Microsoft Cutting 14% of Its Workforce, Stock up 2%

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I went to Business School, so I know the deal…fewer employees create higher profits and larger dividends to shareholders. But I still carry deep-seated humanist tendencies, instilled by my working class family, that cause me to experience grief upon hearing this news.

18,000 people are losing their jobs. 18,000 people are looking at their last paycheck and feeling real fear, dread, depression, anger, helplessness. 18,000 people have to deliver bad news to the people they love.

The coverage on the financial news channel contrasted sharply with my emotional reaction. The anchors had big smiles, focusing on the good news for Microsoft shareholders. They interviewed an analyst who actually stated that he was overjoyed with this move by Microsoft. He felt that the Nokia acquisition was a bad move, and this was a good exit strategy. A huge portion of the people being let go are former Nokia employees.

My inner worker is shocked by the soulless-ness of the situation. Big corporation Microsoft turns its greedy eyes towards a shiny manufacturer of outdated products and screams, “Mummy, I want that!” Mama Board of Directors says, “Okay, but don’t break it.”

Greedy corporation swallows the shiny jewel and it comes out the other end as a stinky turd.

I guess B-school didn’t manage to brainwash me enough, which is why I am facing huge loan repayments with no change in my station in life. If I could just convert my depression into sociopathy, I could afford those crippling payments.

The Hand You are Dealt

dunkablog:

This is perfect illustration of the playing card communication channel that is opened up for me…

Originally posted on SUCCESSTROGEN:

On a fashion website, “Jacks and Jokers”, the creators celebrate an American icon, the deck of cards.   Playing cards have been in America over 100 years and provided us with much entertainment.  Most of us  would have to admit that we played  countless games of War and  Gold Fish as children, solitaire as teens, hearts as college students, and perhaps Bridge or Gin Rummy in our adult life, all with a deck of cards.   Teachers use them as a  sorting activity for pre-schoolers,  casino dealers use them to entice us to put our money on the table, and magicians use them to wow us with their ability to guess the card we thinking of.

Beyond their entertainment factor, the deck of cards has also played an important role in our history.  During World War II, a U.S. playing card company  secretly worked with the U. S. government ro make special decks to send as gifts to American prisoners of war. When these…

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Do Business and Hyper-intuition Mix?

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There are a lot of positive words to express the abilities of intuitives. Sometimes we are called “prescient.” Others call us “creative.” I think we may even be called “visionary.”

Here is what I hear more often: crazy, unfounded, scatterbrained, lack of discipline, chaotic…I didn’t have to struggle to come up with those negative words. In my graduate program, we learned the value of “playing to your strengths.” It is a waste of time to put your strongest ability on the back burner in order to cultivate skills that you don’t possess naturally. I could argue that getting an MBA was an enormous exercise in playing to my weaknesses. But let me offer up a positive spin on this paradox.

I am lucky enough to have a boss who recognizes my abilities and gives me opportunities to use them. Intuitive accounting, for instance, allows me to look at a stack of numbers and immediately recognize an error. A few years ago, all of the accountants were scratching their heads trying to figure out why a business unit was off by a huge sum. I took one look at the workbook and told them that they were showing a different number for the forecast than what was given. I emailed the forecast to the head accountant so she could correct her mistake. Flustered, they begrudgingly thanked me and muttered things like “lucky guess.” It wasn’t a lucky guess. I just happen to know how to do math in my head and have an almost absurd recall for numbers. I had seen the forecast before month end close, and it was much larger. I didn’t know the exact number, but I knew the number they used was the wrong one.

The sad thing is that my ability drives logical sensing people to the edge of sanity. My boss knows how to keep his distance from me, as he is an extreme sensing person. He doesn’t know how I know what I know, but he does listen. I warned him of several efforts to undermine his plans based on a few snippets of conversation I had overheard. All of them were real, but he didn’t want to take action until the actual coup d’état was right before him. I have stopped offering up my psychic knowledge to him to preserve his sanity. He cannot understand how I know things in advance. I can read people’s subtle energy and he can’t.

I untangle a lot of financial knots. I love doing reconciliations. They are like an Amish puzzle for me. I love getting things started, but prefer to hand them off once there is momentum. When I hear the words “attention to detail,” I sigh, because I can only pay attention to important details…and what I deem important is rarely, if ever, what sensible business people consider important. If I have to pay attention to unimportant details, I will fall asleep at my desk.

