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Posts Tagged ‘Warren Buffett

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

Investor: Warren Buffett

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My dream is to be able to donate 80% of my earnings, and surviving with 20% of what I have. My definition of surviving is: have sufficient food, clothes, shelter for my family and children. I would also like to ensure my future children have at least completed A-level educations.

Since I was a kid, I have dreamed to see the world. When I started my undergraduate, I told myself that I would be very happy if I could visit Europe. Now, I am living in Europe. Spilling my beans, I had set new targets, to visit 50 countries before I am 50 years old. Though Darling agrees that we will travel at least once a year, I observe that my desire makes me insecure. Now, I told myself, it’s okay not to visit so many places (friends’ travel photos in facebook are really enticing). I have to put my priorities right, to get graduated.  I think my not-so-important aim of 50 countries are possible, given that I managed to live and visit in more than 20 countries in the last five years. I will only go traveling if there are special occasions, it’s better if it is free (grinned, actually earned through my hard work – so another kind of payment, there’s no free lunch in this world). There are more worthwhile-pursuing things in my mind. To contribute back to my parents, to our society, to human beings. Though what I am capable of doing is very minute, together we can make the world a better place!

There was an one hour interview on CNBC with Warren Buffet, the second richest man who has donated $31 billion to charity. In the following are some very interesting aspects of his life.

#1: He bought his first share at age 11 and he now regrets that he started too late!
Things were very cheap that time. Encourage your child to invest. He bought a small farm at age 14 with savings from delivering newspapers.
One could have bought many things with little savings.

#2: Encourage your children to start some kind of business.

#3: Don’t buy more than what you “really need” and encourage your children to do and think the same. He still lives in the same small 3-bedroom house in mid-town Omaha that he bought after he got married 50 years ago. He says that he has everything he needs in that house. His house does not have a fence/wall.

#4: He drives his own car everywhere and does not have a driver or security people around him.

#5: You are what you are.

#6: He never travels by private jet although he owns the world’s largest private jet company.
Always think of how you can accomplish things economically.

#7: Assign the right people to do the right jobs.
His company, Berkshire Hathaway owns 63 companies. He writes only one letter each year to the CEOs of this companies giving them goals for the year. He never holds meetings or calls them on a regular basis.

He has given his CEOs only two rules:
1. Do not lose any of your shareholder’s money.
2. Do not forget Rule #1.

#8: Set goals and make sure people focus on them.

#9: He does not socialize with the high society crowd, His past time after he gets home is to make himself some popcorn and watch TV.

#10: Don’t try to show off. Just be yourself and do what you enjoy doing.

#11: Warren Buffet does not carry a cellphone nor does he have a computer on his desk.
Bill Gates, the word’s richest man met him for the first time only 5 years ago. Bill Gates did not think he had anything in common with Warren Buffet so he scheduled the meeting for only half an hour. But when Gates met him, the meeting lasted for ten hours and Bill Gates became a devotee of Warren Buffet.

His advice to young people:

1. Stay away from credit cards (bank loans) and invest in yourself. Remember:
2. Money doesn’t create man but it is the man who creates money.
3. Live your life as simply as you are.
4. Don’t do what others say. Just listen to them but do what you feel is good.
5. Don’t go for brand names. Just wear those things in which you feel comfortable.
6. Don’t waste your money on things you do not need. Spend it on who is really in need rather..
7. After all, it’s your life. Why give others the chance to rule our life.

The HAPPIEST people DO NOT necessarily have the BEST of all.
They simply APPRECIATE what they find on their way.

Written by blueroselady

March 27, 2009 at 10:25 pm