Father Sez

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Would you ever consider a job to be beneath you?

Monday, February 2nd, 2009

Last week I read two great posts on this topic. The first one I read was by Mrs. Micah who asked “what kind of work is beneath you” and she   listed the pros and cons of having a job, any job, as opposed to having no job whilst looking for the right one.

Jim from Blueprint for Financial Prosperity asks whether we should take a low paying job. He also credited Mrs. Micah for igniting his thoughts on this matter and made a very powerful statement at the end of his post.

Quote

Finally, I find it dangerous to pass judgment on any job, above, beneath or beside you, because it’s someone’s job somewhere.                                                                       

Unquote 

I think the subject is most appropriate in these trying times of widespread job losses. Lots of buzz is being created all over the world over “foreigners” working in countries where the locals are losing jobs.  

Mrs. M’s and Jim’s posts strike very close to home in the Malaysian context. I have written about the official unemployment statistics for Malaysia to be 3.1% or about 343,700 people. At the same time, foreign labour in the country is about 1.2 – 1.5 million. They are mainly Indonesians, Nepalese, Bangladeshi, Indian and Thai workers. They do work that the Malaysians seem to shun, work like being plantation workers, restaurant helpers, domestic maids, security guards, construction workers etc. 

This foreign workers number is almost 4 times, the number of the officially unemployed. This seems to be proof that some people do consider some types of work to be beneath them. (Of course, some employers also prefer to employ the foreign workers for various reasons.) 

Our Government often makes the appropriate noises about Malaysians being too choosy about their jobs. I suppose sooner or later some change has to happen in this ratio of foreign workers to the Malaysian unemployed.   

I have never ever had to make this decision in a personal capacity in the past. Some reasonably paying job would land on my lap. Looking back at the various jobs, members of my family have held, the lowest one might be that done by my late father. 

My late father was a bread vendor, selling bread and cookies. He had a “route” assigned to him by the bakery and he would collect the bread, cycle along the route, stop, disembark and sell the bread, and cycle on. This was his daily routine until he went for an appendicitis operation and was advised not to cycle anymore. This story was told to me by my eldest brother. I have never seen my late father mount a cycle, ever. And I don’t think that this job was ever considered to be beneath him, rather I am sure my father took pride in having a job that helped meet people’s needs. 

Now my wife and I are doing something that I might be considered as “beneath me” not too long ago. We have taken a well considered plunge into direct selling. And to be honest this decision was not exactly a result of a “no other option” kind of situation. Yes, declaring myself to be a MLMer when asked what I do now has resulted in some snickers. But then, is a person who is a friend because of your job or position really a friend?  

So Mrs. M and Jim, I consider that the pizza delivery man featured by CNN has set a fine example. And my wife and I are further examples of people wanting to do jobs that OTHERS may consider to be beneath us.   

My two elder girls…….an update

Friday, October 24th, 2008

I last wrote about my two elder girls way back in July. My eldest girl Along had started work with an educational institute for children whilst the second, Azah had started with a Big 4 audit firm. The two offices are located at opposite ends of our Federal Capital, Kuala Lumpur which is about 60 kilometres from where we live. As it was not practical for the both of them to stay together we found rooms for them and thought that we would work out the staying together bit later. 

Along did not find the job to her liking and came back home. Her principal interest is in counselling, especially children, and teaching them did not work out the way she thought it would be. She has now found an assignment as an assistant to a counsellor. She found the lady through a blog and met up with her a couple of weeks before Eid. They both got along well and my wife and I have also met and have gotten to know this lady. Along is really looking forward to being involved in the counselling profession. 

The plus points are that the lady’s office is not too far from Azah’s office and also the University where Along plans to do her Masters in Educational Counselling.  So we have rented a house where the two girls will stay together and rent out the other rooms.

The house is within walking distance from Azah’s office so the transport issue for her has been resolved. It’s a little further from Along’s expected place of work and we have agreed that we will buy a car for her (used, of course).  

