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  1. George, I responded without realizing that you answered the question in your last paragraph yourself, using the subheading title of this thread. So my verbose response could have been replaced with "Yes". Sorry for that. Still the underpinnings of your question implies that my posts are heading away from the course of the forum. Many years ago I asked Glenn for permission to post articles from my estimating blog. Glenn made it clear that the goal then and now, is to build everyone up by sharing what we all know. I've recently returned to posting a bit after a long, and intentional pause. The last week has reminded me why I took that break. I'm acquiescing to Brandolini's law, and admitting that I'm not only outnumbered, I'm out gunned. Congratulations, you and anvil have supported my pet theory that Gresham's law applies to the debasement of skill in a group.
  2. George, I'm not sure I can agree with you about Gresham's law not applying to the debasement of other forms of currency. Paper currency pushed coins of the same denomination out of circulation. Paper is intrinsically less valuable than metal. You made a good point about the inverse of my engineer example, however Gresham's law is about the market response to the debasement of currency. It's my contention that skills/abilities as a labor currency, are being debased by the "paper" certificates/diplomas/etc. used to gatekeep access to the jobs. The theory presented here, is that this practice actively encourages higher value workers to leave. I think you'll find that I generally post in "The Business Side of Blacksmithing", or "Everything else". I post on what I know, in hopes that it will help others. It won't take much looking to find responses to threads in either of these areas that delve heavily into the compensation afforded to a certain level of skill, or prestigious title. A "master" this or a "fabricator" that. Just a little looking into the other subheadings will show a unified curmudgeon front opposing entrepreneurial upstarts trained by youtube. I saw a connection to professional debasement as it affects the blacksmith's earning potential competing against these people. I also thought it might prove insightful to blacksmith entrepreneurs with no exposure to the counter-intuitive nature of semi-modern management mentalities. "Selling" your business or your skills with the wrong credential keywords might bring unfair or unwarranted comparison to hack competitors employing those commodity terms. Beyond all of this, we have market trends that affect the customer base. Anyone paying the least bit of attention to current events will have noticed that the highest earners in the tech sectors have faced massive, and wide-scale layoffs. Some global firms are cutting 75% (or more) of their staff in the span of a year with no loss of function. The labor market is about to be flooded with "highly qualified" people, many of whom were objectively proven to be bad at their job. That's going to increase the competition for labor, and it will decrease the demand for sales for entrepreneurs. The ring of an anvil is not it's most useful attribute, especially so after the work is done.
  3. I've been mulling over a pet theory of a writer I admire. They start with Gresham's law which is a monetary principle that applies to the debasement of currency. There are several ways to debase a currency, but the easiest example is in coinage of precious metals. Imagine a silver dollar which was originally made to contains one dollars worth of silver. When mints reduce the total silver content of that same silver dollar coin, they debase the currency. Gresham's law states that "bad money drives out the good". Let's say we have two forms of currency in circulation, which are accepted by law as having similar face value, the more valuable commodity will gradually disappear from circulation. Practical evidence of Gresham's law could be observed by the abundance of paper dollar notes, and the scarcity of silver dollar coins in circulation. The writer's theory is that Gresham's law can be applied to the debasement of skill among people in leadership positions as well. Imagine a team of engineers who have proven themselves capable in a challenging environment. Each individual knows how hard they have to work to be a part of this team, in this environment. Now imagine a new-hire replacing an established engineer in that team. The individual has the relevant credentials, connections, etc. to get the job, but they don't have the skills, the grit, the acumen, or the desire to pull their own weight. This modern working environment allows the original engineers no viable avenue for criticism, equal treatment, or individual performance review. If the team falters, they all suffer. This means that the remains of the original engineering team has to do more work for the same compensation. That's a bad deal, which get's worse with each original engineer who decides to move on. Eventually the engineering team is staffed entirely with less valuable workers. This cycle doesn't end, because every new-hire that delivers less than their predecessors, drives the threshold of engineering value to the team downward. At some point, this decline might lead to a reevaluation of the entire staffing situation. More often than not, the contemporary business decision is to expand the number of people managing the progress of the engineering team. So the management goes out and finds new-hires using the exact same methodology as above. In comes perfectly qualified incompetents, who gradually debase the currency of management until something breaks. Now all of that is admittedly pessimistic, but it explains how it's possible that huge faltering companies get bought out, and turned around so quickly. Nine times out of ten, the solution is mass layoffs in middle management because the firm isn't getting what it's paying for. But that's only one part of it. See I think that the skilled engineers who left earlier, are now looking for firms that won't debase their vocation. The strongest horses end up pulling the lightest cart. What do you think?
