Author Archives: Michael G. Lortz

What I’m Reading: July/August 2017 – Work Teams, War, Cyber Security, and Big Data

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I am way late on this, so I decided to combine two months worth of articles I found most interesting:

The Pop-Up Employer: Build a Team, Do the Job, Say Goodbye – New York Times, 7/12/2017

This article made me mad. Not because two business professors explored the use of quickly assembling small tech teams to perform a function, how to organize them, and how to let them go after the task is complete, but because this business model is highly insecure and will lead to an insecure workforce that will constantly looking for their next job while not focusing 100% on their current task. While this model is similar to a military task force, the big difference is that the military provide the long-term job security of training and health care needed for a motivated and happy workforce. Building task force teams to tackle problems and then letting them go means employees are responsible for their own training and health care, which is a big problem in America.

Strategy Considerations Across the Spectrum of Warfare – The Strategy Bridge, 8/10/2017

This is a good overview on the threats facing national security and how America should position itself strategically to counter those threats.

Fresh thinking to deal with ‘not quite wars’ (part 1) – Australian Strategic Policy Institute, 7/20/2017

Nathan Finney discusses the need to no longer look at warfare in linear terms. Because threats are no longer lined up as they were in combat centuries ago, linear planning models – where Phase 2 follows Phase 1 – are not effective to operations. Planners need to look more towards cumulative strategies for gaining control than a linear model.

Cyber Attacks On Critical Infrastructure: Insights from War Gaming – War On the Rocks, 7/26/2017

A very interesting piece on wargames developed to bring government and private sector cybersecurity stakeholders to the table. This article details the development of the exercise, as well as the results and the conclusions. Both the government and the private sector need to cooperate in the face of ongoing and unknown cyber attacks, targeting both the government and private sector.

Liberal Arts in the Data Age – Harvard Business Review, July-August 2017

As someone with two liberal arts degrees – one in Arts & Science and the other in Social Science, I loved this article. The article discusses the ideas, mindset, and creativity that come from the liberal arts and why that is needed in computer science and other tech heavy fields. As the article attests, Liberal Arts brings empathy and collective intelligence to issues. Unfortunately, the article does not cite any specific examples of Liberal Arts solving problems in the tech world. It also does not discuss the problem of recruiters and hiring managers who write very specific, unwavering job requirements and do not entertain the idea of Liberal Arts in tech.

Look beyond job boards to fill cybersecurity jobs – CSOOnline.com, 7/13/2017

An overview of how cybersecurity companies can reach out to people without deep tech backgrounds and bring them into the information security workforce.

The Dark Web, between the Myth and the Promise of Anonymity – CCCBLab, 7/3/2017

A very good primer on the Dark Web, what it is and how it is used. The article does a good job of not pinning all illegal activities on the Dark Web, although it does state that it is a forum for such activity. The Dark Web is also a forum for those seeking to communicate outside the watchful eye of web crawlers and government surveillance.

Struggling With Cyber: A Critical Look at Waging War Online – WarOnTheRock.com, 7/5/2017

An interesting exploration of offensive network operations, which the article says is “essentially military cyber-attacks — … a combination of information operations, intelligence collection, and electronic warfare”. The article discusses how other nations such as China and Russia have incorporated cyber operations into offensive operations. What I did not like is the author’s dismissal of offensive cyber operations as “not an attack”. The author believes only in war do attacks happens. That is way too simplistic. War is continuous, as long as one entity is attempting to seize or reduce the power of another.

Despite my objections with the article, I love this line “The dependence of American forces on continuous data means if one can reduce the availability of that data or corrupt it, one can severely impact U.S. military operations”. That’s awesome on so many levels.

Creating a Safe and Prosperous Cyberspace: The Path to Ise-Shima Cybersecurity Norms – The Strategy Bridge, 8/2/2017

This is a high level exploration of cyber policy. The article discusses G20 initiatives to categorize and define cyber attacks. High level cooperation is the only way nations can monitor each other. Unless, of course, nations hire untraceable contractors to attack and deny affiliation.

The Human Landscape: A mosaic of geospatial and sociocultural data – DigitalGlobe, July 2017

A very interesting video demonstration of data visualization tools – placing thousands of data points on maps to see trends and patterns. This is huge for government entities. Companies are taking the lead on incorporating tech with data and creating great results. This is the good side of big data and analytics.

Trump’s Big-Data Gurus Worked On The Kenyan Election, Amid Concerns Over Fake News And Hacking Allegations – Fast Company, 8/10/2017

Scary stuff. Huge data firms are helping political parties around the world. But instead of only providing where potential voters may live, these firms are attempting to inject messaging into social media and influence voter ideals – even if it means promoting “fake news”. Countries with weak democracies, low education standards, and low media standards are easy laboratories for these companies who are bankrolled by politically-minded billionaires. This is the evil side of big data and analytics.

Coming to a City Near You: Stolen Guns – CityLab.com, 7/12/2017

This is a good report on a scary phenomenon. According to CityLab, gun stores are being robbed at an alarming rate. Unfortunately, there are few security regulations on gun selling establishments. Owners are left to their own merits to pay for and install any heavy security for their wares. Any attempt at regulation will be heavily fought, while thieves continue to snatch and grab.

