October 21, 2005

The Multi-Ethnic Face

Hallo... one of my cool cousins flies out from New York to San Francisco on a business trip and calls me up to connect. Having made a dinner reservation at a classy Japanese restaurant in SF, we walk in and my cousin greets the Spanish-looking Spanish-name-tag-wearing hostess with a happy and loud "Konichiwa!" - Japanese for 'hello' followed by some other phrase I didn't comprehend.

The hostess smiles and takes us to our table. Then curiosity gets the best of her so she asks, "Where are you from?" as if to imply that non-Japanese looking people should not speak Japanese.

"We are from Zimbabwe,” my cousin states confidently, patriotic passion poring through her body language. The hostess raises her eyebrows in disbelief and expresses her mistrust with a couple of head nods swung left to right.

Before she can verbalize herself, my cousin jumps to explain, “My father is a white European who moved to Zimbabwe a long time ago. He met and married my mother there.”

“Oh, okay!” the hostess says, indicating she now finds our ethnicity a bit more believable and probably true.

At dinner we were from Zimbabwe, at lunch we were from Mongolia, and at breakfast in a little coffee shop we were from Romania. Around the world in 12 hours and we worked hard to convince people into believing us! I love this game. Try it sometime, for it is a lot of fun.

In reality, it is no longer strange to wear a certain face and be from a non-face-matching nation. For starters, I know of an ethnic Indonesian man from Holland, an ethnic Japanese woman from Norway, and an ethnic Punjabi Indian man from Germany.

Common ground? None of them have lived in their face-matching nations and solely follow the culture of the nation they were nurtured in. They acculturated even though they still fall under the category of minority in their homeland.

Our planet is one big multi-ethnic ball of people, and who is to say who is from where just by looking at their face, huh? Think about it – what does an American look like? What is the face of a Londoner like? White, black, brown, green, purple...? Tomorrow, I shall be from Venezuela... because it sounds exciting!


October 12, 2005

Seeking Middle Ground

Hallo... you are in the market seeking a professional job and have polished up your resume, interviewing skills, clothes, shoes, and smile. You have memorized the company's website, studied their competitors, and put together your personal sales pitch. Looking holistically good, you make it to the interview stage - the 1st, the 2nd, maybe even the 3rd interview zoom by relatively smoothly. Now, you are ready to be given a job offer.

Nothing! Yes, nothing. You got all green lights and now a red light. Why? Sorry 'dear job candidate' but you are not technical enough, not senior enough, not junior enough, not product oriented enough, not service oriented enough, not engineeringly inclined enough, not sales minded enough, not old enough, not young enough... enough, enough, enough!!!

You don't fit here and you don't fit there, you just don't fit anywhere! One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish... but you are not a fish at all, you are a different species on the wall. Your species won't be given a chance, to prove yourself, to grow, to enhance. Sad but true, what is a non-fish to do? How bizarre, how bizarre!!

So, do you jazz up or jazz down your resume? Throw in or throw out buzz words? Talk big or talk small at the next interview? As a drastic measure, maybe you should scrap your current job hunt and seek employment in a totally different field - serving coffee, cleaning horse stables, clicking a cash register, coaching a kid's soccer team, chopping trees...? All respectable jobs, but just not in the field of your choice.

If you can't find Middle Ground, a place where you are neither this not that, or can't find a company that is willing to take a risk and hire you in the hope that you will adjust yourself accordingly... you are going to be putting aside years of experience and education to go chase a new career. Scary? For some. Is your glass half empty or half full?