The Breaking Out, then Breaking Down

Dan Harris, ABC correspondent, Nightline anchor, and Good Morning America co-anchor suffers a panic attack on National TV.

“Heard of him?” I asked my boss after a minute of small talk. “He said that his rising success did little to belay his feelings of self-doubt.  And, when things slowed down, his mind revolted.”  This is how I broke the news to my boss that I was burning out.

If I ever have a kid, I will teach them that growing older and growing up are two different things– that one can grow down as they grow older if they decide to stop growing. As you grow older, your ego asserts itself as a reductive, self-editing valve. There’s the threat of anarchy without the reign of the ego.  But, on the other side of the coin, there’s the threat of despotism where someone loses the most simple state of “I Am.” The inside voice that is the voice of the fattened ego shoves your true voice into shackles. You forget how to live in the present, how to experience awe, how to be joyful, how to listen to your inside world rather than your outside world, and all the other important things that make you jump out of bed in the morning.  You forget about the colors of foliage lining the highway corridors on your way to work, or the way the sun glints off that flake of snow, or the delicious way the leaves crunch under the soles of your boots.

Ross Finman (in “Am I the Dumb One?”) wonders if we “smart” ones are the dumb ones.  Specifically the smart “we’s” with drive. Not a work-hard-by-the-book type of drive but a work-is-play, Fridays-are-sad-days-and-Mondays-are-fun-days, down-the-rabbit-hole-we-go type of drive. But he also wonders: “Is pitting drive against happiness a false dichotomy?”

Like him, I have concluded that the dichotomy is artificial.  But, depending on how foolish we are with being smart, we can make those two things a dichotomy.  We of such hefty cerebral mass can be dumber than everyone else.  Here’s my personal story of how I dumbly forgot about where I was growing and ended up growing down.

2013 was coincidentally both my first year and my “breakout” year as a recruiter.  My bosses hadn’t planned it this way but the line of business for which I was responsible, without warning, exploded with demand.  I was faced with the task of covering requirements meant to be covered by a team– nay, a micro-army of workers.  The first day, the requirements exploded in my face, July 4th style, I freaked out and disappeared for two hours to a park with a then-boyfriend.  Made him sit on the swings with me to rock the tides of my anxiety to calmer heights.  When the emails started really piling, and my Starbucks latte grew cold, I went back to the office and got to work.  I was lucky in that way.  It was a sink or soar situation.  I mapped out the business I had to fill in all four quadrants of the United States. I still have that map plastered to my cubicle wall as a memorial of my high and fast times.

My friends knew better than to suggest Happy Hour before 8 pm with me.  My then-boyfriend accused me of having an affair with a co-worker given the fact I was in the office at all post-COB hours of the day. I, as my unapologetic self, wrote on my self-appraisal employee review: “The lion is most handsome when looking for food” – Jalal ad-Din and “You desperately want to win each battle but you never want the war to end” – Joshua Rothman.  I was hell-bent on world conquest in my field– a Genghis Khan aspirant. I could relate to what an adviser to Zhang Yitang (mathematician who cracked an 150 year old problem on prime numbers) termed him: “a burning bush, an explorer who wanted to reach the North Pole.”

I wrote an impassioned email to my CEO trilling my commitment to the game and imploring that: Sure, I was good at everything– in terms of this business cycle.  But, give me an assistant so she can take over the back-office, administrative work and let me devote all my time to the most lucrative part of the process– the business development and execution of deals– and I’ll deliver beyond what you dream in terms of bottom dollar.  Five minutes after I hit “sent,” he came out and high-fived me.  I found the perfect assistant two weeks later.  Even with my own assistant, I was drumming up so much business, we were both working over-time.  There were many a times I’d feel her sidelong pitiful look cast behind my shoulders as I told her to enjoy her weekend, and she, unable to help herself, would ask if she could take any work home.