  4. George, I understand your perspective, and I have no doubt that many share it. Seems pretty obvious that the meaning of words tends to shift with popular opinion, and there's been a whole lot of time passed since there was only one meaning to stuff like Tradesman, or Craftsman. Marketing hasn't improved the practical definition of most words in my opinion. I would like to suggest that "Craft" hewing more towards meaning art from raw material is a potentially messy suggestion as it's based on subjective criteria. In my youth, I was often curious about why so many skilled people were grumpy. It seemed like all the people who knew how to do things weren't too satisfied with their situation in the world. Time and experience has taught me that there's a subtle thread that runs through a lot of misery. It starts with people who aren't happy with where they find themselves in whatever hierarchy applies to them. It doesn't matter if we're talking about rank in the working world, or deciding who's the best-looking person waiting in line for a hotdog. One of those people will decide that the objectively obvious ranking isn't what it seems because they're smarter than everyone else. They know that a slight shift in wording, can change objective facts into subjective openings to whatever they're pursuing. I surmise that a fair number of these people specialize in marketing, politics, and religion. What follows is a wave of people who follow the lie of that example, to make the case that anything important enough to generate a hierarchy, must be mostly comprised of subjectivity. This is a hollow victory, because subjectivity in this case, is just the story we tell ourselves to feel better about how things really are. Now that everything is subjective, there's no honest victory to be had in improving your place in the objective rankings, so people quit trying. Moreover, they assume that everyone else quit trying. Therefore anyone reaching hierarchies of success, must be cheating, lucky, or lying. This nonsense has penetrated everything from the top down. Art and architecture are constantly referred to as impossibly subjective. That's a lie, and it's always been a lie. Tourism to post-war art and architect is nothing compared to pre-war art and architecture. Post-war art and architecture has all the accolades, academic distinction, and status among the current cognoscenti. An entire spectrum of hierarchies were built to foist terrible modernism on the world's population. When the world's population expresses their preferences, they are consistently, and overwhelmingly in accord with classical models of beauty. It's true that we might all differ about how much we like this, or that, but the simple truth is that we can see the difference between an oak and a rose, just as we might see one rose as different from its neighbor. By falsely applying subjectivity to everything, all the trees and flowers get dug up, so featureless bricks can get planted. My dad was one of those skilled grumps. He'd break his back doing his best for people, then turn around and sabotage any hope of making money from the work. His silly prejudices about successful people being cheaters, liars, or lucky led him to the wrong answers every time. If he'd chosen to do the work as charity, he could enjoy the satisfaction of his accomplishment. If he had chosen to do the work time and material, he could have objective proof of an honest day's work for an honest day's pay. Instead, we spent my childhood fixing stuff for people who would sit and argue with him for hours about how he clearly wasn't covering his costs, in a situation where they really couldn't afford to pay much more. Most of these arguments ended with an elderly woman tearfully pushing a check into his hand for more than he asked for. Later mom would lose her temper because he'd done a hard week's work to come away with a day's worth of wages. He was a grumpy skilled guy, because he rejected objective truths about how the world actually works.
