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Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Networking Virus

I stood semi uncomfortably around a group of young professionals silently analyzing and sipping a free drink I got from a bar upstairs. The event I was attending had little importance to me advancing my career. I was there because I was invited and wanted to support the friends that I truly respect. Sure the free sausages on the crummy white fold out tables were enticing, but I seemed to feel out of my element. Young 20 and 30 something's were all shaking hands, patting soldiers and touching drinks together as if they have been life long friends. 

The youthful entrepreneurial spirit that seems to take up space in most thriving cities and post college career events have seem to create a type of sly networking bunch. We all have that friend fresh out of school or trying to break the traditional 9 to 5 job routine and pursue his start up idea. If you don't know someone or a group of people that act like this then this piece will be of great educational value. With the invention of smartphones and email, the ability to talk, get numbers and relate to people has increased ten fold. Young groomed men and women are using their portable pocket computers to "advance their career" and " network" with potential investors, colleagues or customers. South by Southwest is a huge breeding ground for this type of behavior. People put on a mask and uniquely trick themselves into believing that they can get peoples contacts with the expectation of benefits. 

A young white male might get a
Fancy cocktail from the free bar and roll up to another group of tightly groomed white males and females. I want to make it clear that I am only using a white male as an example and I am not saying that only white people engage in "networking". Networking spreads between all races, classes and nose sizes. 

White guy: " hey! ( handshake ) my name is Todd! 

While this white guy greets the other white guy, a few socially normal lubrication techniques are administered. 
" Who are you with? Who do you know here?" 
It also might be common for the young white male to make a comment of the "hot" females present or even the greatness of having access to a free bar." 

After a few conversational check marks are met and a common ground is made, it is ideal for the white male iniator to grab out his smart phone device and ask a few relevant questions. 

" Are you on twitter ?" 
" What's your handle?" 
"Can I find you on LinkedIn?" 

The receiver of such questions might grab his phone out of obligation and self interest and tell him what social media he uses. They both might follow each other or send requests to get connected on the internet. This would be the perfect time to slip in your business pitch or tell them what you are all about. You have to make sure and get that down, right ? People need to know about your company, ideas or your agenda, right? After all, time is money right? 

From a pseudo cynical perspective, all these networking types are agenda based organisms with the only intention of self interest and career advancement. They could care less if they really hear back from you. It's a lot like fishing, you might catch some small fish that you have to throw back in the water, or you may get the big catch and enjoy the juicy meat of success. These types have little to no knowledge of developing authentic relationships and friendships. Don't get me wrong, networking has it's perks and necessities in the ideal environment. Sometimes you have to put on that tilted car salesman mask to really get your point across and further your need to make a living. Networking becomes a virus when it becomes your primary purpose of meeting new people and only seeing the self benefit of meeting others. 

How can this interaction with this new person help me? Do I really want to hear about this guys old fat cat, or should I just get his email and email him tomorrow ? 

I have been guilty of this seedy type of behavior before. You can be blindsighted by only focusing on your mental Rolodex. You simply only wait to get your point across and wait for the person to stop talking so you can tell them about your band, blog, start up idea, or some financial set up that you think would benefit them. Does this seem familiar to you? Does it make you feel a little dirty? On some level, it should. Some people can see right though your self righteous bullshit and roll their eyes while trying to look for a conversational escape plan. You would be surprised that you can get most of what you want or what you think you want by developing authentic relationships with people. Listening and awareness are two important things to consider when encountering new people. 

What is your agenda? Do you even have one when going to an important event or dare I say a lush cocktail party? You might think that politicians and extreme activists are the only ones with semi transparent agendas, but they take all types of forms including "you"! Yes, most of the time there are some type of strings attached. The hardcore networkers seem to be victims of their own intentions in regard to their fabricated perception. It's almost a seduce and conquer type mentality where the main goal is to get as many contacts as possible. 

