A bold question, no? It’s is a question that I’m asked 98% of the time on a job application, first thing when applying, along with the usual questions and personal information requested. Name, address, phone number, email address, LinkedIn profile, Education, Experience, mandatory EEOC questioning to ensure discrimination doesn’t take place, which is to say, to make sure it DOES take place, possibly a few preliminary questions about strengths/weaknesses, and then the final question:
I haven’t spoken to anyone at the company at this point usually. The real specific expectations and duties of the job haven’t been provided yet. No additional information about the role may or may not entail, or anything further about the companies competitors, its goals for the firm or the position, and what vision the visionaries and executives have for the company and role.
There has been no indication of what’s been budgeted for the position, nor what the company may be able to spend. Most of the companies I interview with and apply at are private, so their revenue and budgets are private as well. I have no idea what range they have in mind to spend for the position for which they’re hiring.
I’ve hired many folks for many different roles, so I’ve been on both sides of the salary negotiation table. And I usually save the money for the end of the hiring discussion to make sure we have a fit. The applicant is indeed interested and has all the pertinent information going to the negotiation table. I like everything to be above-board and all parties comfortable with the process and people who make up the company. I don’t want there to be any awkwardness post-hiring, like I tried to hide something or pull a fast one because I don’t do such things.
Depending on the companies’ policy on the openness of salaries, I abide by it. Some companies want wages a secret. That’s a hard thing to do well, I’ve found. With the internet and the way people like to murmur and talk, it creates some friction eventually.
On the flip side, some companies are wide-open about salaries. That’s also a little dangerous. If you work for the government or a governmental entity, your pay usually is publicly available anyway. That goes for University professors all the way to police, administrators, and anyone else that’s employed by the state or federal government. I find it’s not a big deal in that case because in nearly every case, they’re way overpaid compared to the private sector. The employees, who also are members of unions, certainly won’t admit that, though. Typically the other way around – they claim they’re poverty-level.
I know companies are looking for a figure with that question. That’s silly, given the aforementioned reasons. So I usually complete the space, if possible with text, to reflect what I just explained above. Sometimes, as with the featured image for this blog post, the question is “What are Your Salary “REQUIREMENTS?”
Not just expectations, but requirements. My requirements are that my salary meets expectations, which should be in line with what the company believes their position is worth in tandem with what they’re able to afford. I’ve been interviewed by a few people at firms who want a lot, but can’t afford what they’re looking for. I’ve interviewed people that want a high salary but the position being filled doesn’t require their vast skillset. So there’s no match. It’s frustrating as an applicant when a company has the budget but is trying to fill a position for the least amount of money possible and shave duties from the position, knowing full-well those duties are going to reappear in that role once the person is in place. I’ve seen it happen. A lot. Hire and pay for a small role, then inflate the role with huge responsibilities and keep the wage the same. It’s bad business. Make sure the job description is in writing and boundaries are adhered to. If the employee is ready for greater responsibilities, great! Just make sure HR is aware those duties are being tacked onto the role and the employee is being compensated accordingly. Otherwise, things can become unwieldy.
I expect the salary to reflect the expectations, duties and effort, skills, experience, education, and whatever else is required to fulfill the role and do the company’s job to the best of my ability. Within the budget, the company has determined that I have no way of knowing.
The question is asked right off the bat, with no input by any representative of the company. So I see what’s going on: the company is using the leverage it has at hand, being the employer with the open position desired by the applicant, who has a lower hand at that stage. The company has the upper hand. Negotiations have already begun without stating such. Again, I feel that’s jumping the gun and putting the horse before the cart, to use two cliche metaphors.
I’ve worked as a freelance and consultant, which proves down to the penny what I’m worth in the open market. Because people pay precisely what I ask. We negotiate that very thing frequently. And I’ve been hired in the open marketplace by large firms. One that does over $100 million in revenue per year and the other is the largest company on Earth: Amazon. And if you don’ think they know what people and positions are worth with the data and hundreds of thousands of employees they have, and hire 10’s of thousands of people at a time, then you’re nuts.