  5. Irondragon, That was deftly done! Scott NC. Your post reminded me of Brandolini's Law which I will politely re-phrase to; The amount of energy needed to refute nonsense, is an order of magnitude greater than that needed to create it. Buzzkill, That's a really good point about "worst case scenario" thinking. A parallel to that is when people start thinking about a list of things. It's really common to focus on adding items to the list, rather than focusing on what's likely to be necessary. I run into this with pricing work for inexperienced clients. They'll often ask for menu pricing on so many things that the answers aren't helpful for informing the decision they were trying to make. I had one client who asked for fifty breakout prices on a bid where I narrowly beat my competitors. I politely explained to him that he was facing the lowest possible risk of an error in my bid since it was so cheap to just go to the next lowest competitor.
  6. Anvil, I have absolutely no animosity against craftsmen, or craftsmanship. You might be referring to a comment from long ago about how I objected to pretentious marketing practices, and double standards. It's not too hard to find a block of cheese with "Artisanal hand-crafted" labeling on it. Trendy grocery stores have pretty photos of posed farmers looking very earnest and humble. It's all pitched with revolutionary zeal, where all the buyers of overpriced but pretty, life downgrades can feel honest, good, and a little smarter. The hokum starts with expensive advertising campaigns telling everyone "We believe... something, something, better for all". It doesn't matter if they're selling a phone plan, or an overpriced cucumber, there's nothing new about slapping a pretentious veneer of semi-magical knowledge on a campaign asking consumers to hastily reject basic value considerations. Apologies in advance to all the knifemakers here who make a similar sales pitch. Meanwhile, construction workers are expected to enter buildings away from public view, we're not allowed to use public toilets, and our vocations are seen as a consolation prize for people who weren't either smart or creative enough to do something important. We often spend twenty years honing our abilities, skills, and knowledge. We can Master our craft, lead others, teach others, leave the world better than we found it. We are a vital part of building the world we all live in, which I suspect is our greatest offence to the sensibilities of impractical people pitching pretentious double-standards. Odds are good to excellent that somebody in Boulder County is honing their craft as a didgeridoo playing unicyclist. I bet there's a specialist who writes atonal accompaniment to poetry in iambic pentameter. The layperson might see a wobbly guy with a mop handle and broken bicycle humming to himself. But for all the parts that matter, this guy is really invested in honing his craft. He sees the streams that nobody knows about, he really knows things about nature. He says you shouldn't worry about success, as he can always imagine a better world.
  7. It's been a frustrating week at work because I've spent nearly the entirety of my time trying to talk highly educated, credentialed people out of doing stupid things. It has come to my attention that the cultural response to many derogatory terms has been to lump them into universal meaning, so they can be dismissed as dismissive, divisive, rude, or otherwise not germane to polite discourse. So terms like stupid tend to get interpreted as meaning the same as uneducated, inexperienced, mentally deficient, or ridiculous. In fact, stupidity is a property entirely independent of education, mental acuity, or character. It's a field of special study by a gent named Carlo Cipolla, who wrote "The Basic Laws of Human Stupidity". They are as follows: #1 Always and inevitably, everyone underestimates the number of stupid individuals in circulation #2 The probability that a certain person will be stupid is independent of any other characteristic of that person #3 A stupid person is one who causes losses to another person or to a group of persons while himself deriving no gain and even possibly incurring losses #4 Non-stupid people always underestimate the damaging power of stupid individuals. In particular, non-stupid people constantly forget that at all times and places, and under any circumstances, to deal and/or associate with stupid people always turns out to be a costly mistake. #5 A stupid person is the most dangerous type of person. Cipolla plotted a two axis graph which places Benefit to themselves on X axis , and Benefit to others, on the Y axis. Intelligent people are in the positive quadrant of benefiting themselves and others through their actions. Working Clockwise, we have people whose actions benefit themselves, but losses for others. Cipolla identifies this group as bandits. Next Cipolla tells us we have stupid people, whose actions generate losses to themselves and others. Finally, Cipolla gives us the helpless people, whose actions result in benefits to others, but never themselves. Cipolla's entire construct is outcome based. If you don't hit the mark, you're stupid, which doesn't seem very instructive. However, I think there's a central point here that is instructive as to why we ignore negative feedback. Take a simple example of a person trying something and failing. Doesn't much matter what it is, the individual wanted to do it, and they failed. Now it's pretty clear to me that this could be because they lacked skill, or they lacked education. Could be they just made a mistake owing to form, or approach. Maybe it was a moral failing, or a physical failing. Whatever the cause, I believe this failure