Spike in Texas

I don’t intend to post a day by day, blow by blow description of my current trip to the U.S. Things are going well and I need to remain focused on the tasks at hand. But a few brief things to bring you up to date, just in case you were wondering what happened to me.

This is my second time in Texas, but the first time I never left the airport, I was only transiting, so really this is my first time here.

Continue reading “Spike in Texas”

What the Fortune Teller Told Me and What I’m Doing

(I wrote most of this on Monday. Finished it late Wednesday night. Publishing on Thursday.)

Most people know that fortune tellers are con artists. It doesn’t matter. They’ve been around for centuries and when they’re good at their craft (and it definitely is a craft), at the very least it’s entertaining.

On Sunday night, my wife and I went up to the Temple Street Night Market. I love coming here. It’s always the same and hopefully it will never change.

First, you make that right turn from Jordan Road onto Temple Street and there are a couple of cheap shops selling just about any hair care product you can think of.

Then you get the four streets of stalls, selling any and every kind of cheap crap that they think someone will buy. I picked up a couple of USB cigarette lighters for US$6 a piece. No fluid, no gas, charge by USB, flick them on and a coil heats up enough to light a cigarette (but not large enough for a cigar), rechargeable, windproof, dozens of styles.

When you get to the garage, the south side has Nepalese people selling all sorts of crafts and religious statues. Along the west side are stands selling sex toys and personal grooming items. The east side has fortune tellers and stands set up for people to come along and pay some makeshift band so they can do karaoke-style Cantonese opera. The north side has more fortune tellers. Then there’s the park.

Continue reading “What the Fortune Teller Told Me and What I’m Doing”

I Need Your Help! (Please Read and Share)

I will be unemployed as of September 30, 2017.

It has been said that finding a job is a matter of who you know (while keeping a job is a matter of what you know). Thanks to social media (and this blog), I know a lot of people. And now I’m asking my friends and connections for their help.

I would never ask anyone to give me a job. What I am asking for is your assistance in finding a new job – via referrals, introductions, tips, etc.

Here are the details:

Continue reading “I Need Your Help! (Please Read and Share)”

I'm One of the 1% – On LinkedIn

Well, I’m definitely not one of the 1% in terms of income or financial well-being, that’s for sure.

But LinkedIn has been doing this smart marketing thing as they’ve crossed the threshold to 200 million users – by sending out emails telling people they are in the top 10%, 5% or 1% of most viewed profiles on the site.  I say this is smart because it has a lot of people talking about it via social media outlets and blogs, an excellent viral publicity campaign.

So I got my email telling me that my profile was one of the top 1% profiles viewed.  What does that mean exactly?  Well, the initial math is easy enough.  200 million users, so 1% is 2 million people.  That’s a pretty big club to be in.

LinkedIn does provide decent real time statistics on who is viewing your profile so I know that in the  past three months my profile has been viewed 331 times – that averages out to less than 4 views per day.  That includes views by some of my 856 connections there as well as by total strangers. Not terribly impressive by any means, is it?

I’m also told that I’ve shown up in search results a total of 2,232 times in the past three months – an average of just under 25 times per day and most of those people aren’t clicking on my name when I do show up.  In no small part that’s probably because the top two searches that lead to me are things related to companies I no longer work for.

Well, given that from time to time I’ve really “worked” LinkedIn, I suppose it’s nice to be in the top 1%.  Plus since I had a friend bragging to the world about being in the top 5%, I was able to tell him to suck it (with a smiley face afterwards, of course).

However, all of that aside, the best commentary came from an email that a friend of mine sent me today.  Here’s a portion of that email:

Since 2009 I’ve had the search mode off and on and know the job search struggle too well. The best advise I was given was that, “computers don’t hire people; people hire people.” I got my best results by finding people I didn’t already know (alumni and network) and getting them to meet me face to face. Every job since was because I met someone who knew the right someone. Online was easy, but a waste of time unless just looking for more contacts.

I know he’s right.  And I know that I suck at face-to-face networking.  You might find that hard to believe, since I’m pretty open and communicative online, but it’s the truth.  I’m finding it difficult to break out of this protective shell I’ve spent years building up around me and finding it all too easy to come up with excuses for not doing what I know I should be doing.

Well, the good news is, Chinese New Year has come and gone.  Many people in HK traditionally get their bonuses at this time of year, and so there’s a lot of activity on the job market.  I’m hopeful that my extended vacation will come to an end soon.

