Tuesday, February 13, 2018
The cynic in me writes- what use a university degree?
Well Wilson's children who went to the 'red brick' universities got to lick the cream of a rapidly growin economy in the majority of the seventies and the need for better qualified managers, administrators, technocrats and engineers. They got their choice of jobs, often without a vocational degree, and managed to hold onto their career paths while my generation fought against downsizing and delayering, and ended up what we are - lost and up to our eyes in debt.
I take my Mr Average five career changes now out of necessity to have a local job. Most of my friends have ended up in something they didnt study for, alhtough the entry often did require that bit of paper. Financial advisers, accountants, jobbing General Practictioners, personnel managers.
If you take all the arts degrees and life sciences, then really you can look at a degree being a bit of a waste of time, in light of the fact that very many have done a masters in a vocational subject or significatn training and extra studying on the job to pass professional exams like financial advisor or within insurance or other areas like IT. Management and economics degrees fair better, while those sought after IT graduates are actually the new assembly line grunts and only in demand so that there is over supply!
The 'professions' and real engineering fair much better out of it all, with the working class lad or lass made good a very true thing for my generation. Now that is evapourating a little at least.
Career wise for my school mates and fellow graduates, well it has been reaching middle age and not even in what used to be middle management, We are coal face 'managers' with the baby boomers our line bosses until death do us part.
I am just a little resentful, but I have no debts from my studies what so ever. Imagine being a decade younger and laden with all that, and exposed the the UK or US rentier economy, where you basically need to take out more loans just to rent your life and keep moving on the career ladder? It is that bad for some, those without rich parents.
That is the clue. None of my compatriots had parental networks. The old boy thing disappated for a while, to then reassert itself even more insidiously and politically too in many organisations. Little hand picked fascists. We never had power and influence, those who came after us realised that it had to be fought for tooth and nail, as did their 70s urban upwardly mobile parents too. The formula for success changed, not what you know , but who you can influence!
Monday, September 11, 2017
Neuroticism has a bad press.
Without people being neurotic and doubting and questioning, we would never have allowed science to take us to the moon, nor offer our own destruction in a single war it has to be said. Being concerned that things are not going to go well and need further work and investigation holds back the exceesses of flagrant abandon and 'it will sort itself out'.
If you read Fredrants then you will know I am a good old neurotic yet extravert. But the name has a negative connotation which is most unfair. It is there with the picky, insecure old maid, or the over protective mother, or the ball breakingly pedantic boss no one likes, or just losers in general. But the reverse is true. Many people who suceed in their chosen fields, esepcially science and technology, or in furthering other professions like law are what you would describe as neurotic, but dont have the failings of not being able to act upon their doubts, concerns and questioning.
It is in fact linked to creativity and great achievements. Self doubt is in the picture of course, because we neuros dont soak up praise very often, in fact we are invariably suspicious of praise, However we may well seek approval and recognition, we rarely are satisfied by it. There are some crowning moments when we bathe in accolades, because in fact neurotic people are often the most successful. Why? Because they dont accept things the way they are!
In this Am'Science Article the author gives an amazing, candid and easy to read summary of the extravert-introvert, stable-neurotic type axis and shows they are not really truly mutually exclusive nor are they always polar.,
But back up on they write. Neurotic people, or a branch of them, do indulge in risk tak,ing behaviour. They have an internal angst, a dissatisfaction which they have to exorcise in the real world of people.
So when I was wee, I was bashful. I would run in and grab girls breasts as a three year old when my brother had visits, much to embarresment and amusement. This type of crass behaviour continued, even including meeting my spouse! I had to kind of strike out at the world to see if it moved, to feel I was engaging with it, to overcome my own massive inhibitions with some seemingly uninhibited outbursts.
This now explains me as I reach old age at a rapid pace it seems, just over the hill of life really, Yet it also confirms I am damn right about my career choice and hobbies and so on.
I have learned my way out of the crassness and attention seeking because of so much negative feedback from being like that, I have meta inhibited the angst driven routes to overcome my deep inhibitions.
So I go well tooled into the last third of my career life and the second half of my fatherhood and the last half of my entire life quite well equipped with self knowledge and some tools.
For example, I never did get shy people and thought they were just boring. Nor did I understand that life is full of bullies, idiots with no doubts and that they are looking for weakness in others all the time to make up for their emptyness. Now I get shy people and am prepared to stick my chin out and laugh at or with bullies.,
So Neuro is a bad old label, We could be called Pedantos, or Questionos, We are seekers who never find quite what we set out to look for. Some of us are more social and extravert, some are more seclusive and shun company. But it has to be asked are we first neurotic worriers whcih brings us foreceably out of our shells in trying to resolve the angst of being locked up alone?
Certainly I lack some of the socialk antennae skills which many people have, and I worry about things, and even avoid eating the peach.
Recently for example I decided to stop being crew on boats and go back to more helming. It is a tough decision in one way - I have to turn my back on an interesting bunch of folk. But there is no point in hanging on to it if I want to practice helming and being in command of a vessel! You have to just eat the peach if it is there for you, and I got loaned a boat.