only has meaning in Cipolla's chart in the context of what happens next. I argue that people who grind their way to success are intelligent, because their efforts constantly improve outcomes. In essence, I'm arguing that we can't measure the outcome of their efforts, until the actor decides they're done trying. That being said, the state of modern middle management leads me to conclude that a whole lot of common practices are trending at a negative slope towards Cipolla's definition of stupid people. Here are a couple of examples to illustrate what I'm on about. A project manager in charge of building a huge high-rise building reached out asking for me to price the build-out of a tenant space in the building. My competitor is working on the main building, but the project manager is concerned that their pricing for this work is too high. After many rounds of pricing things in a myriad of ways, I won the bid, and was awarded the job. This week, the project manager announced that they wanted to give a portion of the work back to my competitor who is working for them on the main building. I provided the sum deducting the cost for the work in question. This sparked an entire week's worth of back-and-forth where the project manager demanded that I explain why my prices were always lower than my competitor's. The project manager is swinging from palpable fear, to righteous anger as we gradually, and repeatedly proved what was always the case. My competitor is overpricing the work. On another project we have had a catastrophic delay in getting some ridiculously expensive light fixtures. What should have taken six months to get, arrived in eighteen, and even then, was piecemeal. The job was long since concluded by then, so we had to provide temporary fixtures, and we had to swap everything out afterhours at premium labor prices. The fixtures lasted less than 14 days before they started falling apart. This week we had a teleconference with all the people who've been playing keep-away from us for the last year and ten months. As is typical for this kind of meeting, we received the invitation late the evening before the early morning appointment. In keeping with modern management practices, this meeting was attended by high-middle managers who open with effusive promises to honor commitments to success. This was followed the obligatory "they're just coming to this now", which inevitably leads to "I'll need to look into this further before I can offer any feedback". The only things they do know is their many company policies, and established norms which just so happen to reject any and all meaningful remunerations for the damage caused by their actions, and/or failures to act. Both cases are perfect examples of highly educated, intelligent people working as hard as they can to steer the course of events towards failure. My project manager client is struggling to admit that he's spent his career fostering working relationships where he's getting ripped off. He genuinely believes it's not possible to build these jobs at market prices, because it would require him to admit that he doesn't know what he's doing. He's stuck as a helpless person, and his ego is pulling him towards stupidity. It's my hope that the financial considerations I've provided will force his hand to make an intelligent decision. Likewise, we have exemplars of higher-ups who sincerely believe it's a winning strategy to declare their perfect ignorance of all details germane to a dispute which has escalated to where it requires their attention. These people are asking us to believe they're either profoundly incompetent, or entirely dishonest. They're the very definition of Cipolla's fifth rule of stupidity, because they're the most dangerous people you'll ever encounter. We're living through rule #4 with this guy for sure. He's never going to be the solution, and none of our efforts with him will be beneficial. So what does all of this have to do with the thread title promising a warning for middle management? I think we're living through a transformative time. Credentialed, intelligent, experienced, and charismatic individuals in middle management are running aground because they maintain a bubble of professional isolation between themselves, and the outcomes of their actions. These bubbles of gatekeeping, risk-aversion, and cowardice are transformative devices that render all outcomes to loss, thus making all management an exercise in stupidity. It's possible that my project manager client will survive the next round of cuts because he finally stumbled upon the ancient concept of competitive market pricing. That of course assumes that he'll concede to the "risk" of going against his misinformed instincts. The lighting manufacturer is teaching everyone in the market to avoid the toxic, costly nonsense of doing business with them. It likely hasn't dawned on this individual that we have ready access to a great many purveyors of equally overpriced, underperforming, ugly minimalist light fixtures made by sad people in slow factories. I'm confident that we can present options that won't result in several years worth of embarrassing failure for the design professionals to consider. Sure the design teams are getting kickbacks from this guy to pick his sad lights. But then again, maybe even Architects will look deep into his unblinking reptilian eyes, and see that his stupidity is as deep and vast as the regret they have for pursuing their soul- crushing vocation. I figure I've got a one in ten shot of talking them out of the stupidity. For myself, I'll be asking questions before I bid on anything with this foolish manufacturer listed. If we're not allowed to work around them, we'll avoid the jobs altogether.
