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Posts Tagged ‘PhD

China Innovators

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This post is based on the book Chinnovation. I also note down my ideas based on the things I read there.

INNOVATION.
Definition: doing the same things in a new way (process) or doing new things (creating a product / service) pxii.

After learning from the West, it is time for me to focus on learning from the East this year.
Wu Po Chi (HKUST) proposed that "the Chinese and the American culture are different.
The Anglo-Saxon thought, business, legal, medical system is based on the Greek system of linearity – very nice and clear separation of right and wrong. The Chinese are very holistic; little good and little bad.

… the functional MRI of a person thinking in Chinese, many more parts of the brain light up.
The Chinese language is more complicated in sound; it is graphical (so it is very good for descriptive purposes). It requires context.

The English language is not nearly so rich but it is precise."
Blueroselady learned (from an English man at the birth town of Shakespeare) that the English language is actually pretty rich by constantly adapting and adopting, as compared to e.g. the French language.

Perhaps, Blueroselady has to let her children learn some graphical languages, e.g. Chinese, Arabic.

What did you do when you hear the news of Michael Jackson’s death?

My office mate suddenly shouted something that I would not write here. No matter what, he is a nice chap who offered me a headset to prevent me from hearing his loud machine.
A China innovator rapidly secured the rights to build a Neverland Ranch in China.

These innovators capitalize on events happening in the world.

QUANTITY
counts.
Do you know that the Chinese Academy of Sciences alone produces ~ 100,000 PhDs / year?
Wuxi Pharma Tech.
Let’s go to visit / invest in Jiangsu.

No wonder that there are so many influx of PhDs from China to the West.

The best businessmen in China are not Shanghainese, but the businessmen of Wenzhou and Hangzhou.
It is neither because of the innate human talent of Wenzhou and Hangzhou is superior nor the probability of succeeding in Hangzhou and Wenzhou is higher.

It is because (1) everyone in Wenzhou and Hangzhou is trying to succeed as an entrepreneur, so the absolute numbers of attempts generate a lot of successes, (2) failure only leaves the option of trying again. Sorry, no comfortable white-collar job.

RELATIONSHIP & HUMILITY matter.
"good relationship with gov officials in China are much more important thin in other countries.
Building a good relationship with gov officials can reduce unnecessary trouble." (p55).

connectedness = renqin (p53).
"Prioritize RELATIONSHIPS over laws." (p56)
"Remember that people with bigger networks tend to do better."

Zou Bo of Senodia (MEMS-based chips producer) shared 2 avenues which he used to establish connections.

1. government.
The gov would introduce many resources.
2. investors.
Investors have many connections with other similar / related establishments. Zou Bo found the investors back in the US and brought them to China.

Old friends / classmates are existing channels (p243).

Lim Sah Soon (Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce) advised that in expanding to China, you should gain the good impression of being a modest and trustworthy race of people. Do not make the mistake of treating the Chinese as an inferior or backward race as this would cause the loss of trust, and definitely hurt relations for the future." (p184)

While the advice was meant for foreign players intending to expand into the China market, Blueroselady thinks that we should be modest and treat nobody as an inferior (regardless of race / social / economic background).

Perhaps the notion of inferior raised from the relatively poor quality of "Made in China" products in the past, but today many high quality products were also Made in China, such as my laptop.
Moreover, to many Asians (Chinese, Japanese, Koreans), face matters a lot. Being treated as an inferior cause them to lose face.

RESTRICTIONS.
"Often the best movies were shot under budget constraints so severe that the director had to innovate – and the same principle apply for start-ups" (p15)
This phenomenon reminds me on Uncle RT who was poor in Berkeley yet produced excellent results.

The Chinese / The Zhejiang entrepreneurs are not easily deterred by the politic-economic conditions unfavorable to business formation. (p102).

Beijing is a cultural, political, economic & IT center because the Chinese gov is in control of significant resources. (p24)

5 Ms of Zhejiang entrepreneurs:
markets.
masses.
mobility.
management.
meshing / adapting best practices from other industries.

MARKETs / CUSTOMERs
Listen more to market (shichang), listen less to the governor (shizhang) which can be disguised in the form of generous grants / funding. (p102).

Markets believed by most people to be dead tend to have less competition hence lower cost of doing business. Be courageous to enter such markets (p103).

"Technology innovation should be market driven and not technology driven. We need to cater to consumers, just like why Cisco changed its logo" Zou Bo of Senodia (p245).

Management = innovation + operations (p104).

FOCUS & ELIMINATE distractions.
To focus, people choose to work in Hangzhou than Shanghai even though the typical wage is RMB3,000 vs RMB 6,000. (p104)
A big city like Shanghai has too many distractions!

