Recent posts

Good to Great: Why some companies make the leap and others don’t

Jim Collins explores what makes a great company but looking at a list of 1,435 companies that made the leap and some that did now. Settling on 11–including Fannie Mae, Gillette, Walgreens, and Wells Fargo — and discovered common traits that challenged many of the conventional notions of corporate success.

Making the transition from good to great doesn’t require a high-profile CEO, the latest technology, innovative change management, or even a fine-tuned business strategy. At the heart was a corporate culture that rigorously found and promoted disciplined people to think and act in a disciplined manner.

The book offers a well-reasoned road map to excellence that any organization would do well to consider.

Good to Great
Get it from Amazon

Nuggets of insights

  • Managing your problems can only make you good, whereas building your opportunities is the only way to become great.
  • “Stop To-Do list” is more important then the To-Do list.
  • Greatness is a conscious choice.
  • Your people aren’t the most important asset, the “right” people are. These people are selected by character attributes and not on specific educational background.
  • It’s “who you pay” not how you pay. “Hire 5, work them like 10 and pay them like 8”.
  • Best people do not need to be managed.
  • Strong people are motivated by performance.
  • Put your best people on your best opportunities not problems.

Enjoy!
~ Ernest

Jairek Robbins on Creating Certainty in an Uncertain Time

I’m buzzing full of positive energy! Today (28th June 2009) I attended a seminar by Jairek Robbins on Creating Certainty in an Uncertain Time. Plenty of take home learning’s, life techniques and I even got to have a great conversation with Jairek.Jairek Robbins & Ernest Semerda Jairek Robbins & Ernest Semerda Favourite Quote from Anthony Robbins

About Jairek Robbins

JAIREK ROBBINS — http://www.jairekrobbins.com
Jairek offers his lifetime experience growing up in the Personal Development industry. From spending time in Denmark with John Grinder the Co-Founder of NLP to Leaderships Academy with the Anthony Robbins Companies.

At 20 years old Jairek was coaching individuals from around the globe, sharing with them the Jairek Robbinsuniversal tools, ideas and strategies it takes to create an extraordinary quality of life and Business.

As a speaker Jairek shares his unique view of what it takes to create an Extraordinary Quality of Life, define and achieve consistent lasting results in your profession, as well as clearly assists in creating a powerful vision for your overall success.

Jairek has his BA in Psychology from the University of San Diego and has spent his entire life immersed in the Personal Development Industry. In working towards his greatest passion of helping people achieve their peak potential Jairek was awarded in 2008, “The Congressional Award, Gold Medal”.

From 2006-2008 he served as a representative of Robbins Research International 1 of 11 organizations under the Anthony Robbins Companies. He advised and consulted with Fortune 500 companies, executives, managers and sales professionals in the areas of personal and professional achievement and sales mastery. During this time he traveled 48 weeks a year speaking to over 400 companies giving presentations and running training programs throughout the world.

E3 visa: e3 visa for australians

By far the easiest way for an Australian Citizen to work in the USA is on an E3 Visa.

The E3 visa is a United States visa for which only citizens of Australia are eligible. It was created by an Act of the United States Congress as a result of the Australia-United States Free Trade Agreement (AUSFTA) for Australians going to the U.S. to work temporarily in a “specialty occupation”. A specialty occupation covers anyone with a Bachelor’s degree with a body of specialized knowledge. In my case this was a Bachelors in Computer Science, MBA and the specialty knowledge I held within the company which would ultimately help the International arm of the USA firm expand.

“The E3 visa allows for the temporary entry into the United States of individuals who are to perform services in a specialty occupation for a U.S. employer. It currently applies only to nationals of Australia, their spouses and children under the age of 21.”

