Sunday, 31 March 2013

In-now-vation: earn a prize!

Today my wife and I went to watch The Croods at the cinema: it's one of the best animated movies I've yet seen, and I highly recommend you find the time for it! It's funny, with an inspiring message.

For me, it was also a really timely message, because it speaks to inspiration and self-development. After the movie, I had to wonder why our modern world which is built on innovation is so obviously stifling innovation in the majority of the population.

Yes, we're told great stories about entrepreneurs all the time, we're given success stories about people who made a fortune overnight ... we might even be told at the end, almost as an afterthought, you can reach for this too.

But it's not the same, is it? It's not the same - to use the example from The Croods - as living in a cave by yourself, forced to innovate to survive. Instead, innovation is something we generally leave to the Clever People - the scientists, the researchers - to come up with, so that the rest of the masses can run out and snap up the commoditised inventions and bask in their glow.

That's the whole point of the modern world, isn't it? A few people at the top select the good ideas, and everybody else works like little cogs in a big machine to bring these ideas to fruition. The sad truth, if we're honest with ourselves, is that it's also all too much effort to invent: you need to study intensively, become a master at production, get the necessary funding, assemble a team to assist you, and finally out pops an iPhone. Or a television. Or a laptop. 

Or you could just pop to the store and buy one. After saving up a lot of money like the good little worker bee you are.

I'd even go so far as to suggest that the majority of businesses discourage innovation among their employees. If you're hired to screw the lids onto toothpaste tubes, nobody cares if you've got some ideas about a cure for cancer. You stick to your job description, meet your requirements as expected, and everybody is happy. Start suggesting anything else, and ten to one your employer is going to start getting suspicious, feel that maybe you're implying that your bosses aren't doing their jobs, or at the very best ask you how much it will cost to implement whatever it is you're proposing.

After watching The Croods, I returned home and googled 'Finding inspiration', and turned up some of the expected cliched results. However, one which is worthwhile sharing is this story about 'performance philosopher' Jason Silva. His embedded video on that page is well worth a watch, if you're feeling like a kick in the intellectual pants without reading a textbook. Google his name, and there's a stack of his videos online.

Seeing as today is March 31, it's maybe too late for a New Year's Resolution, but maybe you'd like to join me in re-committing myself to innovating and pushing the boundaries. Not just at work, either, but in my personal capacity: in a way that I can control, and that doesn't need somebody else's say-so or approval.

Which brings me right back to Romania. As always. I REALLY need to find a better path to just get started in a job in Romania, and right now I will hardly care what it is. Ideally it will be journalism or media-related, because that's where all my experience lies, and the real challenge will be for it to be in English. Why be another foreign-language immigrant working in an unskilled position, when I HAVE all these formal skills and proficiency in the international language of business? 

If you have any suggestions or ideas, please let me know. I'm kicking around all the usual ideas, but what I really need is somebody in Romania who is looking for somebody exactly like me. I haven't found that person yet, but maybe you know that somebody. Or maybe you ARE that somebody. As always, if you don't feel up to sharing it publicly drop me a mail on All e-mails guaranteed a reply, and e-mails which lead to a local job are guaranteed free coffee every month ... or a collectable fuzzy toy.


  1. Have you thought at trying to contact someone at some English newspaper, like Bucharest Herald or Ziarul Financiar - the English version (

    They may help you with some information about job opportunity at them or somewhere else.

    Also, you can try to find if there is not some News Agency or foreign nespaper / tv station that needs a local correspondent.

    Also, maybe there is a possibility to get employed at South Africa Embassy.

    Or you may try to make a project for a tv documentary series about tourism or some other aspect of Romania. I know, for example, that at Discovery Channel you may present a detailed project for such a tv series. Several of what is seen on DC started as such a project by someone outside the channel company.

    Maybe something as public relations manager at a multinational corporation.

    You also may think for something like tourist guide. Try to contact these guys, they're a couple and have a family business, bring groups of foreign tourists and take them to tourist attractions in Romania and Balkans in a less organized manner (I think). They may have some ideas for you:

    For moment I don't have any good idea but I'll keep thinking.

    Anyway, your English skills are not a real advantage, my brother who lived in Canada 20 years tried last year to re-establish in Romania but failed to find a job as English or French teacher, tourist guide etc. Most young people know English in Romania.

    If you don't have an important enough position in a company, you won't be respected enough to feel OK, so you shouldn't accept a low job. the characters of Romanians is that way that as long you don't speak their language they fear you but after you learn it, they consider you one of them and make your life hard. I've read this on the blog of a former expat.

  2. Thanks for the ideas here. That's a very interesting point you made at the end. I think the major challenge is to identify a problem in Romania that only I can solve, find a company which is desperate to solve that problem, and convince them to hire me to solve it. No mean task when you're a writer by trade, but luckily I also enjoy thinking out of the box.

    The other alternative is to keep buying lottery tickets here in South Africa, win a lot of money and then start a little business in Romania with the seed money. Or just spend my time lazing about on the beach. *shrugs* That works as well, lol