  8. anvil, I'll try to answer your comment in terms of practical philosophy first, then I'll attempt to apply those principles to your craftsman paradigm. The sentence you quoted from my post, built on the context I established in the two paragraphs preceding it. If the nature of the application constrains the potential combination of inputs a system such that they can never combine in certain ways, the solution for that system doesn't need to concern itself with what the outputs for the impossible inputs might be. Since we're trying to unravel truth from what we observe, we're looking at outputs, trying to define the system necessary to deliver the inputs we can test for. In Boolean logic, everything is binary, yes or no, one or zero, true or false. It's super easy to get wrapped up in the things we can measure, without every concerning ourselves with whether the things we measure are actually instructive to defining the system in the middle. This approach also has the effect of promoting equality of minutia, over the priority of natural order. Here's an example of the foolishness I alluded to. Imagine someone measuring a particle of sand with a micrometer, while standing in a stream, to answer where water comes from. It seems obvious to me that we have a moral obligation to trim unlikely explanations, otherwise a lifetime of measurement will pass, and no truth will be revealed. I hope we can all agree on that. So on to your craftsman paradigm and how it relates to practical philosophy as I understand it. So there's group A, who consider the pursuit of craftsmanship to be foolish, and they outnumber group B, who are successful craftsman. On that simple statement, I think we agree. I spend every working day selling electrical work to people who chose to pursue skills that don't permit them to do the craftsman's work themselves. We definitely have more customers than competitors. Based on our previous interactions over business practices, I think it's possible you meant something a bit more nuanced. Our previous interactions have largely consisted of my objection to the "build it and they will come" approach to entrepreneurship. I don't believe in magical financial protection for even the most amazing craftsmen who ignore business fundamentals. All of this is consistent with basic fundamentals of business that were probably established knowledge to ancient Romans. History is full of impatient try-hards who launched themselves off a precipice, with only their ego to sustain them for the remainder of their life. I do however concede, that there are always, and will always, be people who got lucky. When I applied myself to figuring out what made them lucky, I concluded that it was their timing. That's useful information I obtained through philosophical inquiry. I hope that we can agree that luck, does not reside among a list of laudable skills. But let's revisit the magical business protection for super cool craftsman concept, and see how it might apply to my earlier example of ignoring the primacy of nature in pursuit of the obscure minutia. Your approach to solving for the source of revenue amounts to standing in a stream just squinting until you spot something that kinda looks like beans, cheese, or sour cream from a caulking gun, because those are the only magical building blocks you will admit to. All while scoffing at the people passing by who are walking the shore upstream. You seem to confuse the water in your boot, as being equal to all headwaters. Moreover, this confusion is abetted by an assumption that the gravitational mass of your collected wisdom assures that your boot will always be full. Streams dry up, boots leak, and sometimes big logs drift on floods, wiping all the obstructions off the watershed. I wish you'd come ashore, and make your way to the sunny hilltop headwaters where you belong. The millstone of superstition has kept you beyond your depth for long enough.