Also at the weekend I decided to stop worrying about a lot of job related things and just said fuck it, I will get something better and I will just tell them that I am highly competant in my profession. I know I am, I have been battling demons in only my own mind. I just dont get on with everyone or fit into very admin heavy specific jobs.. So yeah, I have been fired and I have resigned but I just have to grab the bull by the horns inow and say, fuck it , I am really good at this but hey guys, here are my shortcomings and I will have it in writing that they are accepted and taken and not to be used against me in a review.
Life goes on then to get better because I have a stonger self assertion, and can work on or around weaknesses of being the way I am and reacting to the world the way I do. So I cans stop crassness, develope shy friends, and realise that me being a Questionos as I would prefer, makes me a little superior to those who take things at face value or rush in.
In many ways I feel now wise, almost 50, and suddenly wise.
Sunday, May 28, 2017
If I have done one thing for my health in the last five years, then it is the low FODMAP diet.
I am just going into week 5 and i can say it is good to be a little constipated a few times a week, to be honest after years of bad old jobbies.
Apart from splendid stools of solid substance, I also have a better satiation at dinner times, all less hunger pangs ie longer 'satiety'.
The clues have been there for a very loing time, way back before I had a nasty dose of presumed campylobacter way back in 1995. When i was training a lot in cycling and mountain tours i would do huge logs before or after, and often struggle to eat enough energy to keep going. I was basically avoiding dairy products and strong coffee from cafetieres or cuppachinos, a double bad.
I put on my first big weight gain around the same time I got food poisoning. My appetite got bigger and i started getting the pavlovian munchies with beer which i hadnt had before. I exercised less, drank more. 15 stone. Then by 1996 I was 18 stone. That was three stone in two years. I had been around 13 from age 16 to 24, and that is thin for my height and build.
I was a bit of a beer monster in those years, it has to said, but I really didnt drink more than many of my thinner buddies. I did eat a bit more and was less satisfied with ordinary portions.
I only lost weight in 1996 by some pretty hefty training and dropping of beers to just a few a week, and a couple of chinese starters as a weekly treat. I was miserable too! Edge of hunger for months on end.
I put on a bit of weight back on the summer of 96, with sailing being 5 days a week usually a beer of an eve' there with of course. Then I lost weight again when living in a B&B , pub dinners and only an hours walk or swim each day. Something odd was going on!
Beers and big eati in 98 -99 and despite a lot of exercise some weekends, i was by 2000 at a massive 20 stone.
Back to the gym and i was down to 18 snd quite muscly but still a peristent beer gut and w worseing 'toilet habit' with several visits a day, stress jobbies and intermittant constipation. The need was often and what came out varied.
Once again, big mountain tours and big bars resulted. I thought maybe my cuppacino habit was to blame, but in fact it was my healthy eating which was in part to blame, with piles of fermentable fruits and sulphurous onions and garlics on top of my frothy coffee dependency. Off these and especiaøly milk and red pasta dishes, and i would normalise and reabsorb obviously a lot of water.
I started getting bloaty days back in the early 2000s when my gut and side wings seemed to be extra wobbly, often during sport. I should have maybe connected this with losing s lot of fluid in my stools.
Now thisnhas changed, dramatically. Week 1 was awful, lots of diarheoa dribbly crap, but after that , hey presto. Onions and more than a glass of full lactose dairy and i am back to square one.
At week six i can start reintridocing food types to see how i get on, but also i am a bit inspired to diet. I stead of bread i have been having half a packet of crisps with lunch or as a snack when dinner is going to be late. I do allow myself a small dose of wheat, wholemeal per day.
All because i happened to listen to a BBC radio 4 inside health on the issue, and knwew it couldnt hurt to try, since rice, potatoes and a small amount of oats are all allowed !
For more serious IBS then i guess it may tske longer for the 'flora of the gut' to rebalance. For most of us it means no return to some foods which are triggers, like lactose milk products.
Sunday, May 21, 2017
More talking shit then.
Let us get the dirty stuff out of the way, shit lovers, haters, proctologists.
For years and years I have had variable loose, runny shit, pelllety shit, fruity smelling shit, irregular shit, three times a day shit, uncomfortable must shit now shit, farty shit, and the odd bit of constipation amongst this. Also I have a decided issue with appetite and losing weight, being about three stones over where I should be or about 20kg.
As in the last blog, I never ever saw the link between a day in 1995 when I bit into a burger to find it stil frozen in the middle and had a bad dose of food posioning as they call it, most likely campylobacterial in basis. After that time I started to put on weight and certainly my appetite altered. In 1996 I forced myself to do a lot of exercise in the winter and spring while unemployed and working part time. I used to work out at the gym with aerobic 20 mins to half an hour some weight training, followed by a mile swim in the pool and then I would walk home. I crept down in weight a little avoiding beer and maybe having a chinese take away once a fortnight. I was miserable and had an odd kind of hunger. I lost maybe 3 kg in 3 months and started to put it back on. I Some years later with a relatively high level of activity in 1997/8, i lost very little weight at that time too, and I really eat pretty normally. I did put on some muscle in these three years with weight training, but my trouser size of 34/36 went soon up to 38 by 2000 and has kind of sat there ever since, with the gut being a bit tighter sometimes than others on the waistline.
