Almost 25% of the year 2023 is already gone. I have a few observations that I’d like to share.
Immigration headaches remind me that freedom is expensive
My wife is going through the permanent residence process with me. Two weeks ago, we went to the DMV so that my wife, who doesn’t yet know how to drive, could get a learner’s permit. We were told to go home. The reason is that the DMV staff couldn’t, on the spot, verify the status of someone who is applying to change her status. They told us to wait for a letter from the DMV, affirming that they already work with USCIS to confirm my wife’s case. We haven’t heard anything yet. The lesson here is: get your learner’s permit, state ID or driver license done before your i140 is approved.
Before this year, I filed my taxes using an online service, such as TurboTax or Credit Karma. This year, I had to use a tax agency. Because my wife is an independent who doesn’t have income yet, we decided to file as a married couple to get the maximum deductions. The problem is that my wife doesn’t have a Social Security Number (which is because of her immigration status), meaning that she must get an ITIN. There are two ways to get it. One is to apply for an ITIN electronically directly with the IRS, but it will require us to submit the hard-copy version of her documents, including the passport. That’s not a risk we wanted to take. So we went with the other option: to use an IRS-approved tax agent. It took 1.5 hours and more than $300. I got more deductions this year, but it will take at least 6-8 weeks to hear from the IRS and get my money. If you didn’t know, now you know.
That’s the life of an immigrant. We labor and work for freedom. Free from all the anxiety and administrative troubles. Such freedom is hard and expensive, but it’s not an option to live without it.
Marrying the right person is immeasurably important
My wife has come to the US to live with me for half a year. She is still waiting for her work authorization so that she can land a job and show folks what she is capable of. To a person that used to make a nice living in Vietnam and has 10 years of experience, that must be hard. But I have never heard her complain about it once. Instead, every day, I see her spend time getting fit, taking care of our cats and me, learning 3D design and polishing her portfolio. I can’t describe how much I appreciate that. My life would be much more miserable if she were not who she is.
I came to realize that as a married person, I take a longer time to make decisions since I need to consult with my wife and take into account her preferences. I have more responsibilities daily and as a result, a bit less time for myself. I am OK with all that because I feel that I have grown to be a better person and my life has become happier since.
They say that marriage is an asymmetrical bet that can change your life. I agree with that and so far have been very happy with mine.
In-person should be a must for new hires during the first two years
The debate over in-person vs remote working/work-from-home (WFH) may never stop. Each side has valid points, but I have grown to believe that new hires at a company should go to the office as much as possible during the first two years.
Remote working is a relic of the pandemic. Stay-at-home orders and the fear of infection during that time left companies no choice, but to allow workers to work remotely. Two or three years ago, it was all about survival and getting the best out of a horrible situation. Now that Covid-19 is behind us (knock on wood) and corporations are in a much stronger position, what was changed before can be changed again.
I am not arguing for permanent back-to-the-office requirement for everybody. I know that we can’t pretend that WFH never exists. That ship has long sailed. For tenured staff who already forged working relationships with coworkers and accumulated enough knowledge, WFH or hybrid should be sufficient and may continue. For new hires who need to learn their ways around and establish relationships, in-person should be mandatory.
New hires must learn their new ways around in a new environment. The higher the learning curve, the more important it is for new members to be in the office. My current team had our fair share of new interns and full-time employees in the past two years. My observation is that those who went to the office more often had an easier time to scale the learning curve. It’s not about intelligence and I am sure there are folks out there that are smart and self-motivated enough to succeed in any job while working remotely. But if in-person is more likely to yield results, that’s what organizations and teams should do. Additionally, it’s not just about working knowledge. Knowing those that you work with is as, if not more important, than knowing what to do. I strongly believe that as human-beings, we forge stronger and better relationships through face-to-face interaction than through Zoom or Teams meetings.
There are some positions out there that are agnostic when it comes to working mode. Sales is probably on the top of my list in that category. And if a company’s primary working mode is remote, then this argument of mine is moot. But apart from those cases, I believe new hires should come to the office as often as they can in the first two years.
Does anybody actually know anything?
CEOs have unparalleled access to information in any organization and their job is to turn such information into informed decisions. For the past few months, we saw a host of CEOs admit that they were wrong with their hiring practice in 2022 and had to lay off thousands of workers to cut costs.
Banking executives at Silicon Valley Bank or Signature Bank are undoubtedly paid handsomely to manage risks and run their respective banks competently. Instead, their recent seizure by the Fed shows that they did neither of those things.
Smart venture capitalists and millionnaires like David Sacks usually pride themselves as libertarians and vocally push for less governmental intervention. Until their interests are at stake, that is. Because these VCs actively called for the government to step in and insure the uninsured deposits at Silicon Valley Bank. There must be folks out there who saw through the insolvency of Silicon Valley Bank before the recent drama. But does anyone have a liquidity & mismanagement crisis in the financial world on their 2023 bingo card? I certainly don’t.
These are four actual covers by Forbes, which is supposed to be a trusted and renowned business magazine
Does anybody really know anything?