Next time you go out it might be wise to check your agenda at the door or at least wait to take the right person out to lunch or dinner with the intention of spewing your ultimate plan to revolutionize the "app" market. Just make sure to pick up the bill and seal each interaction with an affirmative handshake. Icing on the cake my friends! 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

The Working Crass

Every once in awhile I would engage in imbibing alcoholic beverages( mostly of the cheap variety ) with fellow exhausted coworkers at a small bar. The bar was a transitionary haven between work and the blessed solitude or chaos of home life and sleep. We sat around a table and started talking about ( you guessed it ) work! Mostly it was gossip around coworkers or upper management that obviously weren't there. With the aid of alcohol and frustrated venting, it acted as an almost underground therapy session. We could talk about things we had to hold in at work and ultimately free ourselves from negative opinions or ultimately validate them with the consensus of the other coworkers. Being lower level grunt like factory type employees, we of course liked to spend time vomiting the words on how upper management was doing things all "wrong". In a sense to us they were. They had no experience "on the line" or really had little to no hands on experience. Most of the upper management's theory of capitalist tactics was based on theoretical logistics and a cancerous corporate type growth strategy. We all had different ideas on how we wanted things run, but most of us held our job to be so sacred and almost scoffed at the idea of them actually listening to us. The company gave the illusion of choice. They told is they would listen to us and have our voice heard in any workings of the entire company. Never the less, this company was new and going places. So much money being spent on new machinery and efficiency tactics that would ultimately lead us to all being "machine operators". We rarely delved into such deep and philosophical theories of corporatism and capitalism because of our surface disdain for coworkers behaviors and our physical and mental exhaustion of working a twelve hour shift. This is of course what the bosses would want. We work our asses off and just peacefully go home to out families or television sets. They certainly don't want us to do work outside of work and god forbid us actually think and concoct better ways to achieve a healthier work environment. We were machines and we had very little use in the "critical thinking" department.

The thing ironic that was brought to my attention was the fact that we were bitching and talking about work outside of work! Couldn't we put that behind us and talk about sex, comics or food? ( insert your interests somewhere in there ) 
We seemed to be carrying work outside of work and we weren't getting paid for it. The upper levels would be on salary for this type of thoughtful activity. It is truly not right for our job to victimize us as if we endured a traumatic long day in the long heat. We were in a large air conditioned warehouse and had the freedom to listen to music. We were however slaves to the dreaded "Units per labor hour!". We were always under the guise of the shift lead who would constantly keep the morale up by saying " we got to hit those numbers." When we had a bad hour then of course the shift lead would take a bunch of the guilt and shame of being a few numbers off. He carried most of the stress considering he would be the first to blame if we did not hit our numbers. 

The units per labor hour was a theoretical formula that was void of calculating any human error or semi disastrous events. In theory, we would be hitting certain numbers per person. Each persons unit would be added together. For example if there were 12 people on shift and the unit was 10 then it would be 120 per hour. Everyone had to work together as a team and not one person could be blamed if we did not hit our numbers. This of course was a good thing. We were always at the constant pressure of hitting the numbers. Sometimes it flowed out of us effortlessly and sometimes it was halted by mechanical error. With that in mind, we were at the will of computers and machinery. If any of those malfunctioned then it would factor into our numbers. Theoretically this is pretty absurd. We still would be chastised even if a machine broke on its own or if it was ( god forbid) overworked! 

It doesn't take a professional to realize that none of us actually wanted to be at work. All of us made due of what we had. The job has benefits so we cling to it like a leach on skin. The pounding drudgery of loud lights and physical exhaustion made us more bitter, but also more apathetic. I mean we were able to sustain our actual lives outside of our job. At the very least we were able to barely pay rent or get by. It was almost as if half of our weeks were dedicated to just paying off for the other half of our weeks. We could enjoy a few days off, but of course had the lingering monkey of work right behind our backs. Some of us have developed some pretty valuable relationships and have learned to make the work environment into a tolerable and dare I say fun like atmosphere. None of us wanted it long term of course. Some
of us just needed a job. We had to have a job to pay off student loans, fund our drug habits, feed our kids, and be able to drive! Some of us with a "job" job feel the need to keep up with it so we are able to live the lifestyle we want. It is a bare minimum. Some of us may need a second job and some of us may need to tighten the budget belt a few more rungs. 

