Saving you some time

I hope you’ll forgive me if the following seems, well, brusque, but the issue I’m about to raise is an increasing frustration for me, and hopefully a few well-chosen words here will save everyone some time and effort in the long run.

I get a lot of requests of the following sort, ranging from the well-intentioned-but-misplaced to the dazzlingly inappropriate. Please understand that if you…

– are looking for a job with Nokia;
– want Nokia to fund (or acquire) your startup;
– think Nokia ought to license your technology;
– want to enter into a strategic partnership with Nokia; or
– are interested in having Nokia sponsor your event

…I cannot help you with these things.

And more to the point, I wish you would consider before asking if I’d even be particularly likely to want to help you with them. Like anyone else, I am, of course, always happy to point a friend in the right direction if they come to me for aid or insight – delighted to do so, in fact. But trying to trade on a tenuous (or nonexistent!) prior relationship in asking for something substantial puts me in a very difficult and uncomfortable position, and I am just bound to come back to you with a “no.”

I get that it’s not always hubris or cluelessness behind these requests. My father taught me that “it never hurts to ask,” which is an idea that I’ve tried to live by and have clearly profited from. So I’m not entirely unsympathetic to the occasional shot in the dark. But with all due respect, there’s more than a couple of you who might want to do some thinking about boundaries, and about what once having met me at a party reasonably entitles you to ask. Thanks for your understanding. I wish you the best of luck.

12 responses to “Saving you some time”

  1. Arttu says :

    Heh… Maybe I ought to write one of these, too. “Yes, we went to the same school 24 years ago, but that doesn’t mean I can do anything for your Finnish-language progrock band. In any case, doing something for your band in a scene as small and non-stratified as Finland really ought not be all that hard. Call the kind folks at Finnwind.”

  2. Janne says :

    Most Nokia jobs get posted to anyway. you can simply point people there.

  3. JM says :

    Maybe they ask directly bc of the horrible usability of the aforementioned Careers page…

    Joking aside: you might want to add this entry to your about page. It seems to be near standard for a lot of well-known internet people that work at top companies.

  4. Mentifex says :

    Adam, all I want is a certain amount of mindshare in your consciousness. You and I met at Alfi News in Seattle WA USA in 1996, when you were just an Army psy-ops grunt and I was an independent scholar in artificial intelligence (AI). Since then we have bumped into each other here and there on the ‘Net. I promise I will never activate the neuro-implant in the back of your skull. Now, before Noki destroys Android or vice-versa, could you please tell the world in Dr. Strangelovian fashion all about Mentifex AI? At the end of any talk you give, could you please offer to take questions from the audience not only about the subject matter of your talk, but also about any stray questions people may have about the artificial AI Minds of Mentifex? See, I wan’t very little from our accidental intertwining of the fates back in 1996. I _did_ at one time want to finagle from you an introduction to Maya Lin, the artist of the Vietnam War Memorial, until you told me she was married. Otherwise, I don’t care about Nokia. By the way, at Alfi News I also met Craig McCaw, whose cellular business was sold to AT&T for fourteen billion dollars by my best friend’s brother, but that’s another story. Bye for now, -Arthur

  5. AG says :

    Arthur, never fear: you will always have a certain amount of mindshare in my consciousness.

  6. Surya says :

    This is a post which makes me happy. Good to know that I am not the only person who get requests like:

    ” I got your mobile number from your relatives. I have 1.5 yrs of experience. Find me a job in Nokia. I want to work in USA or in UK.”

  7. AG says :


    “By the way, this should be a position in Job Grade 12 or above, with a private office, a company car and a housing allowance. TIA.”

  8. JM says :

    Isn’t that kind of LinkedIn’s stated purpose? Except for using friend’s of friends instead of random emails.

    A follow-up post idea: Maybe put up how one can position themselves to best get hired at Nokia or a similar company in the context of what you discuss here. If it is supposed to be the future then the folks have to come from somewhere, right? I would be curious to see what skills or aptitudes you would think relevant.

  9. AG says :

    A, I tend not to take anyone with a LinkedIn profile seriously, especially if that profile is their primary online identity. Experience has taught me to regard it as a sump for the kind of people who are guaranteed not to get it.

    B, I don’t believe the type of organization you refer to has a particularly bright future. I don’t want to get people hired by them: I want to submit them to disassembly and their components to reuse.

  10. Chris McEvoy says :

    The ‘5’key on my Nokia get’s stuck sometimes. Can you help?

  11. Chris McEvoy says :

    It’s OK I have fixed it now.


  12. Michael Niebuhr says :

    This last comment, Chris, is pure comic genius. Thanks ;-)

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