What happens when the question is asked, and an eyebrow-raising figure or response as I give are inserted in the space? The applicant is immediately put into the trash can. And an excellent applicant is immediately and shamefully dismissed for no real good reason, and no discussion or interview happens whatsoever.
Salary is a touchy subject, and it shouldn’t be. My salary through the years has been high and increasingly so. But that has no bearing on what I’m seeking at this point in my life now what a position I’m applying for should bear.
I’m applying for jobs in South Carolina right now. And for jobs that may command higher or lower salaries than I’ve made in the past. Those roles have nothing to do with the companies or positions I’m applying for now. So when a hiring manager cringes when I tell them my previous salaries, which I’ve seen them do, they absolutely shouldn’t because they have nothing to do with my current goals or salary expectations.
I love to write. For me, it’s like playing the guitar, which I also enjoy. It’s fun to do, it enables me to learn and flex my feeble mind, which is always important as birthdays fly by more and more quickly. And the more I do it, my enjoyment and skill with it improve simultaneously. It’s both a creative outlet and a professional necessity. It allows me to express my thoughts, feelings, and growing cumulative knowledge about the elements that enter my mind each day through my senses and are processed and organized by my unique set of neurons and blob of grey matter sloshing around in my noggin.
It’s never been a passion of mine, but it is something I’ve been good at for a long time. I attribute that to having both a mother that was an English major and liked to read and her sister who had advanced degrees in English and a brother that was a voracious reader and had a very quick wit from that pastime. All three were very smart, as was my grandfather, who I spent a lot of intense time with all throughout my childhood and formative years. It’s a reflection of the style in which I write and how I speak, actually. It’s what I heard growing up, so it’s what I’ve been conditioned to do, which enables me to cruise through lots of English, literature, poetry, and even logic and philosophy courses with ease. And I took several years of Latin, which helped tremendously with my vocabulary, understanding of languages, and composition. Which, in turn, has enabled me to communicate concisely, coherently, and in ways that may be challenging to others.
It’s a skill that wasn’t all that in-demand when I graduated from college. It directed me toward the fields of law, teaching, and poetry, which all came with either unappealing salaries or industries. Although I’ve spent about 21 years in school, academia is hardly an environment I love. It’s just a necessary commitment to learning increasingly sophisticated topics in the most efficient manner. Ironically, I found myself teaching a marketing class at a University in the mid-2010s as a favor to the Dean of the business school.
But with the increasing importance and adoption of the internet as an essential organism for humans to thrive, I’ve found my writing talents appreciating in tandem. And writing content for marketing purposes, which I have my MBA in, has placed me in demand. This is nice as I’m currently seeking a new job, hopefully utilizing my writing capabilities and powers of marketing persuasion, SEO email, and inbound marketing as well as content marketing.
And as the internet matures, and broadband becomes more powerful and capable of handling faster and far greater demand each and every day, we’re seeing audio becoming the new trend that investors, content creators, marketers and everyone else is falling over themselves to be early adopters. In the internet world, those who hesitate lose, and lose big often. Or may not lose, but a ticket on the bandwagon gets prohibitively expensive and demands premium prices quickly.
Right now there’s a rush to audio and big players are setting up big apps for creators and consumers to use, with the people and companies that create those tools taking their cut, in a smartly, but sometimes hastily, developed marketplace, of course.
For example. I use the service/app Refind a lot to curate news, articles that are relevant to me and to organize the firehose of content that is unleashed on internet users in an aver-increasing and constant way. If you don’t use such a thing it becomes overwhelming nearly instantly and the whole experience is frustrating, unmanageable and ultimately, I think, meaningless. You walk away drenched, wondering “what just happened” and more confused than enlightened and educated and fulfilled, bereft of the reason you approached the internet in the first place. What an awful experience, when the tool is so powerful and such a massively useful resource!