The idea of diving head first into something more fulfilling and new seems super scary. We get accustomed and comfortable with what we have and do not want to struggle to find other work. When your work dangles the carrot of benefits in front of you it justifies the reason for why you are saying. 
" Sure my job sucks, but I mean look at the benefits! I don't have to worry about paying rent!" 
The paycheck to paycheck job is completely unsustainable and absolutely soul crushing ( if you let it get to you ). 
You can't pursue happiness with a job or a career. It is a illusory concept that we cannot be happy now with what we got. Of course it could be worse! 

The trick is to keep your options open and your awareness of opportunities sharp as a tack. You can work your doldrum job and always look for a replacement. If you want something new then understand that the possibility of that new opportunity getting old is very high if you determine your overall state of well being with work. I am of course no talking about abusive or hostile work environments. If you are getting sick or being harassed then you must be proactive in changing your scenario. Bitterness kills your ability to be a great worker! Even if you aren't doing what you think you think you should be doing right now, you can always be the best at what you are doing right now. This takes full attention and acceptance of what skills you have. People see that. People get inspired by that. If you are yourself as the bitter coworker you think you are then you are toxic to others. Be the worker you want to see and be the worker you want to be around. 

Friday, October 24, 2014

Spiritual Cynicism

A laymen or a group of laymen may roll their eyes at the event of meeting a so called cynic. Treating it as if the individual was suffering from an existential funk or an incurable form of crass pessimism. Cynicism by itself can easily be used as a junk term for "a frustrated optimist" as Mark Twain use to put it. Cynicism has many logical and practical applications for developing educated and informed decisions. The concept of cynicism ( with an open perspective) can actually work well with the idea of expanding consciousness and the other junk term " spirituality ". 

Cynism might be looked at as a crass, humorous and almost artistic type of methodology. One might adapt a cynical attitude toward the world view or terrorism or more locally "politics". Cynicism acts as a filter to where someone is able to pull back and look at a series of absurd and unimportant events or idealogies brought into mainstream culture. Some might call cynicism a good "Bullshit detector" perspective. One can take a certain amount of lies and inflated opinions and ultimately discard them as if they were the the peel of a banana exposing the fruit meat inside. On the surface cynisicm is perceived as being a crude and almost insecure reaction to controversial topics brought into the public consciousness. A gaggle of artistic white women might perceive a male artists reaction to feminism as being cynical because of crass and pseudo pessimistic comments. One person's perspective of cynicism is altered by their own perception. One can make logical and fair decisions while using cynicism as a type of tool and less of a filter for responding to the information at hand. People who respond negatively to negativity perpetuate a cycle where the receiver of the negativity has been affected by the initiator. With this in mind, a cynic who meets a person who does not have cynical tendencies may fall victim to his or her view and thus perpetuate the " abuse of cynicism". Cynicism is neither negative or positive in its natural state. It is altered and obscured by people's lack of mindfulness perspective. 

Cynicism in its natural state is defined as, 
an inclination to believe that people are motivated purely by self-interest; skepticism. From this definition, cynicism is almost parallel with the idea of skepticism. Skepticism to a degree aids in making decisions and developing opinions about topics that yet to have full factual backing. One might consider skepticism as being a tool to continually ask questions and not simply "accept" an idea or a subject on its surface value. Of course like any idealogy, it can be abused. One could fall victim to the idea of skepticism and ultimately be disillusioned to cold hard facts or moral value. 

