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Opinion Editorials

Dems’ healthcare act, the motherload of all #failwhales, and the GOP Shutdown

The spin on healthcare act, the debt ceiling and the debt – where’s the off ramp for either party or for the American public at large, and who holds the cards?

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Healthcare Act debacle, debt, and the Shutdown Showdown

The Democratic spin so far is that “overwhelming” demand and desperation for healthcare are the sole problems with logging into or staying on the healthcare.gov website exchanges. I’m not desperate or in demand of a new tax or mandate, I’m simply interested in learning how true or false everything we’ve heard about the Affordable Care Act is. It is curious that everyone I’ve asked (Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, Tea Party, or Independent) confesses that their interest in logging in is simply curiosity, a curiosity the administration doesn’t seem to be able or willing to answer – no numbers have yet to be released on how many uninsured have signed up versus profiles created.

Today the site is easier to log into, but the new problem with is that once logged in, you get a simple “downstream error,” or a complete profile circle jerk, rendering the site as useless as it was a week ago. Spits and sputters are one thing, but anyone launching a popular site knows you roll out softly, possibly by beta invite, and scale the impact of traffic so the backend can handle it. Why a launch strategy wasn’t employed by the administration is beyond comprehension of any tech company in the know, but the rush to be right on healthcare seems to have trumped common sense.

The growing disillusionment of Americans

The spin is thick from all parties, and consumers hope they’ll find amazing rates on the other side of the massive federal #failwhale website healthcare.gov, but confidence isn’t high because the positive stories are far and few between. The Associated Press last week doted over a few success stories (later revealing the main poster child was a fake), but what struck me were the horror stories, and actually how few positive stories there were at all – especially from those realizing this isn’t exactly free healthcare as I’ve heard many call it, especially during the election cycle in 2012.

We would like to see some accountability from Washington on the numbers, the internal polling data from the White House on public sentiment regarding experience on healthcare.gov, lest holding out on the government shutdown might be a better idea than opening the government, as Americans learn that a year delay may actually be a better idea. It’s not hostage taking, it’s called give and take in negotiating, and this President isn’t negotiating on healthcare, or even the debt.

The escalating rhetoric

The Republicans have the upper hand in this standoff in Washington, if they can stay out of their own way. At first, I believed that delaying the mandate for a year was a noble idea that would help average Americans, but now I believe it to be an out for the President.

My take on what I’ve seen and heard from the White House is a straight line attack on Tea Party elected members, and the rhetoric seems to be escalating with claims that just a few members hold the House hostage in the shutdown showdown – The President said as much in his press event yesterday. This is the White House not allowing a good crisis to go to waste. Spurn the Tea Party now before the midterms – a likely winner in local races with voters who aren’t really listening to both sides of the issue, however, the inability to navigate the healthcare.gov exchange would be a strong counter that Republicans stood their ground.

Is this the future waiting room at the doctor’s office?

If united, Republicans win either way because average voters are soon going to realize that if enough young people do not enter the exchanges to offset costs, we’re likely to see a new payroll tax similar to that of social security (and we all know the ending of the social security movie if something isn’t done to correct the shortfall).

The alternate route of a single payer system may be highly likely as the talking points are shifting in that direction already as if to prepare the American public that there may be a more practical (as Democrats would say) solution, which was the Democratic wish all along.

It’s been a week today and our family has yet to see even a set of options in the system, we’ve given up and are now shopping the private sector for an alternative. We’ve discussed it and have realized that if the mess we’re seeing now online looks anything like our future waiting rooms of doctors’ offices across the country, being insured privately outside of the exchanges may be the more preferred method of avoiding the aggravation, and our doctor may appreciate it even more. But that’s the real problem – no one knows, and no real answers came on October 1st except that something is wrong here, really wrong, especially when Experian is embedded in the online transaction to verify your identity. Is your health to become a credit risk probability? It only makes sense.

The way forward

In fairness, as an (I) Independent, I’ve been leery of the Healthcare Act from it’s first mention, and today I am no less concerned, but I did hope to log in and be completely wrong and find the healthcare my family needs.

In no way do I believe the explosion of visits to the site had anything to do with purchasing healthcare, it had to do with wanting to finally know the reality of what healthcare will look like from now on, and it looks like we’re going to have to wait a bit longer to see how the movie really ends.

