Progress Report #1 – Success and Failure, Laid Bare

It’s time for a recap of my progress to date! It’s almost exactly the middle of the year, and this should have happened sooner, but c’est la vie.

I started this blog on 6th September 2011, much to my surprise, I thought it was mid-November.

So far I’ve posted 18 times (19 including this one) with no real routine – an average of 2 posts a month, but not even managing 2 posts in February, and this will be my first blog post of June too.

My Stats have slowly but steadily climbed, although June has not continued the trend. A lot of my views are directly related to how active I am on twitter, both finding good people (hopefully real people) to follow and how regularly I tweet.

Absolutely everything I can possibly plug-in to twitter, I have done, so for example if I Like a video on Vimeo or Youtube, it automatically tweets. Read more…

Quickest travel blog conference write-up in the world, maybe

This is a very brief post in response to a tweet from Mark of @101holidays asking about #TBUMBR on twitter. It will probably change or be superceded later this week!

Quick background – I’m @PeterParkorr, I started this blog Nov/Dec 2011 and this was my first travel blogging event of any sort – I havent even managed a #TTOT, #TNI or tweetup beforehand.

#TBUnite #TBUMBR organised by Oli Gradwell was in Umbria, Italy, as you probably know.

Click to read the rest of my speed-write-up of #TBUMBR

So, What Are You Doing Now? A difficult question… Pt.1

A post on jobs, self-employment and business, in 3 parts.

Part One

“Hey, how are you? What have you been up to? Are you working now? Have you moved back here?”

What Berlusconi Is Doing Now

All questions I have been skirting around like a well-oiled politico for the last few months. Since landing back in the UK in May from almost a year abroad, I have been trying to gainfully employ myself. So, what have I ACTUALLY literally been doing? This is a question it has been mighty hard to answer for friends and family, and beyond possible when talking to anyone without a fairly indepth knowledge about me in general. Often, I have been less than clear, and meeting new people I have been unavoidably opaque.

But after a few months of miscellaneous activities, and aside from 2 weddings, 4 birthdays, and 2 funerals, here’s what I have been doing, and why.

Half-hearted attempt at Option 1 – Get a job

The first thing I tried was searching for employment. Trying to get a financial services job at the moment is challenging in itself. Coupled with my refusal to work a) for peanuts, b) with dummies, and the snobbery evident amongst recruitment agents against anyone who has been out of work for more than a couple of months, the process was almost unbearable. Regardless of activities partaken in, charitable efforts, or even actual employment, (things normally applauded in any workplace, social group or obituary) mention of being abroad for anything longer than a holiday is met with the expression of someone who has just tasted sour milk.

CV: "I like to read...." blah blah

Networking and promotion: This time round, I knew finding a job would be harder than before, so I needed to help myself stand out from the crowd. I emphasised my maths and IT skills, showed my very real interest in the industry with all the extra reading and studying I had done, and started to learn how to program with SQL and VBA. I applied to lots of jobs, used LinkedIn and all the job websites I knew of, got in touch with recruitment agents I already knew, asked friends for more contacts to sound out, sent speculative CV’s and spent money travelling to London for the most cursory of meetings.

Recruitment agents: I am a proud individual. I have a lot of confidence in my ability, and a lot of ambition. My goal is to find something meaningful I can do in the medium term if not the rest of my life, work with people I can respect, and leverage my range of talents as much as possible. The goal of a recruitment agent is to place x candidates by friday, earn enough commission to cover their credit card, and they have the attention span of a dog on LSD to boot.

I see; someone with lots of interests, a habit of pursuing them, enthusiasm for life, the skills to work in a variety of jobs, and a broad education. They see; someone with a choppy CV, average qualifications, can’t be easily summarised in a sentence, let alone labelled in 3 words.

WE ARE NOT GOING TO GET ALONG. That’s fine. I don’t really want a job, which is why I didn’t have the patience to deal with their weak knowledge of the position I applied for, and inability to understand my previous job role. I’m not too disgruntled that I effectively wasted my time because, happily, the agent and their firm will not earn the 25% of my annual wage they would have, despite their only talents being nodding, smiling, and using a telephone. You vultures.

