Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Your Personal Portfolio

Like 99% of adults in the world I have a Facebook account. I use mine to post pictures occasionally, or witty status updates, and the rest is used for remembering birthdays. I log onto Facebook everyday and check the birthdays and if it's your birthday and I don’t want to wish you a happy birthday I unfriend you. I figure if I don't want to at least send you 2 words every 12 months we’re not really friends. I logged on one day to go through my daily purge attempt and I read a Facebook status from someone I had gone to school with that was basically a list of demands that this woman wanted out of any potential suitors. She had a laundry list of things that she wanted from her next boyfriend and I didn't even bother reading it. I just removed her from my friend list because I felt like she was going down the wrong path. Instead of having demands she should have been highlighting her characteristics that would make a man want to date her. And that is where I think a lot of the problem lies nowadays.

To me getting into a relationship is 50% dateable characteristics and 50% marketing. If you’re single you have to ask yourself "What are my dateable characteristics?" This means what do I have to offer to a potential mate that would entice this person to want to stay with me. This could include anything from being ambitious, good looks (albeit temporarily), wealth, fame, personality, sense of humor, etc. There are a ton of different characteristics which could be used to distinguish yourself from any number of other potential suitors, and that’s where marketing comes in. You have to be able to take all of your dateable characteristics and present them in an attractive package to let people of the opposite sex know that you’re available. No, this doesn't mean being revealing or overtly sexual. Sexuality shouldn't even be anywhere on the list of dateable characteristics, because you’re not a prostitute. You’re a complex human being who should have some other traits or skills or traits that would entice someone to be with you.

When I refer to marketing I’m talking about creating what they refer to as an elevator pitch. I was watching some cheesy TV show the other day that had 2 women basically speed dating 20-30 men and each man had 10 seconds to give a line or two about why they should advance to the next round. In essence, that’s what dating is. First impressions go a long way in life and dating is no different. You should be able to summarize the high points of your dateable characteristics in a form of elevator pitch, in order to get more time to win over the person that you’re communicating with. Time is the most precious resource on earth, and there’s nothing I hate more than feeling like my time has been wasted. The question is why do you deserve my time? And the answer to that lies in your dateable characteristics.

The part a lot of people neglect when creating their personal marketing is that the best marketing campaigns are rooted in truth. It’s great if you can create that attractive package that will have people interested in your product but is your package 100% truthful and honest and objective? If not, you will have a hard time keeping people interested in your product. In the business world this is referred to as a bait-and-switch, in which it leaves the customer feeling cheated. In this instance you would be cheating yourself, out of potentially finding that mate. There’s nothing wrong with being objective with yourself and pointing out your flaws only if you’re trying to improve them. Ask yourself "Am I where I want to be job wise? Income wise? Status wise?" Instead of feeling down on yourself identify some ways you can improve on yourself, and slowly but surely work to improve those dateable characteristics. This will help two-fold. It will take your mind off of being single and at the same time improve your marketing package for the next time you need to make that elevator pitch to someone.

Dating is just like every other transaction we know of today. It involves an exchange of resources by two parties. The dating transaction revolves around meeting someone and exchanging time with them, and if it goes well you two will at some point merge companies and share all of your time together. You have to present yourself as worthy of the merger, and that’s where marketing and dateable characteristics come into play.

Virtual Reality

At work we always have visitors that come in and out from various other organizations. While someone was getting a tour of our facility they crossed our call center and our Technical Support agents were assisting customers. We have a very warm, welcoming setup here, and our call center is no exception. The person getting the tour stated "This looks so nice and cozy. It's so much different than what I was expecting. I guess I was expecting one of those call centers in India like in the movies." We all looked at each other for a minute then continued the tour like nothing had happened.

There's been such an increase in virtual work places and outsourcing that often we forget what the people who do jobs that our integral to our businesses look like. There's a certain dehumanization at play when the only interaction you have with someone is via email. Even if you use conference call setups, there's no replacement for being in a room with someone and reading their body language and composure. This online, digital age we find ourselves in has seemingly replaced human beings with just avatars that respond to our email written requests with a certain SLA.