  9. alexandr, I agree with you, and your post reminded me of a day in the 1990's when I heard "Smooth" for the first time. It was on a radio playing in the background with a group of friends. When one of his note rung out, I immediately said "That's Carlos Santana!". Nobody else in the group knew who I was talking about. I think one person actually corrected me and said it was Rob Thomas from Matchbox 20. We all went on to find that we were both right, as it was the first radio release of his album of duets. Years went by before I learned some things that really show how special Santana really is. He played a Gibson SG for most of his early work, it's incredibly iconic at his Woodstock performance. Now there are tons of famous musicians who played SG's but any list of them will tend to make Santana look like an outlier. Think of the sound of AC/DC, or Led Zepplin. They were using the same guitars, and often the same amps, yet Santana somehow pulled this crystalline singing Latin horn-like treble out of the crunchy, shrill "classic rock" gear. Santana and a guitar maker called Paul Reed Smith met in the 1970's and Paul was determined to make a guitar for his hero. Eventually this progressed to making a signature model. Legend tells that Paul presented Santana with his first effort. It was allegedly so good, that Santana didn't believe that Paul could actually reproduce it. Paul accepted the challenge, and made a second, equally good guitar. Santana agreed to the signature guitar deal. Electric guitarists are a fickle group, but they will agree that most guitar hero's play either Gibson or Fender instruments. Santana's endorsement, and signature guitar propelled PRS into the top three in an incredibly short amount of time. If you listen to the guitar tone in Santana's work in the 70's with an SG, and compare it to his tone on the Supernatural album, it's actually pretty obvious that he's using a completely different rig. Yet his musical signature is perfectly recognizable, with no repetition of the old material. A huge number of popular hits across genres, and bands all share the same session musicians in the recordings. These session musicians have a veritable arsenal of equipment to transform themselves into whatever is needed, yet they have no signature sound. It's not surprising, because most people are inspired to pick up electric guitar in order to sound like their hero's. Mimicry is built into everything that electric guitarists obsess over. So that moment in the 1990's where I recognized him from a background snippet of a solo is pretty amazing because he had completely transformed his rig, his tone, and the production of the song, yet his signature was plain as day. The title of this thread also struck me, as I recall seeing a program on the Supernatural album. Each artist in turn was shown saying that just being around Santana was a peaceful, and soulful experience. Thanks for reminding me of all of that.
  10. Lots of good replies. Scott NC. I suppose someone might have a preferred shortcut to trimming unlikely explanations for phenomena they encounter. I'm not sure that kind of shortcut has much utility when tested by others. I think the whole concept relies upon the motivation of the individual assessing it. Some people encounter uncertainty in complex situations and immediately withdraw to the last known boundary for solid ground. I see it in estimation where people default to worst case scenarios, limited only by their imagination and the depth of their fears. They don't know what they're doing, and they're only concerned with how badly that situation might hurt them. To those people, there's no point in even trying to learn anything about the great scary beast of the unknown. Other people assume every new thing, is made of parts they're familiar with. Sorta like the Taco bell menu. They'll squint at a distance until the phenomena starts looking like beans on a tortilla. The goal for these people is to avoid belaboring the timely dismissal of phenomena so they can resume the comfort of certainty. Philosophy wasn't always a frustrating exercise in aesthetic bickering. It used to be useful for determining what we really know, and for inquiring after that which we don't fully understand. I think of it as structured curiosity, working to bring ordered understanding. In my experience, the pursuit of knowledge tends to be pretty frustrating for two reasons. The first, is the humbling realization that it's often tough to defend what I thought I knew. The second, is that I lose a lot of time pursuing wrong explanations. One of the most significant realizations I've had in all of this, is the almost magical power of "don't care". I learned about it in a Boolean Logic class. See we can imagine complex systems of cause and effect where we can map out every single combination of inputs, and outputs. A specific case of all possible inputs leading to all defined outputs, will only be possible through a very specific boolean circuit. Now there are tons of situations where certain combinations of inputs can never, and will never, happen. So we don't have to care about what the outputs might be in those impossible scenarios. This leads to several boolean circuits which are all capable of meeting the design criteria. If Philosophy is "working backwards" from a completed logic circuit, we can, and often do, spend an incredible amount of time mapping out the intricacies of a "don't care" scenario. Everything we've painstakingly proven, relies upon foolish assumptions of how things are actually combined in real life. If we don't go about trimming foolish pursuits, we'll never get to truth.