But Refind is already adopting the capability to include audio to the links/stories/articles you bookmark, save and use in your own personal newsletter if you wish, which Refind makes unbelievably easy and even fun. It’s a service that’s baked right onto their software, available for you to use, which was just quietly added. Like for this article, for example. But it shows how fast and vastly this idea happening and being implemented online.
I stay on the crest of new technology because I like to and staying relevant in my field of marketing, specifically, digital but also “printed” marketing channels, online. So I’ve tinkered around with podcasts and live-streaming audio/video and know how it all works. Although podcasts certainly are popular, I wouldn’t call the product fully baked yet. But that’s about to change.
Clubhouse is going to take on a life of its own. And investors and companies that have the existing technology and customer base already in place have taken notice and acting quickly. In some cases, as Mark Cuban’s prone to do, prematurely. But it’s still a sign that money is being thrown around as the mid-nineties saw it with the embryonic interwebs V.1.0 as it began to stand up and grow hair. People like that they can do stuff around the house, at any hour, while enjoying high-level convos in the background – passive audio consumption + interactive podcasts are likely in our future.
Spotify is one such company that has partnered with WordPress (which I publish this blog/website on) to allow writers to publish podcasts easily on Spotify, iTunes, and a growing host of other platforms. Which have a LOT of customers. Billions. That’s huge for even tiny guys like me that put out writing just for the fun of it.
Reason is, most podcasts have largely been just thrown together rather impromptu discussions and interviews produced on home audio equipment in people’s home offices and basements. There are other ways to do it of course, but that’s been the most popular way so far. And the episodes and feeds have had to be manually uploaded by podcasters and content creators.
The reason it hasn’t interested me has been several reasons. One is that I don’t really like hearing myself talk, and I’m not a person that likes to just talk and talk and talk. I’d rather listen and learn. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have things to say. On the contrary, as evidenced by this website, I jot down a lot of thoughts. Of all kinds and topics. I may be changing that though.
As WordPress has enabled anyone to be a publisher, apps like Spotify are enabling anyone to publish audio. And that includes explicitly people who publish on WordPress, as I do, via Anchor, which is the necessary hosting platform. And it’s seamless. In fact, I’ve already published my first episode, which was a post I published here about how to do anything well and included a great, easy beef vegetable soup recipe as a bonus.
Something that appeals to me, and I hope to others that may be interested in what I have to “say,” is that I don’t have to read my writing, which relieves users from hearing me drone on in my less-than-operatic voice. I’ve used a service Amazon provides called Polly which converts my writing to an audio file for accessibility reasons for those with poor vision or no vision. But the problems with that have been that the voice that reads it sounds like a Robotron 2000 and is obviously computerized and probably as annoying as my own voice would be. It also doesn’t publish and send my content out to the world at large over apps like Apple Podcasts and Spotify, where I now have my own channels. That again is huge.
So, very soon the internet is about to be much more crowded by people like me, people that haven’t been creating content yet, and lots of people that are going to want to compete for ears. My intention has never been to grow a giant audience or become famous. I don’t care about notoriety and celebrity. But I do like to help people and preserve “Life Lessons” for my daughter’s sake. If I croak prematurely, I want there to be a body of work that lets her know what I was all about, how I thought, things I did, feelings and thoughts and ideas I had, and so on. I don’t have the time or real will to concentrate on writing an autobiography, which this website isn’t meant to be anyway. I don’t put a lot of personal things here because A) I don’t think most readers would be that interested; B) an autobiography would necessarily have to have an ending, which isn’t workable in this context, and C) My personal habits aren’t the world’s business. For example, I could go on forever about the past few years of life which have been the most challenging, but it would read like a lot of complaining, blaming, finger-pointing, and whining, which is something I don’t participate in. I aim to set the best example for my daughter that I can, which is why I write my life lessons here and the traits I try to embody, and the rules I live my life by. I would never expect anyone else to abide by something I don’t abide by myself. “Do as I say and not as I do” is for losers.
