Friday, June 15, 2012

You are your Brand, NOT an Employee

The world is changing. What a horrible cliché to start this article, but we all know its true. Job security doesn't exist anymore. Jobs with pensions are becoming an endangered species. The baby boomers are being blamed for having tapped the system dry. Unions are being challenged as promoting mediocrity and creating a pyramid scheme that, just like all pyramid schemes are unsustainable in perpetuity. Depressed yet? Angered yet? Well this article isn't a call to revolution but some advice to help you navigate these troubled waters.

Start a Blog

Blogging is one of the most powerful mediums that exist. It has leveled the playing field allowing anyone a free distribution channel for their ideas and point of views. It has given a voice to countless on the Internet. So start a blog! It doesn't It doesn't matter if its Wordpress, Blogger or any other of the countless free blogging sites. They are relatively easy to use, cost very little or nothing and can reach millions. I will not be covering SEO tricks, but do read up on how to make your blog reach the top of search engine results. One more thing. For God's sake, don't give anyone money claiming they can get you better SEO! Its all snake oil.

What should I blog about?

You should blog or write about what you love. What you know. What you have learned at work. What makes you better at your job than others. If you are passionate about it, blog about it. Patting yourself on the back is OK. Admitting your mistakes and what you learned from it is even better. Just move that cursor to the right.

More and more employers are reading people’s blogs as well as their resumes (in some cases, blogs only). It is crucial if you want to stand out to offer more than a resume. You need to show that you really are an expert in your field.

Never Think of Yourself as an Employee

You know why in chess, the pawns are allowed to be taken? It is because they have not shown any value beyond being fodder. This is similar to when a company decides to down-size. They look for the employees offering the least “perceived” value, and get rid of them.

If you think of yourself as simply an employee, or pawn, you will be treated as such. Think of yourself as a contractor, a hired gun, with your own brand! You are not “employee 014565”. You are “John Smith” expert at what you do. Why are you an expert? You are an expert because you have a Blog which showcases your expertise. Your employer will recognize you as one, so will potential future employers as well.

Give Some to get Some

You might think sharing your "secret sauce" will eliminate your job security, but in almost all cases it is what makes you attractive, and stand out. So blog away! Show them how its done. Don't be afraid to be opinionated. You might turn off some with your opinions, but chances are there are others out there that share your opinions. Besides, wouldn't you rather want to work for/with them?

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Nissan 300 ZX -- San Jose Club



I grew up LOVING this car.  Turns out there is a San Jose Nissan 300 ZX enthusiast club.

They were getting ready to drive off, so I couldn't get great pictures.  nonetheless, it was cool seeing my old favorite car.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

An Open Letter to US Law-makers

Dear US law-makers,

I have been closely watching the recent events in Wisconsin, Ohio, California (my home state) and New Jersey. It seems to me that many of you have forgotten how democracy is supposed to work.  Let me refresh your civics lessons.

Democracy is a form of political organization in which all people, through consensus (consensus democracy), direct referendum (direct democracy), or elected representatives (representative democracy) exercise equal control over the matters which affect their interests.

Often democracy is influenced by lobbyists or special interest groups who through financial promises or disruptions, attempt to push their own agenda.  This is an important part of our democracy.  It may seem that this letter opposes those groups, however, it does not.  I myself am a member of such a lobby and recognize their role in our democracy.

Now that the civic refresher is over, I will get to the heart of the matter.  You have all been elected to represent your constituencies. The US citizens who have voted for you, sent you all to fulfill a mandate.  Your jobs are to travel to your respective capitals have an open debate about issues concerning your jurisdictions, and then represent your constituents in an open vote on those issues.

Sometimes the vote will not go the way you want it to.  That is OK because the vote will always represent what the majority wishes.  This is how a democracy works.  It begs repeating.  You will not always get what you (or your constituents) want.  The beautiful thing about democracy is that what you do get, is what the populace wants.

Often you will get, what seems like, a large crowd demonstrating for or against an issue.  That is their right and duty under our democracy to do so.  In such instances, you may go back to your constituents and have an open discussion with them, or exercise your already given-to-you mandate to vote what you believe your constituents sent you there to vote for.  They will let you know in the next election if you did a good job or not.

I urge you all to go back to the work our tax dollars are paying you to do. Holding democracy hostage, is shameful, childish and un-American.  The vote may not go your way.  Its OK.  Its what the populace wants.  That is democracy.  That is what makes the USA great.