Everyone in and out of the office kept warning me about an alien term called “burn out.” Not many people (other than entrepreneurs) understand that burn out has nothing to do with the number of hours you work. Fourteen work hours then felt far shorter than the eight hours I pull today.  I was in total flow, in mind, heart, and body. Whereas many people compartmentalize work as work, and life as life, home as home, and so forth, I had no such walls.  Every part of my life flowed seamlessly like one big current towards what I loved.

Within a few months, I had built, from scratch, a business Rolodex of loyal professional friends and clients in the thousands. I was bantering with and winning over C-Level executives, SMEs, and other nation-wide, household-name figures in specific industries. I  was trying to gulp down various superlatives and watching my money double, then triple, then quadruple.  Cinderella-story style.  The sheer scaling up of ‘have’s’ is a pretty formidable paradigm shift for anyone– much less a former public school teacher who had lived on Ramen, occasional dining ‘splurges’ (Chipotle), and her student’s smiles.   I wasn’t yet there where I could realize my dad’s pie-in-the-sky wish (that one of his kids gift him with a private Cessna jet), but I felt like I was somewhere there on the road to something Shazam!, something suckling-good in the “American dream” scheme of things.

Even in the beginning, I had a worry.  I knew myself–  the kind of stubborn perfectionist who could be welding her sword outward one moment, then seppuku style the next.  Big guts to guts spilling.  For all that I knew about the importance of self-awareness, I didn’t do anything to stop myself from getting buried in KPIs, other empirical figures, and an empire– way too far beneath raw, fertile soil. I found myself burrowing into the outward representations of concepts, and uprooting their ‘fathers.’

Then, It came.  Quiet, non-heady times where I was not a full-on Jihad style fighter. (Jihad meaning struggling and striving in an idyllic not  perverted sense of bloodied holy war).  The big battles and wars lost.  I was now, still, a skilled member of my trade.  A rare sniper who could slink into any field and steal some fat skins to the delight of my company but who was, at the end of the glorious day, without a big cause.  I needed a banner to feel great enough to be good.  Without an action-film type of speed, I stumbled.

Tobias Van Schneider wrote “The Cake is a Lie:”  There is no value in protecting a cake no one can eat.  Happiness will either result out of eating the cake, or cake but never by protecting.”  I had a cake I left on a stand, laurels I left resting, fat left congealing.

In the past month, I read about Mark Cuban, Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffet, Jack Ma, Carl Icahn, Donald Trump, Richard Kirschenbaum, Jack Weltch, etc.  These were the legends of our times who were un-brazen and relentless enough in their search to dare and risk defeat, do crazy right things, (in Kurt Vonnegut’s words) “jump off cliffs and develop wings on the way down.”   These people felt both like brethren and aliens.  They were armed with their various strengths and faults– impassioned to the point of gross misunderstanding by the masses, flowing and loving into their points like a three year old with his questions and his coloring books.  They knew how to see treasure stories hidden in every day life, and how to drink from floods better than fortunes.  These were ‘mad men’ who danced their ways, without the backdrop of music, into thistles and puzzles that became gardens.

I’m not yet these legends who went hungry, bankrupt, and taken over.  People who know their ability for big wins can ‘suffer’ their big losses.  I’m not yet these people.

I am instead one who smacks her forehead in anguish when some intuitive friend asks: “So…how are you going to try to think less by thinking about thinking less without thinking more?”

I am one who no longer wakes up mid-night with an itch to rifle online through resumes, as if I was a captain looking for sea treasures. I do wake up mid-night to drink in a futile effort to go back to sleep. I know about frazzled hair, panic attacks, and humility more than I know about sleep and easy living.  This type of ‘am’ and unknowing aside, I still have my lessons  and something of a hunger left that I recognize:

“If you love doing something, do it, but don’t put conditions on it– don’t need it to love you back. Do it because it’s what you have to do.” – Ryan McDonough

Change before you have to. —Jack Welch, former CEO, General Electric

When you are doing work that you know is completely aligned with what you want, you are willing to do things that frighten you.