A couple of years ago, or maybe longer than that actually, I started to notice that my middle aged spread went up and down. I could get quite bloated during exercise or after of course meals, but a while after. I thought back and could remember feeling very flabby during long tours in the mountains. Ah, maybe I was retaining water. Well as Billy Connolly says, " Retaining Pies and Pints of Lager" more like. I eat well you may say, and I drink well. In fact though, I do quite a lot of exercise too. However I did put this all down to just my roaring appetite, and that a two week shift to cutting way down on extras, beer, wine and upping exercise from 4-5 hours a week to 8 hours.
I did the latter and felt that I was a fair bit healthier for it, but old summer shorts were dug out and were just as tight as the last time I tried them, and also those photos of me in a tight grey t-shirt! Flabby. But a beer gut and odd, high side wings around a pretty solid guy who exercises a lot. Then I heard a BBC Radio 4 science programme about FODMAPS, and thought well there could be something in this. I have essentially a mild IBS or abnormal bowel behaviour as you read above. I dont have pain, just lots of trips the loo for #2s and discomfort with urgency you could say. So what the hell?
Now I am three weeks into the low FODMAP diet - that is avoiding fermentable oligosaccharides, and some di- and mono-s too. According to some researchers into the Gut Biome, our bacterial populations are severly disrupted from that which is healthy by too much of in particular, fructose and lactose in our diets. There is then an extended list of other saccharides and the sulphurous onion family is to be avoided.
I found a list on a pdf from a reputable source, with recommendations for daily intakes of low and medium FODMAP foods. Basically it sticks around what you might expect. In essence it is a gluten free, very low lactose diet with avoidance of those smelly farty foods like cabbage, onion and garlic. In fact there are some recommended daily 'doses' of the bad or medium bad stuff too. In the table it is not fully clear though on some low fodmap is how little of some things you may be allowed to eat.
It meant not such a huge change in fact, the biggest things being cereals, fruit juices *apart from some tomato- and of course, the biggy here for Norway especially, bread. Ok you can have gluten free bread and cereals but they are a bit mediocre. One thing which is allowed is a bowl of common or garden oat porridge, which is a saviour, although without the dried fruit I prefer. Oddly sucrose and glucose are ok in the scheme of things, but not in large amounts. Apples and pears are out, bannanas and a small amount of milk chocolate is in. I use lactose reduced milk and the odd expensive lactose free milk, both of which are long life incidentally which is handy.
Three weeks in? Well a week in I noticed the difference, I had four days of very diarrheoa like stool followed by a little constipation and then more ordinary stools there after by in large. I kept on checking my menu in the house. Some more things went out.
Things went well then. I felt less bloated too, and also I started to notice I was more satisfied from food and a little bit less hungry in general. Stools getting by in large bigger and better, a little hard occaisionally. And once a day's worth you may say, more if it was a little constipated and I gave up pushing.
Then in week 3 we have national constitution day in Norway, and I said, what the hell, patients had talked about ' lettiing loose' once in a while. The day is an onslauight of refined wheat and most of all lactose. Ice creams all round, at every opportunity and cream cakes, and strawberries and cream, and coffee with cream for once not black.Also we had our traditional beef cakes made with onion and bit of garlic, so it really was a test. Right enough, squits and more trips to the loo for two days.
After three days of being a good boy, and moving to lactose free milk, I was back to better stools and less trips to the loo. My appetite is lower and most of all I feel I can avoid the daddy dreadful eating up what is left because it is less than a portion for anyone tommorrow, or eating up after the kids refuse one more bit. I do get hunger pangs and then there is no biscuit to take them up, just bananas which in moderatioon of up to three a day, are very low FODMAP friendly apparently and good for fibre and potassium.
I feel now that I can concentrate on actually calorie counting because I am less hungry already and hope that some of my flab was indeed water retention due to a disturbed gut and years of excess fluid excretion. Energy is up and down a bit, especially week 2 was tough but going into week 4 it seems more normalised.
What is stil naughty? Well portions of dinner were a very, very big issue for me, and that is reduced. Also snacking or need a starter is reduced. But because I can eat crisps, potatoes are way ok, then I do, so that has to be cut out. But I feel empowered by a new, natural STOP sign on my appetite.
Now by trade I am actually a molecular biologist, which included a lot of biochemistry and microbiology , so I will have to look more into what fermentation reactions are being avoided and how the bacterial population balance is maybe being achieved, out of interest. For you dear shitty reader with IBS or working out but not losing weight nor appetite, a low FODMAP cant really hurt anyway- consult your doctor of course disclamier discalimer.
