31 May 2007
30 May 2007
I won't comment on whether one should regard the event as merely humorous, reflective of our brand-obsessed culture, or a scandalous security violation. But I will say one thing. I have fantasized about all the fun things I could do at my undergrad university if I didn't have classes and stress pouring out of my ears. I had a plan for pulling it off, too. I was going to stay in my co-op (you don't have to be a student to stay there) and "hobo" it at various classes (asking professors I knew for permission). I would go to parties and campus club activities. I guess maybe this is why people in Europe take a gap year to travel. I probably should and would have done that if it weren't for
29 May 2007
27 May 2007
26 May 2007
25 May 2007
- Every problem is an opportunity for a creative solution
- The harder I work, the luckier I get (work prepares you for opportunities)
- Find the intersection between your passion, skills, and the market (as opposed to the tired old adage "Follow your passion")
- Try lots of things and keep what works (try writing a "failure" resume)
- Don't wait to be anointed. Just do it!
- It is a very small world... don't burn bridges (you keep running into the same people, so don't make them hate you)
- You can do it all, just not at the same time (examine your priorities over a long time scale)
- It is the little things that matter most (e.g. thank you notes)
- It really is about the team (making other people successful makes you even more successful)
- Never miss an opportunity to be fabulous.
23 May 2007
22 May 2007
21 May 2007
20 May 2007
All of us just love to write computer code and kind of associate this macho feeling -- this is how much code I wrote; I stayed up all night and wrote all this code.
I wouldn't necessarily put it that way. I think writing code just falls into a more general category of things you can do that often seem more productive than they really are. Unless you are writing a really complicated program, you can get the result immediately. It is human nature to love instant feedback/gratification (e.g. instant messaging, cell phoning, etc). On the other hand, if your life really sucks, sometimes it is useful just to write some code or solder some wires. Beware of falling into the trap of doing busy work when you could be coming up with real ideas! The time you spend trying to get somewhere is as valuable (or more valuable) than the time you spend grinding.
I took some notes on the main points.
Rules about meetings
- Unless there is a compelling reason, meetings should not last more than one hour.
- Always send an agenda to everyone ahead of time. Never start a meeting without an agenda.
- No multitasking during meetings; really pay attention.
- Write a polite email to the organizer if you aren't going to go.
- The most important meetings are where a decision is made. PREPARE for these meetings.
- Schedule a meeting against a hard deadline like the end of the workday (I need to go home and eat dinner) or the beginning of a seminar
- The chair of the meeting should make sure that all the items of the agenda are addressed briskly
- The chair should start the meeting by calilng on people
- When the conversation starts to repeat or become unproductive, the chair should summarize the main points of the discussion and then end with "is there anything else?
- If someone tries to repeat something, the chair should say "Oh, we already covered this, moving on ..."
- Eventually, people will get the idea that the meeting needs to move along
- Project is defined as a series of next actions and a "done" state
- Schedule time for interruptions
- Job of a scientist (particularly postdocs and faculty) is to share ideas with people, go to seminars, and basically talk to people
- When you acquire a new tool or piece of technology, put in the effort to read the manual. In order to use any tool well, you have to invest the time.
- Don't be shy about delegating "crap" tasks to other people; you need the time to do more important things. Research is a team effort.
- Use an alphabetical filing system
- Divide current files into research A-Z and non-research A-Z
- Once a year, clean out current files and move them to archives A-Z
- Divide current files into research A-Z and non-research A-Z
- Make a folder (physical or digital) of important, fundamental papers in your field
- If you are having a meltdown, make a list of what is causing you anxiety. Then decide to let one or more of the items go. Embrace mediocrity; look at what you can get away with doing badly. Having meltdowns happens to everyone. You can't prepare for it; you can only get through it. After the meltdown, be sure to think about why it happened and if you could have avoided it. Then do a weekly review and move on.
I omitted most of the GTD-like stuff, since I have already discussed quite a bit about that topic in this blog.
19 May 2007
16 May 2007
06 May 2007
I'd like to propose a physicist-inspired definition. I think wisdom is the ability to identify and apply the right time-scale and person-scale to the problem. Time-scale wisdom is the art of recognizing whether information is important that you should act on it now or just let it go. I'll try to make this statement more clear. For example, it's very tricky for parents to deal with the emotions of a teenager. There are some experiences that are just normal to growing up (failing a test, breaking up with a friend, etc) and a parent should let things be. But there may be instances where a parent would want to stop their teenager from going off on a bad trajectory (for example, going camping overnight with sketchy boys). I don't have very much person-scale wisdom or a good feel for it, but my best definition is knowing who are the relevant parties. Is this a situation where your action will affect multiple people? You might even be able to divide up a person (an even smaller scale) since a person will often have a personality with many conflicting parts. As all physicists know, often the first step to solving a problem is to figure out the relevant time and spatial scales. You don't need quantum mechanics to understand the dynamics of a macroscopic pendulum.
I also like how the article points out that "the old are not always wise and the young are not always lacking in wisdom." There is a tendency in some culture to revere elders and use that as an excuse to abuse the younger generation. I think it's a good thing to respect your elders and listen to them most of the time, but like all things, there is a balance.