My sister Jessie (left) and I, age: quite young
Personally, I’m yet to feel the effects of the global economic slowdown. I’ve not been made redundant, my salary has not been cut, overtime is still allowed.
But I can feel it’s just around the corner. Local redundancies are being announced on a daily basis, and the thinking is that it’s just going to get worse. One of my private students was telling me how her company, once reluctant to fire anyone (something that is admittedly pretty difficult to do in Japan – the common method seems to be to bully and pressure people into quitting) has just announced 2000 cuts, with more to come in due course. Whilst the nature of the client base that the English & Chinese education company I work for means that we are not suffering so much from this initial phase of the slowdown, this past week there have been some hints that next year is going to be a tough one.
I’m very much a subscriber to Robert Kiyosaki’s idea of there being four main types of people when it comes to income, who together make up the ‘Cashflow Quadrant’. They are: E – employees, S – self-employed, B – business owners and I – investors.
(For more on the Cashflow Quadrant get hold of a copy of Kiyosaki’s incredibly easy to read bestseller Rich Dad Poor Dad)
I’ve long had a gut feeling that I don’t belong in the ’employee’ quadrant, and in such economic conditions as these I find this gut feeling being exceptionally noisy. Seeing people in ‘secure’ jobs being left high and dry makes me question the sense of placing my future in the hands of an organisation that could let go of its staff at any time, for any number of reasons.
If I was working for the satisfaction that the day-to-day work brings, then it would be no big deal. Whilst I do feel real satisfaction in my day job (and before I go any further, I’d just like to state that as well as enjoying my day job a great deal, I see it as performing a very important and necessary role in my development, and I have no intention of leaving), I have a strong feeling that I’m heading towards a very different role in this world, of which I have only a vague picture at present) (this is aside from any purpose I have to become a better person in a spiritual sense, a journey that continues no matter what I do).
Whilst I am happy that I am able to make a positive impact upon the lives of my students and (to a certain extent) my colleagues, I can’t get away from the idea that ultimately, the main purpose of most companies is to provide a good return to the shareholders. These are shareholders of which I know nothing. Who knows what they might choose to invest the profits of my labour in.
Some people might think this is taking things a bit too far, but I don’t feel it is. I have a limited time on Earth this time around, and I want to make the most of it. I am happy to invest a few years in doing such things as working for my present company as I’m learning a lot, and teaching is a worthy cause, but I believe that I would feel that I had somehow wasted the precious gift of life were I to remain working for someone else for the rest of my life.
So then there’s the S quadrant – self-employed. One thing I’ve been fortunate to learn second-hand over the past few years is that being self-employed isn’t necessarily all it’s cracked up to be. For one thing, there’s the fact that (for most one-man-show enterprises) if you stop working, your income stops. Then there’s the hours. I forget what the stats are, but self-employed people usually work a lot more hours than those in the E quadrant. Having said that, the chances are that the self-employed business owner will get a great deal more satisfaction out of their work than an E. Every hour of work they put in is an hour invested in their own enterprise – an idea which appeals to me a great deal. They are also more likely to be doing what they love (or they probably wouldn’t have started that business in the first place!). However, ultimately, the lack of time freedom in the S quadrant does not appeal to me.
Then we move across to the B quadrant – the business owners. These are people whose businesses continue to operate even when they are physically absent. This is where I want to be. This is where I feel I should be putting my energy …but find the ease with which I can invest in the E quadrant too seductive. Striking out is tough. It’s easier to just be told what to do.
The final quadrant – our ultimate financial goal, is the Investment quadrant, whereby the wealth we have created will continue to generate an income in perpetuity, for the causes that we choose. Being socially conditioned, I used to think that people in this quadrant had only got where they were by trampling on others. However, the more wealthy people I meet (here in Japan), the more this stereotype is revealed as being a load of crap. They are by far the most generous, caring and ‘normal’ people you could hope to meet, and don’t give a poop about keeping up appearances. They are generous with both their time and money, and in my book are worthy role models.
