Thursday, April 18, 2013

No Regrets

Hello!  And welcome back.  This post is about recent happenings, what's next in life, and some fun colloquialisms...and then a couple songs to serenade you.

What's Happened Recently?

Well I'm glad you (errr...I) asked.  I went to that training session in Sydney.  After staying at the Carnivore (sic) Lodge: I stayed with Gaby, Josh, and Adrian...we'll say "family friends" for simplicity's sake.  They should be getting a bottle of wine and some chocolates as a token of my appreciation sometime around when I'm writing this.  I came back and fished for some info from the company as to when I'd possibly start.  Yada yada yada, I got a call last week to say I'd be teaching a training session on their company's processes this Wednesday to Friday as a "checkout" (verification) that I can do it at their level.

Now, at this point, you should be asking yourself: "Nick, I'm reading this on Thursday...which I know to be your are you writing this AND teaching/working?"  Or at very least you're reading this sometime later and wondering why I'm obviously talking in retrospect.  Well, you, my intelligent and astute reader, are quite clever.  I made it past day one of the training session, or rather to the morning of day 2...and I walked out.  For the remainder of this story I'm going to have to be a other words, let's grab a drink and I'll talk you through my logic (or possible lack thereof) for leaving.

Have I had other interviews/opportunities?  Yes!  Wow, yes.  It's strange how many seem to come up.  For instance, "Gabs" (Gaby) put my name "in the hat" for her company.  I like to think it's because I'm good looking (HA!), but maybe it's because at some point I said something smart...or, more likely, she's very kind.  Also, I went ahead and had an interview with a company the same day I walked out on the other company.  It went well...but who knows?  Theoretically...that company could even hire me in the States and I could work there... OR I could be based in the States and travel to Australia for periods of time to work.  Even with these possibilities, I have reached a breaking point and I "can't be fucked" (they say that here to say they don't want to do something...I like it!).

So with all this, I'm leaving...or rather, I'm headed back State-side.  I told my plans to my group of friends here and they were tear-jerkingly good about it.  "We're going to miss you, you're part of the crew!"  Notice the italics on the last part?  Slight tangent: when I left, my mother thought it a good idea to buy me a kid's book (see below).  I found this quite strange or at very least condescending that that's where she thought my reading level was.  Turns out the book is about this kid who's having a "terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day" and at the end of each of his rants about his bad day...he says he's going to move to Australia.  Well, I've had that book with me every step of this journey and I thought it might be fun to use it as a bit of a "year book" and have the friends I've made here sign it before I head back (I won't be reading their messages until I get home).  Sure, maybe it's lame.  But maybe it's just right too.  Someday, sitting in my pajamas on a Sunday, getting all nostalgic and teary eyed, and being able to whip out some good memories of this trip and how the people I've met made it worthwhile...I don't really care that it's lame.  This as close to scrapbooking as I can muster...

Some Occurrences:

- Whilst doing my end-of-the-day-feedback for that "checkout", the instructor said: "I can't tell if what I'm saying is landing or not, you have an unusually difficult face to read."  I laughed (with him or at him, I'm not sure).  I informed him "I play poker".  Which, really, was bullshit.  The reason I had a total blank stare is because I was thinking about a million other things than his critique of my teaching.  "Oh, I did your style of teaching out of order for that particular slide?  Totally.  I super seriously regret it and see the value in you pointing it out."  Or rather, "note to self, this guy is pointing out things that matter a lot to him but not explaining why they should matter towards teaching a concept in general...I wonder if I'll be in Melbourne next week to care about these things.  I wonder how much flights cost right now.  I wonder if he knows he's sounding more like he's part of a cult than a teacher of business processes.  I wonder if I decided to do this for a living if I'd be an indoctrinated automaton as well."  These were my thoughts...he didn't stand a chance against that amount of ADD and rationalized apathy.  Poor fella.  But seriously, I left them on good terms (feel free to ask me for the email I sent to them as a wrap-up and my followup phone calls with them).  There's truly no reason to be an ass and leave anyone with a sour taste.  They're human, just like me, and deserve to be treated well.

