What should I do with my life?: Choosing a Career / University / College Major

Consider the Statistics

NPR Planet Money explores choosing a university / college major (What should I do with my life?) – it’s a more important decision than the school a person attends. Yet the decision is often made at a whim. The dollar impact over a person’s lifetime could be millions. For instance Petroleum engineering has a median income of $120K/yr. Whereas Counselling Psychology median’s is $30K/yr.

This is the graph that illustrates why a person should go to college:

This chart shows job titles on an income ladder:

Not having a college degree:

  • impacts life expectancy due to exposure to “deaths of despair”: https://www.npr.org/transcripts/787555423. This is all too real, Planet Money’s “Big Rigged” podcast has a heartbreaking story of how simple hard work backfires; click here to listen.

Consider these other textor.ca posts:

USA Job Graph Illustrates that the future in 1st World jobs is service

Review of “7 Workplace Myths Disproven By Research” which explains that a person should do what makes a difference in other people’s lives. Not what they love.

“What should I do with my life?” – How to Choose by Prototyping

Cold hard statistics might not really help when considering “What should I do with my life?”. A podcast episode of Hidden Brain called “You 2.0: Getting Unstuck” offers good advice to help figure out what to do with your life using design thinking/prototypes.

Avocation = the thing you do for love, not money. Many times you need a vocation to pay for the avocation.

“Many of us feel stuck – stuck at work, stuck in the wrong city, stuck in life. When that happens, we often end up asking ourselves, what should I do? Where should I live? What’s my ideal life? It turns out, these normal questions are counterproductive to getting us unstuck. They place an unbearable pressure on us, the pressure to know how things are supposed to turn out.

The next time that happens to you, think of your life the way a designer at a tech company thinks of a new product. You don’t quite know what you want to build. Just for fun, you come up with a prototype, then a second and a third. You pay attention to whether you enjoy building one kind of prototype or another. You listen to feedback from others. You go back to the drawing board and try again. When someone asks you years later how you knew what you wanted to be, you can tell them – honestly, I didn’t.”

Consider Your Personality

There are many personality systems and here’s one: DISC “D (dominance), I (influence), S (steadiness), and C (conscientiousness)”. Based on your personality, there are certain careers where your personality will be an additional strength. This page helps explain DISC and the e-book referenced at the bottom of the page called “Personality and Career Decisions” has a list of careers by DISC-type: https://www.crystalknows.com/blog/i-hate-my-job

The Financial Consideration of Post Secondary School

Jill Schlesinger, business analyst for CBS News and the author of “The Dumb Things Smart People Do With Their Money.” recommends that debt for post secondary education should not exceed what you think you can earn in your first job out of school in the first year. Click here to learn more.

Consider The Future Economy And Politics

Any decision you make should be in the context of not what the economy and politics is like “now” but what it may look like when you enter the workforce. How might the economy and politics be changing in the coming decade? Is what you choose to do going to be aligned with that? If you’ve already chosen a career, what changes might “put you out of a job”? Click here to watch the video “The Third Industrial Revolution” to see what millennials and the subsequent generations are expected to face.

Put Experts and Mentors In the Right Light

As you navigate your life and career, the best Mentor will be the one who believes in you and helps develop opportunities. Don’t invest too much in expert advise of what to do, which can be helpful for helping to indicate paths not considered, but often times are discouraging. Research indicates that expert opinions can be no better than chimpanzees throwing darts. The same research indicates the best experts (or “superforecasters”) are actively open-minded thinkers; they have an ability to change their mind based on new information and admit their mistakes. (Note: There is a method to finding true experts called the “surprisingly popular answer”, which is not the popular answer which leads lemmings off cliffs)

Started Your Job? Quit It

Podcast “The Indicator” explains that quitting your job is a very healthy thing. Economists worry that climbing the job ladder within a company puts people into jobs that are less of a match for their skills which then puts them into a tenuous position when a recession hits. Since switching jobs is usually a better fit for a person’s skills they become more recession resistant. In addition, switching jobs usually represents a kind of promotion and can bring benefits such as an increase in status, more pay and generally, if the skills match is better, a more productive worker. It appears the reality now is to be loyal to your work; that is, do what you agreed to and do a good job on it. But loyalty to your employer? That is something that belongs to past generations. Finally, this strategy tends to support finding a place that values you. Click here to read about the daughter and the Nissan Skyline R34.