So I can write here, send it to Spotify, iTunes, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, PocketCasts,Breaker, Radio Public, and other platforms, and have playlists created for people to subscribe to at their leisure and will. That works for me. And it’s read by a pleasing voice and I can edit it to have sound “effects” to enhance the whole thing, which I also enjoy. I love the world of music as much as I love the world of writing.
It’s been a cold snowy day in Louisville, so what else would a loser eligible playboy bachelor do when faced with a lonely night, when his daughter is staying over at his ex-wife’s house?
Correct!: cook a bunch of beef vegetable soup and blog about it.
This is actually a recreational and productive activity for me. It allows me to mindlessly write, which is fun, and cook, which is fun and provides much-needed and appreciated food around this joint. My cooking has reached another level recently I’ve noticed, which is nice to realize and be able to say. At this point, it’s small increments of progression, but that’s what happens after doing something you’re interested in for so long and have the skills and knowledge of. If only my guitar playing were as adept. But there’s no reason it can’t get there as well, and I plan for it to as my daughter gets older and she’s mentally and physically ready. Trying to rush things will only lead to frustration for her, and that is the best way to teach someone to hate something. She’s showing a real interest in music now and is attracted to the idea of playing guitar in a band. And she knows you have to learn and practice to get there, so half the battle is already won. I can and will teach her. I already have a guitar and ukelele for her which she enjoys twanging on. They and I are there and at the ready when the time comes, which it will. That goes for a lot of things I’m eager to introduce her to. It takes patience on my part, as well as working with her to get to those points. It doesn’t happen magically like I think a lot of parents believe and hope. Exceptional abilities take time and deliberate instruction, cultivation, and nurturing, like getting anything small to grow into something substantial where it can expand on its own up into the sky and across the land.
But getting back to the cooking thing. It’s a matter of learning the science and art of adding various types of heat to various ingredients when mixed together at the right times. And prepared correctly with the right tools. There’s a lot to it. But over the course of a person’s life, there’s plenty of time to learn it, which I have. If you’re serious and deliberate about it and not in a pop-culture type of way by simply watching The Food Network 24/7 and prone to fads like an “Instant Pot” and cilantro and “BAMMing” everything as you add it to the pot.
So for tonight’s project, I chose Beef Vegetable Soup(which I think I’ve covered once before on this website. I love it in the Winter), with barley and some crunchy garlic bread to go with it for a few reasons. It’s simple, which is a nice aspect of any recipe, it’s hearty and makes a lot, which is nice when you have a big appetite and a tight budget, and I, like a lot of people who cook at home a lot, have most of the ingredients already on hand.
I hate wasting food and use up nearly everything I ever buy. That’s a tall order when you’re cooking for one grown man and a 45-pound girl and that’s it. She and I have a lot of similar tastes, thankfully, and although she’s “picky” she’s not objectionable to trying anything before judging it. And I’ve decoded her tastebuds as a 5-year-old anyway, after a lot of tests and trial and error and note-taking. All kids for that matter.
Children aren’t looking for or wanting complex, savory, gastronomic experiences that create exotic rich tapestries of flavor in their little young mouths. They want simple 1 ingredient, bite-sized samples of food that can be eaten easily, usually with their fingers, and small bits at a time, even down to one bean, pea, noodle, strand, nugget, kibble, or taste at a time. So giving a forkful of the most decadent, saucy, cheesy al-dente lasagna ever created by an Italian woman who has spent 95 years in a Venetian grotto toiling away over the fires and pots won’t matter to a kid. They’ll take one small lick of a noodle and hand down their verdict based on that experience, which will remain chiseled in stone for years. I myself wouldn’t eat a tomato slice or chunk until I was 30. Just in sauces, thanks. I’d cook them and prepare them for others, but no way was I going to eat some slimy, seed-filled, gelatinous part-slug, part who-knows-what. No thanks. My daughter, however? She eats cherry tomatoes by the bushel like they were M&Ms. I buy them 2 containers at a time and they disappear overnight. Same with spinach, raw. Eats it by the hand and bowlful like a goat. She’s a very healthy person, I’m proud to say. Blackberries and Strawberries and blueberries, too. Cantaloupe and Honeydews? Eats them whole like a hippo. It’s amazing and wonderful.