Sincerely,
Christos Kalantzis

PS. This letter is not in support of any party.  I am neither a Democrat or a Republican.  I am not a citizen, yet, of this great country.  I am a Green Card holder and pay my taxes. This is a pro-democracy letter.  The fact that Union benefits is currently the hot topic, as of this writing, is irrelevant.  My words are just as valid if this was 10, 5, or 2 years ago.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Flowchart of Communication Expectations

I am tired of constantly being expected to answer every email, SMS or every voice mail immediately.  Since when does sending an email off to someone guarantee delivery and transfer of responsibility? I created a flowchart to set expectations of when you will get a response  for a particular form of communication:


So no more telling me I emailed you the thing and I expected it today, when you never even got a confirmation that I received it at all!  If its really important, then one should get off their butts and talk to that person directly, or pick up your phone.  Something is obviously not important if you don't put in the effort yourself to communicate its importance.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Tablet, Netbook, Laptop, Desktop...Which one and When?

I am often asked to comment on which major computing category one should invest in, and for what reason.  It used to be easy.  Desktop or Laptop were the 2 options.  However, with the recent success of the Netbook market, and the upcoming tablet market, which is poised to launch in 2010, the rules have changed.  This post will take a look at what to buy, for whom and for which use-case.  Please note that this article is biased towards home users.

In the beginning

A desktop used to be the traditional way of computing. However, with the cost of laptops falling in the mid 2000's, their increased computing power and wifi proliferation, laptops have now overshot desktop sales.  Then the recession hit in 2008.

The Rise of the Netbook

Asus gambled and won with the netbook (EEE PC), a category they created.  Soon Dell, HP, MSI and others followed.  This new category of low powered, conveniently sized machines, along with cloud applications such as Google docs and streaming video, opened our eyes to choosing machines that were "powerful enough" for what we wanted to do, on the go.

Tablet, Anyone?

2010 is poised to be the year of the tablet.  The iPhone/iPod Touch, N97 and Android phones have whet our appetite for touch based internet devices to consume electronic media.  Those devices, although the perfect form factor for a phone, aren't ideal for long term use.  Enter the slates!

Lenovo, Dell, HP all showed off tablets at CES this year.  Apple is even rumored to be working on a tablet.  It will probably be overpriced and Steve Jobs will be praised as inventing the tablet, even though three weeks earlier five other vendors showed off tablets....don't get me started!

The Breakdown

OK so here is my take on these 4 form factors and when each one makes sense.

  • The Tablet is a luxury item for consuming electronic content and surfing.
  • The Netbook is a cost effective, small form factor machine, useful for those who want to create written content and surfing.  Great for students.
  • The Laptop should be considered a mobile workstation.  Surf, write and do things that require more muscle and a bigger screen like sketching, sound recording and some simple video editing and programming.
  • The Desktop is a workstation, in the old sense of the word.  A powerful computer used for complex computational tasks or gaming.

The winner?  The Laptop is the sweet spot.  However, if you are on the go a lot, and live in the cloud, one could get away with just a Netbook.  Get a Tablet if you have some spare cash lying around.  Got to play Crysis?  Then the desktop is for you.

There you have it!  That is my take on the different form factors.

Happy computing!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Carpooling...Babies don't count!

I was driving to work the other day and paid attention to the carpool lane, since I was rolling along at 10 mph in morning traffic.  I was annoyed to see a few cars go by with what clearly seemed like one person in the car.  I thought about chancing it, but I already got one ticket in the last 6 months and got it cleared through traffic school.  Besides, the early morning meeting I was headed towards was going to be a snoozer. As I approached my exit I noticed a minivan merging away from the carpool lane and headed towards the same exit as me.  We ended up side by side at a red light.  I rolled down my window and actually asked her if she gets nervous about driving alone in the carpool lane.  She had a confused look on her face and pointed my attention to the back seat.  "I have my baby in the back seat, so I am carpooling."  The light turned green and she drove off leaving me there with my mouth wide open.

Since when does a baby count for carpooling?  It doesn't, right?  Carpooling should be the pooling of 2 potential drivers.  A baby doesn't count, because it would never drive on its own, in the first place.  One would think with California's budget issues, police (CHP) would be out in full force ticketing to fill the deficit. So watch out lady.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Ketchup Flavored Chips


Another piece of home that cannot be found in the Bay Area is ketchup flavored chips.  Chip flavors have always been regional.  The south likes things sweet and spicy.  The mid-west likes savory flavors.  The east coast likes vinegary flavors.  Salt & Vinegar flavored chips can be found all over the east coast.  However, Ketchup is where it is at!  I have only been able to find that in Canada.