I’d ask the Republicans to step aside on the Affordable Health Care Act, and not allow the Administration a one year reprieve – get to the real meat at hand, which is the national debt and the debt ceiling. Open the Government and get to the debt ceiling debate and put healthcare back on the shoulders of the White House. That’s the offer that should be made by Republicans – real budget reform for the debt ceiling and deal with social security and medicare once and for all. Land an immigration bill we can all live with and remove the President’s stick. The reforms of the Clinton second term could be a reality right now, but October 17 is virtually minutes away.

Benn Rosales is the Founder and CEO of The American Genius (AG), national news network for tech and entrepreneurs, proudly celebrating 10 years in publishing, recently ranked as the #5 startup in Austin. Before founding AG, he founded one of the first digital media strategy firms in the nation and also acquired several other firms. His resume prior includes roles at Apple and Kroger Foods, specializing in marketing, communications, and technology integration. He is a recipient of the Statesman Texas Social Media Award and is an Inman Innovator Award winner. He has consulted for numerous startups (both early- and late-stage), has built partnerships and bridges between tech recruiters and the best tech talent in the industry, and is well known for organizing the digital community through popular monthly networking events. Benn does not venture into the spotlight often, rather believes his biggest accomplishments are the talent he recruits, develops, and gives all credit to those he's empowered.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. rolandestrada

    October 9, 2013 at 4:07 pm

    I mostly agree with “The way forward”. I checked the California healthcare page. It’s more expensive than my current plan. My current plan by the way went to $270 from $230. So much for lowering my health insurance.

    Interestingly, the part of Obamacare that intrigued me the most – purchasing insurance across state lines – is mostly not mentioned. That part of the bill has also been hampered with minimum care standards for all states. I’m not even sure when it is supposed to take effect. Introducing true market competition is one of the best ways to help lower premiums and thereby give people the ability to obtain affordable healthcare.

    The debt ceiling is truly a ridiculous issue. We are one of only two Democratic countries that has a debt ceiling. There is no point of having a debt ceiling if we constantly surpass it. Get rid of it. The President doesn’t make the issue any clearer when he makes illogical statements as he did in yesterday’s press conference, “And because it’s called raising the debt ceiling, I think a lot of Americans think it’s raising our debt. It is not raising our debt. This does not add a dime to our debt.” Crazy! It clearly raises out debt.

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Opinion Editorials

6 skills humans have that AI doesn’t… yet

(OPINION / EDITORIAL) It’s not unreasonable to be concerned about the growing power and skill of AI, but here are a few skills where we have the upper hand.

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Man drawing on a roll of butcher paper, where AI cannot express themselves yet.

AI is taking over the workforce as we know it. Burgers are already being flipped by robotic arms (and being flipped better), and it’s only a matter of time before commercial trucks and cars will be driven by robots (and, probably, be driven better).

It may feel unnerving to think about the shrinking number of job possibilities for future humans – what jobs will be around for humans when AI can do almost everything better than we can?

To our relief (exhale!), there are a few select skills that humans will (hopefully) always be better at than AI. The strengths that we have over AI fall into 3 general categories: Ability to convey emotion, management over others, and creativity.

Let’s break it down: Here are 6 skills that we as humans should be focusing on right now.

Our ability to undertake non-verbal communication

What does this mean for humans? We need to develop our ability to understand and communicate body language, knowing looks, and other non-verbal cues. Additionally, we need to refine our ability to make others feel warm and heard – if you work in the hospitality industry, mastering these abilities will give you an edge over the AI technologies that might replace you.

Our ability to show deep empathy to customers

Unlike AI, we share experiences with other humans and can therefore show empathy to customers. Never underestimate how powerful your deep understanding of being human will be when you’re pitted against a robot for a job. It might just be the thing that gives you a cutting edge.

Our ability to undertake growth management

As of this moment, humans are superior to AI when it comes to managing others. We are able to support organization members in developing their skillsets and, due to our coaching ability, we are able to help others to grow professionally. Take that, AI!

Our ability to employ mind management

What this essentially means is that we can support others. Humans have counseling skills, which means we are able to help someone in distress, whether that stems from interpersonal relationships or professional problems. Can you imagine an AI therapist?

Our ability to perform collective intelligence management

Human creativity, especially as it relates to putting individual ideas together to form an innovative new one, gives us a leg up when competing against AI. Humans are able to foster group thought, to manage and channel it, to create something bigger and better than what existed before. Like, when we created AI in the first place.

Our ability to realize new ideas in an organization

Think: Elevator pitch. Humans are masters of marketing new ideas and are completely in-tune with how to propose new concepts to an organization because, you guessed it, we too are human. If the manager remains human in the future (fingers crossed!), then we know what to say to them to best sell our point of view.

Using what we know, it’s essential for almost all of us to retrain for an AI-driven economy that is most likely just a few years away. My advice for my fellow humans? Develop the parts of you that make you human. Practice eye contact and listening. Think about big pictures and the best way to manage others. Sharpen your mind with practicing creative processes. And do stay up to date with current trends in AI tech. Sooner or later, these babies are bound to be your co-workers.

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Opinion Editorials

Questions you wished recruiters would answer

(OPINION / EDITORIAL) Job searching is anxiety inducing, and not getting feedback can be tough. What can job seekers, recruiters, and HR do to make it easier?

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Two men interviewing at a table, job searching.

Job searching can be frustrating and stressful – not to mention anxiety-driven – but also sometimes filled with hope and excitement for a new opportunity on the horizon. Most people aren’t huge fans of multiple interviews, constantly selling themselves, or the uncertainty of when an exciting offer will come their way. Here are some considerations to try to put it in to a healthy perspective.

Yes, you will feel stressed and anxious. If you can, allow yourself to accept these feelings as part of your journey in life. Take note of what can you do to move forward, and hopefully it will propel your energy into time and space that is well spent.

Just know that you are not alone on a myriad of questions that no one has really answered for you. That is mostly due to the other side of the table which usually includes Human Resources and a Hiring Manager.

Question: What is the status of my application?

Answer: It really depends. Did you apply online? Is it sitting in an ATS (Applicant Tracking System = software to track job applicants and open job requisitions)? Has anyone looked at it? Have you gone through a recruiter and are waiting to hear back? Have you sent it to a friend or former colleague who works at that institution? Do we know if this position is still open?

Ideas to move forward: If there is anyone you can get in touch with about your application, do it. Send a polite email to them asking if there’s any chance if the position is still open and/or if your application has been reviewed. If there is no one to get in touch with, keep moving forward in your job searching. ATS’s are GREAT for the employer. They help track applicants and scan for keywords. The challenge is they may not be great for the job seeker and might be sitting in a black hole. Consider that 300 job searching applications are sitting there with yours.

It’s not that you are not good enough. And it’s not that you don’t have what it takes. It’s that your resume is combined with a lot of other information and may not even have been reviewed. They may have also filled the position and didn’t take the posting down.

OR, clients change their minds all the time – maybe they are going in a new direction with this role. See if you can find out the status first. And if you can’t, move on. You can learn more about ATS here from Jobscan.

Question: May I have feedback from my interview(s)?

Answer: Most likely, no. They may give you some simple answer “You didn’t quite have the experience they were looking for” or “We’ve hired an internal applicant.” Without getting into too many details and legal guidelines (that I’m not even sure I’m aware of), company representatives often cannot give too much feedback to an interview for fear of being sued. They don’t want to be sued for ageism, sexism, etc. so it’s easier to not give any feedback.

Please excuse the gross oversimplification here, but also think about the company. They may be trying to recruit new employees for 100s of positions. If they interview even 3-5 people per position, they just don’t have the time to give detailed feedback to every interview. Try to think back to a time that maybe you had a crush on someone and or were dating and it just didn’t fit or feel right. Did you want to have to give a detailed explanation or did you just hope you (and they) could move on? Move on if it’s not a right fit. NEXT.

Question: If not a fit for this role, am I fit for other roles within the organization?

Answer: You can certainly ask this if you are given a rejection (and not ghosted). The truth is, the team (or people) you were interviewing with are most likely not concerned with too many other roles in the organization. They may not have been briefed on what others are looking for nor care – going back to the time thing, they just don’t have a lot of it.

However, it could be worth asking on the off-chance that Jim from another department did mention to them he was looking for someone like you. However, if you don’t hear back on that, definitely do not take it personally. They likely have no clue and it may take you applying to another position or another person in your network helping you to identify this other role during the job searching process.

Question: Why did the recruiter ghost me?

