Monthly Archives: August 2012

Plan Your Retirement at Age 45, Not 65

This post will be helpful for people want to climb up their corporate ladder and become professional managers. If you are an entrepreneur, you may also get some useful ideas. But the path will be slightly different. The advice is given by the trainer while I was in his training course on Business Analyse Essentials. I didn't research on the exact figures mentioned below, as I think the idea or the advice is more important here, even though the numbers below may not be 100% correct.

Contrary to our believe that people join workforce after graduation in their late 20s and work from companies to companies until retirement at their late 60s, the trainer warned us that we should plan our career only till age 45.

According to national workforce statistics, mid-tier management will hit their career plateau in their late 40s.  They have been working on the same project or assignment for over 20years. There is nothing challenge for them in day to day work. However, due to lack of traits, such as strategic planning and thinking, necessary network, for higher management positions, they are unlikely to get promoted to the next level as well. As their pay raise and motivation drop, they become less valuable and less favorable to the company compare to the younger generation who are much cheaper and very energetic.

Then 3 likely path will happen 3 years after they hit their plateau. First, they get really fed up with the job they are holding. Depends on their skills and outside temptations, they will quit their well paid but boring job to drive taxi, selling properties, or open up a small coffee shop. This kind of explains my observations on many taxi drivers have strong technical knowledge. They are the retiree of previous senior engineering from different industries. (Of course, this post is nothing about happiness which can be perceived from different angles. I am discussing and sharing about the career decisions.) Second, they kind of make peace with themselves, or comprise with the reality that they have to pay off their loans and children’s education fees. They stayed in their current positions, doing nothing but 9-to-5. They tolerate the struggle of waking up every weekday morning and the stress from younger professionals making their way up. They didn’t expect promotion and receive salary increment that hopefully justifiable to the inflation. Third, they because too expensive but not as valuable to the company. When economic gets bad, they are retrenched. Bad news always comes at the wrong time.

Age 45 is the age they separate corporate professionals apart. A few well prepared are moving up and given more prominent roles to lead and decide the destination of the rest that are unprepared. Indeed, according to an article from Forbes. Late 40s to early 50s are the average age of CEO for top American corporates across industries.

Hence, the trainer urged us, especially young fresh graduate to start thinking and planning, not for what you want to do after retirement at age 65, but where you want to go at the age 45. According to him, that is the point where your career ends or flys. There are 2 alarms bells 5 years ahead of each before you reach 45 sounds at age 35 and age 40. As he explained, the first 5 years after graduation, most people are just exploring the workforce, pay off the study loans, and setup their own family. Young professionals try to build up their skills sets and create basic professional networks. They do not have a clear understanding about either the industry or their interest. Hence, before 30, they are simply trying to adjust their student mindset to a professional one.

A few years in the job and with some savings and a stable relationships, people start to pay more attention to their career. Higher position, better pay, more exposure. People start to value their progress based on what they get and feel satisfied whenever they make progress based on those materialized rewards.

This is the trap that most people fall in. People are brought up to follow different kind of curriculums and targets set by others until age 25. After that, people are put into their own boat and become the captain themselves. They are so used to the direction pointed ahead of them for the first 25 years, they forget to find their own campus when they start their own sail. They benchmark themselves against their pairs or their pays last year. Everything looks up and right on their chart. As the sea is so widely open, captains without a campus enjoy their daily progress but lose their directions and they start to circle around from the starting point. 20 years later, when they hit the plateau, they realize the course they have sailed but lose the energy and patient to stay focus again. So once again, they boarded on others boat and become one of the sailers.

The alarms at age 35 and 40 are a good indicators that the captain need to review their courses. Unfortunately, many captains didn’t hear the alarms until the final bell. The trainer thinks, though it is a bit late to wait until any one of the alarm triggered, captains still have chance to master their own boat if they can take immediate actions. What they need is a campus and constant adjustment of their course towards their target. The ship cannot be turned overnight. Years of effort is required to steering it to the correct course.

He suggests that we set our destination (bold and big) at age 45 and put milestones every 5 years in order to reach where we desired. We then try our best to shorten the time from one milestones to the next.

So final take aways

  • Your career destination is at age 45
  • Set milestones along the way and try the best to shorten path from one to another.
  • Don’t fall into the trap of daily up and right charting

Update:

As entrepreneur, I don't really want to be the head of department or regional officer of other people's company. But the general principle applies to me as well. 
In the sea that I will sail, not only do I need to adjust the course according to our campus, but prepare to fight with the storms. 

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Get The Shit Out

This is a bit of awkward blog. I got the idea when I enjoy my “moment” this morning after a few days missing it.

