Perks of unemployment

yitch

Reasons for leading up to unemployment can vary, from recession, incompetence, mismatch, assholes for bosses… the list is ridiculously long. The negative impact is still a loss of income (hopefully temporarily). The up side is the time that has freed up to pursue activities, hobbies and relationships that are normally not offered during normal employment. Most importantly, there is time for reflection and a chat with the self. (Not in an asylum setting of course)

Self discovery and 🚩s

In general, I think a good majority of folks know what they do not want after working for a few roles. Only the very lucky really know what they want to do. And even then I find that to be a high risk scenario. Jobs and roles are displaced quickly based on technology, disruption and economy. Flexibility to adapt and try different types of jobs in different industries is something I have enjoyed and actively pursue.

I recall a recent interview that a friend very helpfully set up with his boss:

You must have a win in your next role. I do not think it’s fair to hire you for the role at the company because I am setting you up for failure

Roles

I have enjoyed ambiguous roles with crappy JDs. The roles I have taken on have offered a lot of learning as compared to the traditional roles. But they all start with a huge disadvantage. Ambiguous JDs present a systemic problem with the organization and the potential boss because they just kinda know what they want but are unable to articulate their thoughts. Worse still, they tend to have ill defined expectations for the role in the name of “agile”. 🚩!

Bosses

The observation I have is everyone is nice. Or will believe they are nice. (who the fuck is stupid enough to think they are bad?) And that belief is dangerous and leads people to greatness through the demise of others. As a boss, one of the key roles is to make decisions, in a limited time frame. In theory, it is supposed to be informed, objective and will lead the team to the path of success. In general, I’ve seen important decisions delegated, clouded by personal biases based on information only from the people they like to hear from or straight from the gut. A dice roll might offer a better outcome at times. A lot of people are not trained in management much less leadership. But these are still very modern concepts that were adopted from the factory era that has not been modernised for the information era.

You are able to determine the mindset of the boss through the culture of the team that is set up. If there are signs of a need for idol worship, thank the interviewer(s) quickly and bolt. I have seen pictures of the boss being placed in an office I used to work in. Started off as a joke, but on hindsight, I am quite certain he enjoyed the ego stoke. In general, people overly obsessed with image would fall into this category (check DSM V for confirmation of narcissistic symptoms)

Teams

The people you most immediately have to deal with for more than 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. This is probably more time I spend with my wife and kids on a weekly basis🤔.So of course it’s important to find people that you minimally have something in common with, apart from the job.

Personally if the team heavily relies of Whatsapp for communication, this is a huge red flag🚩. In an era with slack and distributed channels for distributed workflows (not to mention the glorious first 10,000 messages are free for search!) how the fuck do you continue to stay on WhatsApp? Or if you are on Office 365, what the flying fuck are you still doing on WhatsApp when there is Teams? This is an immediate sign for me to walk out the door (And I just did, yesterday). I think I have zero tolerance to work with cave people expecting me to help them with evolution. If hunting and gathering were the skills of the past, self learning is the skill of the present. Spears and sharp rocks are replaced by Google (Or Duck duck go if you prefer privacy). Technology companies are disrupting multiple industries and the lame ass excuses of : not enough time, this is new to me, I am not a tech person is just utter nonsense and waiting for a tech company to disrupt and kill the company.

Friends

I think the few episodes of unemployment have helped me to identify the really good friends. Actions will speak louder than words. The spectrum:

  • Actively connect you to recruiters and bosses for an interview
  • Sympathetic but unable to help (I think that’s ok)
  • Does not even know you have been let go (First to get voted off my island and possibly sent to the gas chamber)

There are articles that state acquaintances are the ones that help you with a new role. The authors are either game theorists or assholes. The person who is actively helping is a friend. Full stop.

Family

I’m actually very happy I now have some time to spend with my family and bring my midget (2.5 year old kid) to South Africa to visit a friend. I recall my dad told me, the whole point of having a salary and making money is to provide for a family. No point in making a ton of money and have no one to go back to. I do not always enjoy my midgets but they are a source of entertainment from time to time. And of course my irresponsible actions created life. So responsibly, I think it’s important to make sure the life understands values and morality. (德智体群美)

What I want to do? (now and in 5 years)

🤷🏻‍♂️

That being said there are a few things I have been fascinated with:

  • Burger flipping at McDonald’s
  • Branding at Coca Cola
  • Public transportation systems design

Burger flipping

Burger flipping is always seen as a part time stepping stone during university or for the old folks who need employment for bill payments. My fascination stems from a very different motivation. McDonald’s operation is one of the best implemented just in time Toyota production systems I have seen. With any lean projects, there is always a need to gemba gembutsu and be on the floor. The supply chain decisions are also fascinating to see their transformation towards healthy whilst reusing a lot of the currently sourced ingredients and determining the supply chain for new ones ( https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2013-07-03/why-the-mcwrap-is-so-important-to-mcdonalds)

Branding at Coca Cola

Apart from my love of Coke as my main beverage (that love does not work out well sadly with my increasing waist line), the branding campaigns of Coke have fascinated me. From their personalized Coke cans, to the hug a vending machine for free coke campaign. The branding is one of the strongest in the world ( 14th as of 2 months ago). That being said, to my knowledge the cool campaigns are normally outsourced to agencies and I have little desire to work for an agency after working for the largest one in the world😨. But the strict adherence to a story of happiness and color schemes and fonts is something I really hope to explore some time in future just before retirement

Public transportation systems design (not SMRT)

I was super fascinated with the design, implementation and operations of the public transport systems after reading about them in II systems in public transportation (The title says it all)

In many ways, it reminds me of the legacy and complexity of healthcare systems. It presents a very different, yet fun puzzle. The different sets of individual problems such as fleet management, resource management, customer management need to be managed well and put together to form a system that solves a simple problem of getting the customer from point A to B. Just a simple list of questions that I could kinda understand:

  • what are the vehicles available?
  • what is their capacity?
  • what is the maintenance schedule
  • which spare parts do you keep for which models of the buses
  • which drivers do you assign and what shifts?
  • what happens if some of the drivers fall sick what is the contingency

And this is even before building the customer profile to figure out what are the routes that they wish to take, at what time and the information required (I now have a deeper appreciation for my friend who sells transportation signage for buses and trains. I always thought it’s a simple LED sign board 😂. But yes just the standards for input is likely a pain in itself)

What’s next

For starters not wasting time binging Netflix and YouTube 🤣 (as much as there are so many good shows and cat videos to consume)

If you’ve enjoyed the story, feel free to share it and hoping you are a friend that helps me connect to people for an interview (Mcdonald’s, Coca Cola or Singapore Bus Services or even Port of Singapore Authority preferred but anyone is fine)

Spending time to explore the possibly of publishing my own journal paper or two (in preparation for a phD, damn papers are the only thing they ask for), work on developing a doorviewer with my Sipeed board, setting up a home email server with my raspberry Pi and continue working on a long long overdue board game.

Spending time to learn Blender, Branding, RISC V design.

Spending time with friends

Spending time with family

Spending time with self 😄

yitch

Written by

yitch

Garden variety technologist

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade