Saturday, August 31, 2013

Why You Should Love Strippers

I'm in love with a stripper...  Well not just one; I'm in love with most of them.

Now of course there is always that one. The one that always catches your eye; that one that just has your number and the very dangerous ability to empty your wallet and make you want to visit the ATM. But it isn't necessarily 'the one' that I'm talking about here.

The fact is, for men, when we interact with women in day to day society, it is always a twisted mess of posturing, half-truths, and masks we all use to hide our true personalities. It doesn't matter whether one or both parties are single or married; the fact is that we don't tend to show other people who we really are in our daily interactions. Conversing with a woman that we are interested in dating just multiplies the equation; and for women, being pursued causes them to play all kinds of games.

What this all leads to is a tireless game of trying to present a certain image to keep the other person interested, while appearing to let down our guard enough to have them feel like they are trusted, accepted, loved, etc.  And all the while, we are trying to grab a peak behind the veil they are putting up and find out what it is they aren't telling us and what they really think.

Let's boil it down to brass tax - Two people interacting in the dating scene is a dance of lies and misdirection.

Hence why guys love strippers. There is no dance (except the ones we pay for). We know what they want (money of course); and they know what we want (nudity, sexuality, and to feel like we are wanted). The interaction in a strip club goes by a set of understood rules and the social norm is flipped on it's head because the chase is inverted.

It's simple. You go to a strip club and you know:

  • The women want a buck or two for their entertainment on the stage
  • When woman comes over to talk to you, it's to convince you to buy a private dance
  • She'll tell you whatever you want to hear as long as you pay for her time
  • You can tell her who you really are and she won't judge because she doesn't care
  • She wants you to come back another time because she wants your money
  • You aren't obligated in any way - if you want to move on, you just pay up and find another dancer
  • You know precisely what you are and are not allowed to do (and if you don't a bouncer will inform you)
  • She isn't going to give you her real name (usually) and it doesn't matter
For guys, it's not only appealing to be pursued for a change but it's also a lot easier to be oneself in an environment where we don't have to hide the fact that we'd love to bone the woman we're talking to. Now I know someone out there is going to claim that there are men who get pursued by women in normal life - yeah, sure, but even then, the woman's goal is to pursue only long enough to turn the game around and there are still a ton of mind games involved. So shut-up and stop distracting from the point.

It isn't to say that there aren't games that get played between men and women at a strip club. The difference is that the men know why the games are getting played and what they are ultimately after. As the ones holding the cash, we are generally in control and we're not going to be rejected (until we run out of cash).

In addition to the inversion of control, men are able to avoid the guilt, drama, and emotional turmoil that typically accompany dating relationships. When I guy wants to stop dating a woman, he typically has to be concerned with the shrapnel and chaos that usually ensues from the often confrontational discussion that conveys the end of the relationship.  In contrast, at a strip club, a man simply says "that's it"' or "no thanks" if he doesn't want another dance. No muss, no fuss. There's no guilt because as a guy you just handed her a nice wad of cash and you know she'll be dancing for some other guy in a matter of minutes.  And if you want to go get a dance from some other woman, she isn't going to give you the stink eye or refuse to dance with you in the future.

I've heard women concerned over their husbands going to a strip club. Don't be (unless they are going once a week). That stripper isn't going to get the way of your relationship. If anything, she's going to make your man feel better about himself and put him in a mood that makes him want you even more. And I'll let you in on a little not so secret tidbit... most guys like the strippers that look like their wife / girlfriend; believe it or not, subconsciously he's thinking of you.

And that brings us to the final reason that men love strippers... sexual confidence. A woman who isn't comfortable with her own body simply isn't going to get up on stage and do a pole dance (with small exceptions to that rule involving heavily intoxicated individuals). There are a lot of women out there that aren't comfortable with their bodies (there are probably plenty of men with the same problem). There are plenty of dancers out there that are far from perfect, but I can guarantee you that every one of them is 'the one' for somebody out there. When a woman is comfortable with her own body and sexuality, it makes her even sexier and in some cases it's downright magnetic.

So why am I in love with a stripper... because I can go to a guilt free environment where I know the rules of the game, can be myself, choose a woman and talk to her without fear of rejection, tell her exactly who I am, feel wanted and desired, and then go the hell home and not worry about how things went.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying to give up on relationships in favor of strippers. An interaction with a stripper is normally a shallow, meaningless, cash-based business transaction, which is precisely what makes it convenient and enjoyable. 