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When anxiety catches up to the career dabbler

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What do you do when you feel like all you’ve done hasn’t gotten you to where you want to be?

That’s a tough question. But I feel it is applicable to me right now. Where I am is in an unstable career pattern of seven jobs in seven years, and only one (the latest) for long than seven months. And this job ends at the end of the year, and is only part-time with no benefits and lower pay than I would like. But I took it because I needed something.

That’s part of the problem.

I’ve taken every job I have ever had because I needed something. I got a job at McDonalds because I need to pay for a car. I joined the Army because I couldn’t afford college and it seemed like a good idea. I moved to Tampa to take a job at on a military base because I needed a job and I had the qualifications. I went to Afghanistan because I couldn’t find anything stateside and I was running out of money.

On and on it goes.

Years ago, I had a friend who is a doctor. She knew she wanted to be a doctor since she was five years old. Everything she did was in that direction. I find that impressive and incredible. Also completely foreign.

I’m not saying everyone should know what they want to do for the rest of their lives when they are in Kindergarten. That’s super rare. But to be a mid-career professional with no career direction, but with diplomas and acclaim and a resume full of accomplishments is equally odd. At least I think it is.

Now that I am settled in my living situation and it has been seven months since my MBA graduation, I have the time now to take stock in what is important to me. What is it that I want? What is it that will make me happy? Is it in marketing? Is it in administration? Is it in something else? Is it trying to start my own business? Is what makes me happy here in Tampa?

I have determined I need responsibility. I need to be responsible for something. I need to be The Guy in charge of something people want. Someone someone goes to when they need something.

This is even lacking in my personal life.

Maybe I need a dog.

I would say maybe I need to have kids, but that brings up a whole other can of worms that is also probably affected by my lack of career focus.

It is incredibly hard to be motivated to date when you can’t sell stability. My mind is too focused on the future than on trying to build a strong present relationship.

“This one a long time have I watched. All his life has he looked away, to the future, to the horizon. Never his mind on where he was, hmm? What he was doing. Hmm. Adventure. Heh. Excitement. Heh. A Jedi craves not these things.” – Yoda

Having your mind on the future is ok to a point, but constantly re-evaluating your five year plan isn’t the most stable way to go. Bringing back the Yoda quote, once Luke Skywalker committed, he became the most sought after Jedi in the galaxy.

My problem is that I am not confident in where I am. I am Luke Sywalker in the beginning of Empire Strikes Back – a guy who did some awesome stuff, but hasn’t figured out where he fits in the overall picture. Like Luke, I am confident in what I have done, definitely. I am confident that I will do something in the future. But right now is a bit unstable. That’s not easy to sell to a member of the opposite sex, especially combined with the lack of being responsible for anything – not even a dog.

So I have to find focus. I have to find a direction and run that way. If that means shedding non-productive ventures, so be it. I’ll still have my fun and still work on creative projects, but the focus needs to be on building a base, the roots of a strong tree that I can hinge every other career decision on. Without that strong career base, my future will be blowing in the wind.

A few days ago, I read an article in Fast Company entitled “The Most Common Career Advice that Graduates Should Ignore (and what to do instead)“. Instead of “Keeping Your Options Open”, the article suggests “Commit to Something”.

Commitment is tough. Whether in a career or a relationship, you have to decide beforehand what you find important. As I mentioned earlier, some people know what they want in a career very early. Some people also marry their high school sweetheart and stay committed forever. They found what they wanted and stuck with it through thick and thin.

While sticking with jobs hasn’t always been an option for me, thanks to contracting, lay offs, and part-time/internships, here are a few things I have decided are important to me:

  • I need to be part of a bigger something. This is why the Tampa Bay Seminole Club is so important to me.
  • I need to be in a fast-pace place where information comes quickly and thinking on my feet is valued.
  • I would like to be somewhere where international issues are discussed.
  • I would like to be somewhere where analysis and possibly pattern recognition is important and valued.
  • I would like to know what is going on behind a headline.

And I want a dog.

Based on these qualifications, I am narrowing my career paths. I am reaching to people in different fields to learn what it is like in that field. Sometimes how I think a field might be is nothing like how it is.

I am also shedding different ideas, even if I am qualified to do something. If I can’t see myself doing that job 9-5 for the next three to five years, I will turn it down. That’s tough to do when I am still trying to make ends meet. It’s like hooking up with someone just because you are lonely or because it’s been a while. Both sides have to be honest, or it might end up awkward.

I still have a lot of work to do until I’m where I want to be. I need to be open to still learning and growing. But at the same time, I need to focus on what I want to do, or at least the two or three major options that interest me the most.

I’m a little worried, but a lot excited. Instability can be scary and sometimes I do feel like I am falling behind my peers, but I have to remember, I’m in a lot better shape than I was last year.

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One loser to another: My letter to late Mets pitcher Anthony Young

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$(KGrHqV,!qkF!9Nzm9zVBQW4LLWHU!--60_58A few weeks ago, former New York Mets pitcher Anthony Young passed away. Several baseball websites discussed his death and career, from Fangraphs and their statistical analysis to Faith and Fear in Flushing and their insightful look at emotional connections to Mets players, times, and spaces.