- I "interviewed" (insert laugh-track here) with a guy to be a tech-lead (or whatever the hell) for an Asian fashion website back in January-ish.  He emailed me recently to ask if I wanted to help him with "Adobe systems", because he remembered my expertise in that.  Well, sufficed to say, I'm quite happy someone's memory is worse than my own.  I have not responded; I'm hoping he's up to his ears in Kabuki (yes, I realize this is Japanese and leaves out a GIANT part of the Asian countries) and doesn't notice my rudeness.  I saw it bud, I just don't know how to answer you seriously.

- I received an email from the "modeling agency" I worked with that gave me a card (a conglomeration) of head-shots they send to their clients (TV shows, etc).  It's kind of like when you very first hear your recorded voice and say, "people tolerate me even though I sound like this!?" except that I now know how I sound AND how I look...and not only that, but how I look when I'm at my supposed BEST.  I feel like a house-wife hating on those "skinny bitches" of models when they read trashy glamour magazines.  Yes yes, I realize this was a vain rant.  Go get a mess of pictures taken of yourself and try to tell me your vanity doesn't increase ten-fold.

What's Next?

- I'm coming back to the States...obviously.  Sheesh!  But seriously...
- I'll be between Phoenix and Tucson whilst looking for work so feel free to write me whenever and I'll do my best to meet up.
- Applying to jobs in 3 cities: Denver, Austin, and SF.
- I'll have a new phone number within a few days of returning, email/FB me if you want it.
- My job search will be conducted via "head hunter"...because god dammit I'm tired of doing my own job search!  Let's be honest though, I'll be doing my own job search in parallel with the head hunter.
- *Hopefully* there will be a climbing trip - post haste - upon my return.  To my climbing friends at home: be ready!
- I've been toying with writing up an exposé on a juxtaposition of Australian politics with US politics.  Maybe I'll do that.  I'm not sure I foresee anyone finding this interesting...except for myself.

Colloquialisms (Australian or otherwise) I've Picked Up Since Being Here (thanks Gen for the help with these):

- "How ya going?"
Definition: "How are you?"

- "I was just taking the piss"
Definition: "I was just joking with you"
Anecdote: When a friend told me she was doing this, I asked her: "why would anyone want to take someone's piss?"  When thought of literally, this phrase is at best toilet humor and at worst an autoerotic disorder.

- "Grouse"
Definition: "Cool"

- "Partner"
Definition: "Long-time girlfriend OR boyfriend OR wife/husband"
Anecdote: I thought a friend of mine was a lesbian (not that there's anything wrong with it...ahem, Seinfeld) for a while because of the liberal use of "partner" here.  Personally, I really like that this is done because it shouldn't matter whether the person your friend/acquaintance is referring to is male or female, it just matters that they love them.

- "Rock up"
Definition: "To get somewhere." E.g. I rocked up to the crag, ready to go.  We rocked up to the bar and had a couple drinks.  I rocked up to the interview, ready to espouse my American-made business skills and knock their socks off.

- "Chockers"
Definition: "Full"  It comes from "chock-a-block" as opposed to what I thought, which was: "chock-full"

- "Cheeky"
Definition: "Smart ass."  I believe it's a derivative of "tongue-in-cheek"...I know I could look it up and verify....but I'd be disappointed if I found out I was wrong!  I heard this phrase a lot from people describing me...I'm sure you're all surprised.

- "Maths"
Definition: "math."  They add an "s" to it...which actually is probably correct seeing as though it's "mathematics" for the full word.

- "Zed"
Definition: "Z."  E.g. The bank ANZ is pronounced "A-N-Zed".  And I will never understand that.

- "Heych"
Definition: "H." Likewise to "Zed", H is no longer a's a word.  Ask an Australian about their HR'll wonder why it's no longer an acronym but a word and a letter (Heych R).

I'm sure there's many more, but these are the ones I can think of currently.  I had been meaning to make a list of some colorful ones for your/our entertainment so this is my attempt!

