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  1. George, That's a really excellent point! I've also encountered people who were at the opposite end of the perfectionist spectrum who act like briars, just looking for a way to generate a snag. I typically find them working in the quotes department wherever a custom part is needed in a time-sensitive situation.
  2. Volodymyr, Two things that weren't mentioned earlier. First, a slightly domed hammer face might help you. Big flat hammer faces can magnify every error. It's difficult to be perfectly accurate with a heavy hammer and a hard blow. Correcting errors early and often will also keep things on track. The second thing that wasn't mentioned thus far is to consider how you're holding the stock. Most smiths alternate 90 degree blows on stock by moving their wrist. Some tongs will only securely hold stock that's "clocked" with respect to the reigns. If you've got to cock your wrist a few degrees to make the stock flat with the anvil, it'll be harder to move your wrist 90 degrees plus or minus that fudge factor with any consistency. If possible, it's helpful to use longer square stock so you can mark a spot to place your thumb on the "top" face. That gives you a reference point to see what's going wrong. For example, if your top faces are parallel, but the side faces are off, you'll know that you're not rotating exactly 90 degrees. Another thing that might help is to take a lighter grip with your holding hand. If the stock isn't fully supported by the anvil, the hammer blow will make it jump. I noticed that it took a lot less effort to hang onto the stock once I got a feel for a well supported hammer blow. I find that holding my stock holding hand against my hip gives me a frame of reference to get leveled out with straight stock.
  3. Thomas, One thing that might be worthy of your consideration is a concept called the "pain letter". The idea is that once you find a company that's in need of your services, you write a letter to whoever would be your direct manager. The letter should identify the "pain" that said manager is enduring, in such a way as to present your abilities as the relief for their pain. It's vital to understand that this is geared towards generating a need where one didn't previously exist. I encountered this concept by reading articles from a "thought leader" in human resources. Basically all of their advice is geared towards working around human resources, because the "formal hiring process" in most companies is dysfunctional. Another thing to consider is to do a deep dive into your contacts. Reach out to absolutely everyone you know. Some business analysts suggests that only a fraction of the total job openings are ever visible to the public. Many managers are allowed to hire a referral directly without involving HR. Even if your contact only tips you off to a potential lead, it's still infinitely superior to spending your days uploading resumes to robotic HR programs that then require you to manually enter everything that was on your resume again.
  4. Anvil, Your comments remind me of a few things. Aim at what you can hit. Chasing every opportunity simply because it exists is an excellent way to squander your shot at all the opportunities. More businesses go out of business because of the bad job(s) they won, than any number of good jobs they lost. Be selective about who you work for. I see where you're coming from in terms of positive thinking, but in business, there are serious ramifications to biting off more than you can chew. For what it's worth, I've met quite a few ethically weak people who are experts at explaining why their dishonest "techniques" are necessary. It's been my experience that no single factor is more likely to ruin a human endeavor than dishonesty.
  5. Frosty, you're making good points as usual. I do think that there's a bit of nuance to seeing both sides that nobody teaches in terms of the value of labor, and the value of an opportunity. I'm not sure it's really feasible to develop an accurate perspective without guidance, or a lot of frustrating experience. A friend of the family is a stay at home mom who is one of the most intelligent and hard working individuals I know. One day she was bitterly complaining about entry-level wages and how they wouldn't allow her to contribute much to the household. I pointed out that her intelligence and work ethic are not "entry level". An employment gap isn't the same thing as no experience.
  6. Irondragon, Frosty, pnut, MrTMichaud, You've all mentioned situations where the value of the work wasn't adequately rewarded in wages (or opportunity). A long time ago I read an excellent article about job hunting where the author made a wonderful observation about job offers. Job offers are a statement of what the employer thinks of your worth. "Low-ball" offers consistently come from terrible employers because their underlying assumption is that you're worth less than the work you're doing. When I applied that to my life, it was amazing how consistent that turned out to be. I've never had a good boss who "low-balled" my wage. Perhaps the universal job skill here, is to recognize what drives a bad deal?
  7. This is a good one. Lots of wisdom can come from individuals with difficult personalities. Another application of this idea is to avoid the rookie mistake of repeating bad information. This reminded me of another universal job skill. Develop effective ways to check your work.