Anthony Young was unique. He played at the top level of Major League Baseball but held a record no player should ever want – most consecutive losing decisions. Young lost 27 games in a row from 1992 to 1993. His career record was 5-35. Based on that, Anthony Young was one of the worst pitchers in Major League history.

But AY’s personality, determination, and grace under the circumstances never showed signs of a loser. Who AY was helped show people that losing in baseball was far too subjective. A player could do well, but throw one misplaced pitch, could be branded a loser.

Baseball, like life, is rarely fair.

Personally, Anthony Young was one of my favorite players in the early 1990s. Not only because he pitched for the Mets and I was a Mets fan, but on a human level, I related to AY.

I was never a born winner. Especially athletically. I was typically on the Little League teams that struggled to win one game a year. For several Little League years, I was a pitcher, and struggled not to get upset when a teammate threw to a wrong base or failed to catch a fly ball. I might not have been an all-star, but I always thought I deserved a little better.

Following my Little League years, I played countless games of pickup baseball on my block. Mostly against my friend from the adjacent subdevelopment. We used a tennis ball, a pitchback for a backstop, and automatics to determine the type of hit – weak groundballs were automatic outs, flyballs past a light pole were a home run. The end of my block was our field and we had a mutual understanding of the ground rules.

There were no fielders and no teammates to point the finger at. I pitched and I hit. If I did neither well, I lost.

I lost often.

(From what I hear, kids today don’t play street baseball like this any more. Of course, there is video game addiction, but beside that, kids are told not to pitch as often as I did. Maybe I burnt out too quick. Maybe I could have been a left-handed relief pitcher in the Majors. I guess I will never know.)

My friend and I would play every day all summer. He was stronger and threw harder. I lost at least 50 in a row.

Then, on one lazy summer day, I won. If I remember right, the score was 2 to 1, or maybe 1 to 0. I never scored many runs, but on that day, I had my friend off-balance with a mix of well located average fastballs and decent change-ups. I might have even tried to slip in a bad slider or a forkball.

Regardless of the mix of mediocre offerings, I won. And it made my summer.

With the Mets mired in their own malaise and Anthony Young’s win total still stuck on zero, I wrote AY a letter. I told him if could win on the streets of Melbourne, Florida, I was sure his day in the sun in New York City would come eventually.

Being the fan I was, I included an early ’90s Topps baseball card and a safe-addressed stamped envelop with my letter. At the end of my letter, I asked AY if he could sign my card and send it back to me. He did.

(Looking back, that seems like an awkward request. Hey, best of luck, I’m rooting for you. Can you sign this card and send it back to me because I sent you best wishes?)

A few weeks after my card arrived, Anthony Young got a win over the Marlins, finally breaking his dubious losing streak. Amidst the voodoo dolls, good luck trinkets, and other knick-knacks AY received from Mets fans with the intent to change his luck, I like to think a letter of encouragement from a fellow struggling pitcher had a small part in helping him remove the zoo from his back.

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My month at Fangraphs.com

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During the month of June, I had the honor of participating in the Fangraphs.com residency program. This is a “guest writer” program held by one of the most widely-read baseball analysis sites. Their goal is to showcase writers they think are doing great work for smaller audiences and expose them on a grander scale.

I was honored to be selected and I hope I did a good job informing the Fangraphs audience about Tampa Bay baseball and the circumstances therein.

Here are links to my articles, please check them out.

Tampa Bay’s Attendance Problem – an overview of the Rays attendance dilemma.

Tampa Bay and the Millennial Challenge – a look at how the next generation of fans will affect the Rays chances of staying in Tampa Bay

Can the Rays Ever Achieve League Average Attendance? – looking at the Rays as a small market team and how their attendance compares to other clubs their size

What the Rays Can (and Can’t) Learn From Local Minor League Attendance – exploring trends in Tampa Bay’s Minor League attendance and how much winning actually matters in each level of baseball

Tampa Bay’s Second Half Attendance – predicting an increase in attendance for the Rays in the second half of 2017

Again, this was a lot of work, but very enjoyable. Thanks again to the folks at Fangraphs for providing me the opportunity.

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A Wrestling Fan’s Review of The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity

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Last month, Stageworks Theater in Tampa performed the wrestling themed play “The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity“. Written by Kristoffer Diaz and locally directed by Karla Hartley, the play told the story of Macedonio Guerra, aka “The Mace”, a technically sound wrestler who “does all the heavy lifting” for THE Wrestling.

Disclaimer: I had an indirect role in Stageworks Tampa’s production of The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity. I introduced the cast to local wrestlers who helped them with the nuances of pro wrestling psychology and they facilitated the acquisition of the ring the play was performed in.

Although other local writers saw “Chad Deity” as theater critics (see here and here), I went as a wrestling fan – even wearing my afro wig, as I do to wrestling matches. No matter how much I’ve watched and talked with wrestlers, I am and will always be just a fan. But that fandom has made me more knowledgeable about wrestling than I am about theater. As a matter of fact, there are many, many, things I am more knowledgeable about than theater. So what follows is, as the title states, a wrestling fan’s review.