Claims: Due to my vobcabulary in this topic, some words used below may not be accurate

It comes quite on time for me on normal days as I follow my daily routine. I will wake up around 730am, travel to work or do some reading on Weekends, and have my breakfast around 9am. After the coffee, I will start to remind myself subconsciously I need to find a comfortable place to get myself ready. I will always bring something to read. It is kind of like the bell that makes a dog sliver. After I read through the first paragraph, always until I finish the first paragraph, things will drop out. While I continue to read, things all go through smoothly. After that my days continue, be it a happy productive day or stagnant stressful one.

I didn’t give much thoughts about it until I started my training course a few days back which required me to travel to a new place and situations around are not as familiar. My attention is shifted and my body still trying to adapt. My subconscious stopped working and I missed the golden time frame for me to get those rubish out.

About 5pm of my first training day, I remembered my missing activity. Hinted or just by nature, I start to feel toxicated. I was trying to remind myself about the feeling I normally have after my coffee. I even started to image the things flowing in my body moving step by step to the asshole. But it always stopped somewhere slightly below my belly. I tried very hard to “move” it down a bit further, but out of luck.

I have been out of luck for a few days. Left over food a few days ago mix with the new comers and plus my imagination and constant reminder from my “toxicated” body make me a bit uncomfortable. It didn’t bother me a lot when I was focusing on the new materials. But it got a bit embarrassing during breaks. Well, as the food get digested and the left overs yeasted in my body, some gas leak out constantly. I knew that the gas won’t smell any pleasant based on my experience at night when I was alone. As a result, I need to find some excuse and fart in some distant place and hope no one would come close before they got diluted.

I woke up very early this morning, had my breakfast, and arrived the training location way early. I grabbed another cup of coffee and waited in the class room half-patiently. Maybe my body finally gets used to the new enviroment. Maybe things inside my stock just too much to be contained anymore. Maybe the relaxing environement in the early morning classroom. Maybe the coffee here is more effective. Maybe … I finally found my trigger this morning.

As the stuff came out, I couldn’t stop thinking, what a simple habit that keep me happy or at least save me a lot of worry for my days.

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Taxi Driver

I went to a training course this morning. I scheduled enough time for travelling to the new location. When I realized that my bus was heading towards the opposite direction, I knew I would be late. So I stopped a taxi and hoped I could still reach on time.

The driver seemed to be quite interested in my iPad and start to ask about the functionality, what it can do, where I bought the cover, whether it can download software from computer. I was busy searching for my emails and told him the exact location of my course, so I kind of hmmm, haa, errr … and couldn’t pay attention to what he said.

Then the driver show me his Asus PadFone tablet.  It caught my attention. As he is the first person I have met who actually purpose this product. It is a very innovative design that a tablet is powered by a phone. You can take about the core and it become a fully function android phone. I didn’t expect such a taxi driver whom is willing to purchase this kind of fancy gadget. Then he started to comment on what he can do with his favorite gadget and complained that he could find a iPad like cover. But he still like it very much as he can conveniently switch between his big and small screens.

After showing me a few photos in his tablet about his girlfriend, he said this number is strictly only used by his close friends and families. I am a bit confused on why he stress on this. We share our numbers to all people. Credit card bills, colleagues, acquitances, etc. Then he took out his Galaxy S2 and said he used another number for his business related activities. He also owned a Galaxy Notes but left it at home idle because of his new Asus PadFone.

Wow, what a surprise! I thought he must be a PlayBoy type of taxi driver. My impression on them (no discrimination here) are people who are in late 40s and couldn’t locate a proper job. That’s why they take on this 12 hour shift in order to support their families. And to me, my taxi driver must lives in a quite slavish manner. But I was wrong.

The driver then told me, he actually owns a printing business and the business is almost on autopilot mode. He decided to drive taxi because he simply like to meet people and travel around the city. While he is driving and taking passengers, he is able to talk to different people and get to know many new things. And from time to time, he is able to meet some customers by accident. As he talked about his experience, he said, some passengers just happen need to print some brochures, business cards, T-shirt, etc. Happily for both side, they can make a connection and talk about the deal further. He also drives his taxi when he need to meet customers in their office or make deliveries. And because he drives a taxi to meet customers, he will always arrive early in order to have enough time to park the car. He doesn’t want the customer want to know he is also a taxi driver except those he met as his passengers. As a result, he never late for his meetings.

While he is free or waiting in the airport queue, he will use his tablet to make some design works. He side he actually have Fireworks installed(not sure that is true). He helps his customer review and design the material they need to print for free because that is part of his interest.

