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Earning your way to FI
Old 08-17-2008, 11:41 AM   #1
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Earning your way to FI

The majority of the discussion here is on saving, investing, taxes etc., but not much on ways to preserve/increase earnings. Chinaco's post on Economy & Jobs got me thinking that there we, on this board, probably have a HUGE knowledge base in this area that should be shared.

Here are a few of my thoughts (based on my narrow perspective)
a. Keep Learning
In my career, I think this was the single best thing I did. I did not go back to school, but kept up to date on the goings on in my industry and related industries.

b. Network
A network is extremely important in good times & bad. My network has helped me get identify new opportunities (within & outside the then current employer) and I have been able to reciprocate with advice and job leads.

c. Look for the next thing you want to do. (Get out of your comfort zone)
I never had a "career plan" and bounced around a lot. However, 3-4 years into a job, I started thinking about what I wanted to do next and began moving towards it. It kept me from being bored as well as gave me a wide range of expertise. If you have the foresight and discipline to have a career plan and follow it, that's probably even better.

d. Perform & demand to be compensated for it.
For the most part, I enjoyed my job, worked hard at it and did well. I did not do as well in demanding higher compensation and realized in my later years that the difference in compensation was based performance and demands. In other words, the squeaky, high performance wheel got more than the quiet one.

e. Move to a growing industry (or where the jobs are)
I was lucky to have started in a growing industry (computers), but even within that, I moved from mainframe dominated companies to cutting edge networking to the emerging PC Servers to software. In following this haphazard career, I moved around a bit too. I think a lot of people came to this country in search of a better life and found it. Moving in order to further your career or speed up your path to FI is a tough, but good option.

Please share. A lot of this will be common knowledge, but there may be gems in here that will help someone.
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Old 08-17-2008, 02:09 PM   #2
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Develop a good relationship at work. Keep the attitude in check, be willing to help and mentor others. Work hard during work hours. Crack a smile often but do not become the workplace jokester or buffon. Ask for and take honest criticism constructively. Mind your manners and your mouth. Don't brag. These soft skills in addition to the necessary work skills required go a long way with the boss who has to downsize subordinates. I kept the good workers and let go of more technically talented primadonnas many times. A good attitude and spirit of cooperation is really important in many areas of business. Super-stars are normal folks who can rise to the top with opportunity and responsibility.
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Old 08-17-2008, 02:16 PM   #3
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a, b & e. Learn and network in a growing industry, and preferably be your own boss or own your company. Hire good workers, satisfy your customers and employees, and the rest is easy until the economy goes to hell.
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Old 08-17-2008, 02:47 PM   #4
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As a student apprentice working my way through college I always remember the HR manager giving me this advice back in 1975, which has served me well over the 30+ years.

"In a large company like ours change jobs every 2 - 3 years, and if we don't provide opportunities for you to advance, go join someone who can provide those opportunities."

This I have done including several "sideways" moves into positions that require different skills to keep me fresh and keep me employable. Although I complain these days about being passed over when packages are offered, becoming a multi-skilled, valued employee has definitey served me very well.
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Old 08-17-2008, 02:57 PM   #5
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Be physically attractive; and learn how to talk about football, basketball, and NASCAR.
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Old 08-17-2008, 03:01 PM   #6
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Be physically attractive; and learn how to talk about football, basketball, and NASCAR.
Hmm I can do everything but the attractive part.
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Old 08-17-2008, 03:07 PM   #7
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Be physically attractive ...
Well, if you are a male in a nearly all heterosexual male environment, that may work against you. Being neither handsome nor muscular, I fit right in.

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... and learn how to talk about football, basketball, and NASCAR.
No. That would not work at the places that I have been. Nerds and geeks do not talk sports and car racing. Far better to talk about how you spent the weekend configuring your home PC network, build your own PC, or griping about how Vista sucks... Well, maybe a bit of politics, but nerds and geeks tend to be libertarian, so be careful
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Old 08-17-2008, 03:10 PM   #8
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c. Look for the next thing you want to do. (Get out of your comfort zone)
I never had a "career plan" and bounced around a lot. However, 3-4 years into a job, I started thinking about what I wanted to do next and began moving towards it. It kept me from being bored as well as gave me a wide range of expertise. If you have the foresight and discipline to have a career plan and follow it, that's probably even better.
I went the other way on this one. I stayed in my comfort zone (programming) for my entire 27 year career, declining promotions to retire a bottom level peon at 48. I was frequently bored, but in a good way. My experience and expertise level were high enough to make it very easy to do my job, and to get a new one the few times I needed / wanted one. Most of my competition had maybe 3-5 years experience, and was eager to descend into management as quickly as possible.
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Old 08-17-2008, 03:10 PM   #9
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"Nerds and geeks do not talk sports and car racing."