You wouldn't like me when I'm angry

I’m sure there are a handful of recruitment agents out there who are good at their jobs, I have met one or two, but there is a massive majority of cowboys. Unfortunately the recruitment game is just a glorified sales exercise. Earning cash makes you king, so why take time to really find out about candidates and work hard on their behalf, when it is simpler to cherry pick candidates that are easy to sell. The massive surplus of candidates for each job makes this even easier at the moment.

Job applications: In the past, I have come to the decision not to apply for jobs advertised through recruitment agents, and to look carefully at other aspects of how employers ask you to apply for a job. I prefer employers who have taken time to think about what they are asking you to do, and want to vet applicants for their job themselves. Everyone applying for a job has a CV/Resume, so if an employer creates a form that asks you to enter every single detail from your CV manually and the format doesn’t even allow for copy-pasting lines of information one at a time, it reflects badly on the company. Do you want to work for an organisation choked by red-tape and rule followers? In the current climate, someone looking for a job will apply to tens of positions, so the basics of an application form should be straight-forward. Similarly, should you attend their overnight assessment centre at the other end of the country if they have 5 different weekends, each with 30 candidates, for only 5 jobs?

This is the private office we mentioned! If you need anything, we're all upstairs!

Colleagues: Besides, working in an office job is frustrating. I was once told, on a training course provided by my firm, “You can’t choose who you work with”. It was a very depressing thought, because it was so cold, hard and true. What I did understand though, was that the speaker should actually have said ‘You can’t choose who you work with, if you choose to work for someone else’. After a year of employment with that company, I chose not to work with them, which felt great. It wasn’t my last job, but even since before I finished university, I knew I wanted to work for myself.

Admittedly, some jobs tick a lot more boxes for people. How do you fare?

Work-Life balance: Getting a job was just something I considered as a way to pay the bills while I worked on starting a business. But for the last few years I have been voicing my opinion that if I worked even 40 hours a week on my own business, I must be able to do better for myself than the wage I was being paid. Forget all the fringe benefits, such as the satisfaction of being your own boss, working where you would prefer to work, and (a big one for me) not having to work with people who act-like-buffoons/your-preferred-bugbear. I could be well paid working in financial services, but that is the only box a job would tick for me.

I know that a few months, or maybe a year or two down the line, I would be cursing under my breath at every opportunity. I hate the sedentary effect of sitting at a desk all day and staring at a computer screen, and not knowing who I could end up spending most of my waking hours with until I’m stuck with them. No, I decided to reject the safety net of a job, leave myself with more time and less distractions, and to take a more direct approach to things.

Location, location, location: Another thing I really value, is being able to choose my surroundings. I strongly dislike city life, without the ease of escaping back to nature and getting outdoors to keep in shape.

Urban sprawl around Hwaseong fortress in Suwon, outside of Seoul, Korea.

Endless buildings, even an hour by train from the capital.

I like to think of them as People Storage Units

Peter Parkorr

More to come in Part 2; Self-employment – what, how, and where, etc. Different ways to be self-employed.

And in Part 3; Start a business – which business, why, and why not.

The Gorilla Entrepreneur

What is a Gorilla Entrepreneur?

A Gorilla Entrepreneur is similar to, but different from, a Digital Nomad. To the business world what Ozzie Rules is to Football.

They are a technophile who has managed to give themself location independence (as with a Digital Nomad), aiming to have creative streams of income, but not to be completely ‘locationless’. In fact, being permanently locationless can be a real pain, as I discovered in the last 6 months of 2012, and we all need a good base to work from occasionally.

What if you are not interested in being entrepreneurial? (Requires effort and productivity from time to time). Perpetual transit is the ultimate goal of any nomad or vagabond. What you need is to learn how to survive on as little money as possible, and to earn your keep as you go.

Here’s a photo of a big sad-looking Gorilla that I somewhat regrettably saw in Mysore Zoo, India, last summer. A few more pics of his fellow inmates are at the end of my post.

Poor chap, just lying in a corner of the enclosure, minding his own bizzy.