Last week the whole family checked out the house (which is unfurnished) and prepared a list of the basic furnishings and household items to buy. The dent in my wallet aside(this has to be discussed with the girls later), there is the fatherly fear of whether my girls would be safe and be “all right”. My wife is taking it a lot better (she is a great believer in independence). 

As I would be in Jakarta all this week, Along and my wife will be taking care of getting the house cleaned and furnished. And Insya’Allah the two girls will move in by the 1st November.  

(Should I or my wife set any house rules or should we just let the girls go with the flow? This will be a thought that will linger a lot in my mind over the next few days).   

5 Tips for the New Grad in a New Job

Wednesday, July 9th, 2008

You finished college and are feeling invincible.  This feeling is going to go away when you enter the work force and are working for a boss and rely on co-workers just as they’ll rely on you.  It’s not easy just starting out and getting your feet wet.  Chances are you’re idealistic job is not out there immediately for you and you’re going to start out in an entry position.  There’s no shame in this, but you need to know you’re not alone and can lean on many people around you for help.  Here are a few tips for you to consider when you get that uneasy feeling during the first week, but probably on that first day: 

i) Ask questions. 

First and foremost, you can’t be afraid to ask questions.  If, at any time, you need clarification on any issues or are unsure about what is expected, be sure to ask questions of your superiors.  Remember what your teachers used to say?  There are no dumb questions.  This rings true in the work place as well.

ii) Be early all the time. 

It’s your first job and you are looking to make a good impression at all turns.  Arriving for work early is the easiest way to show your enthusiasm and eagerness for the job.

iii) Ask for more responsibilities when you’re ready. 

Obviously, if your boss asks you to do something then you have to step up to the plate.  However, when you feel like you’re ready to take on more responsibility then you should seek the heavier workload.  This will impress your bosses by showing you are someone who relishes the spotlight.

iv) Avoid petty work spats. 

You’re young and fresh out of college where you made tons of friends.  When you’re at work you need to realize it’s a different animal then the quad at college.  It’s important you make solid work relationships, but stay away from the subculture in the workplace that’s rife with gossip and vague friendships.  It’s easy to fall into this trap, but it’s not worth dredging your name in the mud.

v) Do your homework. 

Just because you’re not in school anymore doesn’t mean that you don’t have homework anymore.  Don’t be one of the guys that go to the bar with all the co-workers right after quitting time.  When you are just starting out, you want to make sure that you’re arriving at work with a clear head with more knowledge than when you left the night before.

By-line: 

This post was contributed by Heather Johnson, who writes on the subject of Chase Rewards. She invites your feedback at heatherjohnson2323 at gmail dot com. 

Mentors – the who’s, why’s and how’s

Monday, July 7th, 2008

The statement “Find a mentor” is almost a standard in any career guidance document. And I also told my daughters this when they started their jobs.  But exactly who would or should be our mentor?  Why should we find a mentor? And how do we go about seeking them? I hope my girls as well as others may find this post useful.  

Who are Mentors? 

The term “Mentor” originated from a character in Homer’s epic poem The Odyssey. When Odysseus, King of Ithaca went to fight in the Trojan War, he entrusted the care of his kingdom to Mentor. Mentor served as the teacher and overseer of Odysseus’ son, Telemachus.

A mentor is a trusted friend, counselor or teacher, usually a more experienced person. Mentors provide their expertise to less experienced individuals in order to help them advance their careers, enhance their education, and build their networks. And not for personal gain.

Why should we seek a Mentor?

Properly selected mentors provide specific practical information regarding our profession: entry requirements, opportunities for advancement and employment outlook. They can share their understanding of personal characteristics for success in the field, important issues facing the profession, personal rewards and sources of frustration.

Most importantly, mentors can relate a personal account of their own career path. Mentors provide a good reliable sounding board, second opinion, and sometimes just emotional support.They’ve “been there, done that”. Learn from others’ mistakes and successes. They don’t have to have experience in your particular industry. Their role is to share with you lessons from their experience in the hopes that you can learn them a bit more quickly and easily.Your mentor is likely to have an extensive network, and can offer you access to far more senior decision-makers than you currently have. And they will be far more willing to open that network up to you than some casual acquaintance from a networking meeting.