Region Up – A Web Site I Truly Hate

Region Up is a business that seeks to profit from people seeking jobs.  While most reputable web sites charge employers to post ads, they don’t charge job seekers to post CVs or to view ads.

Region Up is different.  You can sign up with them for free and you can search their site for free, but if you want to see the details of a particular ad, you have to pay to view it.  A lot.  A one month membership costs US$49.  A six month membership costs a hair under US$150.

So they’ve chosen to milk the unemployed as a part of their business model.

I did sign up with them, because that’s free.  I get weekly spam emails from them offering me 7 days free premium access, all of which I delete without reading.  And then today …..

You have received a message from a recruiter. RegionUP
Recruiter details:
Name visible for only premium member
Company Name visible for only premium member
Position Manager, Talent Acquisition

That’s right, a recruiter viewed my profile and sent me a message but i would have to pay them to read that message.

So I dug through my trash bin, found one of the messages offering me 7 days free premium and clicked on that.  To my utter lack of surprise, I had to provide credit card details in order to get the 7 free days.  So I did that.  And viewed my message, which began:

Dear Senior Executive(s),

That’s right.  Spam.

I then had to go back to my profile because, as I suspected, “auto renew” was turned on, meaning that if I took no action in the next 7 days, they would start charging 50 bucks a month to my credit card.

So I turned off the auto renew.  And immediately received an email asking if I wanted to turn it on again.

One word comes immediately to mind:  Scum.

About.Com has this guide to bad job sites:

Some of the job sites that call themselves the best job sites are not good job sites, let alone the best job sites. Others are bad, and still others would garner a spot on a list of worst job sites.

The worst of them take advantage of job seekers who can’t afford to waste money by charging them for job listings and resources that are available free via the job search engines or directly on company sites.

From a site called Recruiting Blogs:

This raises a bigger question: is it ever ethical to charge the job seeker for access to jobs and employers?

 Yes. If the site is truly offering something of real value to the job seeker, then I think it isreasonable to charge. Note my qualification: “something of real value”. For example, perhaps the site screens each job posting it allows on the site, verifying the company, offer, and qualifications. Or perhaps it provides a private forum where job seekers and employers can interact. Maybe the candidate gets discounts on insurance, services, and the like. What is offered will depend on the seeker audience.

(All the bold print there is their own.)  So, does Region Up have these exclusive listings?  It’s hard to say definitively but here’s something that they have added to one of their job listings (a job that I believe I’d be suited for):

This job was taken directly from the hiring company’s website and requires you to apply through their system directly.

And as it happens, I have previously seen the same job listed on LinkedIn (and applied for it).

So tell me, Region Up, why should I be giving you my money?  What service are you providing to me?

The good news is, these guys have a shitty Google Pagerank, just a 2.  (By comparison, my blog has a 4.)

I hope they crash and burn.

How Much Do Headhunters in HK Suck?

If you were to look at my profile on LinkedIn, you’d get the impression that I’m astonishingly busy with work.  I did this on the basis that companies are always more interested in people who are in demand and that, to put it in the words of an acquaintance, putting on LinkedIn “looking for my next challenge!” makes you look like a loser.

Actually everything there is real.  Except out of the three projects I’m working on, only one is actually bringing money in.  The second is for equity and the third is on a commission basis.  But perhaps I did things too well because the only messages I’m getting on LinkedIn are from other people asking me for a job.

I have dealt with literally hundreds of headhunters in my 15 years in Hong Kong.  It’s not just a matter of times I’ve been looking for a job; I’ve done a lot of hiring at the various positions I’ve held here.

Today I was turned down for a job after 4 interviews.  The opportunity came to me via a recruiter – I’d sent my resume to someone at an agency, he wrote back to me, handed me off to someone probably more junior, and then the process began.

What pissed me off about the entire thing was how completely useless the headhunter was in the entire process.  Each time I had an interview, he did absolutely nothing to prepare me for it.

  • He had no insights to offer regarding the people I’d be talking to or the company in general.
  • He never called or even sent an email the morning of or the night before a scheduled interview to ensure that I was going to be there and that I was ready.
  • Following each interview, he never called to check on how it went and never asked questions about if there were any issues that arose during the interview.
  • I’d send him a note immediately following each interview and then …. nothing, not even an acknowledgement that he’d seen my message.
  • After each interview, after one week of not hearing anything from him, I’d call or message him and then he’d get back to me, generally to ask me when I was free for the next one.
  • He never once asked me what I thought about the position and if I would take it if it was offered.
  • After the 4th interview and again, not hearing from him after a week, I sent him an email and he responded by email the next day writing, ” I afraid they don’t think you are a perfect fit at this point.”