Martha Beck (life coach extraordinaire) affirms that your right path will always taste (smell, feel, sound) like freedom.

I logically reason that the more emotional and social path is better, but I emotionally feel my more logical and socially constraining path is what I would nudge them towards – Ross Finman

“There is a tide in the affairs of men, Which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune.- Shakespeare

One of the biggest ironies here is that once I had achieved “critical mass”, I stopped focusing so much on making money … but once I stopped trying so hard to make money, I was able to make even more money.  Part of this is of course related to the idea that “it takes money to make money” but I think another big part of it is mentally unshackling yourself from making money so that you can focus on building actual real world value … and learning how to capture the vast majority of that value for yourself.

Creative Burnout by Ash Huang: how do you know when it’s over? You won’t spend time thinking about protecting what you have, but rather, creating the new

Loss is a scary thing. What is that loss that matters most, we might and should ask ourselves?  Is it the money, the shortfall of projected earnings?  Is it something more intrinsic (ego, life meaning, etc.)?  This may sound wildly preposterous but I do observe, for my role models, losing a good part or all of their fortunes was like losing a parking voucher.  Ramifications might have been bigger but I propose analogy because of the way in which they went on ahead.  They just went ahead like it was God’s gift to them in poignantly pointing out something weak and went about fixing it up.

Loss is a normal thing.  When you are a hamper-height babe, you are moving– totally mindless of the last moment in which you’ve fallen and picked yourself up.  From the stub of a fat knee to a push of an ankle, it’s all so much the same. It’s total idiocy to think of the experience in its parts rather than its whole.  You are an adorbs- little panda bear reeling back on long stilleto legs.

Loss is no monster.  Loss is a window.  I’m still struggling to eat that cake while breaking through all the saccharine layers back to the basics.  Still struggling where I don’t know if a year/years later from now, I’ll be a risen-again Dan Harris or a victim to my own choices.

If you are struggling, if you need a pep talk..an accountability talk…a walk through the technical know-how’s of whatever you are trying to achieve, consider reaching out to me.  Even if it’s ‘just’ the (first mentioned) pep talk because mindfulness is well over half the battle.  Let’s help each other.  Let’s share,  create value, scale in our risk uptake, mentor, live joyfully in the present, be uncomfortable, get bruises, break down and build up, be broke and better.   Let’s.

Boredom and a New Hiring Ad

I get bored quickly.  This accounts for why, in recruiting, I can’t stick to one hiring swim-lane.  I am (in a co-worker’s words) the “sniper-recruiter” that flits from searching for data scientists to mortgage underwriters that likes sinking her teeth into polka-dot unicorn type of treasure hunts– stuff that’s puzzling, and makes me dig in new ways.   By and large, if a resume bores me I don’t bother. That may sound harsh and you may liken my ‘sin’ to an archetypal Kinder user’s superficiality in swiping a Plain Jane leftwards.   All I can say it tends to work, and, hopefully the following is said more out of legit conviction than hubris but I think it generally also works for my clients.

So, anyways, I am always looking for everyone under the sun. Well, on paper, everyone.  At core, the very opposite.  My Dice account is littered with a chain-link of job postings and saved queries which doesn’t address this paradoxical need.  I spent this morning gobbling up Douglas Edward’s narrative of Google’s early days in “I’m Feeling Lucky: The Confessions of Google Employee Number 59” (it’s the tech-nerd version of an ‘action film’ read).  Google’s general hiring philosophy is well-known; still, revisits and refreshes of the known are good and new things too.  If the “core” of someone in my recruiting is so important, why not overtly address the fact?  So, here’s a first try.  Your comments welcome.

(Do a search on Dice.com – plug in a DC metro area code like 20190 and you may find my ad as excerpted below.)

To copy Google’s words: “You’re brilliant. We’re hiring.”