We can see the usefulness of having a mentor when we start of in any endeavor. Be it a new career, a new business, or even a new hobby or interest. They help shorten our learning curve and stop us from making so many mistakes that we otherwise would have made.

How should we seek out our Mentor?

Now that we have established the usefulness of having a Mentor, how do we go about finding them? Basically we have to search in out network of contacts and identify the person or persons who would best fit the bill.

That is to find someone who is:

-         Experienced in the field of our interest,

-         trusted,

-         wise,

-         Admired and respected.

The networks that we search should be extended to include Government programs and also industry associations. Like my goat rearing venture for instance. My wife and I have listed at least 5 people as mentors, including a Government official in the Department of Veterinary Services.

And of course, we cannot just assume that he or she would have time for us. About.com suggests some steps we can and should take to “court” the mentor of our choice.

My elder girl, Along, is now working in an organization that deals with children learning methods. As the organization is small in terms of staffing, I believe there will be a lot more closeness and solidarity amongst the staff. Hence the more experienced ones will be natural mentors for the lesser experienced ones.

Along can also seek out mentors in the University where (I hope) she wants to do her Masters. Another could be her former tutor in Wales, someone she has always spoken about with respect and admiration.

Azah, on the other hand, has just started work in a Big 4. She will have to check out her seniors and see who would best fit her ideas for a mentor. For a start she has a friend who works in another Big 4 firm and is a year Azah’s senior.

I have written about the more costly mistakes I have made in the past, including that of not managing my career. Though I did not mention it then, the mistake includes that of not having mentors.

A master and his student? 

Image Credit: Google

I hope my children look seriously into identifying their mentors and building a relationship of mutual cooperation with them, not unlike a master-apprentice relationship of old.    

My letter to my two elder girls as they start off on their first jobs

Tuesday, July 1st, 2008

The Fathersez family have just passed another milestone. The first two children have finished their tertiary education and have just secured their first jobs. As they leave the family house to stay on their own and pursue their careers, what can I tell them? 

Though I have talked to them a little about working life being very different from living at home as our kids, I have not addressed in any detail the steps they can and should take now to better manage their career. Starting on the right foot, so to speak. 

Perhaps the best way would be to write to them. 

Dear Along and Azah, 

Assalamu’alaikum Wrt! Wbt! 

Your Mama and I have done our best to raise you both with love, care and kindness. Along the way, we may have made mistakes. After all, the both of you were our first experiences at raising children. 

Alhamdulillah, both of you have now grown up as responsible young ladies. And as the next phase of your lives as self subsisting adults start, please take some time to go through this letter. 

1.     Cultivate a positive and “can-do” attitude. Approach each day positively. Tell yourselves that if others have done it before you, there is no reason why you cannot. And if you ever feel down, take a short walk and sing a song. Hakunama Tata is good. This song about the no worries philosophy should cheer up anyone.  

2.     Watch, ask and learn as much as you can. Absorb as much as you can like a sponge. As freshies, you are entitled to ask and learn. And believe me, everyone likes to teach. Ask nicely and thank everyone for every bit of learning you get. Remember that from now on, you have to seek knowledge. Gone are the days, when you both will sit in some lecture room and a lecturer comes to give you knowledge.  

3.   Do not fear making mistakes. Only those who do nothing make no mistakes. And have no fear owning up if you have made any. 

4.   Be nice and civil to everyone. Not everyone has been brought up the way you have been and things which you think are small may not be to others. Respect the feelings of others. And remember our Fathersez’s family’s 3 laws of getting along with people.   

5.   Dress appropriately. I think your Mama has already taught you both well. Still don’t forget that it’s better to overdress than the other way around.  

6.   Put in the hours. Finish each and every piece of work you have been assigned and do it well. Do not be a clock watcher. Check each piece of work that you do before you hand it up. And then ask your supervisors if there is anything else you can do to help. Get yourselves known as the “anything else to do girls”. 