When I was a kid, there were very very few folk who were on gluten free diets, while lactose was a minor issue you heard of once in a while. We just arent supposed to drink cows milk really, lactose is not something we can metabolise or readily digest,. Bacteria though can metabolise lactose directly. There have been studies which show that cows milk can actually lead to opiod biproducts which would certainly explain some of my drowsiness in the mornings post breakfast. Between lactose and Casein, cows milk just isnt for us in the amounts we consume it in, and a mixed diet with oily fish and vegetables can supply enough calcium. I still eat cheese which is nearly all low lactose, because those said bacteria consume the sugar in producing cheese after most of the lactose is actually seperated away in the whey from the protein rich curds.
Our western diets are an odd cultrually influenced mix of foodstuffs which reflect mostly our farming heritage and supply chain which provides infact, if you look at the figures historically and relative to family incomes, extremely cheap commodity food, and very affordable small luxuries. IBS is a very major cause of ill health and sick leave in otherwise healthy living people, and as with myself being a little atypical in not having pain and discomfort, but typical stool disruptions, are going under the radar and possibly building up problems for the future.
Friday, May 19, 2017
After sitting on the shitter while shitting out a shit, I came up on a ditty as you should
I realised that in fact I have been shitting out bubbly , fruity craps for years and they have become the norm instead of a once a week annoyance. I have in fact a form of irritable bowel syndrom and I can trace this back to of course me getting a dose of food poisoning from a frozen in the middle burger up in Aviemore in 1995. I was ill for months with it and had to go on a simple lemonade diet and semolina for weeks, but in fact I never recovered
It can be said that about the same time I started to put on a lot of weight, but it can also be said that I was partying more and cycling a lot less, while retaining my appetite from that, Howevver it still has to be said that from 1995 to 2000 I put on loads of weight in successive bouts, losing some maybe in 96 and then 97, but after Ireland just getting a bit big and tittied, I was a bit cgubby for years and then only thin with the stress of moving to norway, which may actually be a fact that the new water and gut bacteria thing here helped me get thin
Research in this area has been poo-pooed a bit, pardon the shitty pun, Many dieticians will point to the solid fact that obese people eat a lot more and a lot more fatty and sugary foods, than ordinary BMI folk, However I am quite active and dont eat all that much more, and have tried dieting and atkins without a lot of success, I have varied from 108 to 122 kg for years now,
I did say fuck it all, so what, eat and bevvy and as long as your heart rate is ok and your waistline doesnt get bigger than 40" fuck it, I am healthy, Only I am not, I have an acid reflux problem which has come back and I have irritable bowel witout the pain, just the bloating and potential water retention and tendency for something worse to develope,
I heard about FODMAPS, fermentable sugar species not that long ago and how they are thought to generate the symptoms of IBS by altering the proportion of the bacteria in the gut to a fraction where disease is the result. If these fermenting bacteria were doing somethign else then? Making more simple sucrose or actually starving the body all the time so that it on the one hand stays hungry while on the other hand it lays down fat in contemplation that starvation may get worse?
I will have to see if my theory is borne out in any of the research, but it has a nagging little ring of truth to it. I find that my appetite is bigger now and I am not as satisfied with my food,.
Or rather I did because now I am nine days or so into a low fodmap diet. I have gone for the near total exclusion of gluten and lactose as two prime culprets, but aslo a pile of other things like pears and apples. I allow myself a couple of rye wheat crackers with lunch most often and the odd white flour based thing if I am on the move or ;rude not to; sitiuation., The first few days I had diarheoa, but that I think is to be expected. Suddenly the bugs used to nice fermentable mono, di and poly saccharides are starved, and kick up a fuss as they maybe die back, while others caused commotion, After a week though I was down to a little hard stools but much more even shitting it has to be said, although I am only a few days into that.
I wonder also if this has affected my energy levels for years too, I have been up and down this last week or two but before that I was often vapourised in the afternoons and mid evenings, only to regain a kind of high later on in the evening to my annoyance. Perhaps all that sugar fermentation lead to a sugar rush, or perhaps I was a little drunk on alcohols produced from the fermentations?
It is recommended cutting drastically down on coffee which I have not yet managed, but my bowels dont seem to be going at 100mph like they used to, Often I would be shitting three times a day at the worst times.
It isnt a drastic diet, and I have allowed a major unhealthy thing in - chocolate. The key carbos are oats, bannanas, rice and potatoes, so you cannot go wrong there. Fruits are limited it has to be said. All meats and fish which is not processed is admissable, and simple sucrose is also ok. It is glucose and fructose you should avoid apparently, they get more easily fermented in their basic form rrather than the disaccharide made up of the two. 'Corn syrup' is very high in fructose and it is used as a sweetener increasingly this side of the atlantic, having been long established in the USA.
Wheat starch, gluten and lactose are the other big evils and you hear more about this generally with food allergies to them a bounding in the under 30s. I wonder then if the big change in the generations from eating potatoes as the staple, to eating more pasta based dinners and more auxilliary dairy like yoghurts and refreshing drinks are a big cause for the jump in IBS? or was it one of those diseases people didnt bother going to the GP about before, or just it wasnt in the media? My dad had some form of IBS< but that was in part from poor nutrition and a shrapnel injury during WWII.