In full disclosure, we are trying something new instead of the traditional job posting. Hiring across tech fields: DevOps, AWS gurus, Pattern-Big Data, OpenStack, UI folks, etc. NoSQL, REST API, Puppet, …the skills we want go on and on.

More important than your skill set is YOU. You are good in your field but are not afraid to retool because you know we can’t predict the next growth or fire in today’s world.   You are the ‘generalist’ that moves from A to B with excitement to the next cool unknown. You need to solve real-world problems. You want to swim on the deep exciting end with other sharp, open-minded flexible people. You are dabbling with code on Github, learning Scala or AngularJS or something new to you, while doing your tried and true thing in coding Java or whatever. Doesn’t matter if you are not that example we mentioned. You get the idea.

If you truly identified with what you just read, email your resume and we’ll partner with you in bringing the right stuff to you, tailored to you.

Email angela.liu@compugain.com  

Exposé of messages from guys on OKC (and lessons on messaging in both the dating and job hunting world).

okcupidLast week, I stumbled onto my blogged “Real Talk” featured on a Monster.com and BBC News article (not sure which site  referenced which): http://www.bbc.com/capital/story/20150213-skip-this-on-your-cv-or-else .   Basically, I was harping on a resume-writing grievance: fluff words [‘damned, insipid weed of words blotting out the view of their substantive counterparts’].

I constantly draw parallels in best practices between dating and job-hunting.  The same thing that works in a kitschy, dim-lit Italian restaurant date often works in a more ‘austere’ office interview. I mourn the fact that many of us subvert real talk for  political correctness, a pony show of one-way vetting that erases our strong and beautiful lines.

Let me pivot to the dating arena.  I was showing a bro-friend samples of good and bad messaging approaches on Okcupid in my book and this reminded me about my thoughts on aforementioned article (for which I caught flak from quite a few defensive readers – hint, hint: click that link because who doesn’t love to read trash talk).  Exposé:

Flunks:

– The wall-flower statement:I’ m honest, loyal, considerate, fun to hang out, laid backed and always with a good attitude. <- Same canned excrement you could find on resume: “I’m a team player with good problem solving skills.”  Aka, I am your bland, white-bread spread that tells you nothing about who I am.  I’m the Mr. Nice guy next door who colors inside the lines and cries because girl doesn’t get my awesomeness when I don’t even know what it is. I’m also the guy with the resume that’s a rap-sheet of responsibilities and no accomplishments.

-The TV-dinner, EZ-mac rendition of Point Z: “Let’s meet” or “Let me take you out to dinner.” Deafening period. Bold, declarative intent is inherently good but you don’t just tender a prospective employer to “hire me” or “to partner up” nor submit a resume that says “Looking for a xyz job opportunity where I can xyz” in an otherwise sea of blank white space.  (Shy away from a job objective which is the resume-version of a toddler going take-sey, crying “Me want.” Be an adult table-setting your value in your give-sy professional summary.)

 – The canned compliments: “Hey there, you seem like a nice person, liked your profile…”  Nice is criminally stale in many a contexts.  It’s a remedial class way of saying someone is awesome but probably not knowing if and how they actually are awesome.  “Your company seems nice to work for” <– You think that would make a hiring manager lean back in his tufted leather chair and lick his lips?

 – The Cyber Cat Caller: Damn…you are hot…isn’t it hot in herre? Lol.” <– Extra negative points for misspelling and the invocation of “Lol.”

WINS or somethings closer:

As I mentioned in my profile, I work in defense. Don’t get excited. It isn’t a Jason Bourne situation. I lead teams building cool software related to national security. I love it. There are few things I would rather do. Probably Major League Baseball player. Definitely Batman. But that’s about it. When did you figure out teaching is your passion? Once you get your master’s will you focus more on policy or administration? <– Funny, true story: He became one of my billable consultants for a more ‘Simon Cowell’ than ‘Paula Abdul’ type of client.  I credit this to the way he wowed them by knowing and belting out the unapologetic, raw, strong innards of himself– in tandem with his technical prowess.