Still Not Convinced? Consider BS Jobs

Before you start your career it’s important to understand how jobs can become generally meaningless, contribute no value what-so-ever and thereby impact your emotional well-being. I believe you should know about this so you know it’s not you and help you figure out quicker if it’s just time to move on. Listen the applicable Hidden Brain episode “BS Jobs: How Meaningless Work Wears Us Down” by clicking here. They cover all the types of BS jobs (duct tapers, taskmasters (2 types), goons and flunkies) and explain how they occur.

About the Author

Trevor Textor is father of three beautiful children he hopes one day to change the world and be happy doing it. He’s had his own career at a blue chip company only to leave it to pursue being an entrepreneur to explore all the ideas most blue chip company mentors told him would fail (they didn’t). If you’d like to get in touch with Trevor click here. Trevor has a hobby following Behavioural Economics and regularly updates this article with the new things he’s learned. The article was lasted updated: 05May2021.

Surface-based Broadband For Ships in the Gulf of Mexico

Infrastructure Networks, Inc. (INET) just announced that it is piloting a cellular LTE deployment for the Gulf of Mexico (GoM). This is not the first terrestrial seamless roaming broadband wireless deployment I’ve seen for ships but it’s the first commercial one. The other case study I’ve come across was a WiMAX deployment completed by Accenture for the Italian Coast Guard in 2013. The Accenture deployment was a completely coast based service delivery extending 12 nautical miles offshore. I expect that INET will be using communication buoys (floating communications towers) to extend the service into the GoM.

Including terrestrial wireless services in frequent traffic areas is crucial with keeping up with the driving need for increased broadband and will offload satellite for where it is most needed: remote, undeveloped, low traffic areas.

Official Press Release: http://www.infrastructurenetworks.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/INET-GoM_LTE_Pilot.pdf

PR Newswire summary: http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/infrastructure-networks-inc-announces-pilot-lte-deployment-in-the-gulf-of-mexico-300043579.html

Forget a bandwidth upgrade! Try these 4 things to make the home internet experience better

Seeking Better Connectivity

I work exclusively from home as a telecommunications consultant so a better home internet experience is critical. I made it better all despite having the smallest bandwidth package my ISP offers: 25 Mbps download & 2.5 Mbps upload.  I did have to upgrade at one point though. I initially had 0.5 Mbps upload. This is insufficient for video conferencing.

The house has two smart TVs, two workhorse desktop PCs & three tablets/smartphones. There can be concurrent sessions of Netflix running (Netflix running on HD only uses about 1 Mbps, Ultra-HD or 4K will require 15 Mbps – but that’s the future). I often use the internet for voice & video conferencing for work; connecting to the USA and abroad.

For all the techies out there, I should mention I live in western Canada, meaning all our internet traffic routes down to the USA (Seattle I think). All the Netflix and Google caching servers then are pretty far away. And if we need to reach eastern Canada the traffic routes down to the USA and then back up.

How To Have a Better Home Internet Experience

The principles I lay out here should work with any ISP and any geographic location. I need to stress this – Since I work from home my internet connection (and WiFi) must be highly functional. But only 25 Mbps? Here’s how I did it.