Ima nerd and watching the race right now. Whoo whoo blew that one out of the water! YAHTEZEEE
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Old 08-17-2008, 03:10 PM   #10
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Well, if you are a male in a nearly all heterosexual male environment, that may work against you. Being neither handsome nor muscular, I fit right in.



No. That would not work at the places that I have been. Nerds and geeks do not talk sports and car racing. Far better to talk about how you spent the weekend configuring your home PC network, build your own PC, or griping about how Vista sucks...
I think Khan was being serious, just not descriptive enough. You need to socialize with the decison makers, which means football and sports, or babies and knitting, or whatever it takes.
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Old 08-17-2008, 03:12 PM   #11
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People get serious on these boards?
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Old 08-17-2008, 03:14 PM   #12
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People get serious on these boards?
You are quite right - what WAS I thinking of
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Old 08-17-2008, 03:20 PM   #13
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I'd have to add be flexible & friendly .
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Old 08-17-2008, 03:26 PM   #14
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"Nerds and geeks do not talk sports and car racing."

Ima nerd and watching the race right now. Whoo whoo blew that one out of the water! YAHTEZEEE
Hey, are there more than one type of nerds/geeks? Learn something everyday...

Well, I was fortunate that by simply being myself, I fit right in.

P.S. Seriously, what crazyconnie posted earlier is the right attitude to take. You want to be diplomatic, but not political. The latter is a dirty word, while the former is not, in my view. And of course honing your skills and taking on new challenges helped myself and my wife in our careers too.

I have to add here that sometimes it is difficult to maintain a positive attitude at a megacorp when the esprit de corps is downtrodden with BS. It's up to the individual to decide whether to tough it out waiting for better time, or to bail if you have a choice. In my experience, looking back, the former tends to be better financially, due to accrued seniority, vacation time, and earned pension if it applies. But your mentality may suffer. It's a very individual choice.
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Old 08-17-2008, 03:28 PM   #15
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I think Khan was being serious, just not descriptive enough. You need to socialize with the decison makers, which means football and sports, or babies and knitting, or whatever it takes.
You're right.

Problem was, I'm not into stereotypical male or female stuff: not pro sports, not fancy cars, not babies, not fashion or jewelry or shopping...
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Old 08-17-2008, 04:19 PM   #16
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Khan took the best ones.

The best one on your original list is networking. I never did it on purpose, just around the water cooler; got some better j*bs through those contacts.

I had fun with turning down a bad j*b offer, thinking something better would turn up; it did, the same day. Sometime later the j*b I took escalated and five people were hired to assist me. One of them said to me something like, "why did they make you the boss," implying that she had better qualifications. Turns out she had accepted the bad offer I turned down, and escaped as soon as she could.
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Old 08-17-2008, 06:04 PM   #17
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Hey, I'm a nerd (accountant), female and watching Baseball Tonight right now (long season for Braves fans), but love shopping, perfume, going out to dinner! I find that the fact that I love sports, friendly and can talk to a tree has served me well over my career. I will add to that that I work my tail off. Crazyconnie pretty much nailed it, I think.
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Old 08-17-2008, 07:28 PM   #18
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Hey, I'm a nerd (accountant), female and watching Baseball Tonight right now (long season for Braves fans), but love shopping, perfume, going out to dinner! I find that the fact that I love sports, friendly and can talk to a tree has served me well over my career. I will add to that that I work my tail off. Crazyconnie pretty much nailed it, I think.
Pfft you got nothing on the Tribe. What the heck happened!
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Old 08-17-2008, 07:36 PM   #19
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Be available, tend to your network, don't be a richard cranium.

Strictly speaking as someone with an IT background, I've found that I can either specialize in one technology or generalize across several. I can either job hop across industries or specialize in one. In either route, picking up accreditations would probably help but I've never bothered.

Actually, don't listen to me, I've never interviewed for a job.
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Old 08-18-2008, 10:02 AM   #20
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Actually, don't listen to me, I've never interviewed for a job.

It's not WHAT you know..................
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