Answer: Honestly, I’m sorry that they did. It’s crappy and doesn’t feel good. It’s disrespectful and really doesn’t leave a good impression. I don’t have an excuse for them other than to say that they’re busy working to fill roles. It’s unlikely that they are on a 100% commission basis but if they are, think about how they need to move on to the next thing to keep food on their table. And even though most get paid a decent base salary, each role does lead to commission for them. It is part of their job responsibilities to find and hire the right talent. Recruiters have a lot of metrics they need to hit and they only have so much time in the day like everyone else. They may not have the luxury of time to follow up with every person that is not the right fit.

I still believe they should let you know, but chalk it up as something out of control, do your best to move on.

Request to HR/Recruiters

If there is any way at all that you can make sure you keep in touch with your job searching candidates (even if it’s to say you don’t have new updates), you will really help their anxiety and help them balance timelines and possibly other interviews and offers.

As this article from Evil HR lady shares, if you are unable to give them feedback regarding their rejection for a position, consider offering a couple things you feel they could approve upon. Your advice may not even be job specific but here are some ideas to consider that may be helpful to the job seeker:

  • Make sure you answer the phone with enthusiasm and not sound like I interrupted you or you just woke up.
  • Be sure to do company and role research for every single interview.
  • Dress to impress – even if it’s a virtual interview (and don’t forget to test your camera and audio before).
  • Turn off your phone and IM notifications when interviewing to minimize distractions.
  • Thank you emails or snail mail are still more than welcome and a nice gesture.
  • Google yourself and do a quick look at what a recruiter might see if they Google you – are impressive and professional details coming up? If not, you may want to work on pushing out some thoughtful content.
  • Tread lightly with insincere LinkedIn connection requests.

You cannot control the process so you must hold onto your hope and continue to make efforts. Hopefully this help shares some insights and helps to normalize this process.

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Opinion Editorials

Woman fired for premarital sex, raises questions of company culture

(OPINION / EDITORIAL) This unfortunate circumstance for a former David Ramsey employee has raised the age-old conversation of how to enforce a company culture.

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Company culture being established around a meeting table with dark colored drinks and notebooks.

America, the land of the free, and the opinionated. And in company culture, this is no different.

Over the years the US has grown and changed. A nation that over the centuries formed from the amalgamation of beliefs and cultures. Now let us be frank, there is a majority in certain beliefs and practices. Those groups can also sometimes come with rather large mouth pieces as well, but that isn’t always a bad thing. People’s moral and cultural compasses influence the world around us. Ultimately, we can create cults or communities. We can be harmful or helpful with how we choose to influence those around us.

When you combine that with economics, though, that’s when things can get tricky. The difficulties of mixing the cooperate world with morals and beliefs can get expensive. There are numerous instances of companies being sued for wrongful termination. Currently, Dave Ramsey’s company has recently come into the spotlight due to a lawsuit being filed against them by a disgruntled employee. The company culture has strict rules against certain extracurricular activities. Now usually people would think they would mean recreational drugs, but not in this case. As of March 8th, Ramsey Solutions has reportedly fired 8 employees over the last 5 years for engaging in premarital sex.

Caitlin O’Connor is the latest employee to deal with this situation. Now, while some of us may have seen this company culture and decided to just keep life and work separate, there’s another difficulty here. Ms. O’Connor has recently become pregnant, which leaves no doubt about her outside of work activities. Now there is a number of different emotions that happen here. A woman who is now pregnant is losing her job. This may be a person who has no desire to get married and now she’s thrust into unemployment for doing nothing but enjoying a part of life. It is a frustrating situation to say the least on her side.

In that frustration on the part of Ms. O’Connor, however, there are also similar issues on the part of the company. While they have set up this company culture and laid down rules for all their employees, they now have to uphold and find a replacement for this resource completely unexpectedly. It was not only clearly laid out in their company guidelines that they do not condone this behavior, nor its implications, but Ms. O’Connor openly admitted that she was aware of the implications of her actions as well. This company has built a community with expectations and is willing to uphold them. That is their right.

I remember growing up there was a cake shop in Colorado that refused to create a cake for a gay couple based upon their religious beliefs. It was back in 2012. In 2018 the Supreme Court ruled that the shop had the right to refuse service based on their beliefs, which to be honest was my expectation. However, in the process of this that particular his business has not flourished. Ultimately one has to decide whether they want to follow their beliefs in the face of economic hardship. It’s a true show of faith of course but also, is it practical.

Living your life, your way, is the point of this country. We have to remember to share that space with those who believe differently. Bringing no harm to others is one thing, but can we truly be a common people if we refuse to go outside of our own beliefs and morals?

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