I also found a great deal on an awesome cut of chuck roast. I don’t eat much meat at all compared to most people, especially Americans. I love seafood, which is one of many reasons I’m eager to move back to coastal South Carolina with my daughter. It’s easy to take fresh seafood for granted. People in midwest Louisville will always say “It’s flown in. We have the UPS hub here, etc…” but it’s not the same. It’s still not as fresh as I’m talking about, it’s journey and handling makes it expensive and damaged in small, unseen ways, it puts a lot of distance between the ocean and my plate no matter what, and you don’t know exactly where the stuff is coming from. Restaurants lie all the time. As do vendors that need to move a lot of highly perishable, expensive stock.
To make this any more tender, you’d need to liquify it.
What I recommend is establishing a relationship with your butcher, whenever you regularly shop. There are several good reasons for doing this beyond making a friend.
Getting to know the guy who’s in charge of supplying your kitchen and yourself and your family with meat is a good idea just for peace of mind. I know most people don’t think they want to know or care about the very things keeping them alive and healthy comes from. That’s very trusting and proves ignorance is bliss. That’s also risky and not wise when all it takes is getting to know a person, which is a good thing, to improve the situation. It’s winning all-around behavior.
Getting to know your butcher allows you to find the best cuts at the best price and get service that’s available and always overlooked and unrealized. He, or she, will take cuts you find and cut them in other ways you want or like. They have the best tools for that and don’t mind doing it. It’s their job and what they’ve decided to apply their interests and skillsets to, so take advantage of it. He can also hook you up with soup bones and extraordinary treats for your dog if you ask nicely. A dog will freak out if you give it a nice fresh marrowy bone to gnaw on for a few hours. Pure heaven. It firmly establishes you as the Alpha dog of All-time and one who can work magic.
You can learn where your butcher gets his knives sharpened, which is something you should do regularly and take seriously if you cook regularly and don’t want to hack off a digit. People think sharp knives are what cause “accidents” in the kitchen, but it’s not. It’s dull knives and improper knife skills. The duller your knife is, the more force you have to apply to the cut, which means if and when the dull blade slips from its intended vector, it flys off toward your hand or finger with more force than needed, and suddenly you’re Jerry Garcia. Who was a famous nine-fingered guitarist for those who don’t know.
But if you’re ever unsure of what to make for dinner, being able to ask your seafood monger or butcher what they would take home tonight is a great first step towards successful living. I define “successful living” as having the finest available, which means vetting your sources for such. It’s a necessary step when appropriating anything, in business – employees, for example; sports – gauging your equipment properly; music – making sure you have the best made and perfectly-tuned instruments; from web development to furniture making, it’s all the same. Make sure you have the right tools for the job and they’re the best available and maintained and ready for the job. You won’t consistently be successful otherwise. Ever.
When I buy my seafood in South Carolina, I buy it from people I know who get it from fishermen right off the boat. It goes from hook to ice, to market(which is located on the pier the boat that caught it docks on), to me. That’s it. There are 2 people that make it me not catching it myself. And that’s no small reason I don’t eat a lot of other meat, like beef, pork, and chicken. Lord knows where that stuff comes from and what it’s seen along the way to my kitchen. Nothing I even want to know about, to be honest. And to a big extent why I don’t eat out a lot, especially at fast food places, which are more about quantity and maintaining thin profit margins than the quality of the product that goes into people’s bodies. And the typical American body shows it. Diabetes, heart problems, mega-obesity, poor quality of life, and all because of what’s become “the norm” for America’s diet.
When I watch TV shows, newsreels, movies, or other examples of what Americans looked like, how they took care of themselves, and expectations of and standards of themselves and others were 60 years ago, it’s like looking in on another planet altogether.