He did get the reason they passed, or perhaps he made one up.  Do you think he knew enough about me or about the company in question to be able to respond to them on any issue they might have brought up?  To be able to say to them, “Hey, he is a perfect fit, because of X, Y and Z!  You’re not going to find anyone better out there!”  I highly doubt it.  I think he listened and said, “Oh, okay, thanks.”

The only reason I’m not more upset by all of this is because there were so many negatives that came up from their side during the interview process that I wasn’t even sure how much I wanted this one.  And no, it’s not a case of sour grapes.  50-75% travel, a large part of that to North America, economy flights only.  Right, fly 15 hours sitting up in economy and then be expected to be in the office and productive the next day, or maybe even the same day?  I don’t think so.  Beyond that, the parameters of the position were poorly defined and after four interviews and lots of questions from me I still was unclear on the scope or the success factors.  Be that as it may, since I need a job, and since the company had some interesting products, I might have taken it if the price was right (I could use the money).

At this point it’s a toss-up whether writing this blog post is enough to get the anger out of my system or if I should call this inept fuck’s boss and tell him what went down –  and how much money they lost because this guy didn’t have a clue how to do his job.  The one thing that’s stopping me from doing the latter is the feeling that the guy’s boss wouldn’t care either.

 

Thursday Links

Last night I was up until 4 AM working and that meant that I woke up a tad late this morning.  So I quickly get dressed and run out of the house, stopping to give my gf a kiss and tell her I had to go to Causeway Bay.  So OF COURSE this afternoon she’s not talking to me because I didn’t tell her further in advance that I had a lunch meeting, I didn’t tell her who it was with or the purpose, I didn’t give her enough advance notice so that she could get dressed and get a ride to the MTR and probably a host of other sins that I unwittingly committed.   Hey, we’ve been living together now for 19 months and if by now she doesn’t know that I’m pretty damned far from perfect but that when I do stuff she doesn’t like, it’s not on purpose and not aimed at her, when will she realize it?  (And hey, it ain’t like she’s perfect either, even if on the overall scale she’s a far better person than I am.)   And then she wanted to sort it out by SMS, which I won’t do, thank you very much.

Anyway, my lunchtime meeting was with the guy assigned to me by the outplacement service that my former company is paying for.  And that’s okay because he’s a genuinely nice and smart guy and while he can’t seem to help me much on the job front, I enjoy talking with him a lot.  Today I met him at his office to give him a crash course in LinkedIn and a bit of Facebook and Twitter and blogging and a review of his web site.  Not that I’m the world’s greatest expert on this stuff but I guess I know a little about a lot of different things.  In return, he took me to lunch – we went to Sorabol, my favorite Korean restaurant in town and a place I haven’t been to in more than a year.  Did you know they do $55 set lunches?  Or for $88 you can get a barbecue set that comes complete with all the usual side dishes and your choice of other sides including bibimbap (did I spell that right?) or soup.  And they still serve some damned tasty food there.

Then a few other errands and a bit of shopping and then finally back home.  Finish off this post and zombie out with some TV for a little while.  But first, a few bits ‘n pieces from the past couple of days.

Roast Pork Sliced From a Rusty Cleaver (what a great blog name!) has the full list of this year’s Hong Kong Film Awards nominations.  “Bodyguards and Assassins” is now the most nominated film in HKFA history with 19 nods – probably a good thing then that I picked up the Blu-Ray yesterday.

The Hughes Brothers are talking to Warner Bros about doing two live action films based on the Akira manga.  I really enjoyed their “From Hell” and think they could actually do a decent job with this material.

How stupid are record company executives?  Very, apparently.  They’ve only just figured out that by raising their prices on iTunes, the amount of legal downloads and revenue would decrease.  Warner Bros. Records’ chief Bronfman says that, oh, maybe it wasn’t a great idea to increase prices by 30% in the midst of the worst recession in decades.  Hello!

Stephen Colbert called Sarah Palin “a fucking retard.”  But it’s satireSee it here.

Sigh, the line-ups for summer music festivals are being announced.  Here’s just a partial list of who’ll be at this year’s Bonnaroo.