7.   Take time to understand the corporate culture. Make as many friends as you can and learn from all of them. Everyone has something to teach us. 

8.   Cut off all the time wasting activities. Texting and chatting online can wait. Value your time and use the time well. Of all the resources available, time is the only thing that is irreplaceable. Even Bill Gates has 24 hours a day. 

9.   I want to quote some of Free Money Finance’s sound advice here to make the most of your job. He suggests that you should get a mentor, hitch to a rising star and volunteer for projects. He also says that you should know your boss’s priorities, and know what she wants done and do it. Other gems are communicating the way your boss does (If he prefers email, use it. If phone, use that.), be curious and make yourself more interesting to be around.

And finally start working immediately on creating your own brand. Get yourselves known as people who are dependable and have integrity. Employers do form  opinions of their employees and I think this is a great brand to aim for. 

Well, my little princesses, both of you are now leaving the Fathersez household. This year, your Mama and Papa will not be giving you any Hari Raya money. Instead the both of you now have to give your younger siblings and the many nephews and nieces that you have. This is part of growing up and being adults. 

Remember that your career may be one of the most valuable assets that you ever own. Manage it well, and make it work for you. I have made my share of mistakes in not managing my career and want to make sure you both do not end of repeating the mistakes.

All the best as you start off in your careers. And whatever may happen, the both of you will always be your Mama and Papa’s little princesses. 

Wassalam,  

Papa    

Thank God, my two elder girls have secured their first jobs

Monday, June 23rd, 2008

Since February 08, I have written a series of articles on how I intended to help my daughters secure jobs they would like. The first article in the series, posted on the 24th February covered an overview of the process and the last article that covered the preparation for the interview was posted on the 4th May 2008. 

At the time of writing these articles, both the elder girls were still in college. In April the second girl returned home after completing her studies in Finance and Accounting whilst the eldest girl, Along, returned on the 10th June 08 after completing her studies in Psychology at the University of Bangor, Wales.  

Along, our eldest has always wanted to work with children. (However it seems that her younger sisters and brother don’t quite count….hehe.) She has gotten a job with an educational company teaching children. Along will be involved in evaluating the methods of teaching used by the institute. She has indicated that she might pursue her Masters in Educational Psychology in a Malaysian University on a part time basis.  

Azah, the second has gotten a job with one of the Big 4 (or 5 or 6) accounting firms. With no experience, she would be starting at the bottom of the ladder (as I did so many years ago.) And yes, she’s well aware of Steve’s concerns over working one’s heart out in the Big 4 or 5 or 6 firms.  

My wife and I are very happy for them, as they prepare to step out of the Fathersez household to begin their lives as self sustaining adults. We believe we have done our best to educate them, at least the basics, of life skills and have no doubt that they’ll do justice to the Fathersez name.  I am now working on the talks with them on the next phase of their lives, career as well as financial.

Above all, I want to try to ensure that they do not make the gross mistake I did in not managing my career. 

Today, as I see the looks of joy on the kids’ faces, now that they have secured their first jobs, I want to thank God and all the very kind bloggers whose resources were freely made available to me. 

On the top of the list would be Free Money Finance, who has a truly rich and extensive resource list on careers. 

Clever Dude, Life Clever, Job Mob and Gather Little by Little are also blogs I referred to frequently whilst writing my series.  And of course the indefatigable Squawkfox, who is also running a series on the intricacies of a job hunt. 

I thank God and all of you for this “gift”.

How I intend to help my daughters secure jobs they would like – Part 5 – Preparing a Killer Resume

Sunday, April 27th, 2008

My two elder girls are almost ready to join the rat race. I am discussing with them the things they could do to better position themselves to get the job of their choice from the employer of their choice. And not to repeat the major mistake I have made of not managing my career.  

In Part 1, we covered an overview of the process. 

In Part 2, we covered the additional employability skills they would have to familiarize themselves with.

In Part 3, we looked at the realities of life as an employee as compared their past years as students. 

In Part 4, we looked at how to look for and understand the career options available to them.