I guess I would ask, gentle readers, that you weigh in on whether hyper-intuitive, psychic people belong in the world of business, and if not, where do we belong?

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Lunch with Ladies Who Lunch

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This weekend I was fortunate enough to get a glimpse into the gardens of The 1% at the 26th Annual Beverly Hills Garden Tour. The tour is a fundraiser for the Virginia Robinson Gardens, which is one of the world’s more spectacular estates. Since the United States doesn’t have a Queen to preserve our historic residences, we rely instead on non profit organizations to keep the great estates from crumbling to dust. Luckily, there are enough exhibitionist billionaires to satisfy voyeuristic millionaires, which is the premise upon which the garden tour is based.

The gardens are beautiful. This year, the trend in gardening was to set aside a patch for growing herbs and vegetables. Even billionaires need fresh zucchini.

The gardens surround the estates, and there were a lot of picture windows. Maids stock up on Windex to prepare for the tour, because millionaires have an insatiable need to peer into the houses of billionaires, which leaves a lot of handprints and breath stains on the glass. Some of the tourists carried iPhones and tried to take forbidden snapshots of the privileged life. The docents would chase them down and chastise them. It was one clever lady on my tour who got the vote for smartest use of an iPhone. She had a shopping list app, and was adding plants, furniture, and accessories to her shopping list. No one tried to stop her.

The tour ends at the Virginia Robinson Gardens, with an all you can eat buffet of chicken skewers, shrimp salad, quinoa and raw kale bedecked with heirloom cherry tomatoes. The plates and silverware are made of guilt free bamboo.

The peace and tranquility of the gardens was interrupted on the tour bus when a fight broke out between a British limousine liberal and a Texas oil baroness. It started out innocently enough. The Baroness complained about the hot weather. “Shoo wee it’s hot as blazes today.”

The Limousine Liberal replied, “It’s good evidence for global warming.”

The Oil lady huffed a bit and said, “I don’t really believe in all that hogwash.”

The British woman mused, “I’d imagine you must have heat stroke to say something so ridiculous.”

Oil Money replied, “You must be British, I can tell by your teeth.”

British liberal snapped back, “I’m Scottish, actually. My mother always told me how to spot an American. You can hand them a plate of dog shit, and so long as it’s covered in ketchup, they’ll eat it.”

Oil baron said, “Do you really want to go there? Haggis, tatties and neeps?”

The docent chose that tense moment to get on the microphone and begin her history of Beverly Hills, which, it turns out, was a bean field until 100 years ago.

Later I saw them sitting together at the same table, sipping champagne and eating kale. God Bless Beverly Hills.

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Talking to Angels

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Some or all of you will think I am a kook when you read this.  My suggestion is that the moment you think this seems too weird, just move along.  It is National Mental Health Awareness Month, so it is important to note that not only am I a kook, but I embrace all things kooky and strange.  Or, as the Twelve by Twelve (AA) says, “One day I awoke to find myself surrounded by kooks, crackpots, queers and fallen women.”  I have embraced them like I would my own children.  They are what makes humanity so different from machines and animals.

Anyway, one kook in particular I have spoken to lately is a fabulous lady who does long distance Reiki over the phone.  She informed me that I have two guardian angels watching over me, and that they communicate with me regularly.  I wasn’t quite sure what she meant, but then I remembered this really, really weird phenomenon that keeps happening to me.

Everywhere I go, I find playing cards.  Not a whole deck, or a group of six or seven, but one playing card at a time.  A few months ago, I found the Jack of Diamonds over in Highland Park.  Right before I met the Reiki practitioner I stumbled across the Queen of Spades at the Orange Line Metro station by my house.  Yesterday, I found the two of Diamonds laying face down in my neighbors yard.  I asked other people if this happens to them, and NO ONE has this happen to them.  Just me.  And, because I studied the Tarot since I was eight or nine years old, I know what the playing cards mean.

The Jack of Diamonds came to me a couple of days before I called my Executive Coach for the first time. Part of me was scared to work with her.  But the Jack of Diamonds reassured me that she was working for my betterment, despite what some of my inner voices were saying.  It reassured me and told me to relax and just go with the flow.  We ended up writing a book together over the past few months and I am excited to see it get published.

