Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Professional > Pick your battles

Since I’ve been confirmed a month ago in a fairly senior management position at my US based company, things turned different, my time is now more devoted to resolving conflicts, meetings, conference calls, trade-shows, strategic planning and the like.

Gone are the days when I used to sit, relax, brainstorm about complex solutions, perform designs, manage a small team of 5-6 engineers, explore technologies, spend money on software and hardware and be happy at the end of day when an issue is resolved or a product is released.

My former VP of tech once told me during a review… “Pick your battles”

At first, I didn’t get it, what battles was he talking about? I’m not at war with anyone am I?

Years after, I realized that professional life may indeed seem from time to time like a battleground…people playing on each other’s turf, black-mailing, back-stabbing and even setting traps to each other as grounds for dismissal.

By adopting a neutral, yet diplomatic attitude and approach, I learned when and where to fight ‘the tattle' that my boss was referring too, how to engage my peers and when to perform tactical retreats….Truly is an Art that can only be acquired through listening and experience.

I learned to keep cool when my stress level goes up. In fact, It’s amazing the amount of mistakes or misjudgment an individual can make when he’s in a furry or out of his mind, it gets worse when these mistakes are used against that individual perpetually.

Among the skills that I learned and keep improving on are... how:
  • To back every word I say with solid proof.
  • To fight for my opinions as long as there is a case for them.
  • To believe in the goals and the objective
  • To be genuine and frank in my dealings with people
  • To accept criticism, constructive and destructive alike.
  • To back down, retreat and accept blame.
  • To transform my frustration into a positive energy for improvement and excellence

And last but not the least…How To Listen!

Feel free to add to the list, coz i might as well learn from you... :-)

Monday, June 26, 2006

Society > Montreal fun...

Last week-end, was the Saint-Jean Baptiste, A.K.A, la Fete Nationale du Quebec, with a sovereign connotation. The atmosphere was great on Parc Maisoneuve where 250,000 people gathered for a mega, super party of all Quebec singers. I’ve never seen such crowd gathering before in my life, even with a helicopter overhead, newscast had a hard time covering the event.

The next day I ended up watching Alonso, Michael Schumacher, Villeneuve in the Grand Prix of Canada Live on the race track …it was really something!!! Hearing and feeling those jet powered cars roaring by is way different than watching it in on your TV. Too bad, Canadian champ Villeneuve locked his wheels in a turn & hit a wall right before the end.

But the best part of the week-end was on Saturday evening, night & I was wandering (and the partying) with some American friends the streets of St-Laurent, St-Denis and the almighty Crescent. There was too much wealth was exposed, and the amount and quality of babes was hilarious, I figured around 300 to 500 babes Top notch lurking and looking for ‘fun’, all dressed to kill. Eventually, being married, the best I could do was watch, enjoy, then watch and from time to time smile ;-) It would've been much more fun if my own babe was with me enjoying the party...

The drive back home was a different story however; I almost lost my license as I was doing few peeks of 170 on some stretches of the King’s highway. Luckily, a Boxter passed by me doing probably 190 which later got caught by Air crew and flagged by the next OPP platoon (Ontario Provincial Police) which alerted everyone behind him (including me) so we had to slow down and show respect for the law.

In fact, a speed in excess of 60km warrants automatic license suspension, sending to court and criminal charge(s) filed against the driver.not to mention insurance doubling, bad record, etc.

Today is back to work day…but I’m eagerly looking forward to the next long week-end since, it’s Canada Day, and who knows, I may head back to Montreal and enjoy…some ‘sight seeing’ :-)

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Business > Shopping fun…or Nightmare???

Shopping is technically the 5th most popular activity after sleeping, eating, having sex and working. Some people see shopping as a religious duty on week-ends, some consider it as rather an entertainment and/or socializing.

Shopping can be fun when you find the best quality item with the best price tag in a very short time and within your budget,….humm, I think that’s too much asking, isn’t?

