Tuesday, May 02, 2006

More on Work

I have a degree! It’s a replacement for an actual personality

I got a great comment yesterday from an astute reader, following my post on the job situation in my city and wage discrepancies and all that.

I have lots of schooling but, frankly, the stuff that has made me successful (and that’s a matter of some discussion, depending on who you’re talking about me to…) isn’t the book learning I have, but the social skills, need to read, and my obsession with connecting people to resources they need to get forward.

My reader, Wendylicious (who is young, for the record), reinforced my dislike of focus on credentials over ability and experience. Her key points, with which I greatly agree, are that some things are much more important in terms of success than others: things like “…brains, guts, and the willingness to work hard to get ahead…,” extensive reading; pursuing personal interests; a desire to continually self-improve; a willingness to take a job that will provide lots of forward and upward mobility, even though that job might be entry-level.

My reader is likely one of those people who would be bored out of their minds in college, not because they’re not smart or able, but because they have an innate knowledge – they extrapolate from their experiences and use what they learn - and college courses are sometimes pretty much reiteration of things such people just know. Extrapolation means creating a tangent line at the end of the known data and extending it beyond that limit.

What differentiates such people, and I count myself in this group, is that they pay attention to what’s going on around them. They read the paper; they read blogs; they watch the news (and they know Entertainment Tonight is not news); they talk to people, and more importantly, they listen to what people are saying; then, they take this mass of information and apply it to life and work. They don’t ascribe to “That’s just how it is.”

These people remember other people’s names, what those people do, what they like and dislike and WHY; they’re interested in the world they live in. Essentially, they are observers and they’re connected to life on a cellular level. And all this ability, as un-school-learned as it may be, can be a massive benefit to a business or employer. Pick any one of those qualities and apply the requirements of a job to it....

Imagine now, that you have an employee with a great degree but few to none of the above qualities....

And, not to digress (ok, I digress), exactly how many classes did said degree-holder attend and what was their GPA? A person can get a degree without having attended class and with a GPA of 1.8.

What’s sad is that we still live in a culture that celebrates and chases credentials. As my reader points out, an education got from books isn’t everything; lots of educated people are idiots with degrees (that part is me, not my reader, speaking).

I am a huge supporter of education in whatever form it comes in. There are professions that require a person to go to university for sure; I wouldn’t want to be treated by an unschooled doctor or represented by an unaccredited lawyer, for example, BUT I know a few people who aren’t lawyers but who have an excellent grasp of law and legal issues because they’re fascinated with law. And therein lies the key.

If employers would please quit focusing on the paper a potential employee comes with and would hire people on their ability, their interest, their experiences and their determination (and if that person comes with a degree, all the better), most businesses would find they are much more productive and that their employees would stick around longer, because they’re actually interested in the job, not just coming to work so they can afford to live.

Anyone can be taught but attitude, guts, goals and go-get are born.

Thanks Wendy.


Monday, May 01, 2006

Sing it!

But Mr. Bush, you don’t speak English!

Reprinted from The Globe and Mail

One-language anthem
What is the US President talking about now???

So, you’re only a citizen of the US if you speak English? The national soul is only English? So what does that mean for MILLIONS of US CITIZENS who were born on US soil or who are naturalised or who have chosen to come to “The Land of The Free?”

What about all those Cajuns who left, persecuted, and came to the Carolinas? Those would be the Acadians - from the maritime region of Canada - who were FRENCH speaking Catholics.

What about all those people who were stolen from Africa and brought to America (thank you, Bob Marley) and who certainly didn't speak English but who certainly became and are now citizens?

What about all the people who come from Korea, China, Japan, Philipines, who are citizens but whose first language is not English? Should they leave?

When are the citizens of the US going to stand up and silence the village idiot that is their President?

Newsflash, Mr. Bush: the US national soul is made up firstly of people who were there long before English speakers were – first nations people. After that, people who came from every corner of the earth – places where people have occasionally never heard English being spoken.

A country's national anthem should at least be sung in the official languages spoken in a given
country. In Canada, our anthem is sung in English, French and CREE, all of which are official languages (OK, Cree doesn't have the respect it deserves, but it is one of Canada's major languages regardless).

The US has two official Languages; English and Spanish.

Get on board Mr. President.

Here’s the reprint from the Globe and Mail:

Hamilton, Ont. -- Re National Anthem Best Sung In English, Bush Declares (April 29):
"One of the important things here is that we not lose our national soul," George Bush said in reacting to a Spanish version of the American national anthem, Nuestro Himno (Our Anthem), which was played on U.S. Hispanic radio and TV stations recently.

…. President Bush reacted with: "I think the national anthem ought to be sung in English, and I think people who want to be a citizen of this country ought to learn English and they ought to learn to sing the national anthem in English."

Canada's anthem has two official versions, French and English, and were a group of immigrants to offer it in Ukrainian or Mandarin, most Canadians would be tickled.

Xenophobia in a land of immigrants should have no place."