Not only were people not wearing baggy sweatpants, shower shoes, XXXXXL t-shirts, or no shirts, white whale blubbery skin covered in tattoos from head to flipper, with flat-brimmed baseball caps on backwards and having to use a straining motorized scooter to haul them around on while gripping a vape-pen in one flipper and a Watermelon-flavored Mt. Dew in the other, they viewed policemen as authority figures who existed to protect, keep peace and help those who couldn’t help themselves in dangerous situations. Because they actually do.
Which has nothing to do with a soup recipe.
So for the ingredients, you’ll need:
3 lb boneless chuck roast. Bone-in preferred and if so, that’ll knock the weight up to about 5 lbs. But boneless is what you’ll usually find. Not a lot of fat, so fat trimmed and well-marbled.
1/2 cup barley
1 bay leaf
2 TB olive oil
1 bag of baby carrots chopped. It’s cheaper than a whole bag of carrots, but you can use 3 whole carrots instead.
3 big stalks of celery, chopped
1 onion chopped
As much chopped garlic as you like. I like LOTS.
1 bag frozen mixed veg‘s. Some people just grab peas/corn/beans/carrots, but I go for the Veg soup mixed veg’s which also have okra and potatoes. I also sometimes use 2 12 oz. bags instead of 1 16 oz. bag depending on what’s on sale and available.
1 box reduced-sodium beef broth
1TB white sugar
28 oz can stewed toms
salt/pepper to taste to season the beef when cooking and soup.
[Note: for tonight’s rendition, I forgot to buy stewed tomatoes. So as a substitute I’m using a big handful of halved cherry tomatoes and a can of Progresso tomato-Basil soup and some Tomato paste to thicken the soup. Things I have on hand. I also often use low sodium V-8 juice in this type of soup and chili. It adds a lot of nutrients, flavor, and depth you just couldn’t get elsewhere or so cheaply.]
In a slow cooker, cook the chuck roast until tender. That can be between 4-5 hours on high. Something I recommend doing if you have the time and ability to vent your kitchen is to pan-sear the roast on both sides on a HOT skillet before putting it in the crockpot. season both sides of it, rub some oil on it, and drop it in a searing hot pan until a crust is formed The meat should initially seize up from the heat but initially release once the sugars have caramelized. This takes some know-how and will produce a lot of smoke, just to be honest and forewarned. But the dividends from doing it are worth it in many cases. Sometimes it’s not prudent or wise to include this step. It’s not going to ruin the dish if you don’t do it. It just won’t take it to another level.
During the last hour add the barley and bay leaf. Then remove all, discard bay leaf, chop meat into bite-sized pieces, and set meat, barley, and broth aside.
Heat olive oil in a large stockpot over medium high heat.
Saute carrots, celery, onion, and frozen mixed vegetables until tender.
Add your box of broth, sugar, tomatoes, garlic, and beef/barley mixture.
Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer 10-20 minutes.
Season to taste with S&P.
That’s it! Whether this soup or anything turns out a success is how you define it. Not someone else. Other people will always have their preferences and biases and opinions and agendas and expectations. Your standards and expectations must exceed the other person’s to please, much less delight them. So keeping them high and raising them ever higher once reached is necessary to keep performing at an ever-higher level, which is my personal goal. Other people will always be able to do things better than I can. I’m not worried about them. What I strive for is doing better tomorrow what I did today so that those I serve and have expectations of me will be pleased, and hopefully one day, delighted.
Since what makes me happy and feel successful is helping others become happy and successful, it means constantly striving for better solutions, avoiding negative and corrosive situations, and reaching higher towards incrementally farther goals.
And that’s how you make the best beef-vegetable soup. Or anything.
Incidentally, the Superbowl is underway as I write this. The field and box seats are filled with people who get what I just wrote. It’s how they got there. The people at home and pretending to care about the event and activity are those who may not get it and don’t care. They get their Beef Vegetable soup from a can.