The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity takes place in a world that is part-present day WWE and part past-stereotype WWF. While theater fans may not know the difference, for wrestling fans, it means Chad Deity is entirely fiction and the storyline is unrealistic, even for wrestling, which hurts the play’s overall message.

But I must digress for now, lest I blow the finish.

While theater fans might feel more comfortable with the social message Diaz was attempting to convey in “Chad Deity”, wrestling fans are surely more familiar with the wrestling side of the play, particularly the interaction with the cast. By it’s nature, wrestling is highly interactive athletic theater, where athlete action draws crowd reaction which then may drive more athlete action. One of the marks of a good wrestling match is how “in to it” the crowd is.

In “Chad Deity”, the theater crowd becomes part of the show. They are told to suspend belief at certain points and cheer and boo as if they are at a wrestling show when the play’s action is the wrestling matches. When the cast breaks kayfabe and speaks out of their wrestling character and in the voice of their play character, the audience breaks kayfabe as well – laughing, gasping, or clapping for the words or actions of Macedonio Guerra, and not “The Mace”. They act as a typical audience to a performance would.

That dynamic makes The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Diety very unique. However, it brings to mind situations where wrestling crowds assume another level of fan consciousness. Wrestling crowds can either cheer along with the storyline – cheer the good guy or boo the bad guy – or they cheer the performance the wrestlers are putting on. Personally, I am not a fan of “this is awesome” or “this is wrestling” chants, but many fans feel the need to opine about the overall performance of the match, not the characters or situations in the ring.

While the audience watching The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity plays two roles: wrestling show crowd and play audience, some of the cast members are playing three or more roles. The actors portraying Macedonio Guerra and Vigneshwar Paduar play these characters and then assume the in-ring personas of “The Mace” and “Che Chavez Castro” for Guerra and “VP” and “The Fundamentalist” for Paduar. Their awareness of their wrestling character while in performance character gives the play a very “Tropic Thunder” feel. The performers are a dude playing a dude (Guerra) playing another dude (The Mace) then becoming another dude (Castro).

Thank goodness the play is written well enough to make sense of that.

That brings me back to the end of the play. The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity concludes on a very inconclusive note, at least for a wrestling fan. In the final scene, we are told Macedonio Guerra dumped his heart out to an unseen wrestling crowd through a personal in-ring/in-event promo. After he finishes, crowd favorite Chad Deity enters the ring and powerbombs Guerra. The impression the theater audience gets is that Macedonio was put back in his place and Chad Deity – wrestling hero – would continue to be cheered.

But that doesn’t make sense to a wrestling fan. Modern day wrestling fans would react as VP’s neophyte girlfriend does: they would assume Deity is now playing the “corporate” heel role, holding down the hopes and dreams of a plucky, talented, aspiring, and honest wrestler. Modern wrestling fans admire honesty and hard work in their good guys. Bad guys cheat, lie, and do what they need to keep power.

In order to succeed in the “Chad Deity” world, The Mace would need to assume the Daniel Bryan role, someone management believes is unfit for the title, but the fans root for. I would be curious what Kristoffer Diaz believes happens in the next wrestling event. While theater fans leave the performance thinking Macedonio Guerra did not create his own story, wrestling fans know wrestling is perpetual, every moment can be incorporated into a storyline, and good eventually defeats evil, no matter what race, creed, or gender the good people are.

Modern fans want fairness to boil to the top of wrestling’s scripted reality.

For a wrestling fan, Macedonio Guerra did create  his own story through the sacrifice of VP: The Mace became a face, and he will eventually have his own elaborate entrance. “The Fundamentalist” as a character becomes a prop not for THE Wrestling to reaffirm Chad Deity’s All-American greatness, but for The Mace to break the fourth wall a la CM Punk in his famous promo rejecting WWE and Vince McMahon.

The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity isn’t a perfect wrestling story. It is not The Wrestler. Chad Deity relies too much on past stereotypes of what wrestling was juxtaposed into the modern appearance of pro wrestling’s corporate side while not understanding the social norms of modern professional wrestling. Much of this can be attributed to the fact that The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity was first performed in 2010, and so much of wrestling’s progressiveness has occurred in the last five years.

But the performance of The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity, when considered in its own alternate reality of wrestling’s already alternate reality, is a fun experience. I would highly recommend checking it out if it is performed in your city.

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What I’m Reading: June 2017 – Technology, cyber warfare, productivity, comedy, and career advice

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37018
Summaries of the articles I found most interesting in June:

Silicon Valley vs. The White House – The Eurasia Group, 6/28/2017

The Eurasia Group writes about the leaders of Silicon Valley and their interests and how those interests conflict with the interests of the Trump Administration. There are a lot of conflicts as the Trump administration lays down how it wants to do business to a tech group that is looking for investment, foreign workers, and guidance, none of which the Trump Administration seems interested in providing.

Rise of Nation State Threats: How Can Businesses Respond? – Dark Reading, 6/19/2017

Dark Reading discusses the development of nation-states as hacking and cyber infiltrators. While American allies don’t seem to attack each other, attacks on them from Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea are growing. Each “enemy” nation state has a different motivation and method for attacking in cyber space, and this article details how companies can attempt to prevent being in the crossfire.