I know the thing that spawned this line of thought was the tour at work but I thought about how detached we as a society have become in our personal lives as well. It's almost like we're afraid of being alone and must always be connected to one another via social media. We text more than we talk on the phone, and I'm guilty of this. There was a critically acclaimed movie that hit theaters recently about a man being in a relationship with his computer, and smart phones are basically hand-held computers. All of the stigma has been removed, and we're now detached from other human interaction more than ever.

I received a message on LinkedIn by someone who has recently started up a company. The company, which I won't name, sells articifial intelligence software that basically is able to read and interpret text and spit back intelligent answers. Basically, this software is able to replace call center agents that are needed to deal with email, message boards, etc. and basically link queries directly to a directory of help documentation. Everything we have this day and age is getting smarter and smarter to remove human error, but isn't that what makes society so great? I know that human error can lead to huge mistakes, but it can also lead to flashes of brilliance as well. I love humans. Maybe I need to start displaying it more.

The Innovation of Loneliness from Shimi Cohen on Vimeo.

3 Sides To A Story

Yesterday was such an unexpected day. I had 100% of my meetings go well today, which never happens. I ordered something different for lunch for a change, and after work I met up with a friend to watch the Brazil/Germany World Cup game. I had a strong feeling that Brazil would lose, but I had no clue it would end in a 7-1 traveshamockery. The bar was full of people there to watch the game, all deciding whether they should leave or stay around and watch the gluttony, except for one couple. I guess that added to the unexpectedness of my day.

The couple in front of my friend and I were a man, probably in his late 40's/early 50's and a woman, probably in her late 20's/early 30's. The man was wearing a wedding band on his left ring finger and the woman wasn't. The game was from 4-6pm EST and they showed up separately halfway through the game and began ordering stiff liquor drinks. They both started out facing the TV, pretending to be interested in the game, but by the time my friend and I left shortly before the end of the game they were turned almost at a 45 degree angle facing each other, with her feet on his chair and her hand on his knee. Their body language made it seem like this was one of the first few times they had hung out like this, but you could obviously tell that there was something more than plain friendship occurring here. I turned to my friend to see if he was witnessing this as well or if I was just going crazy and he said he noticed. They were literally the only people in the entire bar drinking liquor drinks, and since I've been there before I know just how strong they can be. If they wanted to hang out and get drunk together, why not go to a Happy Hour? Or, wait until later in the evening like most normal people to get shit-housed. The only reason to get hammered at 5pm on a Tuesday is because you have someone else to go home to, and that just isn't cool with me.

I don't understand cheating at all. I've never messed around on someone I was in a committed monogamous relationship with. It infuriates me at times knowing all of the vagina I've turned down in order to remain faithful, because I know from firsthand experience how much women love a man in a committed monogamous relationship. There are 2 parts about cheating that I just don't understand at all. The first is why would a person remain in a relationship that he or she is obviously not happy in? Every relationship has ups and downs and people will have various ranges of happiness, but if you truly love that person you love everything about that person. Why would you violate that bond just for a few fleeting moments of pleasure? The second is why would someone knowingly have sex with someone they know is in a committed monogamous relationship? If you don't know or if the person misleads you that's understandable, but if you know the person is married or seeing someone why put yourself through that? Do you not value yourself more than that? Do you think they will leave the other person for you? Or is that the best you think you deserve?

I have a friend that met a coworker and they exchanged a few messages back and forth. She had hit him up with "Good morning" texts the past few days, and now she asked if he wanted to grab dinner sometime this week. She has a boyfriend and didn't hide the fact that she was with someone, yet she is still running what appears to be the dating version of the basketball full court press on my friend. He asked my opinions on the matter and I told him that ultimately he has to make that decision for himself, but I told him the karma might not be something he's ready for. I'm all about trying to put positive energy out into the universe in hopes that something positive will be returned to me. And quite frankly, there are too many single women out here to be wining and dining someone that already has a boyfriend. Everyone just wants to be loved and be with someone that makes them happy and I realize that everyone's situation is different. I guess sometimes you just have to get it how you live.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Money On My Mind

Who was it that said that money can't buy happiness? I hate that we have phrases like "Money can't buy happiness" that we all seem to abide by, when we have mounds of evidence that points to the contrary.