Picking the right battle to fight is a form of focus.
Sun Tzu once said: "If you try to fight every battle, there is no hope of any victory."
Carefully select where to invest / expend resources (time and money).

How to out-innovate the MNC (multinationals)?
Do not fight the elephant head-on.
You will be crushed.
If you are the nimble mouse hat can find the crevices to exploit, your chances of winning are much higher (p265).

OPPORTUNITIES
problems = opportunities.
the larger the problem, the greater the opportunity. (p37).
"To the trained eyes, innovation opportunities appear frequently in daily life." (p56)

Start SMALL, think BIG.
"Every great fashion enterprise, every outstanding financial institution, every mammoth IT company, and every great invention began in the imagination of some one person." (p80).

GROWTH
A company’s growth is the same as a person’s.

Liu Jiren (Neusoft) explains: "You need something when you are young, then you need other things when you become older.
A company with ideals should have a long-term plan.
You should think about your mature phase when you are young.

But in the process of development, you can’t make every step develop as you expected from a microcosmic angle.

Now, when you look forward to to the company’s future, you will find what made you prosper in the past may become what holds you back in the future.


restructure …." (p252)

DIVERSITY
of experiences leads to critical thinking (p43).

PASSION / love.
Qiu Xuefan (Wenzhou entrepreneur), "Love what you do, because you will have to do a lot of it." (p179)

Blueroselady agrees. It is not only about doing what we love, but also loving what we do. It is bidirectional and must act in sync.

Zhang Gang, the founder of Little Fat Sheep mentioned that "I always wanted to have a basic business, selling something simple that people wanted. Many people grow a company like raising a pig. The pig gets fat; you kill it and make money. I grow my company like raising a son. The average life of a restaurant is less than three years in China. I want Little Sheep to last a century". (p202)

Wow! A brand that lasts a century sounds highly ambitious yet cool! This is what visionary leaders / entrepreneurs / innovators should aim for.
Blueroselady was grateful for enjoying a hot pot with Little Fat Sheep recipe (with friends from China), but thought that it was not for her. She felt very thirsty after the meal and decided NO more. Fortunately for Zhang Gang, not all customers are health conscious and bland preferring as Blueroselady.

DETERMINATION matters.
The 30th US President Calvin Coolidge famously remarked,
"Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence.
Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent.

Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.
Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts.
Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent." (p46)

PEOPLE / TALENT / human capital

According to Ray Zhang (eHi), people need to find meaning and significance in the things the company does. They need a common platform, an environment where personal careers and company growth are in sync, with no differences between the two (p259).

Vincent Tai (CEO of RDA Micro) repeatedly said, "The mind is a terrible thing to waste".
He trusts his employees even though they make mistakes.
He would sit down with an employee who had made a mistake, asking why it happened and what lessons the employee has learned. (p85).

A way to attract investors is by becoming a magnet talent e.g. Lee Kaifu or Li Kaifu (p110).
Lee / Li won a loyal following from Chinese students through his numerous coaching books, public speeches, blog posts, and most importantly (Blueroselady thinks) his accomplishment in high tech (Apple, Google, Innovation Works).

I am going to read Li’s old book "Be Your Personal Best" published in 1991, perhaps re-published in 2005.

Be doggedly persistent in attracting talent.
Treat talent as though they are family (p130).

Blueroselady notices that her best friend also treats her mentors as family, thank you!

A random quote that comes to my mind "千里马常有,而伯乐不常有".

Be CONTRARIAN.
If an opportunity is obvious to all, it probably has no profits. (p176).

Experiment with the uncommon for supernormal returns.
Judy Leissner (President, CEO of Grace Vineyard) shared her winning strategy, "Whatever old traditional Chinese wine producers do, we don’t." (p142)

Most old traditional China wine producers spend significantly on advertising and pay restaurants to serve wine, Grace Vineyard does not advertise.
Leissner opened up a wine bar to brand her wine. A wine bar allows 2-way communication.

Instead of restaurants, Grace Vineyard serves Grace Vineyard wine in the best hotels, leading airlines (e.g. Cathay Pacific’s 1st class and business class flights serve Deep Blue of Grace Vineyard).
Grace Vineyard also avoids area where dominant local wineries exist.

Blueroselady thinks that everything popular is not always right.

Some interesting COMPANIES / virtual PLACES with potential useful service to you & me:

Baidu
the leading Chinese-language internet search provider.
Baidu name refers to a line from a Song Dynasty poem, meaning "search for one’s dream". Blueroselady thinks that name matters. name = branding.
founder Robin Li, Eric Xu (a biochemist).