  8. I was thinking about this the other day when I read an article claiming that technological advances are outpacing schools. The crux of the discussion was whether or not it was worthwhile to attend a school if your skills be out of date by graduation. When I consider the best professionals I've worked with, there are a few common traits they shared. It occurred to me that these traits are actually skills. At a very basic level, all of them shared an accurate perception of individual roles in the bigger picture. This is distinctly different from just one person's opinion. Anyone who worked with these people would notice that the consistently saw things they way they really are. It seems to me that instruction on how to maintain accurate perspective would be a universal job skill. What skills would you add to the list?
  9. It's difficult to give a concise answer because there are factors that favor one material over the other. One of the least difficult ways to approximate the difference in your area is to visit a home center that sells a variety of sheds. In most cases, the home center won't bother to even stock a shed that isn't appropriate for the local conditions and codes. Be sure to look at things that are sized appropriately. Economies of scale play a huge role when it comes to dimensional thresholds. A Shed that's 15% larger might cost equal to one that's 50% larger simply because the bigger one uses standard sized panels.
  10. Steve, You're in a difficult position. One thing to consider is that you have quite a bit to offer this person beyond legal trouble. If you offered to help them to register under a different name and trademark, it might feel like they're gaining something. That may be less expensive than retaining a qualified lawyer. Even if it failed to make a difference, I would think as a peace-making gesture, it would read well in court. You might also offer to share some insights into the world of professional bladesmithing. Experts sometimes assume that their knowledge is common sense. This person stumbled into a world of hurt with a someone they might want to emulate. Just getting started, they might not be able to appreciate the accumulated struggles that you've overcome to build your business. I've benefited from the generous instruction of experts who delivered their lessons in a very grumpy way. Many of today's youth have no experiences like that and so feel entirely justified in dismissing anyone they deem as "mean". For what it's worth, many of these kids were taught to avoid taking responsibility. I've had limited success characterizing the entire conflict as a "misunderstanding" to achieve peace with them. "Sorry for misunderstanding" is about as close as some of them will get to acknowledging their mistakes.
  11. Perhaps it's time for the court of public opinion? Many corporate giants have been moved to action by a viral campaign.
  12. Frosty, Your points are well made, and appreciated. "Tunnel vision" is definitely less derogatory than "nerding out", and you're right, I'm certainly guilty of both on this topic. I think the reason I chose "nerding out" is because on some level, the expert knows they're sacrificing social conventions when they intentionally avoid giving a straightforward answer to their patron. There will always be "expert" reasons for this evasion, mostly summing up to degrees of "truth". The NASA engineers in my last post literally "showed their work". Perhaps they did this believing that the language of mathematics would convey an incontrovertible truth. From the bystanders point of view, the experts behavior appears self-serving, evasive, elitist, and arbitrarily difficult. The resulting animosity is why experts get labeled "nerds". Everyone involved is losing something.
  13. Anvil, Thank you for your kind, and thoughtful comments. I can see where you're coming from, and it's pretty clear that I could have phrased a few things better. The "Chicken and egg" thing as it pertains to generating a following, by being the best, is where craft crosses over into promotion. History is full of celebrated artists who died in poverty because they weren't "discovered" in time. Many of these artists submitted their work to the "cultural experts" of their time, only to be rejected because people of the time valued things differently than later generations. It was, and still is, possible to be "the best" in any given field without ever generating a name for yourself. Working from the opposite direction, would be promotion. Getting a buying audiences attention might require educating, or entertaining people enough that it makes some aspect matter more than other considerations. For example, people might buy an S hook for way above market value because it's a memento of where they watched the entertaining maker during a craft show. It's a chicken and egg scenario whether the work or the maker will attract buyers attention. Marketing exists because the "unaided income and/or demand" for a given service/ product is too low. History is full of undiscovered geniuses and snake-oil salesmen. The "chicken and egg" scenario is very limited because it assumes that this is a two factor equation. It's entirely possible to sink tons of marketing into an excellent product without actually selling anything. For example, if customers can't find you because you've got a poorly-chosen business name. This is where my "nerding out" comment needed to be better explained. Experts have to specialize, which naturally means they're putting a lot of effort into unpopular skill or knowledge. There are often pivotal bits of knowledge to the expert, that define the experts worldview. That is what sets them apart from virtually everyone who would pay them for their work. In my opinion, "Nerding out" is where