I have a friend that has been having car trouble recently. She's only going to be living in the state for another month or so but she still needs something to go to work and back. Metro Atlanta has a notoriously bad public transit system because people that lived in the northern suburbs of the city were mortified at the thought of "urban" people being able to traverse the city at will so they never expanded on the MARTA system. MARTA literally takes you to 15 places in a city as large as Atlanta. It doesn't even take you directly to Turner Field, which is one of the reasons why the Braves will be moving to Cobb County in a few years. But I have digressed.

Her car troubles were making it to the point where she was nervous her car would go caput at any moment, so she took her car in to be serviced. She was told that the repair fees would be more than the car itself, so this past Saturday she decided that she needed to seriously start looking at new cars. After some online research, a few phone calls and emails, and a visit to a dealership, she has a new car. It's a great deal, and a huge upgrade from a car that threatened to die on her everytime she got on 400, and boy is she happier than ever now. Money allowed her to have happiness and peace of mind. Isn't that all people should be striving for?

There are some life moments that are free and can only occur in certain situations whether you have monetary wealth or not. The other 90% of life depends on having money, free time, and the appropriate fun social network. I'm constantly reminded of this as July 4th weekend will be here in a few days, and I stopped to realize just how blessed I am that I'm able to plan a trip and spend the holidays in a different city than the ones I live and go to work in. I'm gainfully employed, even though I'm not saving as much money as I could or should be saving, but I have marginal free time around my 50-hour work week and I have friends that I can kick it with. There's not much more that I could ask for. Could I have fun without money? Yes I could, but the lack of money would be offset by my lack of free time, as I would have to make some lifestyle changes in order to survive and getting a second job would probably be near the top of that list. I also don't have any children (that I know about) so that helps to boost my free time ratio as well. Children are great, and I love kids, but having kids is truly a life changing event and the two things they affect the most are free time and money.

The other part of that triumvirate of happiness is having an appropriate social network. There's no magic number of friends that you should have, as I know tons of people who lead very fulfilling lives with only one friend. It's all about surrounding yourself with people you enjoy being around who push you to become a better person. Whether that's through perfecting your crafts and hobbies or learning how to get thicker skin or learning how to bounce back from relationship issues, a strong social support system is important. Even introverts need human interaction, so why not make those seconds count to your benefit?

I have a friend that's moving down to Atlanta in a few weeks and I'm one of the few people that she knows. I will try my best to make sure she has an enjoyable experience and makes a lot of great memories down here as I know what it's like to move to a new city not knowing anyone. I told her I was going to allow her to join my social network and I hope she's able to maximize the other 2 parts of the happiness trifecta in order to make the most out of this experience.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Fuck 12

I feel like everytime I turn on the news there's a new story about someone who's case was overturned via DNA evidence. This week, I found this case. To summarize what happened, a Florida woman was raped and murdered and there were 2 suspects in the case. One was her boyfriend and one was another man. They found semen and blood on the crime scene and used that to convict a man. 22 years later, DNA evidence was like "Oops, our bad, got the wrong guy" but the Florida supreme court still voted not to overturn his conviction. 6 years later, he was finally freed, after spending almost 30 years on Death Row. I repeat, 30 years on Death Row for a crime he didn't commit. Because evidence at the crime scene stated that he 99.9% had to be the killer. This is getting absolutely absurd.

There are two issues that aren't ever covered by journalists whenever a person that was wrongfully convicted gets freed by DNA evidence. The first and most obvious is that THESE PEOPLE LOSE YEARS OF THEIR LIVES FOR SOMETHING THEY DIDN'T DO. In most of these instances, they can't file civil suits to get compensated for these lost years of their lives because of red tape. And most importantly, they've lost the time they could have spent being productive members of society and will undoubtedly have huge mental and emotional burdens to carry for the rest of their lives. The second issue is the sheer number of people who are wrongfully convicted. I was taught growing up that our justice system was here to protect me and put bad people behind bars to keep our country a nice place, but the older I get the more I realize that when push comes to shove they just have to lock someone up to close a case and keep it moving. In the above mentioned case, there were 2 suspects and they supposedly found his blood and DNA, which DNA proved they didn't. Which means they basically just took a 50/50 gamble and got it wrong. And I feel like this happens quite often and no one ever mentions it, which is a traveshamockery. Yes, I made that word up, but I've digressed.