  11. I had a moment today where I realized a few things I "knew" were connected in a way that I'd never considered before. I've long known of Occam's Razor; "The correct conclusion is usually the one with the fewest assumptions". Today I saw a reference to Hanlon's Razor; "Never attribute to malice, that which is adequately explained by stupidity". I'd definitely encountered Hanlon's Razor before, but today it struck me that I'd never asked myself why these things are called "Razor". Turns out a "Philosophical Razor" is a philosophical principle which allows one to eliminate or "shave off" unlikely explanations for phenomenon so as to avoid unnecessary actions. I'd simplify that to, learning to smell it, before you step in it, and track it into places it doesn't belong. I was very gratified to learn that there are quite a few well-known philosophical razors. Hitchen's Razor: "What can be asserted without evidence, can also be dismissed without evidence". Enstein's Razor (paraphrased): "As simple as possible, but no simpler" I'd love to hear your favorites!
  12. It took me a while to notice that "Craftsman are going extinct" has been a headline grabber for nearly as long as "young people don't want to work". It took me a little while longer to realize that neither of those things have ever been true in the simplistic, and absolute way they're presented. Making stuff, making do, and making a living are three of the most consistent reasons that craftsman are never going away. The whole "young people don't want to work" claim is typically ignoring pretty obvious cultural trends directly driven by the parties making the complaint. None of which changes the simple fact that human potential is incredibly valuable, because our time is so short. Some people choose to drift aimlessly through their time, others choose to burn every resource like tomorrow will never come. A lot of people put in the hard work to be both of these at the same time, because they cannot find a market for their effort before the lights go out. Maybe if we spent less time considering what we want, and more time considering what other need, we might find more opportunities to make a living, doing something worthwhile.
  13. gmbobnick, Your example is very interesting. I remember how Pacino's character made sure he was dressed properly for the occasion, He said "Burgundy, not dark red" or something to that effect about his tie color to his helper as he was prepping for a date. There's no doubt that his actions confirmed him as the genuine article, and that the impression he made as a blind man wasn't as important. That being said, I think there's an undo distinction being made between looking the part and acting it. Yes of course, we're all hiring professionals for what they can do. In theory form should follow function in terms of our esteem. I hear a lot of people getting shamed for thinking otherwise. Simply put, we notice straight lines in nature. When a perfectly performing professional dresses like an art project, it's natural to ask what this person is trying to convey about themselves, and how they interact with their environment. I think this kind of thinking is discouraged due to misguided advice to avoid judgement, for fear of making unkind decisions. Warning signs exist for a reason, whether it's a poisonous frog, or a tee shirt logo promising violence. Sometimes the frog really is poisonous, other times it's just a pacifist wearing a borrowed shirt. In many cases, people are adopting aesthetics to communicate their discord with their environment, while clinging to a "looks shouldn't matter" mantle for professional behavior. In the worst cases, it's a cultivated tension seeking opportunity to claim an injustice. Case in point, I was at a job walk for an office build out. The existing space was a "gray shell" meaning it's an enclosed structure with no finishes and very limited/temporary utilities. In this particular case, the space was one floor of a building currently under construction. I had a question about the plans, so I walked up to a lady and politely asked her if she was the architect. She said she was, then answered all of my questions. As I turned to leave, she asked me how I knew she was the architect. The truth, is that I figured only an architect would wear fluorescent green stiletto heels (which matched her safety vest) to a construction site. Instead, I told her I guessed based on her being the only person without a set of plans in hand. I've also had a job walk where a female architect wore a white brassiere on the outside of her black blouse. It was the most uncomfortable job walk of my career, and I know I wasn't the only one who felt that way. Twenty years ago, nobody would have allowed high heels, or really any sexually charged clothing on a job site, full stop. I get that kind hearted, seasoned people exercise limiting principles about this. If they see you can do the job, then your looks are secondary. This creates a real issue for new entries to the job. These new people have the least ability of their entire career, and they often model themselves after existing "pros" who cultivated a discord between the professionalism of their appearance and their performance. We have new hires on site with their pants figuratively and literally falling down. Everyone needs help, I was no exception to this. On some level, I think it's unkind to act like a belt (and/or suspenders) wouldn't help their situation.
