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Posts Tagged ‘humility

Tips on how to make a small talk from Keith Ferrazi

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I came to know Keith through Michael, and my encounter with Keith, an Italian American somehow reminded me on an experience when an Italian teacher of mine unexpectedly saw me in a professional conference in US, was so happy and rushed to kiss my cheek. Well, as an Asian, I was not used to such a very warm of greeting, but I do appreciate his warmth and caring attitude.

My Italian teacher is a famous professor in his field of expertise, and he remembers me because I am one of his weaker students. I asked him more questions, so like it or not, he ended up remembering me (at least my face). But I guess I have a good attribute too though I am not among his smartest students, it is never give up.

I am grateful to Keith for sharing a lot of useful advice. Herein, I share tips that I learned from Keith Ferrazi on how to make a small talk. They are particularly useful to me because I want to expand my network of friends and acquaintance for my new endeavor next year.

"Friendship si created out of the quality spent between people, not the quantity."

How to make small talks?
1. First, give a person a hearty smile. It says "I’m approachable"
2. Start a conversation, keep it going, create a bond. Be proactive (as Stephen Covey advices).
3. Relax. Unfold your arms.
4. Be yourself. Your uniqueness is your power.
5. Maintain a good balance of eye contact. Unblinking stare 100% of time = leering (scary!). Eye contact less than 70% of time = disinterested and rude.
6. Nod your head and lean in (without invading duifang space).
7. Be sincere, without pride nor insecurity. Do not be an eye darter.
8. Share your passion (e.g. food, cooking, writing, reading stories for children), but do not preach it.
9. Vulnerability is one of the most under-appreciated assets in business today.
10. Adjust your Johari window.
11. Learn to listen.
12. If all else fails, "You’re wonderful. Tell me more."

See also
email "Keith Ferrazi"

Written by blueroselady

October 28, 2013 at 6:49 am

Dear Dr Douglas Prasher, You are my Hero

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A friend of mine who is a scientist shared with me about Douglas Prasher’s story. When I was a little kid, I consider the following careers very cool / glamorous / glorious : pilot, adventurers (e.g. Columbus, Everest), scientists, astronauts, … and many others.

However, my friend said that being scientists is not all glorious, there is no guarantee that one can meet one’s basic survival needs (according to the Maslow’s hierarchy) of food, clothes, shelter / home, even after one has done high quality work that deserves Nobel Prize like what happened to Douglas Prasher.

In brief, the Nobel Prize I am referring to is for the discovery and engineering of fluorescent proteins – molecules that can glow in the dark. Sound so fun!

The fluorescent proteins are powerful research tools and have become the foundation of a multimillion-dollar industry.

Prasher was not included among the Nobel laureates, as only 3 individuals can share a single Nobel Prize. “The glow of the GFP gene may have illuminated biology, but Prasher has remained in the shadows.” The humble ^ Laureate Martin Chalfie credited Prasher’s contribution:
“(Douglas Prasher’s) work was critical and essential for the work we did in our lab. They could’ve easily given the prize to Douglas and the other two and left me out.”

^ To share the best of the best to you dearest readers, I have carefully studied Nobel Laureates and summarize their strengths that worth emulating.

My friend J, who is also a scientist and used to work 7 days a week from 9 am to 11 pm daily, shared with me that there are sadly numerous unacknowledged contributions in science. She told me that a lady called Rosalind Franklin also deserves a Nobel Prize but she died too early. J told me that she cried reading the story of Prasher.

To quote discovermagazine, the vanishing act of Douglas Prasher “provides a glimpse into what it takes to flourish in modern-day science, where mentorship, networking, and the ability to secure funding can be as important as talent and intelligence.”

Dear aspiring scientists (especially graduate students), I hope that my sharing provide you with additional perspective. One of a leader of a science research institute sadly told me (in a chance encounter in a public transport) that in the past only the rich can do scientific research because they do not have to trade their time to earn a living. These people were for example the landlord who receive passive income ; they have the time (one of the most priceless commodity in the universe), the brain energy & physical energy to carry out scientific experiments.

He also shared with me about his personal experience, he was previously trained as a medical doctor (a career that may guarantee a better earning), but later switched to become a scientist. Few years down the road after he has children, he woke up in the middle of night sweating and worrying on how to finance his mortgage. The good news is his children are now grown-up.

Dear aspiring scientists, your professors and successful scientists you meet would rarely tell you such stories because they need workers. Graduate students are very cheap to the extent that they are free to the professors. You will rarely meet unsuccessful scientists because they are no longer around in the labs / meetings / conferences to warn you / to be naysayers for you who will eventually become successful scientists. Do not give up on your chosen career easily. After all, scientists will meet countless failures (positive people prefer to refer a failure as a learning experience) because they are at the frontier of discovery and innovation. You really need perseverance in the pursuit of science, science needs you, our world need you ; but one must not neglect what is entrusted to him by the Universe / the Creator / God, e.g. young children to feed, nurture, take care.

Dear aspiring scientists, do not be disheartened by what I share here because if you are really passionate about science, you want and you should give it your best, until you really meet dead ends. You can be like Douglas Prasher, to be humble and willing to take other kinds of jobs, including being a bus driver at $8.50 an hour. I respect bus drivers, they provide essential service to many people, and I personally rely on them often. I view them as my everyday heroes who courier me safely from a place to another. But to be honest, one who had worked as a scientist must have to endure the words of their past colleagues on becoming a bus driver. If you master the art of endurance, are willing to work hard and have integrity in life, no matter what you do / your career / job, you will have inner happiness, which is much more important than prestige (e.g. awards) / glamor. If you want to be successful in a particular career, perseverance * and resourcefulness ^ are essential.

* “Doug doesn’t have the ‘Goddammit, you’re not going to stop me’ attitude,” Ward says.”
^ “It was the kind of resourcefulness that Prasher seemed to lack.”

After all, there are many things that Prasher can be happy and grateful about: his supportive wife, his children, his home-grown vegetables & finally a return to science.

Dear my readers, all careers are similar in the chance of success; they just vary in the steepness of the climb. My kind friend shared that the climbing field for being successful scientists started relatively easy for students who have done well academically / with exceptional scholastic ability, but become very very steep toward the higher place(s).

Final reflection:
Let the (use) value that we bring to ourselves and others through our work / pursuit / career / vocation shine itself.
Do not pursue recognition / award as a goal because it is beyond our control.
Even one of the most deserving Nobel Prize winner – Gandhi, never receive it.

Dear Dr Douglas Prasher, thank you very much! You are my Hero!

Related:
http://discovermagazine.com/2011/apr/30-how-bad-luck-networking-cost-prasher-nobel
http://galette86.wordpress.com/2013/01/08/the-inspiring-story-of-douglas-prasher/
http://www.bio.purdue.edu/lab/leung/blog/?tag=douglas-prasher

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Thiel Fellowship allows you to bypass top schools to pursue big dreams

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Dreams are extremely important. You can’t do it unless you can imag(in)e it. — George Lucas

If you are so smart, why are you not rich?
If you are so smart, why are you not changing / saving the world?

About Thiel Fellowship
$50,000 / year for 2 years ($4,167 / month)
gives you easy and quick access to the most successful business people in America
aim: to skip college and focus on work, research, and self-education (LEARN BY DOING)
mentors: network of visionary thinkers, investors, scientists, and entrepreneurs, who provide guidance and business connections that can’t be replicated in any classroom.
founded by a VC Peter Thiel (PayPal, Facebook)

Examples of descriptions of the Thiel Fellows:
On experience
"leave Harvard after a single semester and extend his horizons, first by traveling around the world and climbing Kilimanjaro, and now through his start-up"
"has lived and been educated in England, Singapore, France, and the USA."
"began taking college courses at Worcester State in Massachusetts in 3rd grade, and received a certificate in computer science by the time he was 12."
"taught himself programming at the age of 9"
"a home-schooled prodigy who learned calculus at 11, started working in a biogerontology lab when she was 12, matriculated at MIT when she was 14, and now at 17 plans on disrupting the current research paradigm by changing the incentives embedded in today’s traditional funding structures."
"started doing research in a pathology lab when he was 10. By the time he was 12, he had matriculated at the University of Washington. Soon after, he graduated with honors degrees in neurobiology, biochemistry, and chemistry. He was a 19-year-old 4th-year neuroscience Ph.D. candidate at Stanford University when he left early this year to pursue his start-up"
"has worked for Microsoft, Stanford, and Mozilla"
"Has previously worked at iRobot’s Research Group and as a Program Manager at Microsoft."
"In his teens, he built products for companies such as Coca-Cola and Universal Music"
"has designed web interfaces used by millions of people around the world"
"has previously worked for D.E. Shaw & Co., several social enterprises, and a few start-ups"
"founded a vacation rental portal as a high school freshman"
"starting his first business when nine years old"
"co-founded the Electric Vehicle Club at Purdue and was president of Purdue Innovations, the university’s entrepreneurship club."
"began developing her social enterprise when she was 15"
"first worked in a lab when he was 11, interned at Dupont as a teenager, and won the grand prize at the 2009 International Sustainable World Energy Olympiad in Houston."
"run non-profit dedicated to helping the vision-impaired around the world"

On goals / aims
"aims to radically improve our approach to the one thing we all do – shop." / "e-commerce start-up that will revolutionize price comparison on the web" Keyword: radical
"passionate about equipping people with the information to make better decisions." Keyword: information, decision
"interested in helping people protect the wealth they create from the harmful effects of inflation" Keyword: protect
"to help emancipate information around the world" Keyword: information
"to decentralize banking in the developing world with a mobile payment system"
"to create and share online lessons designed to be viewed at home by their own students, leaving class time free for more engaging activities"
"to revolutionize how we develop and demonstrate talent in the twenty-first century."
"to leverage web-based videos and mobile apps to bring the classroom into the twenty-first century"
"to build efficient motor for electric vehicles." Keyword: energy
"to commercialize an invention that enables low cost dual-axis photovoltaic module tracking" Keyword: energy
"to invent a walker-wheelchair hybrid that can provide power to assist its user according to how strong she feels at any moment" Keyword: aging, physically-disabled
"to extract valuable minerals from asteroids, comets, and other planetary bodies" Keyword: resource

Blueroselady thinks that they are very impressive and inspiring. How many people, before reaching 20 years old, have done so much and dreamed do big like them?
The people whom you have worked for also matter.