Historically sucrose, glucos and fructose have been very low constituent parts of mans diet, as can be seen from the evidence of tooth health in ancient remains through to the early 19th C, where after dental caries starts to predominate in autopsies.
I would like to feel more satisfied with my food, have less in between meal hunger attacks, have less bubbling down there are generally reduce my appitite while increasing my exercise levels a bit. This diet now is going to stick for the forseeable,. when you can then reintroduce slowly and to a lower level, some FODMAPS and see which ones in isolation by reintroduction, really kick you off. I am a lot less farty and have regular solid stools for the first time in years, while also going to the loo lest often for those no.2s, I have still attacks of the tireds, but now I felt today that my hunger attacks were much abated. There is probably a pyscho somatic thing there two, which is good, because it will keep me off snacking and help me push trhough to the controlled portion meal times, which is my next challenge in terms of taking this further and losing some weight.
I am trying to do 8 hours exercise a week, although our 57' N spring is doing its worst to get in the way of this. I kicked this all off with what turned out to be the biggest day out in the hills for well over a decade for me, and it went very well, a couple of concentration exhaustions that was all, on a perfect day bar the huge patches of snow we had to wade through. Health is important, and you cannot ignore an long term altererd bowel issue and just carry on regardless. The same with mental health, sleep, aches and pains, that bad back from sitting in the office too many hours, and of course finally kicking smoking or three nights a week down the boozer. It is never too late and it is not that huge an effort for the benetfits, particularly if you involved more exercise. For me that meant upping my 4 to 5 hour a week to 8 hours , not always making that target, but that being there and much higher, so that I get an average maybe of about 5 or 6 in reality over a month.
If you are lucky your GP or dietician will know now about FODMAPs and the exclusion diet, and I have no doubt that this will be first line treatment for IBS because there is no other proven treatment so far, apart form perhaps faecal implants *repopulating the microflora from another, healthy person" or a total antibiotic kill back followed by what would be effectively the same FODMAP approach more or less., with a simple diet building up until you hit a trigger foodstuff. IBS is very disabilitating in its moderate to severe forms, with people being embarressed to go to work, on the one hand, while on the other hand being in so much pain and discomfort they take their own lives. I have done that dastardly of anti intellectual, stupid society things and self diagnosed myself but of course there is really no risk what so ever, beacuse the low FODMAP diet is really very healthy and probablyy lower calorie in the course of a day. I could say that taking multivitamins is a good idea because you do miss out on a lot of fruit in the first six weeks which are super low FODMAP weeks.
If you have IBS< or are over wieght, or have unusual variable bowel movements, or are too thin, or suffer from sudden tiredness with no other symptoms, then give it a go, the low FODMAP but also of course, disclaimer disclaimer, visit your doctor for advice,.
Wednesday, May 10, 2017
There is a good reason for that - print media falls away, PR has changed to sound bite and fakish news, and online digital is a different beast from where even I was 7 years ago when I last worked in it.
So detailed advice on career paths is not something I can advise on, and unlike the old tweed jacketed fuddy duddies who worked in careers services 25 years ago, I am not getting paid for this, and you can take it or leave it as more general advice!
From hard, bitter experience and on the other hand many high points and having met a lot of sort of Euroyuppies, what do I advise now?
1) Get on the Ladder And Jump Up Rungs on The Ladder Sooner Rather Than Later
A thing I noticed was that a lot of people I met in marketing from around 2002 onward, had a recipe for success. Nearly all had treated their first graduate job as initial work experience, and bailed out pretty early if they were not on a Blue Chip career path internally. Even then they had moved up asap.
I always was under the impression that you had to get a year on the CV, but that is really wrong. Now more than ever what you need to be doing is looking for the opportunity to advance your career in its early stages before I would advise strongly, settling down for 3 to 5 years work at a company. I have been stung several times, even as a grey haired old timer, by accepting jobs to keep me in work, and then finding out that they were not as committed to me as I was to them, and being left in the lurch.
I was at the executive job club on St Vincent Street twice in the 90s, both times asking to be on it after just a couple of months unemployment. There the leader said a strange thing i thought was very odd or off-hand at the time - " When you get a job, keep looking for other jobs". He obviously knew even then in the mid 90s that work was a lot less stable for those coming new to the market and those getting a little long in the tooth on the unemployment statistic. The point for you is that there is always going to be a better opportunity for the vast majority of graduates sitting in their first, often rather tedious job they think as a good career step. Get the Hell Out of There if you can get something which works better for you!
Looking for the opportunity means yes applying for other jobs, doing plenty of open applications to while in a job, and getting used to doing this. In the UK especially, the disposable, project telated worker is a thing which is spreading upwards in society as the entitled boss and owner classes can use the minimal legal requirements and treat staff even in intellectual value added positions, as a commodity, or as something whcih can be hired in and out. You should be very aware that companies expect on the one hand loyalty and hard work, while on the other they will dispose of you very rapidly when they see that there can be some 'down time' or a chance to stress the organisation and get higher productivity with fewer staff.