  1. We want speed not bandwidth. I wrote a separate article explaining the difference: https://www.textor.ca/bandwidth-and-speed-not-the-same-thing/
  2. Have the internet provider check the home’s internet’s signal levels. NOT bandwidth. They are required to repair any signal deficiencies, likely for free. This will help prevent packet re-transmissions (affecting speed) and is particularly important for voice & video. This kind of problem is unlikely to show up on internet speed tests.
  3. Make sure the home computer is connected via wired Ethernet for performance reasons; especially if you feel that you don’t know what you are doing. This is because wired is a closed system where variables can be controlled. Wireless is an open system and the environment (and performance) is constantly changing. WiFi is not the responsibility of the ISP, although often blamed. If you’d like to optimize your WiFi click here to read PixelPrivacy’s article “How To Find The Best Wi-Fi Channel For Your Router: A Step-By-Step Guide”.
  4. Make sure home routing/switching gear is top notch. $20 gigabit switches are fine, but routers under $200 will likely not function well. This is because routers are essentially PCs with purpose built software. They make them cheaper by putting in less expensive CPUs and less memory. A router above $200 will actually weigh more. This is a good thing. More CPU and memory takes more metal.
    • WiFi – If integrating WiFi into the router, purchase an 802.11ac (latest standard) even though the consumer electronics cannot use the better bandwidth. Do not use the WiFi from the internet provider, if it was included with the ISP modem. The new technology in 802.11ac makes sure there is better signal to the device. Also make sure the WiFi router has at least 6 antennas (meaning 3 internal radios). Expect 2.4 Ghz to work better than 5.4/5.8 Ghz. This is due to physics and also, I believe that developers have spent less time ensuring 5.4/5.8 Ghz work as well.
    • Seems I’m not the only one to recommend a better Router. Simon Batt explains “7 Reasons Why You Should Replace Your ISP’s Router“.
  5. Have a good computer (good hardware). The processor and memory affect how fast bits & bytes can be converted and put on the internet. The rule of thumb is that if the consumer pays less than $1000 for the computer (desktop / laptop, not tablet), it probably is not that good and will need to be replaced in 2-3 years. With a computer over a $1000 expect it to last 3-5 years. If using a laptop, ensure use of a laptop cooling pad (roughly $20) as much as possible. Laptops miniaturize components and there isn’t as much room for cooling. Heat is the enemy of both PC longevity and speed (CPUs run faster when the ambient environment is cool).

The Result

Prior to these changes I had problems all the time with Netflix. Now it is noticeably less frequent. I also had problems with video conferencing. Now when there are problems, I diagnose the problem as coming from the alternate party’s connection. That is, my audio/video is good on their end but their audio/video is bad on my end. It’s usually upload that is the problem and that is likely a result of each user’s upload rate with their ISP (asynchronous service). All in all, I now have a better home internet experience.

PS. This Cisco article nicely illustrates that really good CPU/memory are needed in the router, if not a specifically developed ASIC (application-specific integrated circuit).

About the Author

An avid writer, Trevor Textor has been quoted by Reader’s Digest, NBC News, Reviews.com and MarketWatch.com among others. As a freelancer Trevor has a “swiss army skillset” and has proven able to successfully assist many small, medium and large businesses in most areas of their business. Ask Trevor if he can help: https://www.textor.ca/contactme/.

Forget Net Neutrality and Build More!

How net neutrality is understood is that there is a limited resource and specific applications are being favored and some are not. This is not really what is happening.  Data use on the internet is doubling every 1.9 years and this large S-curve style growth curve is driving the need for building, re-building and re-building again, similar to the growth that processors experienced. Most of the growth is fueled by video as broken down here:


Think of the internet as a system of driveways, roads and highways. Now, at a 2 year growth rate, the number of lanes in place on the roads and highways needs to double every 2 years to accommodate this growth.  Otherwise what happens is gridlock, or in the networking world what we call congestion. What happens during gridlock/rush hour? Take an ambulance. Sure, it has priority but it still takes longer to get through during gridlock. It’s much better to just build more lanes right?

What is happening behind the scenes is a debate about business models. How do companies make money while still accommodating this growth? How does the model encourage growth?

The current business models may have worked well for unconverged communications but the reality is that everything has converged. By converged we mean that voice, video (TV), email, literally everything, uses the same physical wires whereas in the past they each had their own wire. Because of how it all came about, the incumbent communications companies own the passive infrastructure, which is to say the cables, buildings, and towers that electronics and radios use (called active infrastructure). This passive infrastructure makes up somewhere between 75-95% of the cost of providing communications. Because of its huge cost passive infrastructure creates a natural monopoly if a company controls both the active and passive infrastructure as typically the company makes money from the active infrastructure.

The business model that benefits the economy & consumers is an Open Access Network (OAN) business model in which the passive infrastructure ownership is separate from the active infrastructure ownership. Passive infrastructure investment should behave like real estate – the owner is essentially looking to place as many active infrastructure tenants as possible to maximize their return. Being freed from the capital outlay, the active infrastructure companies have more money to build, re-build and build some more (and coincidentally there is more competition).