* Dave Matthews Band
* Kings of Leon
* Stevie Wonder
* Jay-Z
* Tenacious D
* Weezer
* The Flaming Lips with Stardeath and White Dwarfs perform “Dark Side of the Moon”
* The Dead Weather
* Norah Jones
* John Fogerty
* Regina Spektor
* Jimmy Cliff
* LCD Soundsystem
* Thievery Corporation
* Tori Amos
* John Prine
* The Black Keys
* Steve Martin & the Steep Canyon Rangers
* Jeff Beck
* She & Him
* Daryl Hall & Chromeo
* Kris Kristofferson
* Medeski Martin & Wood
* Tinariwen
* The Gaslight Anthem
* The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
* They Might Be Giants
* Miranda Lambert
* Calexico
* Japandroids

HK$2,000 would get you all the above goodness and more.  If you’re in Tennessee.

A quick overview of Google Buzz.

A 5 minute video of photographer/author Rick Sammon’s “top ten digital photography tips.”  Useful stuff worth remembering.

And that’s about it for now.  Big Bang Theory beckons.

No Lo Entiendo

So what’s on my mind on this foggy crappy Tuesday?

First and foremost – a US based global company looking for a regional CIO for the Asia Pacific region.  Their definition of the region includes Australia/New Zealand, Japan, India.  But they won’t consider any candidates for the job who don’t speak Mandarin or Cantonese.  How will Mandarin help in India or Australia?  How does Cantonese help in Japan – or Shanghai for that matter?

Next, I love Taschen books.  They do some of the most creative packages around and my personal collection includes two of their expensive editions:  The Stanley Kubrick Archives, a sold out limited edition that weighs in at 8-1/2 pounds; and JazzLife, a huge book filled with rare photographs (the special edition is currently selling on Amazon for US$1,500).  They’ve got a new book out on Magic, covering graphics and posters from the 1400s up through the present day – it weighs over 16 pounds!  And Amazon in the US is currently selling it for around 35% off, which makes it very tempting.

Taschen also does these insane limited editions.  Norman Mailer’s Moonfire is limited to just 12 copies, unfolds into a table and includes a genuine moon rock – for the bargain price of 68,275 pounds sterling.  I’ll take two, please.  Whoops, they’re sold out.

Along those lines, I missed the announcement of a new limited edition book last year, Stanley Kubrick’s Napoleon: The Greatest Movie Never Made.  10 separate books inside of a huge book-shaped box and exclusive access to an online database of 17,000 images, it was selling for US$1,000.  But it’s sold out and I see someone’s selling one on the US Amazon site for $5,000.   I actually have a personal connection to this since I worked for Robert Gaffney, the producer of the never-completed epic, for four years (which is how I came to do some work on The Shining).  I don’t suppose that any of my readers are among the 1,000 people who bought this but if you are and you want to share the login and password to that online database with me, I’d be very grateful.

Nikon product announcements yesterday.  Two new lenses.  No new replacement for the D700 yet.  Drat.  I’m figuring a D700s with the same extreme low light sensor of the D3s and video capabilities (even if not HD) would be a must-buy for me.  Oh Nikon, how long are you going to make me wait?

Finally, for now, Media Wonk analyzes Sony Pictures’ recent lay-off announcements.  Similar to my previous employer, following a record year they are letting go of hundreds of loyal staff.  The excuse is a predicted downturn in future home video sales due to forces “outside of their control.”  The Wonk makes the point that most of these forces were not outside of their control but arose due to bad strategic decisions.  The people who made those bad decisions all retained their jobs while those who executed the crappy strategies lost theirs.   Who ever said that life was supposed to be fair?

Uninspired

It’s just started raining again.  It’s also pretty dark out for 2 in the afternoon and it may be 18 degrees but I’m feeling cold.  Maybe it’s just the letdown after a fabulous week in Macau but right now I feel as if I can’t be arsed to do much of anything.  Come to think of it, the only time I got out of the house this weekend was Saturday morning when I met someone over at Sunshine City (ha!) in Ma On Shan who bought one of my old camera bags.  The only “real” meal that I had was on Sunday, when my gf cooked a great lunch with some of the truly wonderful pork chops I’d picked up at Shek Kee Frozen Meat Co. in Sai Kung – she always does her sauces in an impromptu fashion and can be hard pressed to remember later what she tossed in the pan, but along with the Sauce of Unknown Origins were green beans, yellow pepper, carrots, red onion – great color and taste combination.

Among the movies we watched, there was the tremendously entertaining Zombieland.  Yeah, if you’ve got a weak stomach for gory special effects, it does get a little gruesome in the first half hour, but overall it’s a nice take on an overworked genre.  Maybe I’m telling you too much here but Bill Murray’s in it and his appearance is more than worth the price of admission (or a DVD).