What a happy side business! (It is quite of hard for me to tell which one is his side business though.)

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Courage to Live Plainly? No

Few days ago, I read a post shared by friends on Renren about the courage to face your plain life. It is originate by a back-packers who has just graduated and join the workforce as a young professional. The author points out that the young generation are eager to express their identity by doing all sorts of different things. They dress differently, travel to different places and in different manners. They seek for their uniqueness and afraid to be ignore or be treated as just anybody. Then, the article quoted a passengers the author met on the train, at the end of the day, we all go back to reality and live a common life. It is important to have to courage to get settled and live a common life.

 

In a society that people wanted to get famous in order to fulfill their ego, this article received a lot of positive comments. Some people genuinely express what they feel because they are the humble without ambitious type who just wanted to live peacefully without worrying too much. In my opinion, this people are lazy mentally. (Different from those who are lazy physically and eager to make the world a better place.) Some people put their support because they want to be viewed as humble. They are the person try to look good in other people’s eyes no matter what suggestions or views are given. They are afraid to give different voice that potentially make them look aggressive or less-welcome.

 

I agree with some facts stated by the articles, but do not think “the courage” is something we should promote. It is similar to the traditional confucian dogmatic that we should live as nobody and just accept what the society, or worse the powerful and the resourceful given us. We work as ants and die in the dust. We consumed what we have created or more that we have created without making the world more affluent. And I think that is  wrong but just not good enough.

 

Of course, I do not mean I think people who wasted resource or sacrifice their own or others reputation to achieve something that just worth for others to gossip should be recognized. In fact, I think they should be suppressed and make them unknown and unsung, so they their little expectation to be gossip is vanished. Their behavior are causing harm and damage they they think are good for them.

 

So what we should do, I think is the follow our own dream. We should keep growing ourselves, striving to achieve something beyond the enjoyment of physical needs. In this process, we are not fighting against each other and wasting ours and others time to be gossip or gossip. We seek our uniqueness and a peaceful meaningful way. We live in a society that is common for everyone else but uncommon for ourselves. We maybe nobody to others, but we will be somebody to ourselves.

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About My First Promotion

A lot of things to write, but dont know where to start.

First, I get promoted early this week. It is a long waiting promotion as one of my colleague phrase it. Yes, it came late about half year base on my expectation, but with a surprise. As there are quite a number of candidates on the waiting list, I can image the fight my boss had in order to help me. It comes with both his recognition and expectation. Luckily I still have some buffer time to show him my appreciation. If the promotion comes half year later, I would either let him down, or block my own plan. It would be a wrong time.

It isn’t a very proud thing as many people have made higher achievement at my age with wider exposure. It is important for me in the sense that I mastered the skills to survive (not prosperous) in corporate.  It would lend me more credibility to convenience my parents on the path I chose. They have always worried about my future, worried about how well I am going to live. (So worried that, they still from time to time deposit some money to my account, or find other excuses to give me pocket money.) With this promotion, though they still feel it would be much easier and safer to climb the corporate ladder, they are willing to let me explore. To be frank, they never reject my own decision, but I still prefer to make them feel better before I actually step out the world unknown to them as well as myself.

On the day my promotion is announced, we got one production issue. Some big guys screams and demanded explanation and fix by the day. I am not able to paste his email due to legal issues, but it was pretty rude. I chatted with his team, (I am pretty close to that team of users), “Did he eat shit last night?”, “No, this morning” replied.  😀

Well, as he screamed so loud and made everybody hear his words, we have no choice put follow all the formal admin process. Everybody is called on to fill in forms, setup environments, generate reports, chase for signoff, obtain permission to deploy, engage with vendors, arguing on when and how to deploy… Boom, the nice Fri is gone. This is the thing I hated most in corporate, when things go wrong, as minor as 1 line of code that caused some duplicate records in the reports, people focus their resource not on get the problem solved, but pointing fingers and try to scream as loud as possible in order to identify who to blame. Whenever I met or heard such stories, I strengthen my belief that in the information industry, big corporates do not represent the most effective and efficient production relationships. People need to work on their dreams not their money.

Some learning point about this issue.

  • Build good relationship with your users, most of the time they are on your side.
  • Have a clear understanding on procedures and take actions quickly.
    • Clear the admin stuff clean and fast, it will facilitate approvers get back to you.
    • Demonstrate your understanding of the whole process and the business impact will keep Governance mouth shut.
  • Plan for future action when process error is spotted
  • If the boss support you, you need to prepare all the artifact to back him/her up. Managers also need support and materials when the talk.

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