Now in this Part 5, we talk about the all important resume.

Wikipedia defines a résumé as a document that contains a summary or listing of relevant job experience and education usually for the purpose of obtaining an interview when   seeking employment. Often the résumé or CV is the first item that a potential employer encounters regarding the job seeker, and therefore a large amount of importance is often ascribed to it.

You know what they say about first impressions. As the resume is the first thing a potential employer sees about the applicant, we have to make our resume jump and stand out from the pile of other resumes that the employer would receive.

There are two parts of the resume:

a)    The Content and

b)    The design or style or format, i.e. how the final document looks like.

A) Content

i) The grand daddy rule of the content part should be “Do not lie”.

ii) The second rule is from my favorite career counselor, Free Money Finance and I paraphrase from his very useful “How to write a winning resume””“The way to sell yourself in a resume is to cite specific strengths and abilities that companies need from someone in the job you want and support them with your accomplishments.“

In my daughters’ case, there will be some slight twists. As this is their entry into the working world, the instances they have to quote would be work related or applicable achievements in their extra curricular activities in school and college. Like the instance when my daughter was part of the fund raising committee of the Leo Club in her college and they raised RM200, by drawing tattoos for fellow students and selling herbal eggs.

Another step would be to understand and anticipate the requirements of the job applied for and state our readiness to be able to comply. For example, audit trainees generally have to work quite long hours since the audits usually carry tight deadlines and are bunched up during certain times of the year.

Being comfortable in making presentations to a group of people would be a plus if the job involved marketing or training.

FMF also says that we should do some creative writing so as to make our resume sparkle with accomplishments. This would force recruiters to invite us for an interview. This makes absolute sense.

Yahoo Finance reminds us to keep the resume short and to quality check to eliminate misspellings and other obvious gaffes. I could also do with this advice. I blush with embarrassment whenever I read a post of mine and detect such obvious grammar and spelling errors.

These days lots of resumes are submitted online. Yahoo Finance also talks about the differences between a paper version and its online cousin. The writing of an online resume would be akin to SEO optimization, as it seems that the filters might reject submissions without the required minimum number of keywords corresponding to the skill set of the available position.

“The purpose is not to look like an individual, it’s to look like a match,” says Pat Kendall, a career coach in Tigard, Ore., who optimizes clients’ résumés for online submission.

B) Design 

I am quite hopeless at this. However I ran into 2 very useful guides.  Life Clever’s excellent step by step face lift he did on a typical run of the mill resume. And in about 4 steps he (she??) managed to “Cinderallise” the resume. 

And for even more design options, look at JobMob’s Beautiful Resume Ideas that Work. 

I thank them sincerely for their selfless sharing.

I have sat at both sides of the interviewing table in my career. I know how easy it is to toss out a lousy, insipid resume. I also know that just by reading a resume, you can come to a conclusion that this candidate is the one who would be solving all our problems.  

The resume is the door opener. We have to make sure our resume not only gets the door open, but also get us invited for the interview. 

Actually the resource links that I have used in writing this post were given to my girl just before I left to India to attend what turned out to be my mother’s funeral. My daughter has done justice to these resources and come up with a resume, which I think, I would have opened a door for. 

Her resume is being used now to actively seek interviews. I’ll post on this process in the next installment of this series.

Picture Credit: Google Images

How I intend to help my daughters secure jobs they would like - Part 1

Sunday, February 24th, 2008

I have written a number of posts on preparing my elder two girls for joining the rat race. I think I have to do a lot more. 

Our eldest girl, Along, has told me that she wants to stay on for a while in Wales when her final exams are over. (This may be subject to a separate post later). Her younger sister, Azah finishes her finals on the 10th March 08, and would be coming home with her bags, books and baggage from her hostel immediately after. She may take some time off at home, and then it would be time for her to join the rat race. 

I have no wish for my children to make the same mistakes that I did in failing to manage my career properly.  

So I intend to plan and try my best to instill in Azah some of the steps she can take to have an advantage as she takes her first steps in her working life. 