The inclination to believe that everyone is motivated by self interest is almost necessary in the modern age. Individualism as it exists in the United States, thrives over the fact that everyone should be able to follow his or hers dream and pursue their own selfish desires. People that fall into the path of pursuing a career( no matter how ambitious) ultimately fall prey to the idea of their own self interest. Most of the self interest creates suffering amongst themselves and others. When success becomes a primarily goal in ones life then their perception is skewed and ultimately driven by egoic tendencies. The very idea of the pursuit of happiness creates the idea that people can't be happy unless they pursue happiness. Some might find that seeking success will bring them happiness and ultimately a universal form of acceptance. Any profession will be primarily be about self interest no matter how altruistic the profession may appear. 
One may ask, " But what about people who help the homeless or even pursue a career or a profession that exists for the benefit of helping people?" When a person gives something or pursues an action that will ultimately benefit another person, it is still self motivated. When you give a gift without the expectation of  getting something back you are still pursuing the feeling of "feeling good " or " a heart warming sense of gratitude". Self interest could be put onto a spectrum where it of course could be abused.
Self interest in itself does not necessarily become a problem unless it is at the expense of others. When a persons self interest is overrun by an egoic unconscious mind, it can ultimately be destructive towards others and the general environment. One could equate the awareness of self interest and ego as a form of subtle cynicism where the motives of destructive self interest do not take control. With that in mind, cynicism could be abused and transform into an extreme form of defeatist pessimism and a "right vs. wrong" egoic mentality. 

As stated above, the adoption of a cynical perspective void of crudeness and crassness can aid in the development of a more aware consciousness. When cynicism is used critically it can provide a logical form of distrust. With the focus on awareness, one could develop an internal cynical perspective based of basic mindfulness and breathing techniques. With the invention of pseudo science and illusory spiritual practices, one could make an informed decision and ultimately bullshit detect when fallacious arguments or opinions are made. Body and mind awareness as well as the ability not to succumb to destructive thoughts and emotions can all work well with this concept of cynicism. The question is: 

Is cynicism necessary ?( especially in developing an informed and logical perspective of the world and the inner workings of oneself ) 

Cynicism at the end of the day is a school of thought that may in itself be irrelevant and unnecessary. It is a label and an idealogy that has no burden of proof or physical form in the material world. It is a sign post word for describing a perspective. It is good that this sign post is conceptualized to distinguish between other perspectiveness, but when you shine the light of awareness and consciousness onto it then it becomes "of the mind". The minds tendency to categorize and label things aids in the idea of separateness. One can pick apart another's opinions and place them in a convenient mental folder of ideas such as "pessimism", "crude" or "sensationalized. 
The action of labeling such perspectives is very surface and limiting. When one labels another a "cynic" then they are simply pigeonholing perspective and anything else said by such " cynic "
will be filtered through the sign post of cynicism. The person that judges the other as a cynic is making an unintelligent decision based on shallow categorization conditioned by past labeling techniques. The accuser ultimately lacks depth and stumps his validity in future arguments with said cynic. The cynic is not at fault however. The "cynic" who adapts the labeling of a cynical perspective wholeheartidly is making a crude and informed decision. The cynic will then use his sonic cynicism as a tool to combat the other persons labeled perspective. " I am a cynic and I know what is right!" Any conceptually perspective whether it be pessimistic, optimistic, egalitarian or cynical has no grounds in good debate or developing sound and logical arguments. Cynicism creates unnessary biases and conflict distracting from the core of an issue.  

I could make a grand claim that Cynicism is in itself "dead" and "unnecessary", but I think that such a vast generalization or grandiose statement is stupid in itself. Cynicism is good to look at through an unbiased perspective that is rooted in mindfulness and non acceptance of label illusions. One can adopt a cynical type perspective without knowledge of what they are doing. When another calls this person a cynic, then the initiator and the accuser  of such perspective should be quite mindful of what they are doing. Just like anger, when it is caught and observed in its tracks before manifesting destructively, it can be muted. When the awareness of cynicism is brought into the foreground of consciousness then it ceases to tak control or pollute a logical perspective. 

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Thursday, October 2, 2014