I’ve never done an online dating site and last week was my first time on this. Your profile resonated with me and, yes, I thought you were very pretty… (I get that’s said to you but it doesn’t illegitimize my perception)I really would like to learn about you and it dawned on me after talking to a girlfriend that I shouldn’t ask you out in the first note but I’m direct, so my apologies but would love to get together for a drink if that’d be comfortable for you?

I thought your profile was hilariously written. My dad is an author and my sister writes for Entertainment Weekly in NYC… So the writing genes weren’t evenly dispensed there. My preferred means of self expression is through the spoken word. <– So, this one was a bit more ‘school boy’ but it felt real and interesting all the same.  The guy was humble and honest– acknowledged his descent into the ‘clique’ stuff, showed he’d taken the time to really browse through my profile, and give meaningful giveaways about himself.

Anyhow, I’d walk over a floor of broken glass for the chance to talk to you more online, let alone in person, a la Bruce Willis in Die Hard. So, say something! Otherwise I’m going to make a mess trying to recreate that scene. <–[A guy’s second or third message.] Humor and non-serious self-deprecation is usually Good Game.

Can’t forget the haters:

Well written, your profile is elegant in style but arrogance is very apparent. Michel Richard-type places? Dear, you are not Cheese-Cake Factory worthy. Don’t think your pretty looks allows you to say whatever you want. After-all, this is okcupid and I found the ok in your personality by looking at your profile picture and reading your summary. <–  I like this guy’s writing.  He’s intelligent if not all-discerning.  (However, I stand by the belief that my love for the esoteric and non-franchised restaurants can be more real talk than it is princess talk.)

————

My two cents on how not to ‘flunk:’

Engage in real talk.  I’m not saying be real butt-naked right off the bat style (unless you are cool with it).   Shed some of your clothing.  Judiciously excerpt yourself in a way that’s comfortable and manageable for someone who’s not used to you yet and who you are not yet used to.

Don’t troll; don’t copy-paste; don’t do a ‘one size fits all’ approach– at least not if you are online to find something “serious.”  Ya know, as a recruiter, even the pressure of turn-around times and requirements has led me down the pathway of canned email-blast merges.  It’s so easy to save an email template beginning with “I came across your resume and felt you had the skills we are looking for!”  In the recruiting world, where it’s nowadays a seller’s market, sometimes you do gotta troll and fish mass-factory style to raise the odds of catching a few svelte blue-fins caught in the mix (WHILE also doing some more targeted deep-mining for the diamonds in the rough).  The thing is, it’s usually insulting because the reader knows it’s impersonal.  The average girl on OKC and the (not as average) Open Stack, Palentir-alumni Big Data guy on Dice.com gets enough solicited interest. They aren’t going to dignify an “I don’t give a crap enough” type of solicitation from sender.

When I actually take the time to articulate how I “see” someone and rationalize my interest, they often bite.  Even those not on the job market.  I emailed one cool tech cat: “Going through resumes, I found yours and  I really like your overall experience– from the CI practitioning to the way you talked about your fluency in languages (love the “conversational” and “speak haltingly” verbage), the Fitnesse and Selenium test refactoring, work with ElasticSearch and Big Data, and even the side Groovy/Ruby/Perl.”  <— I told him enough details to convince him I had taken the time to vet him out if even in a prelim, window-shopping way and he responded appreciatively:  I have to tell you that I can count on one hand the number of people who have responded with the level of personal detail that you have shown in your email to me. I receive many (generic?) emails from recruiters that do not even mention my name, for example.  He went on to propose a phone conversation or Starbucks meetup.

Aline Lerner recently wrote a brilliant article ( https://blog.hired.com/what-i-learned-from-reading-8000-recruiting-messages/ ) where she shows the correlation between personalized, targeted messages with positive response rates. I think what she and I have to say works for both the potential ‘rockstars’ of your work or dating world.

