The Measured Approach of the Obama Doctrine

In today’s issue of the Wall Street Journal, Daniel Henninger writes about the Obama Doctrine, which the President recently expressed during his interview with Thomas Friedman of the New York Times. The President, when asked what his doctrine is stated simply, “We will engage, but we preserve all our capabilities.” Henninger is very critical of the doctrine, claiming that the doctrine is a hoax and that what the President is saying is that there is never any intention of taking action as it to pertains to high risk U.S. foreign policy. I think that this is overly critical.

In my opinion, it definitely correlates well with Theodore Roosevelt’s well-known mantra, “Speak softly and carry a big stick.” I think that the Obama doctrine is more a doctrine that seeks to take a very conservative approach to exercising U.S. superpower, more specifically military dominance. I think the doctrine positions the U.S. as a very rational and measured force on the international playing field. Simply because the doctrine indicates a disposition not to act, does not mean that it does not serve its purpose and further that in the most dire situations, the U.S. would not act as necessary to rectify the situation. I personally take kindly to the Obama Doctrine and embrace it as a measured approach to international policy in a world in which the U.S. can be seen as a super-powered bully. Speak softly and carry a big stick, but have no intention of ever having to use it.

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Alive and Well, Time for Updates

Greetings everyone.

Despite what you may think, I am alive and well. It’s been a while since I’ve written a post and I am due for some updates. Over the last few months, I’ve been occupied in some pretty deep thought, trying to decide where I want to focus my efforts at. 2014 has been a more interesting year then even 2013 and on a personal level that means a great deal. So what are some of the things I’ve been thinking about…

Blackberry has announced/released some interesting products over the last few months. The Blackberry Passport, while receiving mixed reviews in the news, is one of the most exciting products of the year no doubt. I think that it is not only a sign of life at Blackberry, but further sign that there’s still a lot of innovation to be had in the smartphone market. The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus are great phones, but I think that the iPhone has become a fairly esoteric product. Aside from the Blackberry Classic is promising to be a very nostalgic device for those who miss the golden age of Blackberry. I have also taken a look at 10.3.1 Blackberry OS. The company needs to release this update ASAP. I have been running it on my Z10 and it is incredible. It has fixed so many of the problems that I had that my device feels new. I have been considering purchasing stock in this company… More on that later though.

On the political side of things, what a year 2014 has been. When the Republican Party took control of the Senate, the uproar was incredible. It almost seemed a little caustic. One of the concerning things that I have noticed is how bitter people have become over issues that the look at as if they weren’t open to opinion or interpretation. Whether it be the divide on gay marriage… The divide over Ferguson… Or the divide over party control… People are so quick nowadays to apply the good and evil label, with great confidence. It’s concerning. Polarization is never a good thing and it seems that people are getting caught up in emotion, rather than reason.

Modern life… Ah, as Sigmund Freud once wrote in Civilization and Discontents, modern life can become somewhat of an illness for some. I have had the time to experience several different perspectives of modern life. It seems to me that despite who you are, where you are, or your lifestyle, modern life has developed this sort of hold on us. It really makes you wonder where the line is between living life and sustaining life… There’s a lot to this and I will likely pick this back up in Irrational Health…

So those are a few of my thoughts… What about the future?

I am looking forward to starting a new chapter of my professional career in the not-to-distant future. It has taken me time to decide on my next course, but I am looking forward to where my career will take me next.

Aside from this, I am looking forward to blogging on a more frequent basis from now on. That is definitely something to look forward to… And I have a lot to say, of course. I have some new projects in the works which I am excited about as well. For the longest time, I have wanted to make a podcast and I hope to launch it officially very soon. The 20 Minute Break (podcast) is going to be the new staple in my collection of web properties. I am excited to work on that and although I don’t yet have an official release date or the kind of schedule you can look forward to, it is certainly going to be something new and exciting.

Let’s end on a final though… One of the things that I genuinely believe and which is one of the main reasons why I started working on Irrational Health, is that it is very difficult to live life in such a way that you actively walk a continually, conscious-choose path. It’s just too easy to get caught up in pattern, convention, and even necessity. You can live life solely on will and desire, but you can’t also live life by necessity and conformity. There’s a fine balance that makes for a life worth living. Modern life can be taxing, but there are ways to carry the weight with greater ease.


Girl Meets World and the Lost Charm of Boy Meets World

Boy Meets World was a very big part of my childhood. It’s was a cornerstone series of the 90s and after watching the first few episodes of Girl Meets World, I have to admit that I’m left wanting more from the series. It does succeed at capturing the nostalgia of the series it’s proceeding, but fails to capture its essential charm.