There are lots of Gorilla Entrepreneur’s out there, like artists, DJs, writers, photographers, T-shirt moguls, IT contract workers! (To name just a few). Most would probably not label themself a Nomad, but the skills they use to earn a living aren’t confined to a single business, one particular office space, or even any country in particular. Lucky people!

The Gorilla in the label (a typo, if you insist) is a use of the word Guerrilla to imply a different way of doing things, a rejection of the established order, and is used in Guerrilla Marketing to mean unexpected and provocative marketing tactics. Gorilla’s though, are a much more friendly image than actual Guerrilla’s, so the Gorilla Entrepreneur is born. I hope you know what Entrepreneur means…

And now for a riveting link! This short clip from a NatGeo documentary that I saw a couple of years ago features a chief scientist who is almost literally a Gorilla Entrepreneur. Although technically he’s a Primate Scientist. It is incredible stuff and well worth a watch.


Some more shots of animals at Mysore Zoo.

A beautiful White Tiger dozing in the grass

A dominant chimp, making sure nobody else plays in his tree house

Baboon love. This one looked like Vic Reeves from the side.

A massive White Rhino, so powerful but only fuelled by grass!

A ring-fenced ring-tailed Lemur, enjoying some rays.

Crow care, for the discerning Tapier near you

All pictures taken on a Sony A-380 DSLR and uploaded as is, I’m still learning ‘shop.  🙂

Peter Parkorr

Re-think, Re-brand, Reset

Ok, so a couple of weeks in, a few draft posts that are about 80% complete, and I have had some brainwaves.

It’s worth noting that I went out on friday night, drank a lot more than my RDA (recommended daily allowance) of a large and varied selection of soft drinks and alcohol (sometimes a large and varied selection all in one glass, #hoorayforcocktails!), unfortunately spending a small fortune in the process.

I’m actually completely against binge drinking but still find it hard to say No to a friend’s birthday celebrations, and crucially find it very hard to say No More For Me Thanks when I am in a bar with money or plastic in my wallet! Baah…
Energy levels, ideas, and rhino’s giving birth

Why ‘Shock And Orr’ ?

Wondering what on earth Shock And Orr refers to?

When I picked a name for my new blog I spent quite a while scratching my head and trying to come up with a name that had meaning, and obviously had not already been taken. Harder than it sounds, but ‘a rose by any other’ and all that jazz.

I love a good pun or double entendre (who doesn’t) and this is part of the name.

Lieutenant Orr is a brilliant character in Joseph Heller’s Catch 22. He is quite talented, always obtuse, and considered completely insane. His undevoted attention is spent trying to find a way to escape the war, as he and the other pilots in the story do not want to be killed in the repeated bombing raids they are sent on by their commander.

Orr's cheeky face?

‘Shock And Awe’ is a reference to the military strategy employed by the US in its quest for world domination. It has powerful connotations and a sense of grandeur. In particular, it always puts me in mind of the Jericho Missile demonstration in Iron Man, sad but true!

My blog will follow my attempt to become a Gorilla Entrepreneur (whoop!). This is represented in its name by the nature of Orr, constantly looking for ways to escape his situation, and by the strategy of Shock And Awe which uses a combination of ruthless precision and technological advantage to achieve its goal.

I am not a big fan of the military or wars and such like, so what I have come up with is a little surprising to me. But I will be embracing as much technology as I can to give myself ‘operational edge’, and to ESCAPE!   😀

It should make for a good read…

Peter Parkorr

First Post

Hi. This is a Brand New Blog!

The first thing I have done is written my ‘About’ page, so you can read what Shock And Orr will be about there.

The next thing on my To-Do List (I live and die by these things) for the blog is to explain why I chose the name ShockAndOrr, and the alias Peter Parkorr. If anyone understands the concept (or even part of it) without being told, then you are certified more bizarre and convoluted than I am, which is saying something.

I will aim to reply to all worthy comments where possible. A lot of things I will blog about are open to healthy debate and so I welcome all opinions. Comment away!

Back soon,

Peter Parkorr