I’m better at Olde-English absinthe or other formal speech but here’s a rapper-rhapsodic reminder:  “Do You.”

Second Go of My Resume Consulting: What to Expect

resume comic

A few short entries ago, I wrote about  “The Short Life of my Resume Consulting” (acknowledging it was perhaps a bit harsh).

At the end of the day, I do like helping others. Adding value is a good feeling. So, I’m going to restore my services.  To keep the shelf-life of my services running, I am going to set up expectations to all prospective clients. If the following does not work for you, move on. (And, if you have enlisted my services before and feel like there’s critism directed towards you in between the lines of my expectation-setting, you are probably right that it’s not just a feeling.)

A few points you need to know before working with me:

  • I look at hundreds of resumes a week.  (There have even been times I’ve pored through thousands of resumes in all 50 states in the US with a matter of a day or a few days– bringing new meaning to the cutely hyperbolic saying: “eyes bleed”.)  I spend a fair amount of time formatting, improving upon resumes or building them from scratch.  I’ve observed how different hiring managers gravitate towards and away from different resumes. Thus, my services are as follows: “resume and/or cover letter edits/tweaks/proofreads  typically averaging $30-$60 and “tear downs/rebuilds” for $60 to $120 depending on complexity.   I may even throw in some pro-bono job-hunting leads, career counseling, or a pep talk as I see fit.
  • From my understanding, ‘market’ rate on fees tied to this type of service are almost ridiculously expensive. (See one breakdown of the average resume related services: http://www.amazingresumesmd.com/pricing.aspx ). I remember one of my candidates telling me his company shelled out $400 for resume editing. Fees are usually in the 3 digits which I think is an over-value. My goal is to provide similar services at way-below- market costs.  At the same time, I think there’s a value-to-cost disconnect in another diametrically different way in that some of the people who’ve come to me so far don’t seem to realize how much work and thought goes into even mere recommendations and suggestions. This brings me to my next point below.
  • Note: Sometimes my services will be as simple as delivering you a ‘product’ neatly bow-tied without you lifting a finger. In some other cases, usually where I see a ‘muted’ voice and at- fault humility, more of my task will involve helping you to reframe your thinking which will require some legwork on your part (for example, picking up the phone and letting me help you talk through your accomplishments, impacts, and quantifiables). In such a situation, if you don’t see the value or time for your own legwork, I may not want to nor be able to help you.
  • I encourage you to take everything here with a grain of salt. Each resume-consulting professional may give you different opinions– re-illustrating the gray realm in which these best practices dwell. In fact, if you disagree on or question any of my opinions, I encourage you to bring them up because opposing viewpoints are great ways for both of us to further reflect, expand and modify our perspectives, etc.
  • Post-delivery of my services, I welcome any and all of the following: If pleased, refer my services and/or write me a LinkedIn recommendation (no pressure however). If you see ways in which I can improve my services, take to heart that I welcome ‘harsh’ criticism as a way for me to continue growing.

When Losing is better than Winning.

Shortly after writing a post (“Email to my CEO”) heavily tinseled with feel-good, morale-upping content, I lost over one third of my consultants and current business within a day.  I learned of my loss half an hour before COB (close of business) the Friday before the Christmas holidays.  Within a day, I had lost a substantive chunk of my projected earnings.  Of course, there’s the more altruistic-based loss where, in between the thoughts of dollar-signs, I realized there are people’s livelihoods involved.  There is an entire group of people (in the double-digits) who need to figure out where to go next, who need to think about re-marketing themselves for the next job, worry about how to break the news to their family and how to support them, and figure out what to do from a geographical standpoint (most of these consultants relocated from across the country for this engagement).