Wukong.com
Search engine that aims to be Baidu’s No. 1 competitor.
Nick Yang.

dianping.com
online crowdsourcing guide, paid search, e-coupons.

restaurant review site.
China version of Yelp.

www.5xue.com.
Lee Kaifu, PhD computer science CMU: machine learning, pattern recognition.

Ctrip.com
Co-founder Neil Shen.
NASDAQ-listed.

Tudou
Gary Wang.
Besides watching Youtube, I want to learn more from Tudou.

QQ
QQ has more active users than Facebook (p13).

Career Album
a social platform for individual careeer development and corporate talent hunting.

founder: Crystal (Yanjing) Yin (Stanford).
Blueroselady thinks that this is a place where you try to put everything together, a LinkedIn combined with deviantArt; but Career Album is still in beta version as of Jan 2013. Blueroselady will not use it for the time being.

Fields that Blueroselady are going to explore:
PROPERTY.
Segments of the Wenzhou population speculate in property to get rich. They buy entire plots of buildings. Speculate based on careful planning (p101).

BIG DATA.
"The realm of technology is constantly striving to encapsulate larger and larger volumes of data in smaller devices" (p255)
To win customers, offer quality, convenience, portability.

Places that Blueroselady wants to visit / TRAVEL to:
Bama, Guangxi. Why? 1 of every 3,400 people is a centenarian. Perhaps, I will arrange visiting both Guilin and Bama in a single trip.

Pingyao, Shanxi. Why? The small town of Pingyao, in Shanxi province flourished as the financial hub of China for 300 years, in spite of poor soil and accessibility.

It was home to 22 banks, collectively controlling more than 50% of the nation’s wealth.
The secret of its success? innovation. Pingyao people ventured out to places such as Mongolia and Russia to trade.
The reason of its subsequent failure? complacency.

Always remember that innovation and reinvention is a continual process.

Is PhD really a waste of time?

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I just finished reading an article in the Economist.

In life, we are facing multiple choices and making decisions. According to the Pareto’s Law, 20% of our decisions will affect 80% of our life. My decision to embark on a graduate study did significantly affect my life, I have learned things that I want to do and things that I do not want to do. I think the most important is, no matter what decisions you make, you tell yourself that you will enjoy opportunities to grow and contribute. It is not like decision A is wrong, decision B is right. It is more like decision A will bring you particular good things, decision B will bring you another kind of good things, so you will never fear in making decisions and regret whatever decisions you made.

Here are things that I am grateful for from my PhD days:

Fulfilling a dream
. Idealistically, PhD is an abbreviation for People Have Dreams. Not everyone has the opportunity to pursue a PhD. One needs good undergraduate records. Honestly, I meet many people who have higher IQ than me (I know that based on how fast they understand concepts / think of answers), but I was diligent and committed to do well in my academic study. None of my parents had enjoyed college or even the basic education, so being able to complete a study until the highest level is a personal and family dream for me during my school time. Then, after I passed my viva, I learned that there are Doctor of Sciences beyond PhD. The person who told me that is one of my supervisors, a professor with Doctor of Sciences. Like the saying, there will always be a higher mountain. However, completing my PhD makes me believe that I can fulfill any dream that I have in life.
Note: some universities may award very prominent leaders in business / government an honorary degree, this is another path to PhD.

Learning to trust my intuition. I made a crucial decision in the beginning of my study, though I had to say sorry to some people (in order not to upset them), I know deep inside I made the right decision. Those people kept on telling me that I would regret, but I have no regret now. I agree with Tim, regret is past-tense decision making. I am glad now that I made the audacious decision at that time.

Meeting friends of lifetime from around the globe. You can also meet international friends if you work in international firm, but PhD students are ‘slaves’, at least according to the Economist article and suffering people find consolation in each other. We have been super good friends.

Living frugally. I could survive without meat for a week until the next free meal opportunity. I managed to save a little from my PhD stipend for my parents. Unlike a senior MR who straight away went to set up her business and honing her sales skills, of course my earning was not comparable to my senior. After all, PhD stipends, if not self-funded, are often from generous donations of charitable organizations, philanthropists, and tax payers money. It does not seem right to be rich from stipend money, whereas it is laudable for my senior to earn 6 digits in her first four years of business.

More academic learning somehow enhanced my analytical and writing skills. It was during my PhD study that I produced writings that won me tickets to inspiring meetings not related to my thesis topic, but more on global issues. I met a friend of Warren Buffett who is so friendly and inspiring. I listened to so many enthusiastic entrepreneurs, decision makers, world leaders. Those are my happiest holidays. I seldom took time off, because I did not know how many days per annum I was allowed to take vacation. In fact, I could be considered over-worked.