Prior to watching the first episodes, I expected the series to be different from Boy Meets World. Even if it was attempted, I don’t think it would be possible to replicate the feelings that the original series elicited. Nonetheless, it’s clear that the series is copying the structure of the first series. Riley, the daughter of Topanga and Cory, has strong-willed, free best friend, named Maya who has many of the same qualities that defined Shawn in the original series. There is also a clear love interest present in the series between Riley and Lucas. Farkle is the eccentric, intelligent student who mirrors Stuart I’m the first series. My question is that if the series is meant to be unique than why is the structure so similar?

Aside from this, Cory’s role as the teacher in this series seems somewhat awkward. When look back at the relationship between Feeny and Eric, it would naturally make sense that Eric would eventually follow in his favorite teacher’s footsteps later in life. As to what Cory would do for a living, I couldn’t really say, but if you think back to the original series, Cory’s father’s role wasn’t very large in the first few seasons, which is to say that there wasn’t much character development. I would’ve expected the first season at least to really focus in on Riley, but instead we see a great deal of Cory and would almost expect there to be a greater focus on him.

All that being said, this series is really missing the charm of the original series. I think some of that can be attributable to the show being produced and aired on the Disney Network. It feels very “candy” and safe and more of nod to the original series, rather than an actual sequel. Sure, bringing in guest stars from the original series will keep loyal fans coming back for more, but that will likely fade away as the series continues. The worst thing that could happen is to have the series pulled still in its infancy simply because of a lackluster performance.

Boy Meets World was about emotion and the tension involved in the circumstances one faces as he/she grows up. There were so many heart-aching moments in the original series and it doesn’t feel like that’s going to be the case with this series. For example, the series is set in New York City and yet this is really more of something just said in jest, rather than a key component of the environment. You have to remember that there were still many unanswered questions in the original series and while one can say that this series is unique, it is still a series that picks up somewhere around 12-15 years after the conclusion of the first series. Naturally past viewers will be looking for some of those answers and if this series doesn’t provide at least some of those it won’t be worth viewing it just to tarnish the image of the first series.

One of the major questions will invariably center around one of the largest, unresolved romances in the first series, that being the one between Shawn and Angela. If this question is answered (which will have to be in one way or another), then we will expect to see the original series break through the facade of current, “candy” Disney series. If this doesn’t happen then, it will likely be a disappointment to past fans who have taken part in the comprehensive relationship between Shawn and Angela and ultimately Cory and Shawn.

If the series can answer some questions and recapture some of the charm of the original series, then Girl Meets World may have a chance developing itself into its own unique and captivating saga. If not, then it will just fall prey to the adage that most copies aren’t quite as good as the original. Regardless, I will be on the look out for Rider Strong’s cameo appearance and to see if this sequel will be able to stand next to the original or if it will just fade into the background.


How to Stand Out in the Interview Process

The best way to learn to stand out in the interview process is through experience. When I think back to my earliest interview experiences, I can easily notice the difference between those experiences and my most recent ones. It never fails to surprise me how practice is oftentimes the greatest method of learning. Every interview experience that a person has is an invaluable experience, regardless the outcome. It is an opportunity to expand your professional network, to learn how to improve your resume, and to learn how to interview effectively. That being said I would like to take a moment to talk about some of the most important ways to stand out in an interview process. We all know that for a single position their can be hundreds if not thousands of applicants and in that way knowing how to differentiate yourself from a sea of applicants is important. In logical order, these are some of my golden tips that will help you to navigate this crucial process.

Introduce Yourself

This is probably one of the most underutilized tools at the disposal to an applicant. A very easy way to stand out is to simply introduce yourself the hiring manager, recruiter, or job poster. You can do this by e-mailing the person, if you know their address, or by sending that person an inmail here on Linkedin. There are some boundaries to be aware of when doing this. Only send an e-mail if a person’s e-mail address is available publicly or if it was given to you by a mutual contact. You simply want to be careful of being overly eager and possibly turning someone away. Tread carefully. If you are being introduced to someone through a third party, make that person aware of that fact. It personalizes your message.

As far as inmails go, I would say that job posters on Linkedin understand that that is a feature and it is to be expected that any subscribing Linkedin user will use it to their advantage. The bottom-line is that your introduction does not have to be the actual application. You can make yourself stand out by taking a moment to simply introduce yourself. It is your opportunity to make your interest know and to personalize your application. This is all towards that effort of putting yourself on that immediate short list of potential candidates.