We need to do a very hard rethink and ask ourselves why we allow so many people to get thrown behind bars, for such long periods of time. The private prison industry is fast becoming a billion dollar industry, and now that millions of African Americans are behind bars it won't be long before marijuana is legalized across the country. Maybe we need to ask who is the real beneficiary from a justice system set up this way. It's mathematics.

Handicap Match

How do you tell a girl that her friends suck? You don't.

No seriously, there is no way that telling your girl that you don't approve of her friends will ever end well for you. It may sound like a good idea at the time to tell her that her friends suck, but you can't ever utter that phrase. You can't even utter anything remotely close to that phrase. And here's why:

I know it may be hard for some of you to realize this, but your significant other's friends have way more influence in your relationship than they should. I'd even go as far as to say that your girlfriend's/wife's friends matter more to your relationship than you do. What I mean by that is that you must keep your girlfriend's friends happy at all times, and they have to be happy that she is with you at all times, or all hell will break loose figuratively and literally. Her friends will go from supporting you to undercutting you at every possible opportunity, to the breaking point where she usually has to make a decision between you and her friends. You never want to end up in this scenario, so again you can't ever say that her friends suck.

The most common way that your significant other's friends will try to intervene in your relationship is that they try to apply things from their dating and personal life into the way that you interact with their friend. That failed dinner date that your girl's friend just had will somehow become a topic of your relationship, and you will have to address whether you would have acted the same way or a different way. Regardless of what your answer is, you will be judged ruthlessly. This scenario is exponentially increased if this discussion occurs in the presence of both your girl and her friend, as they will try to dispute any instances of logic you may use to rationalize your argument. Reacting logically to a situation with a woman is like voluntarily drinking Clorox bleach. It never ends well.

I had a situation in my previous relationship where while hanging out with my girlfriend and other friends, one of her friends interjected that I couldn't have any single female friends because it's impossible for men and women to be platonic friends. Her reasoning for this was that every man who's ever claimed to be her friend has wanted to sleep with her, so therefore I must behave like every man she's come in contact with. The problem wasn't the interjection, or my defense of the contrary that men and women can be friends on a platonic level. No, the bigger issue was that someone with this level of close-minded world views was someone that my ex-girlfriend trusted for advice, and that this was negatively affecting her ability to think for herself in muddied situations such as these. Men and women can be platonic friends. It's very naive to think anything other than that, just like it's possible to be amicable to coworkers without being friends with them or trying to sleep with them. I don't have to have ulterior motives just to be nice to someone.

I won't even get into the resolution of this situation because like I said previously it involves my ex-girlfriend. I just want to state that sometimes it's best to see these scenarios occurring like a quarterback reading a defense and react accordingly. And be on the lookout for your significant other's friends rushing you from the blindside while you focus on reading the secondary.

The Perfect Storm

In sports I'm starting to hate the word "potential" just because of how many times I've seen can't miss prospects squander it. People from Freddy Adu to Jamarcus Russell to Anthony Randolph, the list just goes on and on in terms of how many players never truly end up in a league of their own. A lot of times we focus on that player's lack of work ethic, but I think a very large factor that goes into it is stability and ending up in the right situation. In American sports especially, our draft system makes it almost impossible for a top prospect to land with an organization with a good front office and coaching staff. We reward poorly run organizations with top draft picks, who face the burden of high head coach turnover and joining a locker room that most likely has a losing mentality. There are exceptions however.

Kawhi Leonard went from being a lottery pick of the San Antonio Spurs 3 years ago to being NBA Finals MVP from this year's past NBA Finals. He effectively went toe to toe with LeBron James, who is easily the best basketball player I've ever witnessed with my own eyes (I don't like comparing athletes who played before I was able to see them play. Can't accurately compare them but that's for another article). A lot of Leonard's improvement comes down to the fact that he landed with the best organization in the NBA and was coached by the best head coach to have ever been in the league. He was able to combine that perfect fit with work ethic and will to improve, and the results have been amazing to witness. The video below nicely chronicles how he was able to drastically improve his basketball skills, and it's a lesson that not all prospects fizzle out. I hope he continues this improvement and is able to entertain us all for years to come.