Jun 232016
 

I heard this parable on a radio talk show. It explores some important lessons about conventional wisdom, expectations, and opportunity, so I thought I would share it. I don’t know where it originated from here’s a paraphrased version of it.

16-06-janitor-cigarettesThere once was a janitor who worked for a large corporation in the 1900s. Like many working class folks at the time this janitor couldn’t read or write. 🙁 Although he was a quick learner, he never finished school because he started working at a young age to help out his family. Over time many of the other custodians at the company would go through janitorial education and get certified and promoted. But because this janitor was illiterate he couldn’t pass the certificate exams to become a world class janitor.

On his way home he would sometimes pass by a group of men loitering outside a local pub. They would often complain how there was no place to buy cigarettes around the neighborhood. They had to walk 10 blocks away to get to the nearest store that sells smokes. The curious janitor stopped one day to ask the men why not start their own cigarette business close by. “We don’t have the time,” they would reply.

Eventually the janitor decided to open a small cigarette store right beside the pub. He operated the store on his own during the evenings and weekends. It became very popular and he soon opened another location, and then another, and hired people to help his growing business. Then he quit his job as a janitor and continued to grow his cigarette company, which made him a ton of money. 🙂

When a large tobacco company offered to purchase his company he asked his accountant to read the offer letter to him. The accountant was unexpectedly surprised to learn that the successful entrepreneur didn’t know how to read. “You’ve already accomplished so much with your knowledge,” said the accountant. “Imagine where you would be right now if you were literate.” The ex-janitor chuckled and replied, “I’ll tell you exactly where I’d be. I would still be back at my old job sweeping floors.” ?

—————————————————-
Random Useless Fact:

There’s a piece of land in the far Arctic named Hans Island. Since the 1930s, this nondescript island has been at the center of an ongoing battle between two countries.

16-06-danish-canada-border-dispute

Jun 162016
 

A recent report from the Brookfield Institute says that 42% of the Canadian workforce is at high risk of being replaced by computers and technology in the next 20 years. Suncor Energy is already planning to replace its fleet with autonomous trucks by 2020, which will lead to the permanent loss of thousands of oil sands jobs. Earlier this year Google’s AlphaGo program beat Lee Se-dol, the world’s best Go player. What makes AlphaGo different from other AI programs is that it doesn’t play by any specific algorithm to win. Instead, it learns from its mistakes and plays better after each game, which is similar to how we humans learn. 🙂 In the past automation has been restricted to laborious, routine tasks such as assembly lines in manufacturing. But new breakthroughs in artificial intelligence, advanced robotics, and faster hardware have pushed automation into cognitive occupations, such as driving and customer services.

16-06-42-percent-jobs-at-risk-automation

The report puts a 70% or higher probability that high risk jobs will be affected by automation over the next 10 to 20 years. These “high risk” jobs include:

  • Retail salesperson
  • Administrative assistant
  • Food counter attendant
  • Cashier
  • Transport truck driver

However, there are also low risk jobs that have less than 30% chance of being affected by automation. These are usually higher paying jobs which requires critical thinking, people skills, and tend to be in the science, technology, engineering and math fields (STEM.) These positions include:

  • Trade managers
  • Registered nurses
  • Primary and secondary school teachers

Naturally the careers that require higher cognitive and judgement abilities are at low risk of being replaced by machine or software.

If you believe your job may be at high risk of automation then it’s best to learn some new technical skills or transition into a different position of lower risk. Being good with computers and technology will always help, and as time goes on the technical standards will increase. At one point in time being able to type 50 words a minute was considered a legitimate computer skill to include in your resume. ? But boasting about this common ability today would just be silly.

Continue reading »

Aug 112015
 

Most Bosses Aren’t Rich

Some workers have a passive outlook on their salaries. They believe their income is based on what their boss can “afford” to pay them. But the irony is that employees have more control over their own salaries than their bosses do. 😉 This becomes apparent when we consider the source of all salaries. Money doesn’t come from our employers. It actually comes from the consumers who buy our goods and services. And the amount of money they pay us is directly proportional to the quality of goods or services that we give them. 🙂 So if we want a raise, we should try to please our customers, not our bosses.

Besides, most bosses aren’t that rich to begin with anyway. A 2013 study found that the average salary a small business entrepreneur makes is $68,000. Let’s say a Japanese restaurant makes $100,000 a year after expenses and employs 20 people. If the restaurant owner gives all his employees a $5,000 annual raise, then his entire profit would be wiped out! It’s a different story in large fortune 500 companies or in professional industries, such as engineering. But 70% of Canadian workers in the private labour force are employed by small businesses with fewer than 100 employees. So for most workers, asking for more money from the boss isn’t going to get them very far.

Wealth in Numbers

So if we want to earn more, we have to set our focus on the consumers. 🙂 Our customer base has an endless supply of money that we can tap into. If that Japanese restaurant mentioned earlier manages to attract just 100 more families to dine there every month then the business can easily earn $100,000 in additional sales every year. Everyone can get a raise and the business remains profitable! 😀 The boss is only one person, but hungry consumers are abundant. There truly is wealth in numbers. Instead of trying to get more money from the employer, we should be thinking about ways to work with the employer to get customers to spend more money. 😉

15-08-possible-universal-language-want-a-raise

But for this to work we must offer something of equal value in return to the paying customers. This means finding ways to make them more satisfied. Create additional value to our product or service. Give consumers a legitimate reason to pay us a premium over a generic competitor. Don’t work to please our boss. Work to please the customer instead. Don’t work for money. Work to solve the customer’s problems. The money will ultimately follow.

If you’ve shown that you can bring a lot of new business to the company then usually the promotion will come to you. 🙂 Talent is hard to find. Your boss knows that if you feel underpaid, you can simply leave and work for a competitor instead.

Continue reading »

May 072015
 

Unpaid Internship is in serious disrepute. Many economists and labour activists believe graduates shouldn’t be allowed to work for free. On the other hand influential people like Stephen Poloz, the Bank of Canada Governor, advocates that it’s not a bad idea for young people to do them. He says an unpaid internship is a valid way to avoid the “scarring” of long-term joblessness, especially among the Generation Y cohort.

15-05-interns-unpaid-internships-the-office

In most cases, unpaid internships are in fact illegal in Canada. There are some exceptions however. Federal government departments and agencies have employed up to 1,000 unpaid interns since 2008, for example. In the United States the rules around intern compensation can be a bit more confusing. Nearly half the internships in America are completely unpaid. Currently Obama can employ hundreds of unpaid White House interns, even if he publicly advocates for higher minimum wage lol. Of course non-profit and charity organizations are allowed a free pass as can classify their unpaid interns as “volunteers.” 🙂

Continue reading »

Mar 162015
 

Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone. 🙂

Here on the blog I like to share interesting opportunities to make money without doing a lot of work. That’s why many of my posts are about investing, which produces passive income. But actively working for money can also be very rewarding. 🙂 A few years ago I told my readers about a permanent full-time position that paid $60,000 a year for doing menial clerical duties. I would have applied for that job myself if I wasn’t already working full time.

15-03-job-interview-couch

Here’s another job posting I found recently for a full time position as a producer for a software company in Toronto. The job pays about $60,000 a year, for 40 hours a week. A university degree is NOT required, which means even I can apply for the job. The listed skills required for the job include working well with others, problem solving, critical thinking, and other subjective qualities. The position is still open so I would apply if I were living in Toronto. If the bar to land a $60,000/year job is set this low then I believe opportunities to make easy money are everywhere as long as we’re willing to go after them.

Continue reading »