So I am attempting to fill out IRS forms 433-A, 656 and 656-A, and part of the way through some of the basics, I open 656-B, which is not a form, but a booklet. However, it incorporates copies of the first two of forms, so you can largely complete the process under one PDF. Same difference, right?
Well, perhaps they have updated things in the weeks since I downloaded these, but the forms in the the booklet were updated March 2011, where only the 656 was in standalone form. The 433-A was updated January 2008.
This leaves me concerned that the 656-A standalone form was last updated February 2007…
Rob May has possibly his best post yet, which rang a huge bell with me, on both business and personal levels. Not surprised, mind you, just that it’s cool to see someone come out and say it, reminding me of what I have observed to some degree.
On the personal side, in going through old posts to find milestones for my kids, for school paperwork, it struck me - and hard - that I was reading posts that made our life sound idyllic, as in some ways it was in, say, 2005, while in the background I was angry, frustrated, there were problems, and much wasn’t or couldn’t be said. Not to rehash personal problems in a post otherwise unrelated, but as a top of my mind example of how life for us may not be how others see it, however much we do or don’t obfuscate the realities. Naturally it’s enhanced by obfuscating the reality, also known as marketing, but people can see what they want or expect to see, even without encouragement.
Mostly, though, we encourage. “There is hype, and there is substance, and the two are rarely in sync.” Hype. Marketing. PR. Personal glorification. Sharing only the good news. It happens in the workplace, which is where I first realized such a thing existed.
When I worked for Christy’s Markets, floating from store to store for a week at a time to cover manager and assistant manager vacations during the summer, there was a girl in one store who was almost legendarily awesome. She was the best. Nobody knew as much or did as much as she did. Everyone knew it!
Somehow I didn’t see it, myself, but man, everyone said so. I had encountered someone who was her own personal PR engine, making sure everyone knew she was great. She was adequate. Or maybe not, considering that she was fired a few months later. Fluff and nonsense can only do so much if the substance slips or if you do something genuinely wrong.
I was in awe of that self-promotional ability, which I have yet to master. I managed a touch of it when I worked in tech support, but there was also substance there. All I had to do was use the types of self-promotion the company was fond of toward the end of being promoted, and it worked. Trouble is, hype can never sleep.
Which brings me to business and the current day and my own foibles. I am probably better at certain technical things than almost anyone, more of a natural, and yet I was unable to get a job and have trouble drumming up work as a self-employed person. I not only don’t hype or market myself well, am not only prone to excess honesty about my own limits, but also tend to have too much self-doubt.
You cannot have self-doubt and show it. The world, the prospective customers or employers, the prospective dates, to get personal, must see the self-assured, all is rosy perspective, even to the point it might sound absurd to you, living the reality.
I know this. I do! And yet… ugh… I Just Can’t Do It. And I can’t do it on behalf of “let me support your computer usage” or “let me manage your site” yet, no matter how good I am. Which raises havoc with pricing, too. I suspect it might help if I were part of an organization beyond just myself, looking to do work myself. It might feel more natural to build a mythos.
Down with imposter syndrome! Fake it ’til you make it! Yeah. Something like that… just need to internalize it.
My first reason for blogging this was going to be my exclamation part of the way through: “I didn’t know Hallmark owned Crayola!“
Then I got to the part where Zubbles were mentioned, which clarified my confusion. When I saw that colored bubbles were a new product and by Crayola and had issues, I remembered reading about the invention of Zubbles, what a great story it was, and realizing I had never seen them. At first I assumed that the Crayola product was the one I’d read about way back.
Clearly not, given the differences in reaction, funding, marketing, distribution power, and functionality. It made me want to track down some Zubbles for the kids. Or maybe the Crayola version, to be used outside and in clothes that are expendable.
Or perhaps it’s time simply to break out the standard bubbles, since it’s a beautiful 54 degree day and the kids have opted not to go outside…
I just remembered that earlier I dreamed that the owner of the law firm that was my company’s main client scheduled a meeting with me to discuss whether it would be viable to have me take back over their IT support, as he’d become unhappy with the company that replaced me.
That’d never happen. He’d more likely go with yet another outfit, but the one he has is such a local and relatively major one, I’m not sure who that might be. I get the impression that they’ve been made to expand their infrastructure and relicense their software more vigorously than they were used to, and were not thrilled at having to make a remotely major expenditure more frequently than their traditional ten years.