Opportunity also means conversely to this last statement, being open to running with the ball of new projects to taking new career directions. It means a deal of networking, which just means circulating yourself a little and asking people about their work, their companies, their needs for solving problems and completing tasks. You should I think take the option of something like project managing a new building or working as a quality manager in high tech if that is there for you for some reason. You need then to see what the opportunity is and how your personality and abilities could match it, rather than thinking within a small box of job and marketing. This goes internally and externally to where you work.
This is the big bug bear for many folk from Scotland. We love where we come from and we hate the idea of working in the big smoke, London and the SE.
Basically unless you have a first class honours from your previous degree or a job in Scotland is tailor made for your combination of BA/BSc and MSc, then you are up against huge competitiveness in the market for marketing jobs. Nepotism is rife in marketing and Scottish private business, so if you don't have that on your side, then you are competing with folk that do.
When relocating then, dont think of London and the SE as all bad. I actually love the area, but then again I only ever stay in Hotels or with friends it has to be said. It is highly expensive but there are solutioins to that and in any case if you try hard.
Dont forget that the Manchester - Liverpool area is home to a lot of major brands and on line retailers, and in fact is only 3 hours from Scotland on a sunday night.
It took me five years of temp jobs and rubbish in Scotland to realise that I didnt' have a nice unique combination of qualifications which was so very sought after, and I was competing with old school ties, positive discrimination for women, nepotism and uni' hack networking. I moved to Manchester and never looked back, had a fantastic time. After two and a half years I had my pick of jobs and was able to move from mostly trad' marketing over to internet projects in 1999 at the right time for this.
3) Get Blue Chip on the CV
It is very hard to get into many blue chip organisations in marketing, because they often have a weird formula for success which has nothing to do with marketing qualifications. Quite a few major brands recruit only from Oxbridge and take people like English graduates who were in the debating society or so on. However it is worth trying and worth re-trying again with open applications etc. Here you can take that personnel are actually very often your worst enemy, they are gate keepers, You are far better networking your way to bosses in marketing.
It can be hard for MSc graduates to use sales in corporates as a way into marketing, as many want long term sales people to build "strong and stable" customer relations over many years, or very dedicated go -getting career sellers. However it is not that hard either especially if you can combine your first degree in terms of what you offer a company.
Also you don't need to work directly for a Blue Chip orgainsistion, you as a marketer may find it easier to get a job with an agency who deliver marketing services, or be in sales and marketing in a quality supplier to the Blue Chip customers, and be able to put those names in what the job was about.
Blue Chip names really help your personal branding and make you shine. But there are alternatives in the career route.
2) b) Choose Gazelle Companies and Sunrise Industries
This is a very fruitful approach, but you can get burnt by bankruptcies or buy outs and down sizing as a result. Gazelle companies are those with high growth rates, often explosive growth but investors refer to them as those with growth in top end sales of over 20%. Very often they dont advertise positions other than senior administrative management, because they are known in their industries and attract talent via open applicaitons and networking.
This is because they are very attractive to work for . Very often there are new internal opportunites for more interesting jobs and promotion sooner than in lack lustre blue chips, who are always on the look for 'right sizing' and subject to the knives of merger and aquisition butchers. Gazelles are tommorrows blue chip companies, just look at Apple, a quirky home computer company which now is the worlds highest valued corporate!
Sunrise industries often have many companies who are not on the Gazelle listings you may find for your region or industry. THis is because many of them are in the start up and cash-burn phase rather than actually creating revenue. There are hundreds of app' boutiques, programming away for that next giga-app for mobiles for example. There are the biotechs, there are the nano materials, there are the AI companies. These can be risky to work for, because they run mostly on investor monies , burn capital, and so can have the rug taken out from under their feet and be forced to down size, But they are tommorows Gazelles and nowadays they are often run by people who truly want to build something and not just sell out once they reach a milestone or threaten the market leader.
These are great for the CV, and if things are going a bit pear shaped, then you have a good excuse for getting out when you go to other interviews.
2 c) Go Ugly Early
I have had a good few bosses who have indeed worked for 'blue chip' companies as managers, but not the type of glamerous FMCG ones you might expect. They have worked for faceless industrial supply or finanical services companies, or been managers at lesser known suppliers of marketing services or other supply in the bigger blue chip supply. In effect they went ugly early, they took a management career route in what externally seems a very dull company, a name you see by the motorway in Birmingham or a sign on the main industry area in Slough.
People management skills are actually quite few on the ground because so many companies are delayered. Many product managers these days have no line management resposibities, no longer do they have a 'gofer' assitant PM. Managing a department takes good people skills, which can be honed out in an area with smaller egos perhaps in a less glamerous company before you move over to something a little more sexy shall we say.
3) Get Super Qualified
Dear MSc graduate, you need more education I am afraid!
