project you have ever worked with?]
Object Oriented Methodology. The company I was working for assigned the writing of this methodology to two recent software engineer graduates and one tenured engineer. I lacked the technical know-how for managing the development of such a methodology but I didnt want the engineers to know this. Referring back to my experience in consulting, I utilized part of my time interviewing software engineers and doing some high-level research on the subject. Once I had some knowledge I contacted the software engineers who were assigned to writing the methodology and built a close rapport, driving the three hours to their office at least twice a week. I also managed the hotel rooms where they could fuck the whores. They really liked the fact that I charged the rooms and the whores to my credit card. Another solution was to provide project-report templates to the sub-level engineers, which they only had to fill in, that gave me the answers to time-allocation, costs and other resource requirements and the number of whores. I was able to deliver the textbook size methodology within six months. The company had been struggeling already for eighteen months without results.