Why So Many Top Hackers Hail from Russia – KrebsOnSecurity, 6/22/2017

Brian Krebs looks into the differences between teaching computer programming in the US and in Russia. Russia has armies of cyber-smart people because their academic system is much more geared towards the subject. Students in Russia are learning far more and deeper in the subject than their American counterparts, which is leading to shortfalls in American cybersecurity, which in turn could hurt American businesses.

Threat Intelligence Sharing: The New Normal? – Dark Reading, 6/23/2017

In this article, Dark Reading discusses methods cyber analysts are using to share information on the growing cyber intrusion threat. While sharing intelligence is the norm among government agencies, it is not typical among businesses. But when the threat is existential to business competition, many organization see sharing intelligence as ethical and in the best interest of industry.

Doxing, DoS & Defacement: Today’s Mainstream Hacktivism Tools – Dark Reading, 6/29/2017

This article covers the most common offensive online tactics taken by protestors and activists. It is not enough for protestors to create a hashtag or go viral with a complaint. They can attack the face of businesses though their website or publish personal information about employees.

Canada’s Comedy, the Voice of a Polite Nation, Rises in the Trump Era – New York Times, 6/30/2017

The New York Times explores the Canadian comedy world, from poking fun at America to exploring their own identity. Not sure I 100% agree with the title, as Canadian comedy has always been socially sharp, and many comics have made their way to the US to big fame and fortune, but now the Canadian satire about the US has a very Trump-mocking flavor. By mocking Trump, Canadians are invoking a “holier-than-thou” premise, which promotes Canadian pride while knocking the US down a peg or two.

The Credibility of Late Night Comedy – SplitSider, 6/28/2017

Philip Stamato of SplitSider explores the concepts and people behind the factual side of news-focused comedy shows. As these shows grow in popularity, and more people derive their opinions from them, it helps that they be as credible as possible. That credibility starts with researchers and fact-checkers, who provide the most up-to-date material for the humorists to spin jokes from. Without the truthful base, the joke falls apart.

What Is Considered a Fireable Comedy Offense in 2017? – Splitsider, 6/13/2017

Splitsider looks at four different popular comic transgressions and their resulting fall-out. While the more established male stars were lectured for their controversial content, the female comics with less solid positions were let go. Writer John Hugar searches for a standard or line that comics can’t cross. Of course, such a line would be dependent on the investment a company or a promoter has in the comic. The lower the investment, the easier it is to cut losses.

What Are The Cartoons That Jay-Z Is Referencing In His New Video ‘The Story of O.J.’ – CartoonBrew, 6/30/2017

Jay-Z used several old cartoon references in his latest video. His video used old racist portrayals of African-Americans merged with modern portrayals of Jay-Z and other modern persons. Cartoonbrew explores these old cartoons for context and describes the characters and studios that put them out.

“Hip-Hop Is A Huge Equalizer”: Young Entrepreneurs Get Business Inspiration From The Music Industry – Fast Company, 6/13/2017

Fast Company writes about a night-time business class in Philadelphia that uses hip-hop business models to teach entrepreneurship. By using examples such as Jay-Z and Russell Simmons, teachers give students subjects they can relate to in opening their own businesses and fostering their own ideas.

Redefining Productivity – PeterHarling.blog, 6/7/2017

This article deep-dives into the idea of productivity. We all want to be productive, but is being 100% productive realistic? The author explores motivations and the desire to “value-add” in any endeavor. They come to the conclusion that four hours a day of hard work will move any goal forward.

Let’s Be Real, You’re Never Getting A Mentor, So Do These Six Things Instead – Fast Company, 6/20/17

Fast Company writer Richard Bellis looks at mentorship relationships and the idea that not everyone has the privilege of having an established worker guide their careers. In lieu of having a mentor, Bellis provides several ideas for gaining career guidance.

The Most Common Career Advice That Graduates Should Ignore (And What To Do Instead) – Fast Company, 6/16/2017

I am a big fan of realistic job advice. Most of the career advice published online is complete crap written just to get bylines and page views. This article abandons the cliches and gives real advice. Among the suggestions for recent grads and although those still searching for a solid career path are Find Purpose, Quit if it is not working, Commit to something (this applies to me particularly), and Know when to say no.

Although this article is written for recent grads, it is good to read and re-evaluate or possibly re-adjust career paths on occasion.

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I made a good tweet

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I’ve been on twitter for about eight years. I have a little over 1,000 followers. I’m not a big time social media star. I tweet about the wide array of things that appeal to me or catch my eye.

A few people respond to me regularly, and I reply back to them.

Only three times in eight years have my tweets been circulated to the masses.

The first was a picture of me in an R2D2 costume from 1982. I tweeted that to @StarWars and they retweeted it to the rest of the galaxy.

The second time my tweet was heavily circulated was when I posted a Chuck D song about Muhammad Ali after Muhammad Ali died. Chuck D retweeted that to all the Public Enemy fans worldwide.

So it usually takes someone popular to push my tweets to the masses.

Last week, however, after New Jersey Governor Chris Christie called President Trump’s tone to the ex-FBI director “normal New York City conversation”, I posted this:

MrMet

As you can see, a lot of people interacted with this post. I was shocked. Granted, it’s not millions or thousands and I am not asking for free nuggets, but nearly 200 retweets and over 600 likes for a joke isn’t bad.