That’s how it appeared. They made a really huge IT expenditure circa 1995-1997, had issues, landed with us in 1998 to pick up the pieces, stopped spending money after 1998. In 2006 they had no choice but to start spending money again, being already years out of date, and compensating by overspending on duct tape and baling wire. In 2007 they spent comparably to what they had in that initial burst, and that involved my replacement with a larger IT services firm. I long assumed that it would take someone else to sell them, since they wouldn’t upgrade as needed at my behest, but then were unhappy things took so much effort. Ironically, they spent like there was no tomorrow, then went onto a more or less fixed price contract that was for approximately the amount they averaged paying me, but that their big burst of spending had made possible to handle inexpensively.
What a racket! Get the customer to spend the money needed to make the fixed price support contract profitable. Plus have fine print so some of the worst possible incidents that could get out of control are not under the fixed price. Why didn’t I think of that! I mean, besides that the client would never have agreed to spend, say, 150 grand on new stuff if I’d proposed it. But then the client also turned down the opportunity for a fixed monthly rate, too, then provoked situations where the charge for the month could swing dramatically.
I wish that back in 1988 I’d had a firmer grip on what good advice this was, and a better idea of how to make the most of whatever I could get. And that despite actually having a more career-minded degree thn some, in accounting, but crippled by not wanting to join the guild. That is, become a CPA.
After my experiences, and simply because I am observant and capable of simple math and extrapolation, I’ve perceived there to be a higher education bubble since long before Glenn Reynolds started touting the topic. I expect higher education, to the extent it exists, to look very different as time, perhaps less than you might expect, goes by, and for practical skills to become more desired. Besides, most of what I learned in college that wasn’t specific to my major field of study should have been covered by the end of high school… or was covered. In my experience with nieces and nephews, they are a year or more ahead overall in school, and are doing what was college work for me as early as sixth or seventh grade, which is a good sign. In my daughter’s case, the kindergarten curriculum corresponds roughly to what used to be first grade, according to her principal, and from my perspective it’s no first grade I recognize. The science part of it alone is amazing. But I digress.
You have to learn how to hold that job, learn what is specific to a company or a field in reality, and then your knowledge and all from schooling can help you take more advantage than you might otherwise. It’s not magic or a guarantee. Sometimes I think you might do as well with self-taught knowledge, or specific classes, rather than a whole degree, depending what level of entrenched credentialism you face when you know the ropes and are ready to conquer new heights.
The topic made me think of this song…
I am particularly struck by item six out of Ten Entrepreneurship Rules for Building Massive Companies, regarding releasing a first product too late.
I had personal experience with that, from the perspective of one of the “release now” partners foiled by the “make it perfect” partners” in a business that would have been incredibly different had we ever released the product (even late, as the delay doomed it entirely).
Nor would we have needed to be embarrassed, since the product was so close to perfect even in its imperfect form, sales could have been amazing, and could have funded the development further - or at least boosted the morale to ensure further development happened.
Fear the merger? Don’t fear the merger? Mileage varies!
Perhaps the carriers ought to work on the problem of cell reception worsening, focus on service offering innovations that seem cool, or concentrate on technological solutions to the expense and regulatory hurdles associated with building up capacity with traditional methods in the face of NIMBY. All NIMBY were the suburbanites, and ye cell users outraged…
I still don’t like it, despite seeing some business and regulatory logic to it. It ought to be an interesting next several weeks trying to figure out who will be least evil and most useful as I try to work out my own phone decisions.
Subject to regulatory approval, of course.
I have T-Mobile, and have been known to complain, but that has more to do with having a horrible phone over the past two years. An alleged “BlackBerry,” which sensibly is no longer made, on which the screen cracked about a month after I received it, with weak ability to get signal even where it should, now on death’s door, begging to be replaced. Thing is, I am annoyed with Verizon over my home service, and that makes me less inclined to go with them. AT&T is the evil also-ran with the horrible reputation, overloaded with iPhone users, though they seemed to handle the crunch unexpectedly well. The whole phone thing is the subject of an entirely different post I haven’t written yet. This complicates things, even with it being a year until it’s likely to be completed.
The sad thing is, after learning recently about T-Mobile having become the leader in building up their network and jumping ahead of others, and in offering good deals on plans, I sort of predicted that they were a likely takeover target. Better if they and one or more of the smaller players had merged, though. A shame the technology in use is closest to matching that of AT&T.
This article wasn’t too amused with the prospect.
T-Mobile USA has information for customers, which is an excellent move on their part.
Deutsche Telekom, owner of T-Mobile USA, has a press release of interest. They will become the single largest shareholder of AT&T, 8%, on top of getting an infusion of cash. It’s a pretty winning deal from the perspective of the companies involved.
Customers? Depends, but I’m skeptical.