How the E3 Visa looks in your passport
How the E3 Visa looks in your passport

A bit about the E3

  • Takes around 1-2 months to organise.
  • Costs you a non-refundable application fee of US$131 and your employer (sponsor) around $4,000.
  • E-3 visa is renewable indefinitely (in 2 increments) as long as your employer is willing to sponsor you.
  • Spouses may work in the United States without restrictions on what is called E3D (D is for Dependent) once they have successfully filed and received a work permit (form I-765).
  • Your intention is to depart the United States upon expiration your authorized E3 stay.
  • Not a path to a Green Card.
  • You can only apply for th E3 within Australia. Not U.S. This creates some headache when wanting to switch to an E-3 offboard from a student scholarship or Visa Waiver Program (VWP).
  • You need to have a job offer from the U.S. before you can apply for the E-3 visa.

Why not H-1B (at first)

  • Takes longer to acquire.
  • Spouse cannot work and needs to be on a H4 dependent visa. Unless your spouse gets sponsored by a USA company for a H1B Visa.
  • Subject to the 65,000 annual world-wide visa limit. E-3 annual quota is 10,500 E3 visas to Australian’s only.

What your sponsor (the employer / their immigration attorney) may ask you for

  • Your & your partners history in the USA and where you stayed,
  • Prior USA visa details (Visa Waiver Program (VWP) is not counted),
  • Any prior refusals / cancellations to the USA,
  • Any immediate family that is a U.S. permanent resident or U.S. citizen,
  • Past 10 year history of travel around the world – for security purposes,
  • Countries which have issued you passports,
  • Your Bachelor’s degree for an “education evaluation”. Australian degrees are typically 3 years while USA 4 years. Uncle Bill needs values education highly, wants to see are a not cheap labor and are professional – nothing to worry about,
  • Your resume to show work history which may also be used to obtain the equivalent 4 year degree pass for Uncle Bill,
  • Military service details (if applicable).

What you need to do in Australia to organise the E3

Once your employer (your sponsor) has successfully lodged a Labor Condition Application (LCA) with the US dept of Labor they advise you to organise an appointment with the US consulate. During this time while you wait for the LCA (green light), you should be doing your part to apply for the E3 visa.

Step 1: Get a head shot Photo from any Fuji shop. This will be a USA Visa photo and thus requirements are different then an Australian passport photo of 5×5cm. See here for a guide: http://travel.state.gov/visa/guide/guide_3877.html

Step 2: Complete the online DS-160 application form and print the confirmation page. See here: https://ceac.state.gov/genniv/

Step 3: Book an appointment online to your closest U.S. Consulate General. See here: http://sydney.usconsulate.gov/consular/ The wait time is around 2-4 weeks.

Step 4: Pay the application fee of US$131. This can only be done at the Australian Post, you walk in and tell them what you want to pay for. No need for any special document. They act like a holding bank for the US consulate.

Step 5: Gather additional required documents – your employer / attorney will provide these to you in the 1 bundle. These will be the documents the employer would have asked you (see above). You will need these for Step 6.

Step 6: Personally appear at the U.S. Consulate with:

  • Job offer letter,
  • DS-160 confirmation page,
  • Appointment confirmation,
  • Original Australia Post receipt confirming the payment of the Visa application fee,
  • Pre-paid self-addressed envelope (registered post) – make sure it’s those tough plastic envelopes since your passports will be coming back in this,
  • 2 passport sized photos for each required Visa
  • the bundle of documents your employer provided you.
  • and most importantly to get accepted in the interview, make sure you bring documents (evidence) which indicate you intend to return to Australia once employment ceases. This is done through documents like real estate investments, proof of a return airfare or financial ties. A statement is typically adequate. Don’t forget the intend of the E3 and your stay of 2 years.

It’s a bit of work from both sides but in the end it always pays off. Just don’t forget to communicate with your employer (sponsor) to speed up the process of organizing documents.

FAQ

    Can I apply for a Green Card on the E3?

  • There are risks. Since E3 is not a dual intent like the H visa’s, i.e. the intention to be here temporarily or to file for a green card. The way around this is to consular process for your green card. As a practical matter, when you have filed the second step of the green card process, you must disclose that on any immigration petition. An officer could decide not to renew the E3 even if you are going to consular process.

    What other safer ways can I apply for a Green Card?

  • Ask your employer nicely if they can sponsor you on a H1B. You at maximum 5 months before the E3 expires. This is going to cost them a lot more than the E-3 but is definitely worth it if you and they value each others business.