My gf seems to really enjoy classic Hollywood musicals – not sure she even realizes how much she digs the genre but I put on one of these and it’s practically guaranteed that she will not lose interest or fall asleep.  Yesterday afternoon we watched The Music Man.  On some levels it’s incredibly hokey and creaky and plays out like a much older film.  But there are still a lot of joys to be found in this film, from the amazing costume design to an expert supporting cast that includes Buddy Hackett, Paul Ford, Hermione Gingold and dozens of other faces you will at least recognize even if you don’t know the names.  And of course there’s Robert Preston.  (And Shirley Jones, too, I suppose.)  And little Ron Howard with hair and a fake lisp.  Most of all, Meredith Wilson’s melodies are insanely catchy and his lyrics are kind of clever at times.  Let’s not forget that even the Beatles covered a song from this film.

The rest of my time this weekend was spent “in” Lightroom and, as previously noted, I’ve uploaded new galleries to Flickr, one for last Friday’s Fallen Angel shoot at PASM and one from our Macau trip.  There will be more to come.  Looking back at photos from 6 to 9 months ago, I’m struck by how much I’ve learned in the past few months – both in terms of shooting and also in using Lightroom, though a big part of the improvement also comes from spending the bucks on the Nikon 24-70mm f2.8 lens, expensive as hell but well worth the money.  I’m so in love with the results that it gives me that I find that I have no desire to go out with my Panasonic GF-1 anymore and I’m thinking about selling it off.  If and when I do get another job, one of the first things I plan to do to celebrate is to get the Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 VRII lens, a huge and expensive beast.

Speaking of getting a job, with Chinese New Year just a week away, things have hit the doldrums.  I’m sending out CVs, making follow-up phone calls (perhaps not as many as I should) and while I’ve managed to generate some interest, I don’t think I’m being egotistical when I say that I don’t think I’m getting the level of interest or the quality of offers that I believe I deserve.   It could be that the kind of job I’m looking for doesn’t exist in Hong Kong at the moment – or it doesn’t exist for someone my age or for someone who is not multi-lingual.

If you take a look at my profile on LinkedIn, you’ll see that I’ve received recommendations from the co-inventor of the DVD as well as an SVP, an EVP, a VP, a Managing Director and 3 Directors and some of my former staff from my previous job.   I think that stands as darned good evidence of my skills and accomplishments.  So excuse me if I’m feeling a little frustrated at the moment.

Sorry, don’t mean to whine.  Probably need to drag myself out of the house tonight and have a couple of drinks somewhere.

Job Hunting Notes

TweetDeck, the client I use for Twitter, has a special version that they call JobDeck which builds on top of a site called Twit Job Search.  All this really does is skin TweetDeck and add in two columns, one for Twit Job Search and one is tweets from “Job Search Experts.”  I’ve gotten a lot of good links this way – no leads for actual jobs but lots of good information on job hunting, resumes, interviews and of course utilizing social networking sites in your job search.

Here’s a few things I found today.

Fortune’s list of 100 Best Companies to Work For 2010.  If you’re going to directly target companies rather than relying purely on recruiters, why not target the best places?  Checking out the web sites for 100 companies, seeing which ones have decent presence in the region, seeing if any have any currently open positions that are a fit, sending them tailored resumes and cover letters – yes it takes time but hopefully could lead to an interview or two.

Another category is scams that appear on the job search boards, even the legitimate ones like Monster.  I can tell you from first hand experience that my resumes on these boards generates a lot of junk responses – especially from JobsDB, where I get about a dozen offers to train to become a financial investment manager each time I update my CV there; and from Monster, where I get those “too good to be true” offers that undoubtedly originate in Nigeria. Here’s a good summary of the various kinds of scams a job seeker may encounter.  It makes sense from the criminal perspective – people who are desperate for work may more easily fall prey to some of these.

Aside from those unscrupulous companies that advertise fictitious jobs in order to build up their resume database, there is another class of job listing that I didn’t know about, again jobs that most often are advertised as “Financial Manager” or “work from home” and that are actually fronts for money laundering organizations!  Two web sites that focus in on jobs, What Would Dad Say and Diggings have more details on this “money mule” scam.

Diggings also has a link to a good post on Ask The Headhunter regarding job sites that charge the job seeker to post his or her resume on their site or to search their listings, in this case a site called The Ladders that charges you US$180 to search listings of jobs paying over US$100k – you pay the money, search the listings and only then find that a significant number of the posted jobs pay far less than that or that the advertised job doesn’t even exist!

So people, if you’re in my current position or unfortunate enough to find yourself here in the future, beware.  Job searches on the web are every bit as scam-prone as everything else.