I have formulated a plan or rather the matters that I should research carefully and talk to her about. This plan is based on the lessons I have learnt in not managing my career. (Looks like my failure is of some use after all). 

a)  Additional Skills to pick up 

I have to add on to what I have written earlier. She should have at least some grounding in the needed skills to make her more marketable. Skills that employers need, not the E = mc squared kind of stuff. 

b)    Getting her mindset appropriately tuned for employment.

My wife and I have given our daughters a relatively sheltered life. They have never gone out to do any part time work during their school or varsity holidays. Starting work without having at least an understanding of the real life of a working gal might be a culture shock for them.  

c)     Preparing a killer resume

One that will stand out from the hundreds if not thousands of resumes that should be flooding the Malaysian entry level market these months. 

d)    Discussing and drawing up with her the list of qualities or characteristics that she wants in the employer of her choice. And helping her identify the companies that may fit this description. 

e)    Discussing and drawing up with her the list of job or career classifications that she thinks would fit her aptitudes and like. I do not think I can use the word passion here. I believe it would take some time before settles and she finds her calling. 

f)      Researching the companies and key decision makers in the companies that fit the list.  

g)    Seeking the interviews and preparing for the interview. This may take some time as it’s an employer’s market out here. My eldest brother’s son took almost 5 months before he secured his first job. That, too, was in another State. 

I have to remind Azah about our theory of perseverance if ever she feels down during this time. 

h)  Post interview strategies and tactics.  

I also want to extend this exercise a little so that she also starts off her career on the right foot. I have to dwell upon her building and maintaining her network, being able to communicate well and to make as many presentations as she can and develop her brand as an employee. 

(Though there are blog articles and advice on the Internet on this, her mother would be much better placed to guide her on corporate dressing). 

Though I like Dividend 4 Life’s idea of weaving stories into lessons, I think it would be more appropriate for our younger children.   I think I’ll treat this exercise as being about the most important project I have on my plate right now, do solid research, prepare my presentations to her well and take it from there. The Millionaire Mommy herself has said it much better than I could ever have. To quote her:    

                                    This is parenting with a purpose  

The costly PF mistakes and blunders I have made, and why you should not repeat my mistakes – Part 2

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2008

The three mistakes we have talked about so far are :- 

-         Not paying myself first

-         Not forming or joining a correct peer group and

-         Not having a written budget 

Another mistake that I have made and beseech you not to make is “not managing our career”. 

I got my first job,with one of the then big 5 accounting firms, almost immediately after graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in Physics. It was as an articled clerk. Most of my fellow colleagues then were school leavers.  

This was “my first formal job” and I had no thoughts about being paid well below what was a graduate’s starting pay. (Thank God for this.) The firm gave us study leave for the accounting exams, and I qualified as a CPA within the given 4 years. By then my salary had also risen to be slightly above the graduate entry levels.  

At this point of time, I should have thought deeply about the choices available and how I should maximize the earnings from my career.  

I didn’t. 

Instead I just joined the first company that made me an offer. (They called me.) It was a bank and I spent only 5 months there. The job which involved reporting to our Central Bank and filling up rows and columns of figures was about the most boring job I have ever done in my life. The only good thing was that I met my future wife here.   

Based on a friend’s suggestion, I joined another company where I stayed for 6 years. Basically after that my career consisted of joining companies at the invitation of friends. Each move resulted in higher take home pays, greater responsibilities and opportunities to travel etc.

There was a brief period where I resigned hoping to do something on my own. This was done with no planning and was a disaster. Luckily another job came along. 

I should have “managed my career better.” 

The best blog resource I have seen on this is Free Money Finance’s series on careers. (He proclaims our career as our biggest asset and it is not surprising that he has a whopping 270 posts under the category of “careers”.) 

Let me compare what I have done against FMF’s great post on managing our career 

Two aspects of a career should be evaluated.

o       Quantitative measurement of salary and employee benefits.

