What am I Worth?

Twice during my work history I have taken a pay cut under the promise of a better career path, and it was a bad move in both cases. I would also like to mention that the time I took a job for an unreal amount of money in the consulting world, it was also a big mistake. After the company made tons of money off my fixing their mess, they found me too expensive. So I guess that was a wrong move as well… it was sweet for 6 months though.

Before I start talking about money I want to say that I am extremely happy with my current position even though it is not anywhere near the highest that I have been paid. Finding a job where you are doing something you enjoy doing will make your day feel better. Do not buy into the idea that you are not supposed to like your job, the moment you do that, you are compromising your well being and that of the people around you. Does everyone love their job? probably not, but you at least have to like some aspect of what you do because you will end up doing that for a huge percentage of your life. Always keep that in mind.

Now that the economy is turning around and more doors are going to start opening it is the time to be very careful about taking a job. As tempting as it is for someone that has been out of a job for a while to take the first thing that comes along (well and some people don’t have the luxury to say no) if you are in any position to keep looking and say no do so.

It is very hard to climb back out of a low salary. Every company you interview with will ask and check your salary history and make a decision about your pay based on that number. No matter how much you explain that you are worth a lot more, the reality of the situation is that you are probably worth more to the new company you are going to, but not significantly more.

While there are always exceptions when you are taking on more responsibility and such, in the end the company will try to get you as cheap as they can. At least in my experience you can get back up quickly if the company will give you a salary bump after a trial period, but always make sure you get anything like that in writing. And not just electronically, have it be part of your offer letter.

Never be afraid to ask during the interview about the companies compensation policy. Make sure you understand if the offer includes benefits on the final amount, and calculate what your actual take home will be. Some companies figure your benefits into the offer… and at the same time some benefit packages can be worth about 10K. Do they give cost of living adjustments every year? or are raises far and few between. This information is crucial to your negotiation period. Also be very aware of how they measure performance. Many companies do not have clear guidelines and your reviews, which most pay increases are based on, end up being very subjective and sometimes even unattainable. I still chuckle at the company that measured my personal appearance when I hardly ever saw any clients. Thankfully I love wearing a suit and tie and got an easy top mark on that one.

The first step in the negotiation is knowing how much you are worth. Research the title that you are shooting for and look for salaries around the area. If the company is offering you significantly less than what you are worth, pass on the offer. You are entitled to counter offer just like when you are buying a house. Once you figure out what you are worth strive for it. Climbing out of a low salary can take a long time.

Stirring Up Drama

Me hace reír un poco que entre la gente que sabe de mi blog está mi famila. Lo que es todavía más chistoso es que la mayoría no ellos no lo leen, sino que están recibiendo la versión editada, interpretada para causar shock.

It’s funny that now the people that read my blog now includes my family. Even funnier is that most of them don’t even read it but get the information second hand and a little “edited” for shock value.

Por mucho tiempo en este blog no ha habido drama. Me he regado en muchos temas, pero nunca he atacado a alguien personalmente. Lo siguiente de pronto es sorpresa para algunos, pero lo que yo tengo que decir, se lo digo a la persona de frente, o directamente por un e-mail. En serio, pregúntele a cualquiera que ha leído uno de mis mensajes y le dirán que yo digo exactamente lo que pienso.

I have had a very drama free blog for quite a while. I have ranted here, but have never personally attacked anyone. This next one is going to be a shocker for some people; what I really think of people or want to say to them, I say it to their face, or in a very direct e-mail. Trust me, the people that have read some of my e-mails can attest that I say everything I am thinking about.

Lo que escribí el Viernes, que supuestamente fue algo que puse para que la gente se riera, causó bastante drama y fue el tema del Sábado por la tarde. La mayor parte de lo que pasó me hace reír, pero también salieron muchas cosas no fueron para reírse. Algunas personas terminaron con sus sentimientos heridos; al mismo tiempo dijeron cosas que no son verdad y que también hirieron. Así quiera ponerme a discutir los detalles que me parecen bastante cómicos, no quiero seguir más con este tema. Mucha gente toma las cosas que leen en la Internet en serio y no se dan cuenta de que lo que yo escribo muchas veces es para hacer reír… por eso esta en la categoría de “Chistes”. Tampoco se dan cuenta que este es MI BLOG y que yo aquí escribo lo que “se me da la gana.”

So my little Friday post, that was supposed to make people laugh caused unreal amount of drama, and became a source of discussion when my family got together Saturday. Most of it is funny to me, but there are certain things that are actually not funny. Some people’s feelings got hurt, and in turn they said some thing that were pretty inaccurate and hurtful as well. As much as I want to share the things I found hilarious I will put this issue to rest by just not bringing it up beyond this point and not recounting what anyone else said. Some people are just too serious and don’t get that I write things to amuse and that is why they are under the “funny” category. Some people also don’t get that this is MY BLOG and in my best interpretation of John Malcovich in Rounders, I can say “whatever the fack I want.”