Reflections by Blueroselady:
Those on Thiel Fellowship seem to have a head start in their childhood (e.g. well educated parents, attendance of high schools that teach akin to college / attendance of college – so why would they still want to attend college again), but many children from less privileged backgrounds will find a college education still essential and enlightening.
Personally, I have met people of the possibly equal calibre to the Thiel Fellows, they started businesses / attended university / led beyond school organizations at early teen, while most teens are worried about growing up, peers, relationships, and juggling schools. The formers are ambitious, lucky, talented, hardworking ((they have built their CVs while other kids probably do not know what CVs are for), and most importantly have the right nurturing environment.
To illustrate this point, I shared my own example. When I was 12 years old, I found that the school was boring. My teacher suffered from diabetes and she was often absent. I could read the textbooks on my own. I told my mother that I did not want to go to school. I was happier reading newspapers and books.
When I was 13 years old, I found that some my school (male) teachers are irresponsible. They taught students bad words, touched female students’ hands / arms (and please do not ask me what else). If my parents had to pay for the school fee, I would probably quit schooling. To make matters worse, some of my school mates went astray. Girls were so cruel with words, I was helpless seeing them bullying a not-pretty girl sitting in front of me. My school mates were more interested in gossips (about seniors, juniors, peers, celebrities), hanging out wasting their lives, than in learning. Few years later after I left the school, I heard about a school mate who died from drug overdose, a school mate who got pregnant in early teen and turned into less beautiful (premature aging) than she was, a school mate who died in motorbike accident.
Then, a macro event happened that changed my life forever. I went overseas for the first time and attended much better schools (in term of quality). I learned about things that were forbidden / not taught before and revolutionized my thinking. I changed for the better, I unleashed my inner characters of hardworking, perseverance, and humility. Like entrepreneurs who focus on generating profits, I had clear focus: I was determined to earn the money required for college education through excellent results because my parents would not be able to support me after high school. My hard work and perseverance paid off, I received my college education (in 3 continents, East and West) with full scholarships. Every stage is like climbing to a higher ladder, I meet people who are more talented, creative, diverse than ever (many of them have better a head start childhood than me), and college education allowed me to learn from them. It is true that the higher you move to, the more you can see, understand, and do. As a result, I evolve into what I am today. At the end of my formal college education, I read analytically, write convincingly, think from multiple perspectives, converse fluently in multiple languages (I can mimic American, British, French, Indian, mainland Chinese accents), had traveled to more countries than the years of my lives, understand myself better, and most importantly have germinated the strongest urge (that I have ever had) to better our world.

From another point of view, colleges worldwide are getting very expensive. Students take loans, enjoy their college experience (sadly some focus on hanging out with friends, buying the latest gadgets), and postpone their sufferings of having to pay their loans while working and struggling to meet an end meet after the honeymoon period of college days. This sounds to me like an upcoming education bubble, which is akin to the housing bubble. To make it worse, colleges seem to mass produce workers (who are happy with the good enough), and to produce (in much less proportion) thinkers, innovators, agents of change. The latter are those that refuse to be entirely submissive and driven to the system. Colleagues and acquaintances are complaining to me about the drop in the standard of recent college graduates.

Nothing remains the same because lives are dynamics. My future generations will do things differently from what I did. If they are academically inclined, they can start learning the college materials (through online courses or immersion in labs) at early teen. If they are artistically inclined / entrepreneurial in nature, they can start interning at early teen. I still view traveling as essential, I learned a lot about independence, responsibilities, management, self-control, and survival while traveling and living in foreign countries far from my family. I made strangers my friends and family. I appreciate the values of every place and person. Get more exposure, discover more, and you will discover what your destiny is.

What’s next?
I will be reviewing my plan on progeny.
To research on things kids need (to learn) to be successful in their lives.
To research on homeschooling curriculum (what are not taught in school).

More about the Thiel Fellowship:
http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2011/05/25/finding-the-next-mark-zuckerberg/
http://www.creators.com/opinion/john-stossel/the-college-scam-11-07-06.html
http://www.forbes.com/sites/jmaureenhenderson/2011/06/20/meet-the-teen-who-got-paid-100-000-to-drop-out-of-school/
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203960804577239253121093694.html?mod=googlenews_wsj
http://www.businessweek.com/interactive_reports/bs_collegeROI_0621.html