Don't Worry: (nevermind the odd music video, I think you'll get the point)  (skip to the minute 1:09 for the chorus and share some laughs with me)

Cheers and be well.  I hope to see all of you soon.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

How Did I Get Here?

Ok, first off, I realize just how hyperbolic the title of this is...but hopefully I'll persuade you of its appropriateness by the end of this post.  This post is about me kind of, sort of, but not really finding a job.

Complexity, thy name is life:

I'm sitting here in my "twin room" (which really just means twin bed and a shared bathroom) in Sydney writing this post after speaking to the "Landlord" (for lack of a better term) of this "Lodge" (see picture below).  As he took down my name from my "Ahhh Arizona!" Driver's Licence he said my name aloud: "Nickah Alanah Nashah".  But why am I here meeting this lovely Asian fellow with the fanny pack?  Let's go back in time a couple weeks.

I had a second interview with the company on March 4th where I had to present from a power point about Six Sigma.  Skilled in the art of bullshittery, I apparently impressed them enough for a third interview.  I found myself last week, last Wednesday (the 13th), in Sydney to conquer all other candidates before me and to enlighten the managing director on the finer points of American tenacity.  I succeeded/failed.

Apparently, there was another candidate who was "equal on all other fronts" except that he was an Australian.  Mmmk, on to the next dashing of hopes...or was it?  "Nick, they were very impressed with you and would like to try something they've never done before."  Well that just sounds overwhelmingly ominous right there doesn't it?  Turns out, it was.  "They'd like for you to attend a two-week leadership training course on Monday." He told me this last Thursday on a 9:30pm phone call, aka 4 days prior.  Well, swell, right?  Perhaps.  I was to fly myself out and pay for accommodations as well.  Sufficed to say, I did this ($1k later) and am here now.

Tomorrow morning I start my training.  Supposedly, if I do well (which how does one do well in training?) and the stars align ever so slightly, there will be work for me in Melbourne in my near future along with the all together reasonable possibility (so many qualifying words) that I may get a more permanent work visa.  How could I say no?  It's (tragically) the most promising job prospect I have had, even if it does require an upfront compromise of my dignity and my wallet.  To say that I'm disenfranchised with this whole finding-a-job-in-another-country process...would be like saying: <insert your own bleak analogy here>.  I feel this post has been melodramatic enough!  Let's look at this optimistically shall we?

Optimism, my long-time friend:

I've been here in Australia for 6 months come the 22nd.  I have met incredible people who have, per their introduction at the start of this sentence, been incredible to me.  I have gone outdoor climbing for the last 7 out of 10 weekends.  I have had "practice" with 11 interviews (8 at different companies/consultancy firms and 3 at this current employer) and 2 "psychometrics" tests.  Hell, I'm at a baker's dozen for interviews/psychometrics!  I have seen multiple cities here in Australia with two of my best friends and many new ones.  I have learned what true hospitality is all about (not referring to my short stint in bartending...but rather through different friends and camping expeditions).  And I have been in 5 different episodes of TV shows (3 on Neighbours and 2 on Winners and Losers).

And now, I'm in Sydney.  Sydney!  The idea of this even a year ago would've seemed preposterous.  For all the amenities this "lodge" leaves me wanting's a stone's throw from the Sydney Harbor Bridge and more Thai restaurants than even I know what to do with.  This job, even given what I've stated above, is by far the best chance I have of a long-term stay.  It pays well, the people seem competent, and it seems to have a good reputation.  Oh, and I'd like the work!  That part is not trivial.

As I write this, I've worked with a local non-profit for 6 months now.  Doing their financial forecastings, helping with business strategy, and writing their business plan (finishing this tonight!).  I can rightfully say that once they get funding, I helped start a business.  All of this while, technically, travelling!  Even if this "goes tits up" (a new phrase I've been taught) I'll have had some great experiences and some highly hilarious ones as well.  For everything I've done wrong, I've stumbled on a lot of right.


I can't even pronounce the name...but I think the lodge eats meat.  I can't be sure.