Yo tengo cuidado con lo que digo acerca de mi trabajo, porque si no cómo me sigo engordando. Pero estoy escribiendo esto en Español y en Inglés para que no quede ninguna duda de lo que dije, o quise decir.

I censor myself about my job, because let’s face it, I need to keep myself WoW Chubby. So I am going to write in both Spanisn and English to clarify what I did say and did not say.

Yo nunca dije que mi familia era un montón de sapos. Lo que dije fue que había de pronto un par y expliqué el término.

I did not call my family a bunch of snitches. I said a couple of people had snitched and explained the term.

Yo AMO a mi familia, pero ODIO el chisme y el drama.

I LOVE my family, but gossip and drama, I HATE.

La idea de las empanadas para mi cumpleaños fue a último momento porque YO NO QUERIA FIESTA. Solamente queríamos ver el Superbowl juntos, y mi mujer, mi hermana y mi mamá querían hacerme algo especial. YO NISIQUIERA PEDI EMPANADAS; lo único que me hicieron especial a mí fue principio de zanahoria que casi nadie comió, pero a mi me encanta. NO FUE FIESTA, NO TRATAMOS DE DEJAR A NADIE POR FUERA.

The whole empanadas for my birthday thing was a last minute thing because I DID NOT WANT A PARTY. We just wanted to enjoy the Superbowl together, and my wife, my sister and my mom wanted to make a special meal for me. I DID NOT EVEN ASK FOR EMPANADAS; the only special thing that was made for me was a carrot stew that nobody else really cared for, but I love. THERE WAS NO PARTY, WE DID NOT TRY TO LEAVE ANYONE OUT.

Gracias por leer mi blog, pero si quiere compartirlo con alguien que no entienda Inglés o los chistes, solamente dígame que no tengo ningún problema en traducir gratis lo que yo digo para que no haya malentendidos.

Thanks for reading my blog. If you want to share it with someone that does not understand Spanish or my humor, just tell me, I have no problem translating my posts for free so there are no misunderstandings.

Facebook Spying

Yeap, it has happened. It took a social network for my online life to spill over into my “real” life. This time it was no big deal, funny actually. Bea updated her facebook status half bragging to all of our compatriots living in the U.S. because we were about to enjoy some empanadas, oh delicious Colombian empandas to celebrate my birthday and the SuperBowl ™. Sure enough one of our cousins (later when I inquired about about who the “sapo”* was, the finger pointing began so right now there are a couple of “sapos”) had revealed that we were having empanadas… and did not invite the rest of the extended family.

* In Colombia, not sure if other Spanish speaking countries, a snitch is called a “sapo” = Frog because they are said to have a long tongue.

I love my family, but we have LOTS of it. I think at last count (we recently had an addition to the family.) we are happily sitting at over 30. Empanadas are delicious but take forever to make… there is a long preparation process before they are even deep fried. So my poor Mom who was already having shoulder pain (which I did not know about), my sister and Bea worked all afternoon just to feed our immediate family… still a sizable 10 people party. You figure 4 empanadas per still 40 freaking empanadas.

My Mom is the ultimate people-pleaser and she loves to keep the family in peace. I beg to differ, lol and rock the boat once in a while… at times even becoming the black sheep for periods of time. She wanted to keep the whole thing quiet because we, all 30some of us, celebrate ever birthday together. Even though I have not been in Chicago for our my birthday in quite some time. We were not trying to alienate anyone or cause drama… but we got caught, thanks to facebook. So when one of my aunts called my Mom to inquire about the festivities, my Mom tried to dance around the issue to simply be called out thanks to… A FACEBOOK STATUS PAGE! LOL

I watch it now, and hold back my sexual innuendos on facebook too… because you never know who is reading and might not be accustomed to our college level language back and forth banter. Heck if anyone heard Travis and I going back and forth they would think he is the biggest twink in world, and I his daddy bear.

So… be careful about “friending” not just your boss, but always keep in mind that Mom might also get to read your facebook.

Shiny Side Up

I’m not sure if the whole “keep the shiny side up!” is only a motorcycle rider expression or not, but it is all I could think of while driving back from KC. We had an amazingly busy time while down there for a couple of days, but got to eat the food, see our friends and overall just relax. We have to take more mini-vacations like this one because they feel awesome.

I don’t like winter period, and driving in the winter even less. I did not really think much of the weather when planning the trip, which was half planned ahead, half last minute. When I looked at the forecast it did not seem all that bad.

Driving down was wonderful. There was snow on either side of the road on 80, but nothing actually on the road. The traffic was moderate to non existent. We made it down there on a solid 8 hours since we did only quick gas up and no sit down food. The weather was chilly when we arrived, but nothing that I had not experienced previously in Chicago. Come to think of it, in the 3 years I lived in KC I hardly ever saw that much snow actually on the ground or even felt that cold. It was actually colder than it was in Chicago.

Saturday was mild and the sun seemed to make cameos through the day. Colder than I expected but overall not too horrible. Then Sunday came along.

