Saturday, April 23, 2016

What Most Companies End Up Lying About When Hiring Someone?

Most companies choose to tell (or not tell) their prospective hires certain facts and figures during the interview process which cannot be labelled as truth exactly.

These facts and figures may, in fact, border on falsehood and are mostly what can perhaps be termed as smart lies.

These may be in terms of the following aspects:
  • Reporting structure for the position for which the candidate is being hired - smart lies are very common on this aspect especially related to solid versus dotted reporting and role versus designation inequality
  • The real place and the associated power of the position in the overall organizational hierarchy - this is what finally leads to organizational politics
  • The policies in respect of employee benefits - HR folks are adept at smart lies in respect of selling of benefits such as insurance, leaves, promotions, rewards and recognition, etc.
  • The informal power structures - analyzing who goes with whom for lunch is generally a precise way to understand the "actual on ground" political and power environment in an organization
  • The presence of dead-wood in the company - this relates to certain roles being created for keeping some individuals due to loyalty factor who are actually no longer needed
  • The working hours - the official and the real working hours may be so apart in some cases such that it makes a complete mockery of work-life balance
  • The thing called culture - every company and especially its top man would claim that her company is the best and has an open, progressive culture and that simply can't be true
  • Stooges of the top man - this is something no company will ever accept but presence and promotion of stooges is a sad reality
  • Long time loyalists - the long time loyalists are the stooges as well in most cases and roam around breeding mess, interference, politics, incompetence, exceptions to policies, etc.
  • Budget with the position - again another aspect where one should expect to get a lot of surprise and is driven by the overall level of professionalism and maturity in the organization
It is commonly accepted that it is a good idea to assess the effectiveness of HR not just in terms of how many they are able to hire but also for how long someone who is hired stays along.

And for improving the above parameter it is important for an organization to study the above aspects closely and carefully and then initiate actions for their remedy.

Otherwise, attrition rate will be higher than that what one would want it to be. Way too higher!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Quitting Your Job to Become a Full-time Investor and Then a Successful Investor

Quitting your job to become a full-time investor may look like a great and romantically appealing idea to many people.

The key assumption that is generally made is that once you become a full-time investor you would then eventually and surely become a successful investor.

This is a dangerous assumption.

Quitting your job under the above assumption is a risky proposition, to say the least.

It seems Warren Buffet's success as an investor has a lot to do with investing being viewed as a surefire way of becoming not only rich but super rich.

Stories glorifying investment successes of Warren Buffet and others of his ilk have been portrayed by the media in quite an adoring and compelling manner.

However, these stories are under the effect of survivor bias and hence leave out the scary side of full-time investing.

An important realization is that the journey from having a job to quitting it to become a full-time investor is indeed a tough one but the journey from being a full-time investor to a successful investor is much tougher.

It is a commonly accepted fact that it is hard to distinguish between the role of luck versus skill as far as investing goes.

In addition, even the high and mighty go through peaks and troughs which necessitates equanimity as a key trait of a successful investor.

And lastly, it is useful to always remember the importance of making mistakes and learning from them.

This is explained so beautifully well in the Letter to Shareholders by William A. Ackman (Bill Ackman) in the 2015 Annual Report of Pershing Square Holding:

"I have always believed that experience is best defined as making mistakes and learning from them. I have made many investment mistakes over the last nearly 25 years managing investments, but the overall result has been quite satisfactory. I believe that this is principally because we have used errors of judgment, execution, or analysis as important opportunities for study, learning, and introspection. We intend to do so here.

Now that we have begun to stabilize our investment in Valeant, we will begin to consider the significant lessons that we can learn from this experience. One important lesson from the past is that while we normally use our active investment approach to create value in a new situation, it can also serve in a defensive role, when a business we own encounters severe challenges."

Friday, April 15, 2016

Are You in Your Job Well Past Its Date of Expiry?

Every job comes with a date of expiry.

This is true, for sure, in case of professionally managed companies.

And if you are in a company where you don't need to worry about the date of expiry it is obvious what kind of company you are in!

Date of expiry means one of the following two things:
  • You outgrow the organization in the sense that you reach a point of saturation from work perspective or hit the glass ceiling from organizational structure perspective
  • The organization outgrows you in the sense that your skills become irrelevant to the business of the company.
It is important to know the date of expiry of your current job. But if you do not know it then you are  waiting for career disaster to strike you very unexpectedly.

And if you know the date of expiry you can work from a position of advantage.