For movement into mamagement then you need to have better than that poor old one year MSc. An MBA is still a ticket into management, and the MSc counts towards units for Strathclydes programme last time I checked. Very often you will find yourself being managed by non marketing qualified bosses who got an MBA and decided they liked marketing best.
A part time MBA is also a good networking opportunity even if you take several years to complete it, or defer it a year or two and so on.
In a technical area from your first degree or perghaps a route you find yourself in, it can be worth doing further on the job certification or just as many courses as you can. Many marketeers end up on different careers because it can be a bit pyramidal and hard to get a management position as a marketer beyond product manager or say PR manager.
In the period of transformation from Trad' Marketing to Internet, I realised I was missing out on skills and knowledge in a lot of meetings, and had pathcy kind of IT knowledge. I did some training while working at the Uni in 1996, but also applied for the reknowned MIS (management for information systems) at Stirling Uni with a view to becoming more of a project manager than in marketing, and earn a lot more at that point in time at least. I deferred entry for about four years in a row because I would have to have funded it myself and gave up, but it would have been an excellent career boost for me at a time when the market for skills was changing rapidly.
Marketing is a very, very competitive career to get into and you will be surrounded often by very competitive people who can have rather sly ways of winning internal trophies and battles. It is a great career, interesting and varied I found. However dont' be precious with it, if you get an opportunity to be a manger in a different direction, or retraining internally as somethign which pays well, then take it.
I have made the jump over the fence so to speak into supply chain management, which for a marketer is going ugly late ! I still need more courses and certification to really get on, but enjoy it a lot more than I expected and as a middle aged man now, find that the tasks and ways of managing things, and not least the people and their attitudes to suit me quite possibly better than had I stayed in marketing.
Careers are about two things I think - committing to a route and then being opportunistic to get the best pole position to advance your career, and not being sentimental about jumping jobs or relocating.
Tuesday, May 02, 2017
Much though some philosophers and uber liberals would like to beleive, we are not actually free thinking, existential beings. We are to some extent preprogrammed at birth, by our parental upbringing, by our childhood experiences (especially trauma) , by our hormones, by our education, by our social groups....and so on. As they say in darkest Aberdeenshire, the "the biy is the faithir o' the man'"
However we have the freedom to change or to perhaps accept that we have changed. The middle aged me is surprisingly different and yet often more similar to the prototype me than the supposedly mature 30 something me. I have changes maybe in some predictable ways, becoming more emotionally stable, more structured, maybe a little more dependable. Also i am allowing myself to be a little less extrovert, a l.ot more sceptical and interested to mirror behaviour rather than run around like a lapping, barking dog looking for company, expecting everyone to be my friend, as I think I could be at times.
Personality is not a very, very dynamic thing though. It can be drastically altered by chance events, such as emotional trauma or of course brain damage. The most well known story is really kind of the birth or root of evidence for neuroscience and epi-phenonmenology. A certain Mr. Phineas Gauge and his dynamite tamping rod accident. This is a fact, his skull is on displlay post mortem, and although you can of course argue about the actual personality changes noted from the accounts of family and acquaintances, he did survive and was changed in personality.
Personality is of course a coping mechanism for the world around us. However just like the new alpha male in the wolf pack, often we harbour ambitions or have ambition and social position thrust upon us by chance events, through which we kind of adopt a new persona and start behaving differently. We have in fact in many cultures, a great deal of restraint placed upon our personalities. We have social norms, religious conventions and peer pressure, all holding us down in the more presbyterian, muslim or jesuit community. We get knocked down to size or kept in our place by the kind of pecking orders which develop through out life, from the playground to the workplace to the old folks home!
Some of us then cope better because we were predisposed or learned enough to get along with our fellow social homo sapiens. I never quite did in some ways, reflected most in work becauuse I like to change job frequently, and also dont fit in in very structured, authoritarian or staid workplaces. I developed a big anger explosion thing, which I think was related to cannibis use in part, and weekly drinking sessions which could go quite large. I suddenly lost the plot in emotional situations or under stress and became angry to the verge of violent. It kind of reflected my past and it kind of carried on, until the fuse actually got shorter! This was explained to me at a management course about anger in the workplace and at home, that really it isnt going to get better without some conscious training to avoid it, becauuse it is a biiological mechanism, fight or flight, which is being switched on.
I realised also that I had spent many years or periods of my life in 'flight' mode. Ready to run. Backing down from fights and conflict. Also I didnt quite trust people or situations to be any good for me, I expected disappointment or was sceptical to values of endeavour. So being able to stop up and be 'mindful' of my current status and why the sitatuiin is eliciting this response, is quite a normal tool for many, but one I had to learn in middle-bloody-age, tail between legs, But at least in terms of the BIG FIVE, I am a seeker, I like and strtive indeed for new experiences and ideas. We are neophiles for holidays, hating to go the same place twice on principle!
In the big five then, which are actually not a terribly good predictor of perrformanc in a job, somewhat better in team dynamics it has to be said, or in particular forms of leadership like the 'transformational' boss, where have I travelled?