These past few weeks I’ve been making my way through The New Psycho-Cybernetics by Maxwell Maltz, an updated version of the classic self-development book. It’s very good. Informative, and inspirational. Whilst there’s not much in it that you haven’t heard somewhere else, the scientific angle is refreshing and convincing.
…and it really gets you thinking – “If I could be the person I really wanted to be, would I be the person I am today?” If the answer is no (as it is with me), then there’s clearly a need for action.
It’s compelling. Real change doesn’t take months of years, it takes a split second – the split second it takes to make the decision to be that person. That person who is fit (or on the road to fitness), that person who owns their own successful business (or is in the process of setting it up), that person who has rich, loving and trusting relationships with all those around them (or is making a concerted effort to build such bonds).
I’m in an incredibly fertile environment that is brimming with opportunity. It’s called life, and it’s time I took the next step (even if it’s only a small step). I’ll write about it in due course.
I don’t think I could ever get bored with life. There’s just too much going on.
For a start, there’s events in the news. I don’t follow the news religiously, but I have recently subscribed to the Guardian feed on my iPhone – I scroll through the headlines on my way home to keep abreast of world events that my students may refer to. It’s not entertainment, but it does push me into a different space, changes the context within which I live. Things today are different from how they were yesterday.
I’m finding it difficult to put the horrific events in Mumbai into context, as I have not known this sort of thing before outside of Hollywood movies.
Then there’s Bangkok airport, temporary home to my friends Catherine, Stew and Annie. They tell me they’re safe at least, which is a relief. My brother-in-law, Leigh, who lives here in Japan is also stuck out there – I reckon he’s secretly happy to be able to extend his business trip into a holiday (Leigh is quite an inspiration for me, having come here a few years back for the first time with nothing, and having established his own successful football academy has now created a second company that is contracted by Nike to provide coaching clinics throughout Japan).
A meeting was held at work today. There are big changes afoot in our office. The departure of a fairly central employee has prompted a major overhaul of the way the business is run. Whilst I was initially hired to search for / interview / place new teachers, it’s now been decided that my ‘talents’ are needed elsewhere. Whilst initially surprised as the announcement, I soon realised that this was a very good thing.
My new roles suit me down to the ground. I have several.
The first is teaching English over the phone. As as far as I know we are almost unique within the industry for offering this service. Whilst it can be quite exhausting (8 students per hour) I find it pretty enjoyable – it helps me practice my communication skills – I get to play the game “How quickly can I suss this person out and connect with them?”. I feel really good when it’s clear the students have enjoyed talking with me.
My second role is that of The Cleaner. We’re not talking dusty shelves or dirty carpets (a little old lady comes in everyday to do that. She always asks me if I’ve got over the cold I had last month), we’re talking stripping down and cleaning out the old systems/ workflows, and rebuilding them using a lean model. We’re talking clearing out data archives, transferring operations currently carried out manually / using real paper to semi-automatic self-cleaning databases.
I love this kind of thing. It’s kind of funny, but at the same time sort of expected that a job be created especially for me that involves my doing what I love.
My third role, and this one’s a little more long term, is to revolutionise our web presence. We need to embrace mobile platforms, need to harness the power of these new technologies that will allow students to study wherever they happen to be – I can’t help but think how effective iAnki is in giving me the freedom to fit study in with my everyday routine, with no significant additional impact upon my schedule (it’s really working by the way. Amazing program).
I find this all very exciting – I’m going to get paid to learn about and experiment with new systems that I have a natural interest in already. The only difficulty is in fitting all this in – there’s only so many hours in the day. Thus, I’ve been given the go ahead to work overtime whenever I wish too, paid at overtime rate. This is great, just what we need as we save up more money to move house. I’ll start tomorrow.
This evening I met up with a bunch of boy-mates for a ‘boys night out’. All eight of us have Japanese wives. Except for me, everyone had been married for several years.