Most of the time however, it’s considered a nightmare because of word ‘shopping’ itself inherently implies looking out for the best deal!! The word ‘Best’ makes it highly complex process because it turns shopping it into an endless struggle for maximization, perfection and even personal accomplishment.

It all starts with “I want/need something…” and it ends by ‘buying that thing” a month after enduring head-aches, feeling disgust, sometimes loosing interest.

I wish buying was like the old days in Tunisia when it was so simple. I.e. If I wanted to buy a pair of shoes then I head down to Jancel on rue de Rome, or somewhere in 50 boutiques, get something I like in a few hours and head back home smiling.

Here, I’m constantly confronted with events called ‘Sale’ - and the like - that are supposedly to favor the customer ?!?. I’m going to try to demystify this concept of sale, by outlining the variety of sales we get in north america

*** For the beginners, there is:

Christmas Sale : Starts Nov 1st and ends sometimes around January of the year after , with peek on Boxing day, Dec 26, but the best period is usually the year next, that’s when shoppers return their merchandise which goes again on sale for a discount price.

Mother’s day
: Around May. Average sale, mostly on Jewelry and Makeup.

Father’s day
: Was last sunday but since I’m alone, no one will buy me anything. Actually it seems like wifie left me a gift so I’ll go and check it later. This sale is also average; it targets men’s wear and electronics.

Canada Day (Independence day for the US) : July 1st Pretty good sale on almost everything.

Back to School Sale:
Around Aug, everything for kids is on sale, but also some furniture and appliances.

Thanksgiving Sale
: Around Oct/Nov, not significant.

Seasonal sales: like winter, spring, summer, etc….no material impact on prices per say, it’s just to post something on the window and attract customers. Keep in mind that in normal times, everything is virtually on sale, but not the real sale.

*** For the average connoisseur, it gets interesting and complicated with techniques like:

Mail-In-Rebate: This can happen anytime, it’s a rear discount and here’s how it works: You buy the item full price, and then you fill a lengthy form, attach receipts, UPC codes, and send everything to an office very far way expect a rebate cheque after 2+ months. This is a genius idea, because 80% of the buyers do not bother to fill the form, and 5% of the rest get their mail lost or forget to attach receipts.

Door crashers: Whoever comes first, gets a discount, the trick is that sometimes you have to camp in front of the store from 5 am, or even overnight if it’s big ticket item, like a TV or an XBOX 360

Open box items:
Someone has returned an item, coz he was not happy with it or didn’t meet his needs. The items gets refurbished, checked and re-certified and put on sale for 50-75% of the original price.

Clearance event:
Old fashion, old technology, old stuff that needs to get out of sight of the store manger. Items in this category drop as much as 80%

Closing down event:
This is a bankruptcy. Prices go down so low and items get sold so fast, generally in 48hours, nothing is left, except the cash registry J

No Tax event:
The sellers decide to absorb the 15% sales tax which means you get the item discounted of 15%, not significant.

Nightly online sales:
One of My favorites. You sit tight around midnight and keep refreshing that web page until the prices drops from 500 to 350 J, hit add to cart, pay online, close down the browser and go to bed.

: Annoying strategy but works well. The seller suggests that if you buy item X, item Y then you get a bundle discount and if you add a third item, then you get a free something, with a fifth item, you get an extra warranty, etc. Basically, you end up buying stuff that you don’t need.

*** For the expert buyers, it gets even more challenging with methods like:

Price Match (when applicable):
This is the mother of all marketing and sales technique. Normally, only big guys implement it in their policy. They guarantee their price against any competition. So if you find an item elsewhere cheaper, then they will price-match (sell it for the cheaper price) and give you a gift card with it, so you will NEVER ever go elsewhere for your next purchase J

Price Match - forever:
Same as above, but for lifetime. Meaning if you bought the item say today, then they guarantee it for 3 months to 1 year so you have piece of mind. If during that time, you find it cheaper somewhere else, then drop by the store where you bought your original item and get the difference as a form of refund

Price Match - with a vengeance:
Same as above, but not only they guarantee the price, they slash it for you only by up to 50%. I used this technique once to buy a 19” monitor 3 years ago for 200$ (when it was 450$)

Posting errors:
These are cool mistakes by the sellers. Example, instead of posting 99$, they forget the first 9, so the price would then be 9$. This happened to me when I bought a wireless keyboard and mouse for 9%, instead of 98. These days’ sellers are getting smart and they’re changing their policy around price posting, especially for online merchandise.