Craft a Resume That Uniquely Identifies You

You can find hundreds of articles and posts online about how to create an effective resume, but you will rarely find one that focuses on personalizing your resume. The importance of having a direct, cogent, and cohesive resume cannot be overstated, but the fact remains that there will still be a large pool of applicants that have the background and credentials that warrants further consideration. The idea behind making your resume unique is leaving upon the reader at least 3 ideas or themes that identifies you as a unique candidate. You want a hiring manager or recruiter to be able to remember who you are past what your background is.

You want to highlight in your resume those accomplishments or identifiers that makes your resume different from that of anyone else. Including a section on your resume for qualifications is one way of accomplishing this. Let’s say that someone is pursuing a position on Capital Hill. It is one thing to be someone with the relevant educational background and internship experience, but it something different be a person with unique accomplishments and interests. For example, Derek has won many public speaking awards, has a profound interest in legislation related to alternative energy, and is an avid member of the NRA. The point is that the educational and professional backgrounds of candidates on the short list are bound to be similar. If a hiring manager can identify who you are on a more personal level, then you will stand out in their mind.

Approach the Interview as a Conversation

The final tip is the most crucial advice that I have to offer. It is something that I wish I knew years ago and something that has proven extremely effective. I do not know why more people do not approach interviews in this way, but if you are looking to gain an edge during your next interview, then implement this strategy. Approach the interview as conversation rather than a standard Q&A session.

Forbes has this great presentation, entitled There Are Only 3 True Job Interview Questions, that you can find on Slideshare. The three questions that Forbes states are as follows:

1. Can you do the job?

2. Will you love the job?

3. Can we tolerate working with you?

If you are offered the opportunity to interview, then the hiring manager has already come to a fairly solid answer for question number one. That is what your application and resume are for. Further, they have likely answered question number two as well. Your cover letter is not only your personal pitch, but really your opportunity to say how excited you are about your career field, the subject matter, and the position. That really only leaves question three. Conversation is the key to standing out. It is the key to being the candidate that is remembered when a hiring manager goes to make a decision. Approaching the interview as a conversation demonstrates your aptitude (your ability to do the job), your excitement (why you will love to come into work everyday), and your charisma (why people will like to work with you). If you can have a great, relevant and professional conversation with a hiring manager, then that will speak volumes more about your abilities, then leaving a hiring manager in a position to have to ask you back to back questions, most of which will have already been answered by your resume.

As a candidate, this will not only allow you to stand out, but will lessen the anxiety associated with entering an interview. On a psychological level, we perform better when we operate moderately. Rather then feeling the pressure to answer questions adequately, you can put yourself in the mindset and position to answer questions organically as they come up over the course of conversation. You also have the ability to steer the conversation. I cannot say enough about this final point. It has really helped me and I know it can help others.


It is Easy to Do Something, Difficult to do the Right Thing

Post-Graduate Blues

I graduated two years ago from college and there is one striking observation that I think warrants some attention. College graduates really have it tough nowadays. If you take a moment to skim the headlines, it is easy to realize that the state of post-graduates in talked about in the news fairly regularly. You’ll hear stories about how graduates are having a hard time finding employment and you’ll hear stories about how graduates are being underemployed, which is to say that their current employment under-utilizes the skills gained from their expensive education. For instance, no one went to school for four years with the intention of becoming a barista at Starbucks. Nonetheless, you’ll also hear a lot of stories about graduates who are employed. While I haven’t been under-employed, I do fall into the other two categories. Now, more then ever, I truly believe that graduates have to make their way through there post-graduate lives with a focus on the center.

Leaning Your Ladder Against the Wrong Wall

Two years out of college, I’ve realized that it is very easy to do something, but it’s very difficult to do the right thing. I’ll explain this further. Have you ever gotten so caught up, that it has really felt like momentum has pushed you forward rather than desire? I think that it is very easy to get comfortable with something gives you a certain sense of security. When you’re in that state of comfort, it can be very easy to keep working on something further, if only because it is providing you a sense of achievement. The scary part happens when you take a moment of pause and reflection. I think that many people at a point like this likely have more questions than answers. If you’re walking up a ladder, then you’re making progress towards the top, but if you make it to the top and find that you’ve leaned your ladder against an incorrect wall, then that progress can become less significant. It is easy to do something and it’s normal to want to find that position of security, but I think that it’s more important to focus on and to do what feels right. It takes aptitude to do something well, but courage to do something great… and something great doesn’t have to be big. It just has to be right.