I do believe that men and women can have a relationship that is honest and truthful and where both parties feel desirable and appreciated.  But I believe that there is a whole lot of the other stuff a guy has to go through in order to find that diamond in the rough; because one cannot achieve a deep and meaningful connection to another person without a bit of risk and sacrifice. And someday the person I'm in a relationship with might read this... and she will be totally OK with it; because by knowing me, she will already understand why I'm in love with a stripper.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Flawed expectations for outsourcing

A recent slideshare on the IT industry in India stated some things that anyone here in the US that has worked with outsourcing firms already knows... that what you get is buy-the-hour paid bodies that generally lack creativity and initiative.

In my current position I work for a company that uses outsourced resources; some offshore some onshore.  I hear some people in the industry say 'you get what you pay for', but I disagree. I think that U.S. companies are getting what they bargained for, not what they paid for.  Think about it... A company goes to a service provider, says that they want them to provide people with given skill sets in order to fulfill their IT needs - AND THEN - proceeds to negotiate the lowest price possible for said services.

The service providers bid against each other in this process essentially meaning that the winner of the deal often has a) trimmed their margins thin b) made assumptions about the difficultly of the engagement that often are incorrect and c) calculated their cost based on having the lowest skilled people with the given skill listed on their resume.  And to exacerbate the issue, often outsource contracts are written such that 'support' is billed differently from 'enhancement' work and the enhancement work is often where the service providers make their money.

The problem here isn't that the US company is trying to get the lowest price for the job, it is  that the outsource company is motivated incorrectly.  They have no incentive to do anything beyond the bare minimum to keep the lights on under their 'support' contract because charging for 'enhancements' to take care of things like pre-existing defects and performance problems translates to more billable hours.

On the 'enhancements' side of the equation, they often bill as time and materials so using less skilled workers often means lower salaries (costs) but also usually means a higher number of hours billed.  Experienced IT workers often lament that, 'I could do that in 1/4 of the time.' and they might be right.  However, even if 1 hour of a US worker's time = $200 billed and 4 hours of a offshore worker's time = $200 billed, the margins on the offshore work are likely higher.  And to make the situation even worse, the outsource company essentially gets rewarded for the low-quality, inexperienced work because they bill more hours towards fixing the bugs than if the code were flawless.

Now I'm sure that there are some contracts out there that address these issues, but from what I've seen and what my colleagues have told me, they aren't common.

I don't blame the individual workers at these companies.  I have several friends that work for these companies and most, if not all, of the people I have encountered at these firms are genuine and have no malicious intent.  Like I said, the problem is that the overall motivating factors of the relationship work against what is in both parties best interests.

That leads me to back to the original point - creativity and initiative.  US employers and the US born people that work for them, have an inherent expectation of workers (especially of workers in IT) - that they will be independent thinkers.  Therein lies a few problems when it comes to outsourcing...

First, as we have discussed, there is no motivation for the outsource worker to think creatively.  Contractually speaking, they are paid to deliver on precisely what you ask them to do.  Delivering extra cuts into margin and nothing in the relationship encourages thinking outside of the box.

Second, I believe there is a cultural and educational barrier to most India-based workers' ability to be creative and take initiative. Most of the people I have met that came into IT through the educational system in India were set in front of a computer and told, 'here is how you do X and here is how you do Y'. They have little to no exposure to the world of computers outside of their area of training. This breeds workers that are 'purpose-built' for specific tasks and struggle greatly when troubleshooting falls outside of their comfort zone. Another contributing factor is fact that many homes in India do not have computers at home to 'play' with - which I would argue is where many US IT workers learned how to troubleshoot issues.  This training paradigm would be like teaching a chef only how to make one type of soup and then expecting them to run an entire restaurant.

The cultural aspect should not be forgotten either. The mentality and work ethic that we grow up with here in the US is not the prevailing culture in India.  Here we are taught that if you work hard and go above and beyond, you will be rewarded.  We are encouraged to question authority, to understand the 'why', and to speak up when we have ideas.  I've found Indian culture to be much more top-down.  Sit in a business meeting with 3 workers, their boss, and that guy's boss - chances are that the later two are the only two people you'll hear from.  And if you do hear from one of the 'real workers' chances are that it's because their boss asked them to speak up or that they gave their boss an 'ask for permission glance' before they spoke.  I've even seen workers chastised for doing more than they were asked to do, even if it was something that the client considered a positive.

So when it comes down to it, the people that work for these big outsourcing firms aren't paid to think outside the box, they aren't trained to be creative free-thinkers, sometimes they are even punished for applying extra effort; and the companies they work for are monetarily motivated to stay within the lines and only do specifically what they are contractually obligated to do while using the least efficient, cheapest labor available.

I am not saying that companies shouldn't outsource - I'm just saying they need to understand what to expect and what they are getting for their money; and they might be well advised to re-think how they structure the contracts.

When it comes to choosing between employed labor vs. outsourcing vs. near-shoring, companies just need to remember that the comparison isn't just about the money... it's about whether their expectations are going to be met.