Unleashing my courage and becoming a calculated risk-taker. I did some activities that I would never want to take before, I did not know how I managed to gather my courage but I know it has to be from within.

Surviving a hardship. As mentioned in the article, seven-day weeks, ten-hour days, and low pay are for PhD students. It takes great mental and physical strength to survive life like this. But what does not kill you, makes you stronger. Is it always true? But I witnessed how some surviving PhD students, with their white hair, wrinkles at merely 30s moved on to post-doc and continued the hardship, with greater responsibility and demands from their bosses. Indeed, I am concerned with a friend continuous fatigue just after completing his PhD with a supervisor whose interests are to squeeze as much juice as possible out of his students. The article also mentioned that the misaligned interests of academics / universities versus those of PhD students. The academics need cheap labors (PhD students and postdoc). Ideally, these academics play a mentoring role, but in real life, they are like slave drivers. Seeing how a mentor of mine do things, I do not want to be like him, squeezing poor PhD students. Fortunately, I also encounter two nice mentors.

My beautiful alma mater, an open space museum and garden. For the reputation of my alma mater, people like to "wow" in words or eyes, sometimes I feel like carrying an LV bag, that is why I swear not to buy any LV bag. I prefer high quality, non-branded, sometimes ethnic bags, with their own identity. I want to be regarded based on my character and the quality of my work, not based on the bag I carried (the school I went to). A matter of brand aside, I love the fresh air, the grass, the flora and fauna, the romantic architectures, the history, and many people whom I encounter there.

Thank you!

Written by blueroselady

December 25, 2012 at 11:13 am

Strategies for busy researchers

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1. make a plan
2. pick the right things
3. make TIME for research
4. Learn how to say NO
5. Delegate
6. Set realistic standards
7. Write regularly (and then SUBMIT it!)
8. Do not check email 1st thing in the morning.
9. Use 3D for paper works and email. Do it, Diarise it, Ditch it.
10. Deal with distractions

Written by blueroselady

July 31, 2011 at 8:04 am

Posted in study

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Insights in early 2011

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Indonesia and Philippines are gifted with amazing destinations perhaps more than Thailand, Malaysia, or Vietnam but they have messed up badly in marketing and suffer from (in)security issues.

It is an open secret that no Asian countries are capable of developing intimate ties with China and India simultaneously. Kavi Chongkittavorn. The Nation (Thailand)

The US Federal Reserve’s decided to print US$600 billion stoked fears of formation of bubbles that could lead to sudden crashes. The prices of vegetables and houses went up in many Asian countries.

Dai Haifei (24, a junior architect hailed from Yiyang in southeast Hunan) built a 6sqm mobile egg-house as an answer to Beijing expensive housing where the average home is selling for about RMB 19,500 / sq m (USD 3,000).

Shares that have performed well in the recent past continue to do so for some time. This kind of momentum effect is also present in commodity prices and currencies, they rise or fall for long periods. The Economist Jan 8th, 2011.

There will soon be 7 billion people on the planet. National Geographic. January 2011.
1 in 7 people on Earth lives in slums today.
By 2045 global population is projected to reach 9 billion.

Facebook has secured $500m in financing from Goldman Sachs and Digital Sky Technologies, a Russian investment firm, to fuel its expansion plans.
The business model of Facebook is unproven.
Much of Facebook’s revenue comes from low-end display advertising.

CD sales collapsed.
YouTube runs few ads, for not much money.

Airlines keep finding new things to charge for, from pillows to checked-in luggage. Additional note in  September 2012, my mentor AK advised against buying stocks of airlines companies, because they belong to price competition, instead of sustainable competition.

Investors who buy the best-performing shares over the previous year earn much higher returns (10% points a year) than those who buy the laggards of the preceding 12 months.
Fund managers create the MOMENTUM EFFECT by WINDOW-DRESSING their portfolios with the market’s recent favourites (it looks much better to close a quarter owning the market leaders).
Clearly the momentum effect cannot last for ever or share prices would head for infinity.
An irrational market sends misleading signals, causing capital to be allocated in the wrong places, e.g. encouraging the building of houses in America, Spain, and Ireland for which there was scant underlying (as opposed to speculative) demand.
Momentum effects help to explain why bubbles develop.
Too often, central banks have tended to give speculative buyers a one-way-bet – cutting interest rates when markets falter (weaken), but leaving them unchanged when asset prices boom.
The Economist Jan 8th, 2011. The Big Mo.

