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Archive for the ‘culture’ Category

I went to see “Speed the Plow” the other day. There are only 2 actors and 1 actress on the stage for continuous 90 minutes performance. The plot of the play is simple. A Hollywood producers Charlie and his old mate -Bobby- spend most of their time arguing about Money vs Art, the beautiful secretary, and a controversial book. A book is simply a piece of Art, no Violence, no Sex, no Race, so no catchy script for a Hollywood movie. For the new movie, Charlie is pulled between the two – Bobby, his old mate and Karen, the hot secretary.

Given that there were only 3 of them on the stage, I have to say that their performance was good. Especially, Kevin Spacey (Bobby) was stunning. Eventhough it’s a bit more expensive than I had expected from a £50 ticket (i.e more than €65 or $100 or ¥10,000). But that’s not what I want to talk about.

After the show, some of us were waiting for them to appraise their hard work. Jeff Goldblum (Charlie) went out first with his smile, giving his signatures and talking to people.

About 20 minutes waiting in the cold and wind, Kevin Spacey appeared at the door. Literally, he was behind the door. To me, a cage wouldn’t look too different! (!?)

Suddenly, all my admiration, inspiration, and my sympathy for the guy disappeared. I feel like I’m one those curious people going to the zoo to see a rare species? That was not my idea, I thought I would like to pay my respect to his hard work. I know maybe it’s just another day for him, but I would reckon if he was a celebrity, he should try to be a proper one?

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How was your weekend? “My weekend was quiet” is not a “Kool” answer. Surely I need something like “hammered”, “hangover”, “party”…That’s what is expected or otherwise, people would tell you “Get a life, mate!”.

Well, one should not be surprised to see that Britain is a boozy country. Their statistics show that 60% of the population drink more than 5 units a day regularly… Surely, their livers would like to party!

The last thing I want to see is my boss being drunk, although that could be an entertaining event. The contrast between the black suit and a loose tie, messy hair and red cheeks. The contrast between my professional boss and the “wild – drunken – hitting on – random – girls” guy in the pub.

The classic story that has happened “for real” was when 2 guys in gray suit talking and boozing in Dixie Queen – the famous boat bar on the Thames – often hired by big firms for their employees event. After several rounds, we heard their voices. Suddenly, “Slap”, the old guy fell on the floor. The next day, the young guy had an “urgent” meeting with HR, and his disappearance after that was explained by an HR note “due to poor performance… immediate effect… “.

Morale of the story? I think you can figure it out yourself.

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This is what I found on my holidays last week in a beautiful town by the beach. I think this is the most sensible advertisement that I have ever seen.

woman.jpg

Mr Material is looking for his Ms Right:

  • Good Woman
  • Must be able to cook
  • Clean
  • Gut fish
  • Dig worms
  • Have a nice boat
  • Have a prestige car
  • Please send your photo of car and boat to…

Heehee.. At least this guy doesn’t lie 🙂

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Last Friday, BBC had an interesting article about Health concerns. It’s read: “Exercise ‘must be tough to work’! ” Sounds hard, isn’t it? After years and years of research, now they have concluded that an easy, gentle exercise (such as ‘a mere stroll to the car park’) might not be enough to keep you fit. As it’s said ‘No pain, no gain’, you need to break into sweat regularly to guarantee your fitness. Unfortunately, sometimes ‘pain doesn’t grant you gain’.

  • ‘Couch potato-ing’: Sitting in a couch, watching telly even sports wouldn’t help you. Seeing Micheal Johnson running at an incredible speed of 10m/s would make you extremely tired and feeling like out of breath, it’s actually not helping you at all. Even if from time to time, you might need to stand up and get some beer or snacks from the fridge, this wouldn’t assure you fitness. (Tough)
  • Going to the stadium for a game? Yes, this involves driving, walking, singing, shouting, etc. This might even make your heart pound extremely hard when your players almost score in the own goal or the penalty is granted for a dive of the ‘opponent team’… All this might be suffering. But it doesn’t mean you would be fit afterwards. (Not yet to mention, if your team wins, a lot of alcohol is consumed) (Tough & Sweat)
  • Going shopping: Going shopping involves a lot of activities, including physical and mental. It would be exciting for girls and exhausting for guys. You have to go in and out the changing rooms, elbow others out in the sale season, surf from one shop to another, even 3 hours of shopping doesn’t necessarily grant you fitness. For many guys, a lot of pain doesn’t mean gain here. (Well, it also depends what he might get from his beautiful companion :P) (Tough & Sweat)
  • Strolling on the beach: One of those sunny days on the beach, you and your pals (preferably of the same gender) have a walk on the beach. Having sneaky looks at people in trunks and tiny bikini might help you to break into sweat, but unfortunately, this doesn’t help you to be fit either. (Sweat)
  • Going to bars: After your roast dinner, you might fancy some pints? This is, surprisingly, a lot of work. You have to stand, order drinks, socialise with your mates or strangers in the bar, get out of the bar, walk a bit, find another bar, enter another bar, be a social charming guy, etc… This could be hard work. But unfortunately, it wouldn’t guarantee you anything healthy but a big beer belly… (Tough & Sweat)

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Yes, it is a mental game. Mental, I mean a Crazy Mind Game. It’s a game between the employer and the candidate. I’ve been in these two positions. The game is always the same.
And here’s my conclusion: It’s just a matter of who’s more desperate!