My theory is that the tweet jumped in popularity when Twitter posted it on their top tweets for the topic. If you went to the twitter home page, there was a headline of “New York City conversation”. Clicking the headline brought you to dozens and dozens of tweets about the subject. As mine was pretty popular, it rose to the top, which then made it more popular. Twitter is weird like that.

So that’s my most popular tweet to date. Mr. Met engaging in a normal New York City conversation.

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What I’m Reading: May 2017 – Internationalism, Media, Black Market, and International Music

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Wow. I am super late with this. But since I have been doing this for over a year, I can’t stop now. As a matter of fact, I’ve thought about doing this more often with less links. I think that might be a good idea. We’ll see.

Anyway, on to the articles I found most interesting in May.

Is American Internationalism Dead? Reading the National Mood in the Age of Trump – 5/16/2017, War On the Rocks

Starting with something heavy on the social sciences tip. Writer Hal Brands discusses America’s attitudes towards internationalism, especially with the statement made by electing Donald Trump. Brands details the history of US internationalism, then looks at whether or not Donald Trump’s election is a break from generations of US international involvement.

Overall, this is a really good article. However, I would be interested in deep-diving into his polling numbers – especially in regards to support to international involvement. Is support heavier in cities and on the coasts? What do farmers in Iowa think of NATO? Questions like that need to be answered before making a statement about what Americans believe.

Life and death of the knowledge industry – 5/17/2017, PeterHarling Blog

Another really long read, but a good read. This article discusses trends in media consumption in the last 20 years or so. It discusses the trials and tribulations of a freelance economy that discourages in-depth knowledge, whether due to lack of compensation or lack of attention. The media model has changed – whether in the mainstream media or academic writing. The end of the article asks for examples of how companies have best blended in-depth research with quick consumption. The lack of methods, best practices, or examples keeps the article in the realm of theory and not as practical as it should be.

Conservatism Isn’t The New Punk Rock. Shitposting Is. – 5/31/2017, Medium.com

This article, by K Thor Jensen, takes an interesting look at counterculture. It details the basic philosophy of conservatism, the idea of status quo and maintaining power, and states how there is no way conservatism could ever be “punk” – which is a power-challenging vehicle. However, Jensen states the obnoxious media habit of “shitposting”, otherwise known as “knowingly contributing low quality, off-topic, or ill intentioned posts” that is much more akin to punk. Punk is untuned guitars, off-beat drumming, poor production, and purposeful flaunting of convention. That is not conservatism. If anything, conservatism is the new old school NY hip-hop – a standard rhythm and beat and bemoaning of anyone going counter to that as “not hip-hop”.

Cybercriminals Regularly Battle it Out on the Dark Web – 5/30/2017, DarkReading.com

This is a scary article, although not entirely unexpected. According to DarkReading.com, the same actions cybercriminals use against corporations, governments, and other targets, they also use against other cybercriminals. This is probably just poking to prevent domination, just as gorillas in the wild do. But this also probably assists development and evolution, making them tougher amongst themselves and even more difficult to stop for authorities and cybersecurity personnel.

Seeing Security from the Other Side of the Window – 5/3/2017, DarkReading.com

An interesting plea to the security world to see their profession from a business perspective. Security does not have the same ROI as manufacturing or supply. Unless they have detail on the threat and their psychology.


Corruption, Terrorism, And Mafia: The Global Black Market For Oil – 5/12/2017, OilPrice.com

This is more graphic than article, but still a great look at how illegal oil sales and trade funds other illegal activity throughout the world. Illegal oil transfers are a bigger business than some of the biggest oil businesses in the world. We can only imagine how these efforts will slow, if they even will, with the future advancement of alternate power sources.

Among First Nations Youth, Hip-Hop Is a Tool for Self-Expression and Cultural Preservation – 5/17/2017, GlobalVoices.com

I am fan of articles on global music. I think music is one of the best ways societies have to communicate their frustrations. This article discusses the use of hip-hop in Native American communities in Canada. Called “First People”, the native tribes of Canada face struggle and poverty. Many youth have turned to music to express their frustrations and hopes for the future.

Bangladesh: Where Heavy Metal Dies at the Doorstep – 5/14/2017, GlobalVoices.com

On the other hand, there are places where music is prohibited by the government. According to GlobalVoices.com, a metal festival featuring Brazilian metal band Krisiun was cancelled by authorities after Krisiun made the international flight. Of course, the situation became finger-pointing with each side blaming the other, and in the end the fans got shafted.

“It Was Like True, True Disdain for Each Other” – 5/15/2017, The Ringer

To end, a little sports. A look back at the New York Knicks and Miami Heat rivalry in the late 1990s. This is one of the rivalries that got me heavily into Knicks basketball, which helped me make friends in the military. Reflecting and reading interviews about it was an awesome blast from the past.

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What I’m Reading – April 2017: Veterans Entrepreneurs, Organizational Study, Media, Baseball, Kung Fu, and Star Wars

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A wrap-up of articles I found most interesting this month.