I drove home towards the weekend in a state of shock– half-glad for this mental stasis, because there’s an inertia in the state of being in shock before the actual gravitas of it all sinks in fully.  Before you wake up the next morning– fully feeling the grief and pain of it all and either tear yourself a new one in terms of tear ducts or one in the intestines/liver (hello, Vodka Redbull.)  All that happy non-hum-bug I had pressed upon my colleagues and management, now, I needed to abide by– in the most concrete, physical sense of the concept.  It’s the seminal moment– making the decision to commit to a growth-mindset, which means understanding every loss as an opportunity to grow bigger than one’s problem and recondition the risk-aversive mind, honoring loss as the true possibility of gain, and re-connecting with the pillars of what it means to live consciously.

Most of my life has been a ‘spurt and sputter’ endeavor in overcoming the way I live– in fear.  When I was little, I prided myself on coloring within the lines– scorned the (wrongfully labeled) lack of discipline with which my baby brother zig-zagged outside of the clearly-delineated lines of the color book’s picture.  That misguided pride carried itself through my early adulthood.  Up into my middle/high school years, my peers quite often voted me into the superlative likes of being successful, or famous, or a covert superhero because of various intelligence and talents.  Yet, I sensed that all that technical aptitude had me woefully prepared for the actual knocks and flows of life.  Even in the sense of that knowing, I couldn’t bring myself to think beyond thinking inside of the box because I didn’t understand the relation of failure to success.  I went through the personal and professional with a live-to-die mindset where I was only fighting to preserve and protect my status quo:  In dating, I bet quite calculatedly; I willingly let go of any prospect too risky– even if it meant losing the possibility of that great love that moves you up and down, back and forth.  In finances, I obsessively read up on Warren Buffet, ETFs,  Mad Money, Motley Fool blogs, any and all reads on short term/long term investments…and then, sat for over half a decade in analysis paralysis.

I was always the kind of person who needed to learn the lesson the hard way, who needed true loss to galvanize me into the motion towards winning by understanding what was intrinsically important.  I was the kind of person, so faulted in my level of construction as to resist meaningful deconstruction and disruption, that ended up bucking and balking against the true meaning of life flow.  Which meant that I couldn’t flow into falling in love, whether it was with an individual or a vocation.  I couldn’t activate my passion and energy in the fullest sense.  I was such a fearful type of creature that I had to bottom out– engines dying– before I could really begin the journey up.

Falling into flow and out of fear is a wonderous experience.   It’s an experience to which you have to constantly recommit yourself because it’s a double-edged, pleasure in the pain type of experience that leaves you sated as you are hungry.  You start to understand this seemingly paradoxical yet symbiotic relationship.  You start to understand that linear growth is not effective growth.

I asked my brother (who is continuing to color outside the lines as a CTO of an IT startup) the other day how happy he was.  His response: “Pretty sure neither happiness or peace are on a linear scale.  A linear scale can’t explain why i’d probably put a negative number on both but still tell you I wouldn’t rather do much else.  When you do a startup, you’re trying to make something from nothing.  That makes the internal picture very complicated.”

On a smaller scale (smaller because I haven’t completely left the security of a 9-to-5; I still have a fallback, a hedge that prevents me from leaping to his level of intensity– that ‘real skin in the game’), I understand his response.  Happiness is something that people try to capture in a gift-box soft of manner where they forget that one’s goal in life is really not about seeking happiness.  The pursuit of happiness as the be-all and end-all of goals often climaxes as a stopping point where you embed yourself into this transient feeling, that really has no longevity in the big sense of being.

In Year 2013, I started understanding the diminutive construct of happiness, as I threw myself into balls-to-the-walls, War-of-the-Worlds work.  In Year 2014, the exigency of my business clients’ requirements ebbed into a pace where I had the danger of resting– without that gun to the head, fire under the ass type of circumstance.  My brother mused upon the discomfort of returning to ‘civilian’ life.  And because I couldn’t have said it better, I’m going to again straight-quote him: Once you’ve touched it–the smell of doing something truly creative–i’m not sure you could be satisfied plugging back into the matrix.  That’s why i never have a good answer when people ask me if i’m happy with what i’m doing.  On the one hand, hells no, it’s the most difficult and painful thing i’ve ever done by a margin i can’t even explain.  On the other… i cant look at a 9-5 “job” anymore without gagging.  What an empty life.”