Guaranteed sale items:
Hard to find, but these are items that are guaranteed to remain on sale and even endure subsequent sale for long time, it’s very good coz it eases the stress of shopping

Early bird shopper’s discounts:
A New item hits the market, first come, gets a discount. Not my type of sale, but some geeks and wannabes love to be on top of everything, including fashion wear and electronics

The power of coupons:
if you know the name of the item you want to buy, just Google it and you’ll most likely find a coupon of 2$ for diapers or 150$ for a Dell laptop. Print the coupon take to the store or enter it in the coupon field for online purchases.

Not to mention that all of the above is also applicable to online shoppers…and again that’s a snapshot of all sale methods.

*** For the maniacs, everything that I mentioned is a JOKE compared to the power of EBAY, which I’m going to talk about sometime in the future…

Friday, June 16, 2006

Societé (encore) > Elle et paradis.


Age : 31 ans,
Origine : 08
Niveau d’instructions : Maîtrise en Marketing
Occupation : Professeur dans une école de gestion de la capitale

Traits : Mince, Yeux verts, Cheveux châtains clair, 36D, chic.

Situation : Célibataire

Accessoires : Voiture, compte en banque, Papi et Mami

Hobby : Voyage, Soirée et Musique douce.


Age : 32 ans,
Origine : 04

Niveau d’instructions : Doctorant en Economie

Occupation : Professeur a temps partiel

Traits : Fin, charmant, sportif, tombeur quoi.
Situation : Fiancé mais en instance de rupture
Accessoires : Aucun tangible, vie chez ses parents, un portable peut-être
Hobby : Football, Astronomie

Elle : cherche l’âme sœur
Lui : cherche de l’expérience

Elle : s’entend très bien avec lui

Lui : n’aime pas s’attacher

Elle : essaye de le raisonner doucement faisant usage de patience et persévérance
Lui : sait ce qu’elle veut, joue le jeu et s’amuse
Elle : lui fait le charme, l’attire, lui porte du sexy, le câline et l’embrasse
Lui : Flirte, touche, embrasse, et enfin couche
Elle : Epatée, aux anges, commence a proposer pour officialiser
Lui : Confus, perdu, ne sait plus quoi...
Elle : Propose, suggère et s’inquiète
Lui : Annonce…une nouvelle…
Elle : Quelle nouvelle ? Intriguée ?
Lui : il est GAY, il veut pas s’engager mais qu’il veut explorer, l’autre coté...
Elle : Choqué, consterné, se replie et se retire…

….2 jours après…

Lui : Appelle chez elle
Elle …ou plutôt « Lui, voix d'homme » : Répond, qui est a l’appareil?

Moralité…les surprises, ca vient.... des deux cotés.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Societé > Prénoms Tunisiens ?...ou de l'importation ?

Famma quelque chose qui me dérange ces temps ci, c’est les noms des nouveaux bébés tunisiens, surtout féminins. Je trouve qu’ils sont devenus assez exotiques, complètement hors du contexte arabo-musulman-tunisien, voire même importé d’autres civilisations et d’autres cultures.


Linda, Sandra, Mira, Aline, Alma, Laura, Nancy et Nadine…puis,

Sheihla : Prononcé Shahla, mais en réalité Sheila !

Mina : Sauf un ‘port’ en arabe, je ne vois pas une autre explication !!!

Mona : On a enlevé le ‘ou’ comme dans Mouna pour que ça semble plus a Mona Lisa.

Soufia : Plutôt écrit et prononcé Sophie/Sophia, pour paraître étranger.