    What is the process of renewing the E-3

  • Start this process with your employer 5 months before your visa expires. You WILL have to leave USA to do this. You can either go back to Australia for a holiday or to Canada and apply at any U.S. Embassy or Consulate which processes non-immigrant petition-based visas. Read this PDF on more detail about extending your E3 visa: http://www.uscis.gov/files/pressrelease/E3_010606PR.pdf

    How long can I stay in the U.S. after I finish my job?

  • You can stay 10 days after you finish your job. This is NOT enough time to transfer your visa to a new employer (unless you started earlier) or apply for a different type of visa. You and your spouse (if under E3D) will be forced to leave the country. This is why you should carefully think about your intent in the USA before committing to anything long-term financially (house) or personally (starting a family).

Finally

Not many employers know what a E3, only H1B visa. If your company sponsored you then they know but if your spouse needs to find work on a E3D,  make sure you can educate them on the whole E3 visa, how it works and it’s similarity to the H1B visa.

If you are interested in the journey my wife had with getting the paperwork and job organized under a E3D visa as an Occupational Therapist then click here to read her story.

Online Resources

E3 Visa Wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E-3_visa

U.S. Consulate Genera in Australia: http://sydney.usconsulate.gov/consular/

Visa Passport requirements: http://travel.state.gov/visa/guide/guide_3877.html

Consulate General of the United States – E3 Visa: http://sydney.usconsulate.gov/consular/visas/niv/e3.html
GROWUSA – International Recruitment agency that specialises in the placement of Australians and New Zealanders to work and live in the USA.
http://www.growusa.com.au/

More Startups. More Jobs. – Support Innovation & Job Creation in America: http://startupvisa.com/

~ Ernest

Stuff to do before you leave Australia for Silicon Valley

To guarantee a safe and relaxed atmosphere while abroad, here is a bunch of things you should sort out before leaving Australia. This list is based on stuff I had to do. Note, the following is only after you have decided that you are going to become a non-resident for Australian taxation purposes. This you become automatically if you consider yourself “living” overseas and are not going on a limited short term contract or transitory fly in.

For me, I am a non-resident for Australian taxation purposes.

Note: The following is NOT advise. It is what I did and I'm sharing
this with you. I highly recomment you seek expert advise from a
financial / tax specialist like http://smats.net who I use to take care
of all financial needs. Yes I searched long and hard to find these
guys since most financial / tax specialists I spoke to in America
were unsure how to best manage my international investments in
light of also being a full time tax resident in America.

Stuff to do before you leave Australia

  • Notify your banks and inform them that you are leaving Australia and thus are a non-resident for tax purposes. This will allow your banks to automatically deduct 10% from your interest when it is credited to your account.
  • I left my Superannuation where it is. You now have the right to pull it out should you be in a financial hardship but it’s safer to leave it there in case you return. Also it’s not worth making any superannuation contributions whilst you are abroad since no tax deducation is available to make this a worthwhile excercise.
  • If you have a family home in Australia it is best to rent it out. I did. However it becomes a taxable income in Australia and must be reported to the ATO. However all costs related to the ownership are claimable and offset any tax. Basically your family home becomes an investment property and you will start accumulating tax credits should you return back to Australia. Tax credits can be used later to offset your taxable income once you start working in Australia potentially providing years of tax free income. Of course pending on the amount of investment property you have to do this.
  • If you have property investments and are they receiving an income you will need to file an Australian Tax return every year. Find a good accountant who you can relay on to look after your investments in Australia and have the ability to communicate via email with them. You want to make sure your assets are well protected and you have a team of specialists who will look after your best interest.
  • HECS (if you still own it) will continue to be due should your taxable income in Australia be over the $36K mark. Else there is no requirement to repay the loan unless you wish to make voluntary payment. I’m lucky to have repaid mine a few years back. Before you leave, try to repay it if you can so you don’t have this cloud over your head while abroad.
  • Your Australian credit cards are worth keeping. If you have credit cards with annual payment just keep them running. There is nothing more damaging then to shut down your credit card and have your credit history erased. Also should you visit Australia (and you will) you will want to use one of those credit cards to make payments. Just make sure you have repaid your credit card dept before leaving Australia.
  • Finally, nominate someone you can trust to be your mail handler. You will still receive mail and will want to make sure that this person you trust can either scan the mail and email it to you. You can also check out http://www.earthclassmail.com/ which scan your postal mail and emails it to you automatically for a very reasonable fee.