Back to Basics | A Letter to John Chen, CEO of Blackberry

It has been a while, but after a time of reflections, I am ready to hit the ground running once again with some new posts and announcements. The new theme of the hour is back to basics. With that being said, I would like to take a moment to write a letter to Blackberry’s CEO, John Chen, regarding the Blackberry Playbook, Blackberry’s only released tablet which may go down in history as the only tablet Blackberry has ever released. My letter is as follows…

John Chen, CEO of Blackberry,

Mr. Chen, I would like to take a moment to talk about Blackberry and in particular the Playbook. First off, it’s great to see you at the helm of Blackberry. Even in the short time that you have been there you have made significant strides in changing the tone at Blackberry and streamlining the efforts of the development team. I speak for all the Blackberry community when I say that the recent BB 10 update (10.2.1) has taken Blackberry 10 to an entirely different level. It feels like a fully baked OS now and quite frankly, I prefer it to iOS and Android. All Blackberry fans and supporters clearly prefer it as well. It’s fluid, functional, and most of all effective. The Z10 is the best phone that I have ever used and I yearn to have the same OS on my Blackberry Playbook.

Blackberry made a promise to its community and to every purchaser of the Blackberry Playbook three years ago when it released the tablet with the full and stated intention of releasing Blackberry OS 10 for it in the future. This is a promise that has gone unfulfilled and now with your recent EOL announcement, you have left every Playbook owner, in particular the owners who make up the loyal Blackberry community, with a device that will not only not receive the new operating system, but will also receive no more updates. This includes not only updates to the OS, but no more security updates or updates that will keep the device functional. This is a major blunder on Blackberry’s part. As an active user of the Playbook, I would like to see Blackberry do something to make up for this unfulfilled promise, whether it be in the form of continued updates, the realization of BB10 on the Playbook, or a third option. Blackberry could open source the Playbook software so that the open source community can pick up where Blackberry developers left off. Another solution (one which I am fond of) is that Blackberry give us the ability to mirror BB10 off our our BB10 device onto our Playbooks. This would be a simple way of proving Blackberry’s commitment to its most loyal consumers. 

In closing, Blackberry has always provided its users with a unique experience that cannot be easily mimicked. It is in Blackberry’s best interest to retain its loyal customer and to do this includes providing Playbook a sign that Blackberry recognizes that it was a mistake on their part to not provide users with the a promised commitment to bring OS 10 to the Playbook. I for one would really like to keep using my Playbook, but it is already a device that is well on it’s way to being completely obsolete. 

Best,

Raymond


The Intersection of Aspirations and Feasibility

How great are high aspirations?

We tend to value people who have very big aspirations. It is easy enough to value someone who has high goals and the work ethic to achieve those goals. At the same time, I think that it is really important that its only great to have high goals when those goals can theoretically, at least, be achieved with your abilities, work ethic, and available resources. That being said if you have goals that exceed your present abilities then you have set yourself up for a great deal of cognitive pain and likely failure.

A Happy Medium

If you have attempted to accomplish something to no avail, then you likely understand that as the time between the setting of a goal and its completion grows long you tend to grow increasingly worn. Understanding this it is important to not shoot yourself in the foot at the very start of your endeavour. This is to say that you should not set yourself up for failure. You have to find the happy medium between an achievable goal and a reach. 

Intrinsic v. Extrinsic Value

One of those axioms that most people hear at one point or another is that you should never never do anything or value something as a means to end, but rather you should value that act or thing in it of itself. It is basic Kantian theory. You should value things for their intrinsic value principally and to a lesser extent their extrinsic value. For me this is really statement that has its limitations. For instance let us say that you are someone who is currently in search of a job. For a while you have a great deal to learn. You can value interviews for the experience you gain. You can value work on your resume as an opportunity to learn about your strengths and weaknesses. You can also value the research you do as information you can put to your benefit in the future, among many other positives or intrinsic valuations. The fact remains though that the acceptance of an offer is what accomplishes the over-arching goal and at some point you will have exhausted all of the available intrinsic value. If you prepare all of the necessary preparations for a meal, but never cook it, then all of that intrinsic value present in the ingredients and prepared kitchen go unfulfilled because the extrinsic value that relates to the cooking of the meal goes unrealized.

The Takeaway

The major takeaway here is that its important to find a happy medium when it comes goals or setting desired outcomes. You can save yourself a great deal of cognitive discomfort if you don’t set yourself up for failure through the implementation of grandiose goals and expectations. Their is a balanced intersection that exists between aspiration and feasibility that yields the best outcomes.


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