In case you are in your job well past its date of expiry, do expect funny things to happen. Here are some of such things that would typically happen:
  • Others who are in a similar position will start playing dirty politics. Especially the club of long timers will strike back with vengeance to secure their positions
  • Corporate chameleons will start showing their true color beneath the fake facade of professional maturity
  • Incompetent people will start getting anxious and start raising trivial issues (you did not take cake in my last birthday) and start writing childish emails (this is approved but with riders)
  • The coterie will not only start cementing their position but also start spreading rumors to hurt the outsiders
  • The stooges of the top man will start cutting down others to grow taller and taller
Staying in a coterie-managed, unprofessional and immature company past the expiry date is a very risky situation to be in.

This would increase the stress level, create negative vibes, bring the corporate devils out in open and lead the organization towards disaster unless corrected.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Why Some People Are Not Cut Out For Corporate Life?

This is a fact. Some people are simply not cut out for corporate life. And that could as well be you. The important point, however, is that there's really nothing wrong with that.

Corporate life is like the game of football.

You need to be able to consistently keep the ball on the opponent's side (meet expectations) and occasionally put the ball into the goalpost (exceed expectations and at times be rated outstanding).

In addition, you also need to be able to defend your goalpost (watch out for your back from envious peers and vindictive seniors).

And finally, you also need to know when and how to tackle a co-worker (read play dirty office politics) and most importantly how to avoid getting a red card (read get fired or laid off).

Just like not everyone can play football well, not everyone can play the game of corporate life well.

Corporate life is full of blatant manipulation, back stabbing, dirty politics, blame game, finger pointing, ownership shifting, credit stealing, immaturity and incompetence, flaming emails, etc.

Above toxic behaviors are prevalent in the corporate world since everyone wants to stay longer on the football field and also wants to become the best player. Winning becomes the sole purpose of everyone playing the corporate game.

Some people are not cut out for corporate life because they do not have the above traits. They dislike manipulation in the name of motivation, they are good at their work but are not too much concerned with image building and perception management and they dislike and are not adept at office politics.

Such people should find some way to quit the corporate life.

However, there are many people who can thrive in the corporate world just like a cockroach can survive in almost any adverse environment.

Such people can continue to work in the corporate life. After all a pig is happiest when it rolls in mud.

Such people are good at following:
  • Lick the shoes of the person they are reporting into
  • Believe in loyalty over competence
  • Manage good perception around them
  • Create bad perception around their office enemies
  • Play dirty politics
  • Withhold crucial information
  • Write silly and flaming emails
  • Manipulate events to stay in good books of the top dog
  • Form and be a part of the coterie around the top dog
  • Add no value in general but create an impression of value-addition
  • Spread negativity on the sly
So if you like doing the above or would be willing to learn the above, you are a perfect fit for an eventful life in the corporate world.

In case it is otherwise then you should realize that you are not cut out for corporate life. The important point, however, is that there's really nothing wrong with that.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Why Minimalism is Important in Today's World?

We are constantly bombarded with stuff and more stuff from all directions. Whether it be a mall, a retail store or a grocery website, everyone is busy trying to sell something to us.

Deep discounts, upto 80% off sale, discount coupons, gift vouchers, e-coupons, promo codes, loyalty bonus, BOGO (buy one get one) offer, BTGF (buy two get five) offer, exchange old for new, zero processing fee, EMIs at zero interest rate - this is the language of the world we live in these days.

The mantra that is being told to us repeatedly from all quarters is very simply that the purpose of life is to consume and consume.

The definition of success in the civilization we as human beings have ended up creating means the following - earn more money, buy more stuff, purchase a bigger house, buy a bigger car, eat regularly outside in expensive restaurants,  carry a fat wallet stuffed with several credit cards and swipe a card to get that latest gadget.

All the stuff we have individually procured and accumulated is leading to cluttered houses and cluttered minds. We have lost enjoying the small things in life in the pointless pursuit of more and more stuff.

The other dimension of all this is the massive destruction of earth's natural resources.

This is where minimalism comes into the picture.

Minimalism with its focus on "when less is actually more" offers a way to mankind that makes such a practical sense.

A simple yet profound question to ask is "does the Earth have enough material to produce one car for every person who will be born on this planet in the next 10000 years?". The answer is seemingly a no and a very scary one. And thus the need for minimalism.

Minimalism is not depriving oneself. Rather it is focusing on what is important and removing the rest. For every person minimalism will take a different form as what is important for one person will be so very unique to that person.

Minimalism can put brakes to the current culture of reckless consumption. Minimalism can help us determine what adds value to our life and what does not.

With the current consumption orientation that is so prevalent Earth's future is at stake. With minimalism Earth will perhaps have a much better chance to survive for the future generation of human beings.

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