April Reading

Books Bought:

  • My 1980s and Other Essays – Wayne Koestenbaum
  • Browsings: A Year of Reading, Collecting, and Living with Books – Michael Dirda
  • Keep Going: 10 Ways to Stay Creative in Good Times and Bad – Austin Kleon
  • Critique of Pure Reason – Immanuel Kant
  • Plato: Collected Dialogues – edited by Edith Hamilton
  • The Secrets of Closing the Sale – Zig Ziglar

Books Read:

  • Money: Master the Game – Tony Robbins
  • The Essential Rumi (Translated by Coleman Barks) – unfinished
  • The Intelligent Investor – Benjamin Graham (Revised Edition) unfinished

After listening to the Tim Ferriss Show, mostly catching up on episodes I’ve missed, I heard him compliment Tony Robbins’s Money. I had audio book credits through Audible, and decided to give that one a try. So far I’m enjoying it. Some similar threads to Intelligent Investor – a book I’ve had for years but didn’t read much.

I’ve been an investor, and at times a speculator, over the past fifteen years. Mostly I didn’t really know what I was doing. I had success in school with Finance: Micro- and Macroeconomics; & Managerial and Financial Accounting. But mostly I just played around.

I had my first 401(k) in 2004, when I went full-time with NASCAR (prior to pursuing a career in the arts). In five years I think it went up to just over $10,000. I rolled that over into an IRA actually rather recently, in 2014 or 2015. Then, in 2016, I cashed out that IRA entirely. It was at the height of my dark period, and I was getting out of the country for a while.

I think even though I’m back in the country, I’m still somewhere else. My friend Anthony tells me that it’s been a three-year wake-up call, and now I get to be who I was supposed to be in the first place. Honestly, he may be right.

So I’ve been re-looking into the financial markets – which I did used to enjoy learning about.

I’m also newly into Audible, which I had cancelled maybe a decade ago… I like the physical book, more than I did audio or digital. However, I’m finding much more time spent driving or traveling in general, and the convenience of that audio book is nearly impossible to beat. After going from South of St. Petersburg to Daytona and back a few times last year – enough to listen to Ferriss’s 4-Hour Workweek twice, I decided it was time to re-up Audible.

As for Rumi, just another staple in my go-to perusal section. I’ve been thinking about the tavern-goer:

This drunkenness began in some other tavern. When I get back around to that place, I’ll be completely sober. Meanwhile, I’m like a bird from another continent, sitting in this aviary. The day is coming when I fly off, But who is it now in my ear who hears my voice? Who says words with my mouth?

Who looks out with my eyes? What is the soul? I cannot stop asking.

If I could taste one sip of an answer, I could break out of this prison for drunks. I didn’t come here of my own accord, and I can’t leave that way. Whoever brought me here will have to take me home.

This is one of those constant quandaries that invades my thoughts, and reading Rumi not only gives it the poetic air, but also expands my thoughts on the problem itself. Knowing others who share your thoughts, your concerns, makes the load of those concerns a little lighter – even if this person has been deceased for quite some time.

My book purchases were impulses mostly. I knew the name Koestenbaum, but hadn’t read anything before by him. Browsings seems similar to Ten Years in the Tub, which I’ve yet to finish, but it’s right up my alley. I read Steal like an artist before, so I wanted to read Keep Going for a while. Kleon always has something fun and inspiring to say.

Two books of philosophy, for my downtime reading… (here’s hoping I get a lot of downtime). And Zig Ziglar came at the recommendation of Godin, and as I’m working in sales right (along with my other gigs) I thought improving those skills couldn’t hurt.

The problem with applications

I’ve filled out a lot of applications. Online mostly, though still some on paper. The online revolution and conversion was ushered in between the times that I was looking for work. In 2003 I fell into my first after high school job, which I don’t even recall if I filled out an application for. It was an office manager for a nonprofit, and until the office space we had was lost, I thought it was going okay. I learned a lot about business skills in that one-man shop, though maybe not enough.

After that, I started what could have been my first career I suppose you could say. Had I not resigned to pursue professional acting, maybe I’d still be there. It was a service organization affiliated with NASCAR, and while I have many problems with the way some of that went down, I can remember fondly my times at the track.

I think from there I learned that work should be fun. Could be fun, at the very least. I was a highly effective worker, and given increasing responsibility during my time there. (In five years, I received two promotions and was asked to handle several increasing complicated aspects of the job – mostly related to computer systems or point-of-sales.) And I had fun, mostly. When the crowds started slowing to the races, then concern gripped the corporatists – cut budgets, watch the bottom dollar, churn out the returns. 

But we’re not robots. Not cogs that, if tightened, can produce two more widgets. (This theme has been coming up recently – the production of widgets.)

Long story short, when it was time to go, I knew it was time to go. The exact phrasing of my last meeting with my boss and my boss’s boss (Office Space anyone?) went like this:

My Boss: “It’s either you quit your outside activities and commit to this, or you should go somewhere else.”

Me: “I have my two weeks notice ready. Let me grab it for you.”

Now my outside activities were my first volunteer endeavors with community theatre, and I had requested a day off a week after the Daytona 500 to be involved with a professional production of an opera. Whether or not either of us were right or wrong is just a lot of conjecture, but we both did what we did. 

I go by my gut a lot. Every job I’ve known it was time to leave, I went ahead and did it. Sometimes without a safety net. Thankfully, I’ve managed to land on my feet. (This time is a little harder, as I’m more keenly aware of the level of debt I’m carrying from my student loans.)

So when I go out and look for those jobs, and I come to a website where I am filling out over and over again the same information. Name. Number. Address. Work history. Education. Etc., etc.

Exactly why we have resumes. And, truth be told, nearly all of my jobs have come through people I knew, or people who knew those people. Not online applications. So what then is the point there? 

When they ask you in their application (posted online, and responded to in the same way by every applicant) “what about this company makes you want to work here?” – the most likely honest answer is “if hired, you’ll give me a paycheck.”

Company culture isn’t bought into in an online application. And good companies will have trouble matching good applicants in that way. 

Companies – if you want good workers (and to retain them), be different. Don’t be another online application for a hopeful paycheck.

Applicants – if you want to work for a good company (and do well), be different. Bring your talents to someone who will take those talents, and let you use them. Let you fail. And then help back up.