And finally, the country is not overbuilding its passive infrastructure… yes, all of Canada could be serviced well despite the large size as there is an incredible amount of passive infrastructure just sitting empty. Regulation aside, there is no passive infrastructure marketplace like in the USA or the UK making it difficult for active infrastructure participants that do not own passive infrastructure to build networks.

So next time someone asks about “net neutrality”, explain to them what they really want is an OAN and an effective passive infrastructure marketplace.

Want to know more about Open Access Networks and Net Neutrality? Wikipedia has some great summaries:



Death from Health Related Administrative Errors is 10x Rate of Automobile Accidents

Administrative errors made when managing your health caused 10 times the death from car crashes in the US at 440K deaths per year. In fact, it’s the 3rd leading cause of death in the USA after heart disease and cancer (see Consumer Reports May 4, 2016). As a cancer graduate, this is near and dear to my heart.

I have personally experienced administrative errors in Canada and they are alive and well. In my particular circumstance, they had forgotten to tell me that I had been diagnosed with cancer.  For my surgery, I circled the part being operated on with a marker and got a “that’s a very good idea” from the attendant. When my son was in one of the top hospitals in Canada, we corrected at least 3 administrative errors since there were lag times between when the doctor entered notes into the computer system and when the nurse visited.

In the USA, Consumer Reports is asking Americans to send a letter to their representative in support of a National Patient Safety Board (similar to the National Transportation Safety Board & the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau). Follow link here to find a suggested letter via article “Patient Safety Advocates Urge the Creation of a National Patient Safety Board to Fight Medical Errors”.


What can you do as a patient?

Try to bring to all your appointments a second pair of eyes and both of you take good notes, ask lots of questions and do your research. For the hospital, this person will be your advocate since there will be a lot of activity. If you don’t have such a person, you might want to think about hiring a nurse to help you out.  More important than a good doctor (a nice to have) is an administratively efficient medical team since even with a good doctor a small mistake by anyone on the team could kill you. Remember, they are human too and not infallible.

Ensure to follow-up with your doctor on all test results.  Never accept “we’ll contact you if there is anything to discuss once we get the results back.” That means getting the exact test results paperwork from a patient portal or a photocopy from your doctor (which means a follow-up visit). Consumer Reports on Health reported in their March 2018 issue “Test information sometimes slips through the cracks. Some offices receive tests results on paper, which can get lost, misfiled, or overlooked. And even electronic results may not always be followed up on appropriately. … [Test results themselves] can be hard to read or interpret correctly – even for healthcare professionals at times. … The bottom line: You should know and understand your results, and never take anything for granted.” Once you have those test results in your hands, try to make sense of what they say by doing your own research. It can generate good questions for discussion with your doctor.

Finally, make an attempt at asking your doctor and clinic to adopt a patient portal to open up access to your doctors notes. OpenNotes.org, an international movement, has a canned email letter to send them: https://www.opennotes.org/join/. OpenNotes.org is referenced by the Canadian Medical Association Journal: http://www.cmaj.ca/content/186/11/811.

Library Rethink!

Lots of things are online now. At the Calgary Public Library (and probably most libraries in North America), you can get movies (hoopla), books (OverDrive) and music (Freegal), all without ever visiting a library. And now, a library card is free! (really, was $12/year such a burden? You park downtown once and you’ve paid for a library card 3 times over. Click here to learn more. My family loves our library!

How Far a Paycheck goes & how it feels (by city)

An interesting graph by NPR’s Planet Money.


I’ve heard that Alberta is similar to New York City but with the “Canada” premium (extra 30%). Alternately one might argue Denver is a better comparison… but the idea comes across. The steepness of the line shows that even if more income is generated it doesn’t feel like it goes very far.


Oil Companies don’t make that much money

Here you have it, straight from Forbes on the 5 facts everyone should know about Oil Exploration:

“Oil companies don’t really make that much money…. This is an incredibly capital-intensive industry….Frankly, it’s a miracle anyone wants to be in this business at all. I truly think the major oil companies are underpaid. The risk-adjusted returns are crap compared to most sectors.”

Sounds to me like an industry that could really leverage better real time communications to de-risk the business & access technical know-how anywhere it is in the world.