At one point the conversation turned to baby-making. “Oh no, you’re not having to go through that are you..?” said one boymate to another. “You’re lucky” they said to me. Sex is still for fun for you, right? For us, it’s just a job, only to be done when the wife is ‘on heat’.”
It all sounded a bit mechanical.
I wondered if that would be *Twinkle* and I in 2 years. I hoped not.
Anyway, it’s now 1.15am. I need to get these photos processed before work tomorrow. TTFN
The days of unemployment are soon to come to an end. This morning I was the grateful recipient of a job offer from a man who, six years ago said, “If we were truly scraping the bottom of the barrel, we would probably hire [Joseph] again, but we would all have to be delusional to do so.” (to see the reference in its entirity, and very exciting photos of me at work, click here).
I’m very happy to be working for Mr. D again. He really is one of the nicest people I’ve ever had the fortune to be ruled over by. I take up my full time position on Monday 6th October.
I’m also grateful to Shari, my ex-colleague who who knew of my situation having read the Daily Mumble, and made enquiries on my behalf that resulted in this happy conclusion. That’s the second time I’ve got a good job through this web site!
Thank you Shari!
In the meantime, I’ve got more private work coming in. Yesterday I met a lady for what I thought was going to be a private lesson, but turned out to be a kind of interview for a part-time position at a small school in Shibuya. The flexible hours work well for me, and the pay’s OK too.
I was also offered a part-time job with a company that my friend Tom works for, Phoenix Associates. Based on my interview experience/ subsequent communication, and his feedback, I get the impression that they are very good people to work for (I mean, for one thing they all use brand new Macs).
Knowing that I’ll be working soon helps me relax. It’s all very well being a house-husband (I quite enjoy the housework), but when there’s debts to be paid and your wife is spending all day in the office, well, it feels a bit off.
Ho hum. Best do the hoovering.
So much to write about, so little time.
It’s all good.
Last week I sent off an email to a training company that a friend of mine works for (it was actually wanting to work for them that promoted me to take the CELTA course). Today I had an interview, and I believe I’ll be offered a contract in the next few days. Great news!
This means that I won’t be taking up the contract with the English school that offered me a post a couple of months back (which in addition to looking pretty dull, also happened to pay about a third of what I’ll be getting in the new job).
Today I also received a call from the agency that got me my first two jobs on Japanese TV back in 2007 – I’m in the running for a role that will require one day’s work – and will pay £940! I’m a long way from being selected, but hey, you never know. It’s nice to be at stage 2 at least!
I’ve been really busy trying to sort the house out. You wouldn’t have thought that it would take that long to tidy up a 30m square apartment, but it does when you have this much stuff!
I’m loving my iPhone. It’s an incredible piece of hardware – and the apps you can get for it are equally stunning. A must for anyone in Japan is Ekitan – the entire Japanese train timetable, updated every minute. This is nothing new – any phone with Internet access will have this, but the way the iPhone presents it actually makes using it a pleasant experience (I don’t like the text-heavy versions on most phones, find them pretty unusable). The iPhone saved my bacon today when going to my interview. I was late, and had to use it for checking alternative train times, reading Word documents (my application and CV) checking info sent by the interviewer (email) and looking at the map on the company website – and double checking it in Google Maps. The thing that struck me was just how easy all of this was, much simpler than using a computer, and all in the palm of my hand.
Anyway, I’m sure you’ll hear more about my iPhone in due course!
I may start posting Mumbles and photos from it (by email routed through Flickr), as it seems the only spare time I have at the moment is when on trains – or when ignoring the washing up that needs to be done before *Twinkle* gets home.
(I’m also updating Twitter / facebook / Skype from my iPhone – sometimes including links to photos I upload on the road. See top right of TDM).
Oh yes, I have a lot to write about re. *Twinkle* and I and what we’re going through. It’s almost surreal how everything is different now.
Ok, best do that washing up.