This past year was a re-emergence into civilian life.  I found myself fighting constant despair and ennui.  I walked into my boss’s office one time– literally tearing as I told him how much I missed that feeling of my head about to explode in every which direction.  I was no longer fighting for world domination in an over-saturated market of competitors within a breathless-type of turnaround time-frame.  I was no longer trying to the effect the impossible and, consequently, no longer feeling any active current.  I don’t want to stay in that ‘civilian’ type of lifestyle.  I want to rush back into a dimension where work is not work, where work is inseparable from loving and living, where I can giddily don on my ‘game face’ every breath of every moment of every day, where the perils are irresistable in their sparkle, where 14+ hour work days feel so much shorter than a usual 8-9 hour day, where the material and immaterial marries itself in the meaning of what it means to live.

The following is not a “New Year’s resolution.”  Perhaps, part of my scorn of the perennial New Year’s resolution stems from my elitist aversion to the conventional, and also the short shelf-life implicit in the temporal-based timing.  So, the following is a life-long resolution (something I wrote back in undergrad-college):

Falling

It helps,

Letting go in an exhale, in a yawn,

In a smile.

I tried being perfect

But it was easier to fly falling.

I want to breach finite inner/outer barriers.  I want to gain more of myself in every loss.  And let that charring of the wings be another notch on the belt that is not so much a notch in its face as it is facing the in of everything, the understanding that every upward flap of one’s beginning, begins inside.

The short life of my resume consulting

A short while ago, I had this idea to do freelance resume-consulting on the side. Supposition: As a technical recruiter, I look at hundreds of resumes a week and spend a fair amount of time formatting, improving upon, tearing down and building from scratch resumes.  Some author of some book I mean to purchase and read said “To be human is to sell.”   Your resume is your quick-read playbook of all that you are worth from a money, professional standpoint.  I first had the idea to ‘sell’ my services when a job seeker told me he his company had footed the bill for a professional’s $400 edit of his resume.  Not quite sure if that ‘edit’ was such in terms of aesthetics/presentation or something more fundamental and conceptual.  Whatever the case or outcome, the 3 digit figure a pop seemed like a justification of a peripheral source of income.   The intuitive reader would have picked up on the connotation of the ‘seemed’ in full rightfulness.  Because here’s what I found. A resume is the magnificent yet teetering Tower of Pisa pregnant in its possibility to both appease statement and risk-aversion.  People most often end up subduing and muting the power of their voice in their resume.  There’s this belief that you have to adhere to a structure and practice– that it’s better to be mind-numbingly politically correct and monolithic than to risk offending a reader with an over-encroachment of one’s self.  I realized that more of my task was in helping others to think newly.  And,yet, most people figure that consultation means a complete surrender of a will, thought, being– not realizing that what they need most is a bold willful statement and fight for who they are, what they do, and who they impact.  My job is to wake you up.  But the majority of you resent me for threatening to jar you into this realm of consciousness– for challenging you to think.  This type of thinking– this type of awareness of your imprint– has nothing to do with hours of framing correct verbage.  It has nothing to do with your feeling that I’ve betrayed or shorted you in making you work for your consciousness.   I can’t give you a story without you knowing or telling me your story.  A resume consultant (or any consultant for this matter) is not some Saint Mary baring breast to an infant, not some nominative figure to a subject, not some microwave-like remedy to your deficiencies.  Real fruit is going to be from the sweat of both our brows.  So, if some consultant ever hand-feeds you the ‘elixar’  in the form of some boom-boom-boom compendium without the bleeding and blessing of your true self, understand that you’ve only paid for a house built on sand, a first coat of paint, sheep’s clothing.