the experts pedantic interests overtake the utility of what they're saying to the public. There's an excellent article about the NASA Columbia disaster. There was one slide in a power point presentation that should have told the leadership that the damage to the shuttle was life-threatening. There were something like ninety words on the slide, with different font sizes, and spacing. The most critical information was thoughtfully buried in the smallest text. The heading and the conclusion statements were very optimistic and bland. Some of the smartest people in their field had an opportunity to tell leadership "This will not survive re-entry" but instead, wrote ninety words in such a way that were easily misunderstood by fellow scientists and engineers (all at the top of their field). All the skill, knowledge, and experience of those engineers was effectively negated by their inability to put the needs of their audience first. This is the crux of what you identified to as my attitude towards craftsman. There's this pervasive notion that if you're chasing a high-minded pursuit, money, power, privilege, and prestige should just flow your way. Those NASA engineers probably console themselves by saying "it was technically in my report". No, it was an abhorrent waste of ability, and a tragic demonstration of what happens when experts communicate so poorly. As for the "Plenty of room at the top' argument, I think there's an underpinning assumption which provides critical support. There was once a "worlds best hunter" of Mastodon. Things were probably pretty great for that hunter, for as long as it lasted. Following that hunters advice today, wouldn't be a good idea. Even so, if there's a market for five smiths operating at that level, by all means, strive to be among them. If you're successful, you'll make the world a better place. If not, you'll probably become a better smith, which also makes the world a better place. The central theme I'm objecting to is the assumption that the customer's concerns are secondary to the pedantic aesthetic interests of an expert expecting said customers to reward them in a highly competitive and comparatively small market. Just think about the engineers involved in that slide. They had to watch the greatest achievement of their lives end in tragedy, entirely because they communicated from the wrong point of view. It breaks my heart to think about the grief and frustration they must endure. A failed business can cause a lot of hardship for everyone involved. The world can't afford to see valuable skills and knowledge earned over a lifetime squandered. Take the customer(s) seriously. Anything that "faces" the customers should be putting their needs first.
  14. I take your point, but there's a bit of a chicken and egg thing here. If nobody can find the "work", it doesn't get much chance to develop a following. Relying on "internet fame" via social media is far from a sure thing. Most of the platforms are incredibly unjust to content creators. There's rampant theft of content and links, so your "work" will eventually end up sending potential clients to a competitor's site. From firsthand experience, I can tell you that any complaints to the social media site about this sort of thing lead to getting banned, or blocked. I appreciate the simplicity of what you're suggesting, but there's a point where the limits of minimalism work against a business. For example, Smith is a really popular surname in America. "Smith Forge" would be a terrible business name in 2019. Google it and first page you get , Hard Apple Cider, Sunglasses, an Apartment complex, A wine shop, a different hard cider company, a Canadian web design firm, Wikipedia, Building Information Modeling, and a Popular Mechanics about home blacksmithing. Not one of those results was for a blacksmithing business.
  15. JLP, You're making a solid point about using your given name, however you're working to the advantage of people with more common names. It would be hard to stand out when you share a name with hundreds of people per city. Or, for that matter, if you share a name with a famous or historical person. In the construction industry there's a strong tendency for building firms to name themselves such that they get a three letter initialism, like you are using. Further, they refer to themselves as "General Contractors" which doesn't convey any connection to construction whatsoever. Finally, they consistently use trite, two or three word mottos in their branding. Every competing firm ends up with a letter head that reads: ABC General Contractors "Building relationships", or "XYZ GC "Quality, Integrity, Passion". This seems to be a marketing strategy built around the assumption that their customer is looking for a precise level of bland conformity. Someone who spends three hours comparing identical shades of beige, worrying that one is too "Monkey dung", and the other is not "Monkey dung" enough. In the marketplace, all the GC's are subjected to competitive bids because they're all viewed as commodities. There's nothing intrinsically or aesthetically better about one firm over the other, so they're all assumed to be perfect equals. There isn't even a sense of scale provided in this marketing approach. Tiny companies knocking out basement remodels market themselves the same way as huge multi-national firms. I mentioned the "General Contracting" thing because it's the pedantic construction industry equivalent of "Blacksmith" or "Forge". I suspect that specialists tend to assume that whatever they nerd out about will be of pivotal significance to their clients. It virtually never is. In my experience marketing professionals tend to repeat whatever everyone else is doing, without considering whether a given trend is actually good for business.