Who knew a hand dryer could be endearing?  This one, with it's interesting title of "Rorsche" 2400 Turbo (I can only assume I'm supposed to conjure up images of a Porsche), decided its logo should be a kangaroo and an Emu...because when I think turbo...I think kangaroos and Emus.

A friend recently gave me a free ticket to a networking event with Engineers and Lawyers.  The drinks were free...  Anyway, this is the reverent masses (~200 ppl) listening to one of the worst public speakers I've heard in a long time.  They were far more respectful.  I decided to attack the bar and the hors d'oeuvres (yes, I had to look up how to spell that...twice).  

This is the bottle of wine a friend bought for me (far too long ago) that I will be celebrating with should I get a/the job.  It's a Durif...which as I'm told, is a fancier version of a Shiraz.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

More Climbing/Interviews and Sentimentality

Greetings!  We haven't chatted in a while so it's probably time for an update eh?  Well, I'd love to say I've got new and exciting news...but that's horribly I won't!  Instead, you'll have to settle for more climbing and interview news.  There's a touch of a section of sentimental at the end.  Enjoy!


I have gone out climbing the past 4 out 5 weekends.  I talked about the first two, but here's some news on the last two:  ....they've been amazing.  I'm climbing with the guy who wrote the book on one of the major mountains here; his name is Josef (Joe) Goding.  Among other compatriots I am climbing with an Australian surfer, an ex-lawyer, an ex-pat from South Africa, and Gen (from the last blog post, no pic this time, check FaceBook).  Pictures are below (in order)...

This is Joe leading the route he had just bolted.  This is known as a "first ascent" (FA).  I got to do that route as part of the FA...even though mine wasn't technically an FA...but my name'll be in the next guidebook!  Ha.

This is Matt.  He's a surfer and a "tradie" here.  Great personality and goofy jokes.

This is Metani.  She was a lawyer and so therefore we have fun with verbal sparring, all in jest.  She climbs extremely well and is giving my vocabulary a run for its money.

This is Mark.  He grew up in South Africa and his brother works to prevent Rhino poaching.  His stories and his accent are equally interesting.

This is me.  I don't smile...because I'm tough.  Super tough...


Dammit I've had a lot of these things.  Instead of painfully telling you about each, I'll list them out and I'll list all the current job prospects.  You'll get a sense by the end of it why I wrote the sentimental section below.

1. Project Manager, Web development company
2. Project Coordinator, FMCG company
3. Project Coordinator, Software company regarding energy sector
4. Tech Editor, Fashion magazine online (heh, fuck it, why not right?)
5. Project Engineer/Manager, Traffic camera company (foothold in the states as well)
6. Client Relationship Manager, Consulting company
7. Business Intelligence Analyst, Energy consulting company

Current Prospects
1. Brian (family friend) has talked about his company hiring for a position here.  He's putting my name in the hat.
2. Joe (climbing buddy) is a project manager here and is shopping my CV around as we speak.
3. Honeywell called this morning for a project manager position...and talked about my Visa status at the end of the call...sigh.
4. Cara (CEO of ReFab, the non-profit I'm working with) is shopping me around amongst her extensive network.
5. One of the recruiters I interviewed with recommended me to a different recruiter.  He'll call tomorrow, his name is Bill...friendly chap.
6. One of the "mentors" for the ReFab non-profit recommended me to her consulting company.


By all accounts, reading the above it would just seem like a matter of time before something came together here.  What I can tell you is this: I'm exhausted.  I'm not sure how many more visa conversations I can have with companies with it ending: "you're great for the role, but your visa is a problem".  If the reason I weren't being hired was something I could change, it'd be fine; this is something I cannot.  It is weighing much heavier on me than I'd like to admit.  The Current Prospects list also looks quite formidable, to which I'd agree.  Alas, the previous prospects (propects that did not come to fruition) list would dwarf this current one.  For the more astute of you, yes, this is a call to action for myself.  I'm not sure yet what that action is but I'll likely know by next blog post.  By then (2-4 weeks), all the current prospects should have run their course and things will be more certain.

Until then, as always: You're missed and I hope to hear from you.