Well I am at odds with myself because I have always been looking for the new, enjoying the excitement of the new, while also being quite extrovert I believed, seeking new people too, But in fact my extroversion is probabkly driven by a good dose of neuroticism as well as my open ness and neophillia. I wanted new experiences with people, but in fact I am not v ery externally centred, I am very inner directed in terms of values and expectations in relationships. I have a fundamental conflict there because where I live, in the harbour town, people are a little the opposite of me- stable, boring, and self centred as a social group if not as individuals. They are by in large NeoPhobic. I hate it here sometimes. In fact of course this fundamental conflict only gets amplified here due to the cliques and the flat social norms expected.
Ok let me think then on the big five, each one to ten, where was I when I was say a young man at Uni and a young Graduate?
Openness / Exploration - probably around 8 or 9
Sability Probaly below five
Conscientiousness Probably about 6 or 7 if you take final year and jobs maybe even 8
Extraversion - well was I really that extrovert, or was I driven to meet people without being that interested in them? I would say I was a six but maybe I was only a 3
Neuroticism . yep, pretty high up at 8 or even 9 sometimes.
How then does the old me rate here?
Openness / Well that is maybe even 10 right now
SDtability - is up a bit over 5, but I still have some issues areound anger and tacking rejection
Conscientiousness / about 8 I'd say, relative to my age about that. Relative to society and colleagues, I am well over average and that has a negaitve effect on my stress level to be honest. I am not maybe a natural at this, like my daughter. I am quite laid back really and not very interested in more than 'cramming' and getting through, less in doing a good slow job and getting on slowly but steadily.
Extraversion. Well here and now I am toning that down, looking to read other people, not rushing in to be in the gang or anyones best mate. I am also looking to get to know shy people more, because before in life I didnt tolerate them well, until Gill came along. So maybe I am naturally actually a 4?
Neuroticsim. Well now I just have bouts of this, and it is a bit situatioin and person dependent, I am also growing out a lot of this on a day to day basis, in parrt due to CBT coursing in rleation to assertive workplaces, and then I took the personal , 3 month course of evening meetings and homework on it. Every manager should do this cognitive based therapy course, it could help them personally and to get much more out of a team, or turn difficult employees around. BTW. I am definetly in a transition between a lot of stress in life and not tackling it very well, and a new slightly laid back, sceptical type I am becoming in respect of many situations which are a nit mundane, like working life to be frank.
In terms of a new partner, and there will be one out there for me believe me, where does this all stand? Well there is truth in both birds-of-a-feather and opposties-attract I believe, alhtough the studies show the best correalation between those lilttle bring matching cardigan types who are highly similar on the big five, or the core three.
I would need an openness lady. 5 would pass if she made up for it in other ways.
I would need a failry stable lady, not prone to negativity or volatitlity. Pretty horizontal that way.
I would need a failry conscietntious, but with the right priorities, bnot nazi about house work`
Extraversion? I dont know, I quite like shy, but they have to be good at putting me first sometimes, and us first most all the time. So shy can be good - it is not a true reflection of extraversion. You may be shy, but actually very empathetic and interested in other people, you just have a social angst from instability or neuroticism, or just lack the tools in extraversion communication.
Neurotiicism. Well a bit is ok, it makes for someone who maybe isnt dull and flat.
Where have i been in my last marriage?
Control , she has a high need for control. This is driven by her conscientiousness and her neuroticism., She is ultra high on both really, although she is quite stable, to the point of arrogance. Openness is also high, on the side of flightyness up at 9 or even 10. Exraversion is higher than mine, she centres around peoplke and not experiences as I do.
I need someone with far less need for control, and less neuroticism and conscientiousness.
I could say that Narrie Nar was not really in the picture there, she was too unstable. She wasnt neurotic, but she lacked a stabiklity thing. She had had childhood trauma you see. Sandra, my first love as a young man, was really all that I could want, easy going, a bit consientious, caring and outgoing enouugh without being flirty annoying, and a little new seeking but not much. Gill was the big hit. Shy, but not introvert, oriented mostly around other people, but not a lot to say always for herself. We had a real chemistry, a boind, which was kind of greater than sandra or 'nita narr. Nita was flightly and flirty and super extrovert. I thought I related to her better than Gill but in truth, Gill was kind of a toirch light into the new, mellower future. I ended up with a highly new seeking, neurotic and bossy type who really has some issues now, but has made a good deal of my late 30s and 40s troublesome and unusually hard work, or rather futile in effort. We just couldnt resolve it all, there was too big a different, even though we are quite similar in terms of the big five . She is anxious, negative and very judgemental. I wonder what hobby she will take up now, after perfecting criticising me as a sport for the last 15 years?
Now you can of cours plot out the big five to look at behaviours and attitiudes like CONTROLLING or non collaborative or what have you. I have a high need for control, but also am laid back enough to go with the flow. However I have learned to push back on being dominated. I have a high need for newness, or rather trhive with that, but could grow out of it.
In effect I feel just his last couple of months to really have finally grown the hell up, just in time to accept myself and become a horny teenager all over again!