I did not pay enough attention to employee benefits. Benefits like subsidized housing loans, training schemes, and share option schemes would have a mighty big difference financially, even if the take home pay had been lower.

o       The second is a set of qualitative measurements which are even more important. These consist of new skills learnt, social connections we make and harmonization with the rest of our life and goals. I have only gone for those short 1-2 day courses as part of continuing education. Most of the new skills learnt were on the job and reading up on my own.

Whilst almost all my jobs allowed me great contacts, I have never learnt how to strengthen my network.

o       A third issue that I would add is evaluating the employer as one who truly seeks to attract and retain talent.

We are a developing country. Many of the companies in the corporate sector paid only lip service to the fashionable tagline of “people are our biggest asset.”

I have had some “good”, “not so good” and some “not good at all” experiences in this area.

What I should have done

a)     I should have learnt how to write a proper “winning” resume that would have highlighted what I had and could offer to a prospective employer.

b)     I should have identified, screened and shortlisted my potential employers with my list of “must haves”, “good to haves” and “wants”. Then I should have designed my plan for getting my desired position, and worked on it.

c)      I should have learnt about the usefulness of networks and put in a lot more time and effort on this aspect of my life.

d)     I should have considered and evaluated employee benefits a lot more carefully.

e)     With my career properly addressed, I should have crafted proper plans for moving on to the next stages of my life. 

Don’t repeat my mistake, please

Our career is certainly one of our biggest assets.

We spend a lot of time on our careers, often sacrificing once in a lifetime family events like our kids graduating from preschool, their school concerts etc.  

Proper planning and management should be accorded to maximize both financial and non-financial gains from this investment.  

Properly managed, our career may well take care of all our financial requirements, including retirement.

How and what should we recognize as corruption

Tuesday, January 15th, 2008

A good friend of mine once told me that we should never ever underestimate the wife’s power to influence the husband. 

His observation was that the wives use the “fine needle” approach. Say for example, the wife does not like you going out with your good old college buddy. The wise wife will not try to stop you head on. Rather it would be a continuous series of seemingly innocuous comments, small tasks given to you just as you are about to go……… fine needle pricking, fine needle by fine needle, something that you will not even notice, until one day you have a blinking bazooka wound on you. 

And you stop by yourself, never knowing what really hit you. 

It’s the same with corruption. It envelops us, starting as issues almost inconsequential and creeps slowly and surely on us. The trick is to recognize it as it starts and kill it off straight away.  

Cash Money Life had an article titled “A question of Ethics and Money…….. 

He sought the views of his readers whether they would return extra money given out by an ATM. Everyone who commented had no doubts they would return the extra money. Some pointed out that the transaction would have been logged and / or on CCTV and the Bank would eventually know anyway.  

What if we knew for sure that no one would know? How then would we react?  

Our reaction then would we akin to how we would react to an offer of corruption.  

I live in a country whose reputation for corruption can be vastly improved. My children may end up in jobs which may allow opportunities for them to be exposed to corruption.

We have set three rules in our family which should help take care of issues like this. 

a)  Our Family Mission Statement includes the paragraph that “our sources of wealth must be capable of being revealed with pride and dignity…..” 

This is pretty much self explanatory. If we have gaps in our explanation of how we obtained this or that item of value, then these gaps would be open to speculation.  

b)  Never accept any offer from anyone, which you cannot easily reciprocate. 

This may be a little tricky. The offers will start in small innocuous ones like meals and presents. Meals that you can easily reciprocate. These, then start getting a little more expensive, perhaps with some travel thrown in…etc. We just have to read the subtle signs and say no. 

c)   Would you get this “gift” if you were not at your current post or position? 

This is another good test. We have to carefully evaluate ourselves the people who claim to just give gifts because of the festive seasons. Would they be doing the same, were you not in the position? If in doubt, then just say no.   

The seductive nature of corruption is legendary. The nature of its irreversible trap is something not fully appreciated until we are trapped within.  

I hope that my children will know and understand how to recognize the dangerous creeping vine known as corruption. And never ever get entangled, whether other people ever know or not.  

And no wealth accumulated out of corrupt dealings can ever give us true financial independence.

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