Letters on the Disposable academic. Dec 18th.
Society needs highly trained critical thinkers to tackle complex problems with rigor and research skills.
Non-research jobs where they must analyze large amounts of evidence for complex decision-making.
Amanda Murphy (Chicago): I have the opportunity to teach and lecture. My adviser is supportive. I can spend all day thinking and reading books, and that is OK as it is my job.
Paul Greenberg (Managing principal, Analysis group, Boston): I am reminded of my very wise prof’s words of wisdom: the PhD students is someone who forgoes current income in order to forgo future income.

Go south, young scientist.
Brazil is a world leader in research on tropical medicine, bioenergy and plant biology.
Sao Paulo = Brazil’s richest state.
Research funding is being squeezed in Europe and North America.

The most important and difficult problem of academia in Italy was its non-transparent recruitment system. The Economist Jan 8th, 2011.

The best companies e.g. GE, Procter Gamble, are obsessed by the VITAL FEW.
Universities welcome the masses: more people now teach at British universities than attended them in the 1950s.
Novartis, a drug firm, asks high-flyers to produce LEADER PLANS and share them with their mentors and contemporaries.
The best companies single out high-flyers for special training.
Agilent and Novartis like to turn specialists into general managers.
Elitism has its drawbacks. In their rush to classify people, companies can miss potential stars.
People who are average in one job can become stars in another.

Well-paid fund managers have spent decades trying to find ways to beat the market.
Why the bother devoting so much $ and effort to researching the fortunes of individual companies when the momentum approach appears to be easy to exploit and has been aroud for a long time.
SMALL COMPANIES tend to do better than bigger ones in the LONG TERM, but they tend to be LESS DIVERSIFIED and thus MORE RISKY.

MOMENTUM may = the lag btw BELIEFS and the NEW REALITY.
TRENDS occur because there is disequilibrium between SUPPLY and DEMAND.
How to exploit momentum ? trade faster and faster with a time horizon of ms rather than months. But not all market movements are part of a trend. As you trade faster, it is easier to get misled by the noise.

MOMENTUM EFFECT tends to work for the best performers over the past 12 months, but not for those that have shone for longer periods, say 3 or 5 years.

Momentum works over the short term.
Value is successful over longer periods.

1975, 2000, 2003, 2009 are bad years for investors who used a short-term momentum strategy.

After the development of benchmarks like the S&P 500, clients began to demand that fund managers proved their skill by outperforming an index. Many failed, but even some who succeeded may have done so by holding concentrated portfolios of only few stocks (which more risky thank overall market).

These days investors can not only match a benchmark through simple index-tracking funds, they can also own portfolios that exploit the VALUE and MOMENTUM effects without paying hefty fund-management fees.

Momentum effect suggest that an irrationality might be at work; investors could be buying shares (and commodities) just because they have risen in price.

China: price rises in China = inflated fears.
If the prices of vegetables, fruit, other crops are more flexible than other prices, FOOD INFLATION may be an EARLY WARNING of an overheating economy.

====
20% of UK graduates out of work. Guardian. Jan 26th, 2011.

Written by blueroselady

January 31, 2011 at 2:58 pm

Morning Prayer in Summer 2010

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Our Father in Heaven and Holy God,
who are beyond our understanding.
In Your mercy,
you gave us rest through night-long sleep,
and raised us to glorify YOUR GOODNESS,
to DO YOUR WILL through the gifts and talents you gave us.
In Your own tender LOVE,
accept us who adore You
and give thanks to You with all our heart.
In Your generosity,
please GUIDE us in our study,
so that we produce innovations and publish manuscripts useful for others,
our reviewers and examiners serve as mentors,
through You we find JOY, HOPE, and PASSION in our research,
please give us FAITH, STRENGTH and PERSEVERANCE to continue the marathon,
and graduate from our PhD program.
In Your humility,
please remind us that whatever we have and achieve
are possible only with Your Grace and our hard work.
In the abundance of Your MERCIES,
please grant our families and loved ones
a happy, healthy, and peaceful life,
please heal our loved ones who are ill,
please help us to forgive those who have sinned againsts us,
as You have forgiven our sins.
Mother Mary, all Angels and Saints,
please pray for us.
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
always, now and forever.
Amen.

One of my former roommate wrote this in facebook:
In God’s presence, we realize how large and powerful He is, and the world and its problems become small…. But when we take our eyes off the Lord and focus on our problems, they threaten to swallow us up.

Written by blueroselady

June 22, 2010 at 10:23 pm

Posted in God, study

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