Now your set to go and explore the new land of opportunity.

Ernest

The Road to Silicon Valley Begins

During one lazy Sunday afternoon I decided to make a change in our life. It had to be a large change. Enough to shake the foundation beneath us. Something which could give us amazing experiences and a wealth of education as we journeyed through it. And so it began.

The day it happened
The day it happened

I created an opportunity of a lifetime to leave the comfort of my home country, Sydney (Australia) and head out to Silicon Valley, California.

Sydney, Australia - ernestsemerda.com
Sydney, Australia - Photo by: ernestsemerda.com

Silicon Valley is the region is home to many of the world’s largest technology companies including Apple, Google, Facebook, HP, Intel, Cisco, eBay, Adobe, Agilent, Oracle, Yahoo, Netflix, and EA… and soon to be also my new home. More here if you want to read about Silicon Valley.

I do not have a set time-frame for how long I intend to stay in the USA. My main goal is to have the time of my life, an experience like no other. Only time will tell whether I return to Sydney or build on a new exciting life in a country where no Semerda has ever ventured before!

Why Silicon Valley?

So a few years back in Sydney (Australia) while doing my undergraduate Computer Science degree I always dreamed of working in Silicon Valley (California). Silicon Valley was seen as the Makkah in the world of science & technology. The place to be if you are into computers. Place where dreams are made. I wanted to experience this. Experience working in a leading edge tech company. Experience the culture, lifestyle, people and everything else it has to offer.

Global business in America is on a far greater scale than in Australia. I know that the knowledge gained will be invaluable to Australian employers should I return, earning power will be more aboard than in Australia, new friendships I make abroad will last and grow into business opportunities and the possibility of new trade of goods or services are endless if I keep my ears open to the sound of opportunity.

There is no other place like Silicon Valley anywhere in the world. Silicon Valley here I come!

Farewell dinner with friends

Before leaving Sydney, my wife & brother organized a farewell dinner for me with my close friends. Times like this make you realize who your true friends are. Those that care, want to spend the last few hours with you and send their best wishes before I venture into an unknown land with just a suitcase and a job. It gets harder because my wife of 4 years, unfortunately wont be joining me until we sort out her documents to work in California. So I will be alone, initially, in a country thousands of kilometers away starting a new life for the next few years.

Anyway, back to the dinner. It was a fun time! We ate plenty of good food, drank a lot of red vino (my favorite Bogan Shiraz) and partied till late in the back terrace of the restaurant.

Here’s a few snaps we took at our last supper:

Left: Urszula Semerda (my wife), Zane Hussein, Artur Semerda (my bro), Pembe & Shev Fahri (Liverpoolexhaust.com.au)
Left: Urszula Semerda (my wife), Zane Hussein, Artur Semerda (my bro), Pembe & Shev Fahri (liverpoolexhaust.com.au)
Left: Steve Ong (CEO of ING Malaysia), Ramsin Jajoo, Ernest Semerda (me) & Gerry Gerasimos Kolaitis (Autostyle.com.au)
Left: Steve Ong (CEO of ING Malaysia), Ramsin Jajoo, Ernest Semerda (me) & Gerry Gerasimos Kolaitis (autostyle.com.au)

My brother put together this (below) awesome last supper invite. Soooo nice of him to do that. How the heck did he get those old pics of me lol… definitely made my day. Thanks bro!

Invite to close friends for my last Supper in Sydney

The restaurant we had my last supper at was Elio at Leichhardt (Sydney). Beautifully presented mouth-watering meals! If you want to go there speak to Tommy who runs the restaurant. He is a good friend and will look after you. Elio is online here: http://www.elio.com.au/

Ok, Bon voyage! wish me luck!!

Ernest