  14. TwistedWillow, We're an electrical contractor and it's much the same in terms of appearance. That being said, it's pretty easy to spot anyone ranked foreman or above in the trades out here. One of the old tricks to spotting an experienced worker was if their Carhartt coat was soft. The old cotton duck ones would hold themselves upright after ten years of service. Frosty, I agree, some of this stuff borders on uncivil behavior. I don't wish hard times on people, but I can see the point you're making. George, I enjoyed your comments. Although I generally agree, I couldn't help but to think of all the unprofessional doctors I've encountered in my life. Most of them were late to my appointment, and very few were even remotely concerned with offering a good value. Dentists in particular, have cost me an incredible amount of paid time off. I can sincerely say that I'd happily take a green, tattoo-covered kid with a lisp as my doctor if their practice actually improved customer service. Thomas, your comment reminded me of a photo I saw years ago of an "IT expert" leaving the White House. They were wearing an old hooded sweatshirt, crusty jeans, and sneakers! There was a caption to the effect of "no amount of money will ever get IT professionals to dress like adults". Jobtiel1, Being able to cover tattoos is still a pretty big deal in the higher ranks of our construction trades. It's pretty uncommon to find anyone at an ownership level who has a neck or hand tattoo. I've never seen an owner with a visible piercing beyond ears. gewoon, I bet the mariner life is full of interesting culture clashes! Charles, I wore a tie to interview for my first paper route. It wasn't about what was expected of me, it was a way to show my respect to a potential employer.
  15. About a month ago I was sucked into a zoom conference which included the Owner, Architect, and Contractor. This meeting was like so many others in that it could have been entirely replaced with a single articulate email to all concerned. I thought of the old expression "the more things change, the more they stay the same". Then it struck me that there were some pretty significant differences. For example, the meeting began with the host doing the perfunctory "is everyone on this call" roll call, exclusively on a first name basis. This is noteworthy because there was no reason to expect that anyone attending had previously met. I had no idea who was working for the architect, the engineer, the owner, or the contractor in a situation where there were about 12 individuals logged into the conference. As the call progressed, context helped to narrow the options for the individuals who spoke, but most didn't. A young lady with bright green hair fielded most of the Architecture items, which suggested that she at least works for them. I did my best to answer whatever I could, which often involved a respectful pause to allow the relevant engineer to chime in before answering the groups question myself. We got over halfway through the meeting before an engineer chose to speak up, and even then, it was only after the host specifically asked them to respond. Eventually the meeting concluded and I was left thinking about how different today's professional standards are from my youth. Back in High School we had professional development classes. It may sound crazy to modern professionals, but back then, we were specifically taught that unnatural hair colors, and unconventional aesthetics would be interpreted as disrespectful to clients. We were also taught to take our responsibility as a representative of our employer seriously. We actually did exercises to practice introducing ourselves using our full name, title, and (made up) firm. The whole experience leads me to wonder if the transition from formal to casual professional standards will continue, or reverse. It's difficult to imagine things getting more casual, although I suppose I'm making assumptions about anyone not on camera. That being said, I do sincerely think that the casual trend in professionalism has reached a point where it's no longer rebellious, or even original to have such a casual aesthetic. In some ways, it's just as uniform as when everyone was wearing suits. Beyond the aesthetics, I think we've got a shift towards a "casual" relationship with responsibility. We're all in a meeting to give all parties a chance to address some roster of issues. The casual approach to professional introductions allows anti-social, or simply lazy "professionals" to simply stay mute because nobody knows who they are. In the case of my meeting above, the mute engineer spent the majority of the conference letting me answer technical questions on their behalf. When the host called on them to finally respond, no effort was spent on apologies or explanations for their silence. Simply put, there is no negative consequence for being so unprofessional in these casual times. What have you experienced? How do you think professional standards might change in the future?
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