The Queen of Spades is a wise older lady, who is often depicted as a solitary crone in the forest.  We should always heed her advice, because she knows what she is doing.  That was the Reiki lady, who told me about my two guardian angels.

I’ve been a bit down in the dumps the past few weeks, because I am working harder than ever, but finding myself not having enough money to spend on improving my house.  I am due for a raise at work, but nothing has come through.  The two of diamonds face down was one of the angels letting me know that things are going to be like this for a while, unless I decide to make a big change.  Right now, I am struggling with work/life balance, and when the 2 of diamonds is “reversed” it confirms that things are not in balance.  That’s why I am risking my job and writing this extremely nutty blog from my office right now.  It is after 6pm, and I am done for the day, so hopefully it won’t be considered an unforgivable breach of conduct.

I will talk some more about this sort of freaky new age stuff in future blogs.  It is a deeply rooted part of my being.  I was raised in a “psychic” family, so I sort of take this stuff to be natural and normal.  It is not “witchcraft” or some sort of devilish trick.  It is simply the angels in my life speaking to me in words I can understand.

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Political Freedom

I watched a documentary the other night. The protagonist declared San Francisco the most liberated city on Earth.

I left San Francisco, my home town, to seek my fortune in Hollywood. When I got to Los Angeles, I was given a taste of true freedom. I am liberal, but I have some unusual ideas in the realm of Economics.

For instance, inSan Francisco, I would be stoned to death for declaring public housing projects a failed experiment in social engineering. In San Francisco, we have to bow to the almighty Welfare and declare its sainthood. We are not permitted to question it or ponder new ways of addressing poverty that prevent a vicious circle from forming. This is called “liberal” but it actually stifles new thought.

Sexually, San Francisco has a reputation as the ne plus ultra of liberated sexuality. Then why are there bath houses in LA but not in San Francisco?

I don’t intend for this to be a Frisco-bashing rant. But you’re not supposed to call it Frisco! Here in Smell-Ay, we can call it Lotus Land or pronounce it Loss Angle Iss or admit that there are giant urban meadows of hideous strip malls blighting the landscape, and no one jumps down your throat.

These are just some musings on the real nature of freedom, and how it doesn’t always look like you would expect.

Magnetic Missed Marketing Opportunities

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For the first time in my life, I am a homeowner, and have been for over a year now.  My house needs things.  The back pool area needs to be re-graded to keep water from forming puddles and running into the garage and foundation of the house.  We need some landscaping improvements.  The driveway is asphalt, and it’s very old and ugly.  We need help getting our lawn back from the dead.

Yes, there is Angie’s List or even Yelp.  The reviews are usually extremely helpful, and the folks I called in the past were pretty spot on.  Two of my neighbors had their driveways re-done this year.  And both times, the people doing it drove anonymous trucks with no signage.  I smiled at the workmen and wanted to approach them and ask them for a business card, but they usually scowled and turned away, too busy with the job to speak to a neighbor, who they probably thought was just there to complain about the noise or something.  So I still don’t have anyone lined up to do our driveway now or in the future.

The missed opportunity is so obvious.  What better advertisement can their be than the fact that one of the neighbors decided you were good enough to pay to do the work?  Vistaprint will create a magnetic car sign for some unbelievably low sum.  You don’t even have to keep it on your car, just put it on when you are going to the worksite.

I am a bookkeeper on the side, and there is simply no way I can impress neighbors, because the work I do is invisible to them, and also a little bit private.  So my type of work is not really cut out for the magnetic sign.  But contractors, landscapers, repairmen – if you don’t have an ad on your truck, you are shooting yourself in the foot marketing-wise.

I have seen trucks with signs driving around, but I don’t know if they’re any good.  After all, they’re out driving instead of doing a job on my block, so how can I be sure they’re any good?

Yes, online reviews are probably the single most powerful determinant of your future success.  If you get a bunch of one star reviews, it’s time to go into a different line of work.  But if you get four stars out of five, and you did a nice job on my neighbor’s driveway, I want to call you!  How can I, if I don’t know who you are?

May is Mental Health Awareness Month

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In honor of President Obama’s announcement, I will take this opportunity to come out of the mental health closet. I am a high functioning mental patient. I take medicine to maintain my mood. It doesn’t always work, but it helps an awful lot.