How Veterans Turned Entrepreneurs Are Disrupting The Pentagon’s Weapons Program – Fast Company, 4/3/2017

This was my favorite read of the month. Having been in the defense contracting world for several years, I understood the inflexibility of contracting – where the military defines their problem and hires someone to work on it. Companies and contract companies are rarely allowed to take the initiative. This puts problem solving in the insular world of the military, which reduces outside views and hence innovation. According to his article, however, several tech companies have been able to penetrate the insular bubble and introduce new ideas. Fast Company details their challenges and successes in a world dominated by close-mindedness and a system that caters to entrenched contract companies.

Needless to say, I am looking at the websites of these companies to see if I can help their mission.

Wow with Insight: A journey to becoming a data and analytics leader – Corinium Intelligence.com, 4/3/2017

Corinium Intelligence interviewed Rick Davis, VP, Global Data Office, Kellogg Company. In this interview, Davis discusses the challenges of analytical positions and departments. Their goals are constantly changing as the environment changes as does the available sources of data – from traditional insight to modern data sources such as AI and the Internet of Things. According to Davis, analysts have to be open minded and willing to connect ideas that might not have gone together before.

I agree 100% and would say this is relevant to corporate and military intelligence. It might also be relevant to financial and other types of analysis.

Organizational Agility: Winning in Today’s Complex Environment – The Strategy Bridge, 4/21/2017

This article discusses how military units can better succeed. According to the author, military units should be more flexible, use improvisation, power down, and innovate. While I agree and recommend the article, I think the author is tilling well-worn ground, especially in regards to Special Operations. Many of the management books I read in my MBA courses emphasized these organizational traits. They are great, but they require intense rapid learning, intelligence, and teamwork.

The military is an awkward place for innovation and agility. They spend the first few months of a member’s career deprogramming and reprogramming them for uniformity. Then they spend years in a closed culture. Articles like this assume members would be able to ditch their organizational programming and think like civilian innovators. Meanwhile, when consultants, who work in innovation and fast-moving fields, are brought in, defense organizations push back.

I wrote more than normal on this because I much as I would like to be, I am not optimistic. And that makes me sad.

Trump and Emergent Strategy: The First 100 Days – War On the Rocks, 4/28/2017

Keeping with the business and national defense theme, this article by War On the Rocks postulates that President Trump is enacting a “learning and improvisation” methodology to foreign policy. Trump is not providing overarching guidance, rather going with a more business-like rapid-learning and flexible style of navigating the waters of geopolitics. The author provides suggestions how the president can succeed with this methodology.

The Link Between White Supremacists and Islamic Terrorism – The Cypher Brief, 4/20/2017

This great interview with former FBI agent Michael German discusses the similarity between terrorist groups such as a white nationalists and Islamic fundamentalists. German dissects the psychology of groups and how operational objectives sometimes supersedes ideology. He also compares different groups such as Al Qaeda and Nazis. According to German, there are many similarities in recruiting, practicality, and operations. These groups often glaze over the ideology for operational success, which is not uncommon for any political movement, just their tactics and attempts to be relevant are different.

Beyond Alt: The extremely reactionary, burn-it-down-radical, newfangled far right. – NYMag.com, 4/30/2017

Another article about political groups. In this very long article, a team of writers dissect the right-wing of America. In the beginning of the article, they label this group a counterculture, not a political movement. They also detail their use of social media and technology – the same tools used by other counterculture groups around the world for years. The idea is that waves of ideas move faster than established philosophy. If that overarching philosophy is weak, or it’s people don’t believe, they will be sucked into the tide of the counterculture. This tide is magnified exponentially by technology. Lastly, the article details personalities and ideas center to the new right-wing group.

The Media Bubble Is Worse Than You Think – Politico.com, May/June 2017

Politico explores the geography of media and how it relates to politics. As media increasingly goes online it migrates more to metro areas with urban, liberal ideals. Unfortunately, local newspapers are losing staff due to lost revenue to national websites. It is a vicious cycle and Politico has some good data behind it.

Unchecked fake news gave rise to an evil empire in Star Wars – Washington Post, 5/4/2017

I am a total geek for articles that use Star Wars to view our modern condition. This article brings up a very good point – that media is rarely seen in the Star Wars galaxy, at least in the canon movies. Without a media presence, government powers are able to run roughshod on the people and authoritarians are allowed to take over.  It is an interesting point about Star Wars that I never realized.

‘Kung Fu Kenny’ Is Just the Latest Example of Hip-Hop’s Fascination With Martial Arts – Complex.com, 4/19/2017

Complex.com does a great job explaining the influence of kung-fu in hip-hop. While old school hip-hop fans might know this relationship, it has slowly fallen out of public knowledge. Thanks to Kendrick Lamar, however, many of hip-hop’s old school influences have come back to light with a modern twist. But it is now up to media and older fans to explain to younger hip-hop fans what they are seeing and why it is important.

History Awakens: February 2, 1876 and the Founding of the National League – MLB Blogs, 4/24/2017

A very interesting look at recently discovered documents that created the National League – the oldest professional baseball league in existence. The article also tells the story of the politics behind the document.