We had a couple of social appointments to attend and one was brunch. OMG was it cold just walking from the parking lot to the restaurant. The wind was blowing and just seemed angry and wanting to make my ears fall off. It had not seemed that bad when we got into the car in the hotel which was 5 minutes away. After a great time we headed back to the car and wanted to stop at the hotel to chill before we went to the next social call.

The wind was still angry, and it seemed to be snowing but it was spotty. Almost like blowing snow and not just falling snow. I am used to not expecting snow to fall when the temperature seems that cold, but it must have been only the wind making it feel way bellow what the thermostat said. I did not think twice about taking the highway to make the trip seem a minute or so shorter. The road did not seem all that bad and the traffic was flowing. That is until we went under a bridge.

I thank God that I did not lose control of the car but it was almost like everything hit all at once. Icy conditions and snow, tiny powdery snow made it almost impossible to see the cars ahead. I eased up from the accelerator and tested to see if I had gained traction again by lightly tapping the break. I slowed down and started to plan my exit from the highway. I had the option of taking an interchange or continuing ahead to the next exit. (I35 going north from 119 right before 435) I decided to take the interchange and exit on at the first chance. The first thing I noticed is that most people did not seem to be adjusting to the conditions and I still had people passing me. All of a sudden a car loses control about 3 cars in front of us. I was not going too fast, but when I tested the breaks I actually said SH!T, I don’t think I am going to be able to stop.

I started to plan for escape routes and even considered the ditch as an option. Thankfully the flow of traffic continued and the car that lost control simply did a full spin out and ended on the side of the road facing the wrong way. The exit ahead could not come fast enough and we made it safely to the hotel without even having to witness any accidents. I turned on the news and sure enough, car pileups had occurred during those minutes that the conditions were just not safe. At dinner we had the official count from our TV station buddy who actually had to go in to post all the official news. 100 cars involved in 3 pile ups.

I started to dread the trip back up to Chicago, but I figured the roads would be ok by the following day.

For the most part they were, but there had over 30 cars on the side of the road from the day before. I make that assumption because they had all been adorned with reflective tape, possibly by the police. Five of them did not have the shiny side up and were completely upside down. A couple were just on their side, and some stretches of highway had 5 or 6 cars one after another. A high percentage, I would say over half were pick up trucks and SUVs.

I am not sure about those drivers that ended up in the ditch, but while making a 8 hour trip into 10 hours to err on the side of safety I had several trucks and SUV pass me at speed well over the speed limit. I always wonder if people are really that dense to not understand that 4WD might help you have traction to take off like a bat out of hell, but it will do nothing when you hit ice and try to make the vehicle stop.

Part of Character

One of the things that makes me chuckle is when in trying to say something we end up saying something completely innacurate. English being my second language makes me a prime candidate for falling into those pits, but it doesn’t mean I don’t find it hilarious when others say it. One that amuses me is that someone lacks “character.” Nobody lacks it, they might lack good character or morals, but everyone that is alive has character to some degree. Maybe it is that everyone is a character… ok, I am confusing myself now.

What makes someone possess good moral character, which is what most people think of when using the word, they possess a series of traits that are displayed in the way they interact with others. As I have grown up, I have experienced plenty of situations where people don’t have good moral values and are constantly blaming others or their environment for their current situation. Those are the people that I think have no character, or rather good character.

I have studied anger quite a bit. When I was younger I used to let anger get to me quite often, but I learned that it is part of who I am and that I can control it. I have continue to read on the subject and have found some very simple information that has helped me understand the big picture.

In many situations anger comes directly from not feeling in control of a situation. Jealousy, for example, is a huge catalyst for anger. Going to a private Catholic school in Colombia taught me, at a very early age, that I couldn’t have everything other people did, and it didn’t make me less of a person. I saw how hard my father worked to provide me with opportunities and a good education, so having the latest pair of Rebook eventually did not matter all that much. I am glad I burned that phase early in life because it seems that jealousy is one of the things that seems to frustrate people the most.

Some people are even as delusional as to think that controlling other people is a good idea. Sure, some people have the skill to manipulate others for a period of time, but eventually that person being controlled will wake up or just simply not want to play the game anymore. Then the frustration starts brewing anger and “lack of character” shows up. I see it way too often. People think that if they do X, another person will reciprocate with Y. Sometimes even in situations when the expectation of Y has not been communicated. In reality, we don’t know; that is why expectations are probably one of the factors that, when removed, can help people control anger. If you don’t expect things, then you won’t miss them when they don’t happen.

My “character” is still a work in progress. I still let things get to me that should not, but I have honestly begun to really take situations that frustrate me a day at a time. Recent months have been difficult in this department because of several situations that I have absolutely no control of. People that I care deeply about battling Cancer, other chronic illness, loss of a job are all things that feel like kicks in the gut. Understanding that some things I really can’t control I have to leave up to faith is a huge lesson to learn, and one that I am still learning.

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