Janet : Totalement occidental mais proche de Janette le prénom traditionnel au cas ou.

Saly : Apparemment un nouveau prénom Arabe qui me depasse :-)

Pis la gang des ‘hène’ comme Norhène, Cherihène Nourchène (just released celui la), Narimène, et whatever-hène !!!

Suit la gang des 'naz' importé de la Turquie comme Chahnaz, Safinaz, Almaz, etc

N'oublions pas Les égyptiens aussi comme:

: Parceque Thamer est très ancien, alors on enlève le h. il y a meme des tunisiens qui affirment haut et fort que le dialecte egyptien est plus proche de l’arabe littéraire que n’importe quel autre dialecte, mouch oltellek ya albi ?…du n’importe quoi !!!

et Amrou : 3mor ne fait plus l'affaire :-(

et la dernière:
Clara : Le père prétendant que la mère est étrangère mais qu’elle n’est pas disponible pour attester a l’enregistrement de sa petite aux registres de l’état civil.

Malla 7ala !!! Wake-up people, soyons logique et retournons à nos racines !!! Même si vous donnez un nom exotique (par rapport au commun tunisien), il y aura toujours le nom de famille qui primera, et en plus le teint, la peau et le look seront toujours nord-africains, arabes et tunisiens. NO ESCAPE :-)
Soyons plutot fier de ce qui nous sommes meme si on n'est pas 'grand' materiellement.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Off topic > Alone in da house...

Wife and baby took off recently, they’re now enjoying their time in the Republic, somewhere on the coastline. I shall join them in a few weeks.

In the mean time, i find It quite different; Few good things about it include being technically single again, which means some freedom and piece of mind as well. The past year’s been hectic with Wife’s pregnancy and baby…, it’s tough but I’ve managed it the best I could and my wife gave me an A- (well no one is perfect, isn’t?)

The bad thing about being alone is of course missinng my little family; it’s too dull at home, too silent, no waawaa, no guuuguuu, no daaadaaa, no feeding, kissing, playing....and the perks of being married :)

Notwithstanding, got to take advantage of it, so here’s what i have in my mind:

  1. Rest, get some sleep and recharge the reactors. Play some tennis, get in shape.
  1. Take the opportunity to travel around North America, visit some friends here and there, burn some diesel fuel with my Volks, eventually end up with a speeding ticket from a State Trooper or a Mountie, fight it in court, my other favorite hobby…Your Honor!!!!
  1. Review next year’s plan and re-assess my existence in this land (I’ve been doing that every year and constantly failing to find a consensus, stay or leave, the eternal question)
  1. Help some bloggers get married (yes I’m talking about you Mrs. Smith). Piss off some other bloggers, they know who they are. Hint: the ”lek chou ya habibi” gang :-)
  1. Give raises to the 6 Software Engineers working in my team before it’s too late (market too competitive these days). Convince my boss to fire the staff in mainland Europe (slackers, 6 weeks vac and 14 breaks per day) and relocate them to labor law friendly UK or Ireland.
  1. Put some peronal budget guidelines, i.e. no excess spending for next FY. There too I’ve been constantly failing. I always predict a number at the beginning of the year which turns different at the end….way too different.
  1. Probably paint a room, an inch every week! The Lazy way, love it. Knowing in advance that I won’t do it right, I’ll call up a painter the day before my departure.
  1. Sell my desktop. Too bulky. I’ve been dreaming of getting the Dell Precision M90, providing I get a performance bonus at work. Well, they better give me.
  1. Start shopping for a day-case for my little daughter. Need to find a bilingual one with Arabic if possible, I know, it’s Mission Impossible!
  1. Mass-download music, then sort out what I need. My ISP just offered unlimited bandwidth, well, sort of, it’s like 2G/month or so, so i shall spawn some bots to suck the torrents, the limewire, and all those p2p networks. My fabourite music is Arabic re-mastered, remixed and re-invented original stuff, like Said Mrad’s 1001 nights.
That’s it for now, so let’s get down to business :)