If I can be open and honest about my sexuality at work, why is it so hard to do the same with my illness? I think the majority of my coworkers have been patiently conditioned by news and the media in general to be tolerant of homosexuality, if not fully supportive. Mental illness, however is something I struggle to hide every day.

I was fortunate enough to be able to put myself through business school. It gave me some opportunities at work for which I am very grateful. Sadly, no one wants a leader with a mood disorder, so I quietly stepped down to take myself out of the spotlight. It is costing me a lot of missed opportunities.

I use a tool to measure my mood every morning. On days when the indicator drops sharply, I call in sick. I am out of sick days now, and I feel too ashamed to go to HR and ask for FMLA protection. I don’t trust that they will be tolerant enough to grant me protection and not try to use it as an opportunity to put me on the short list for the next round of layoffs.

If I can be open and honest at work about my sexuality, why is it so hard to do the same with my illness?

I am a pretty brave person, so I will likely do what is right and approach HR. If I crave tolerance, I should give my company the opportunity to demonstrate it. So, in honor of Mental Health Awareness month, I will tell my job about it.

I am also creating a symbol of my struggle, a white knotted piece of string, to hang in my office. If people ask me what it means, I will tell them. I would even encourage them to take one and hang it in their workspace, to let people know they have a friend with mental illness. Now, where is my ball of string?

P.S. I wrote a novel about the struggle called 5150. It’s an ebook only right now…but you can find it on Amazon, the Apple Store, Barnes and Noble, Scribd, Smashwords…

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Pittosporum Rescue

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As a youngster I had never understood the aphorism

Necessity is the mother of invention.

To understand it, I needed to experience it. This morning I finally realized what it meant.

The past two weeks brought extremely dry, hot weather to the San Fernando Valley. Scorching desert winds blew through the garden, and reduced our Pittosporum Silver Sheen to a half-dead bundle of twigs. But it has not died. I watered it regularly, but I discovered that the root ball had dried out and needed a slow drip of H2O in order to mend. The water just wasn’t soaking in. A slow drip the best way to persuade the powdered dirt to let in the water.

The solution I first devised seemed like a winner. I drilled a 1/16 inch hole in the bottom of a 5 gallon bucket and placed the hole over the root ball. This morning, I expected an empty bucket, but there was an issue: as the water turned the dirt to mud, the little bits of wood in the mulch floated up and blocked the hole, and the drip was essentially stopped up.

When I lifted the mostly full bucket, the slow constant dribble began again. I set it on the edge of the planter and watched it drip in a spot about twelve inches away from the root ball.
“Hmm, maybe I can channel the water to the root ball with some sort of mini aqueduct,” I thought. For some reason, a shoe horn came to mind. I went inside and got my shoe horn. It was way too short.
I needed something with a channel, like the sides of a shoe horn, but longer. A lot of odd solutions came to mind…a turkey baster? Impractical and we only have one…I wouldn’t want mud in my Thanksgiving gravy. I rummaged through my kitchen drawers and found two wooden incense holders. One wasn’t long enough, but two would be. I inverted a 3 inch perennial pot and placed it below the bucket drip. I propped the first incense burner in lean-to fashion against the inverted pot, and the stream began flowing in a perfect channel into the dirt, about 8 inches away from the sweet spot.
After a great deal of experimentation, I was able to get the second incense burner positioned to receive most of the water from the first incense burner, but there was some water loss at the transfer point. The second incense burner did get some of the water where it was needed, so I shrugged and walked away.
Here is where the aphorism ends. I had invented a rather inefficient but functional Rube Goldberg-esque solution to the slow drip necessity.
Then I went inside and drank my morning cup of Reishi Tea. Here is where my particular skill set kicked in. Reflecting on my inspired but inefficient garden rescue, I suddenly realized that I had built the whole contraption based on where I had randomly placed the very heavy five gallon bucket. If I moved the bucket to a better spot on the edge of the planter, it would only require one incense burner to reach the root ball! I moved the heavy bucket to its optimal position, retired one of the incense burners, and watched in amazement as the new device did its work perfectly, delivering 100% of the water to the root ball.
So I have a second aphorism to add to the original :

Necessity is the Mother of Invention; Reflection is the Mother of Efficiency.

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