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5 Job Hunting Lessons Learned from Stand Up Comedy

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Hello, Cleveland. It’s a pleasure to be here. My name is Michael Lortz and I was unemployed for over two years. Fortunately, I performed stand-up comedy during that time, which didn’t help me find a job or pay my bills, but it did help me find humor in my predicament.

When I started comedy, I read books on stand-up, I watched videos, and I tried to study my way into being funny. Some provided interesting insight and basic guidelines – the rule of three, for example – but most articles on “how to be funny” are clickbait to build someone’s reputation and provide them a byline on another website.

To use the comic parlance, it is “hack” material.

When I was unemployed, I read articles on finding a job, I watched videos, and I tried to study my way into employment. Some provided interesting insight and basic guidelines – use a professional email address, for example – but most articles on “how to find a job” are clickbait to build someone’s reputation and provide them a byline on another website.

See what I did there? More than everything you need to know about finding a job has been written, re-written, and recycled even within the same articles.

In comedy, the community tends to police itself when it comes to original material. The police have long been absent from the cottage industry of online job advice.

The problem wouldn’t be so bad if the articles gave good advice. But they don’t. Too often, the advice is blandly generic, like sugar-free, low-carb, gluten-reduced vanilla frozen yogurt. Or the advice contradicts other advice columns.

  • Be creative in a resume / Don’t be creative in a resume
  • Start with an objective / Start with a summary of experience
  • Don’t go over one page / Don’t go over two pages
  • Use your real name / Call yourself “Mark Zuckerberg”

It is enough to make a job seeker want to walk out mid-show.

Ironically, the best advice I learned in my job hunt came from comedy. Five simple ideas applicable to any job, any resume, and any career.

1. Know Your Audience

This is extremely important. Know who you are speaking in front of. Is it a Jeff Foxworthy audience or a Katt Williams audience? Is it an older crowd or a younger crowd? Maybe it’s an office party. Maybe you are on stage in room full of drunken Hell’s Angels.

The same applies in the job hunt. Are you trying to impress a Fortune 500 financial institution? If so, the Slayer shirt and nose ring might not be the way to go. A suit and tie might be a better option. But if you have an interview with a hip upstart app developer, they might be impressed with your “Han Shot, Period” shirt.

Likewise with your resume. Will it be read by a creative audience? Or will it be seen by recruiters and hiring managers who wouldn’t know creativity if it tagged them on LinkedIn?

2. Know Yourself

This is also very important.

I’m not an astronaut. I’m not an NBA superstar. I’m also not a truck driver nor a lawyer. These might seem like simple facts, but I would never apply for these positions, no matter how cool they are. I’d have no chance of landing them.

If I wanted a job that I am currently not qualified for, there are some skills I could learn quickly – like learning a new comedy bit. But learning takes time. It is an investment. Some things, such as me being an astronaut, will never happen. I know I am too far behind the career curve to reach the moon. So even if there was an opening at NASA or Space-X for astronauts, applying would be a waste of my time.

3. Know Your Peers and Meet Those Who Have Achieved More Than You

Few comics ever make it completely on their own. Most arise from the bowels of the open mic circuit with the help of their peers and support from more established comics who take them under their wing and give them a hand or a leg up.

Job seekers should also network, know their peers, and look for advice from those who are where they aspire to be. Not everyone is a good lead, a good connection, or a good source of information. Some people are more helpful than others. Some people are jerks.

Ideally, those in whatever field you want to be in will help you better craft a resume or give you specific job seeking advice. That’s ideal if you ever want to stop reading generic career advice columns.

4. Use What You Know to Fill the Needs of Your Audience

Not everyone is LeBron James. As a matter of fact, only LeBron James is LeBron James. But LeBron is just a small spoke in a very big wheel that is the business of the NBA. LeBron doesn’t work in accounting, he doesn’t work in stadium operations, and he is not in janitorial services. He works in the basketball department. He even wears a uniform with his name on it, just like millions of other workers in America.

If LeBron applied for an accounting position, he might not get the job. Likewise if he applied to be an astronaut or a truck driver. But when he filed for the NBA draft and applied for the position of basketball player, he played to his strengths and experience. Basketball is LeBron’s talent.

You should approach job seeking like Jay-Z. You have to sling your talent like rocks. Hustle to sell your skills to someone who can use them so you can get paid, pay your rent, and live. The better reputation you develop, the better the chances your skills find a home so you can afford a home.

You may be tempted to stretch your skills to fit a role that barely fits you, especially when your job search seems endless. But just because LeBron James scores points, doesn’t mean he should apply to operate the scoreboard.

5. Not All Advice is Created Equal

Every comic has friends who say “I have a joke for you …” or “You should write a joke about this.”.

Good advice when people don’t understand your direction is like finding a needle in a haystack, or job on monster.com, whichever you prefer. Likewise, far too many job seeking gurus have equally irrelevant advice. The biggest difference is that job gurus should know better. Unfortunately, bad advice is their job.

In the online content business, it is quantity over quality. People write just to get bylines, credits, and page views. Most career columnists are daft with the fads, while piddily with the particulars. How are they going to help you in your job seeking journey if they are trying to appeal to the magic god of page views and ad revenue?

Speaking of, here I am hoping to get page views on an advice column warning about other advice columns. I think that’s pretty funny.

(This post was originally published on my LinkedIn page.)

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