Ideal case:

If the company is having good reputation, rewarding jobs, good budget for the employees, a lot of applications of potential calibre candidates will be received. And they can choose the most suitable ones for the job. Perfect! Everyone’s happy. That’s the ideal situation. It happens in life, but not so often, I’m afraid.

More realistic cases:

Tom, for example, might be so fed up of his current job. He can breathe no more in his office. He wanted to get away as soon as possible. But he couldn’t afford staying out of job. He saw an advert of a potentially good job for him. And the salary read: Negotiable. He applied. He liked the job, but the salary turned out to be so unbelievably low. After thinking, and thinking, and thinking… He decided to get the job. In this case, he’s the desperate one. After working there for sometime, he realised he was so underpaid and the job eventually might not be worthy. He decided to leave.

The company is now advertising the position again. Of course, with a tight budget. Calibres ask for good money, so not many will apply. The so-so apply but also want more money. Just the not-so-competent ones are happy. So many have been rejected because the company doesn’t want to pay more. Alright. Tom’s leaving day is coming closer. The company needs to get someone to replace him, and quick! That’s when the employer is desperate. Finally, they would accept anyone, who might have half of his brain and ask for almost twice as much Tom’s earning. And the company has no other choice but say Yes.

So, here’s the tip:

If you can avoid desperate situations, do it. Desperation normally doesn’t bring wise decisions.

Otherwise, bring your Good Luck in your interview 🙂

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A 17 year old girl was rushed to hospital last Wednesday after taking seven double espressos!!! (BBC News)
The funny thing is she’s a student, but maybe that day, she forgot how to count or measure.
Espresso might be great, but with that amount of caffeine, well, I think it might be a tiny bit more than too much?! 🙂

Her symptoms were:”began laughing and crying for no reason while serving customers at the shop”, she was also recalling: “I was having palpitations, my heart was beating so fast and I thought I was going into shock.”

I think it would be good for us to learn from this, whenever we start to laugh or cry wildly without a good reason…

In this case, apart from calling the ambulance, I heard these immediate treatments should help:

(Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor or GP, so this is what I heard from others as a tip. It might be true or false, I haven’t tested it myself. Just for your reference.)

  • Maintain the airway and assist ventilation
  • Induce vomiting or perform gastric lavage

But the best thing is you avoid falling in this situation, I suggest.

btw, I’m going to do everyone in my team now another round of coffee. Oops, I think this is the 6th round of the day! (Hmmm…)

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The free London business newspaper City A. M. published last Tuesday that the consulting firm Ernst & Young is to implement a scheme so its employees can take as many holidays as they want. Forget about 20 working days. If you want to take 30, do so. 40? No problem. That’s a good place to work.

The objective is ending the “attendance culture”. That is, in spite of being eight hours at the office, you might actually be working less than somebody else who is there just six hours. The aim is changing the concept of “going to work” by “doing work”. It is not about being in the office, but doing your duties and doing them well.

This brings me memories of when at school the teachers told us that we were not having compulsory homework anymore, but optional. Great! No more homework. But at the end of the term, the students who had been doing homework had better marks, and the teachers would help them more. Anyway, that wasn’t a big problem, because it was enough with a “pass”, and we weren’t there to make friends with the teachers.

As far as I know, working Saturdays and even Sundays is quite common in big consultancy firms such as Ernst & Young, or getting to the end of the year with some holidays still remaining. They have a pyramidal structure, with many junior employees and fewer seniors. That means when promotion time comes (so called Round Table), it is not enough with a pass. You have to be better than the rest. I am sure knowing that, you are going to take many holidays (!?!)

And while you are lying on the beach, sipping your Caipirinha, you will be thinking about Smith and Johns sitting in their chairs at the office, working like little ants, working six days a week, receiving taps on their back by your managers, covering your duties, talking to the clients assigned to you. And when the promotion comes, guess who is going to get promoted and who is going to get permanent holidays.

When I started my work at a smaller consulting company my manager informed me that they started at 9 AM in the morning. Naively, I asked “and what time do you leave?”, to which he replied with a wide smile. Clearly, this scheme of taking as many holidays as you want is a great idea… but I do not know for who.

 

(Sirventes is the author of the blog Un mundo perplejo (in Spanish), who is joining us from time to time to share his experience in London)

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