Why PhD Students should Blog (Part 2)

– Week 6

Ok, the engine has started. I have to move forward at the final straight road with full speed now — the straight road to become a PhD student. Well, in fact I have been wandering at the starting line of the final straight road for some time now, long enough for me to realized that I should have started my engine long time ago.

And I am those people who need to perform the “move” within a special “mode”. If I am not in a mode, I am “unmovable”. I would just still keep wandering around for nothing. And when I am going into the mode, I have to announce to myself and to others.

And so here I am: now I have to tune myself into this “Student-to-be” mode, starting from today. And things are just all happened with such a best timing. As you can see, yesterday I have started writing my blog as if I were already a PhD student, thanks to the Blogger-Idol link. And today evening I just attended the class held by the University’s Library showing us how to search the research database. Oh, also this morning when I do my second round of GMAT, the topic of the second article I got to write is “Why Education, not Property or Money, provide the best individual opportunity in today’s world”. By writing this little article, it helped me to reassure the reason why I was sitting there doing the stupid GMAT for the 2nd time with 2 months.

This is why PhD students should Blog. By writing to our own selves, it helps to reassure that we are (still) walking on the right track, at the right pace.

Why PhD Students should Blog

– Week 6

I am not a PhD student myself. Not yet. I would like to be one very soon, but I still have some hurdles to go over before I could become one (and applying for it should be one of the big hurdles). In fact, today, a beautiful Sunday, I am trying to focus on my GMAT study because I am going to have my 2nd round of GMAT exam tomorrow morning, solely for my PhD application…

Anyway, let me get back to the subject. Why Blogging is good for PhD student? And first of all, I know the topic here says “Why ((any occupation)) should blog”, and some might say PhD is not really an occupation. However, anyone who is already a PhD or studying for PhD now should know that being a PhD student is in fact a full time occupation, but a very low paid one…

Anyway, once again let me get back to the subject. There are two to three main activities (beside the personal one) that a PhD would perform on his/her day to day life: doing research for his/her dissertation, teaching (assisting) for his/her supervisor(s) and perhaps doing a part time job(s) to earn the school fees. Blogging should help to enhance the qualities of all these three situations, because “writing” as a profession should be one of the key skill of a PhD graduate, and writing blogs, in a way, should help.

Blogging should also be a good platform to record the research notes, and to dispatch the research findings bit by bit. Others (people all over the world) could help to provide comments on those notes and findings.

And of course I would imagine doing research would be a very lonely and boring job. So, it is very important to find a way to express one’s thoughts and to get away boredom, and writing blogs should be one of the good ways (especially those scholars who do not fancy in doing sports with thick glasses).

Well, it is about time for me to get back to my boring GMAT study. Best of luck to myself tomorrow…

How Deals are done!

This is another joke from my friend:

Jack, a smart businessman, talks to his son…

Jack : I want you to marry a girl of my choice.

Son : I will choose my own bride.

Jack : But the girl is Bill Gates’s daughter.

Son : Well, in that case…

Next Jack approaches Bill Gates.

Jack : I have a husband for your daughter.

Bill Gates : But my daughter is too young to marry.

Jack : But this young man is a vice-president of the World Bank.

Bill Gates : Ah, in that case…

Finally Jack goes to see the president of the World Bank.

Jack : I have a young man to be recommended as a vice-president.

President : But I already have more vice-presidents than I need.

Jack : But this young man is Bill Gates’s son-in-law.

President : Ah, in that case…..

This is how business is done!!!

Potato Farm

This is an old story, forwarded to me recently by my friend Fiona. It is one of my all time favorite so I would like to share it once again.

An old man lived alone in Minnesota. He wanted to spade his potato garden, but it was very hard work. His only son, who would have helped him, was in prison. The old man wrote a letter to his son & mentioned his situation:

“My Dear Son,

I am felling pretty bad because it looks like I won’t be able to plant my potato garden this year. I hate to miss doing the garden, because your mother always loved planting time. I’m just getting too old to be digging up a garden plot. If you were here, all my troubles would be over. I know you would dig the plot for me, if you weren’t in prison.

Love, Dad.”

Shortly the old man received this telegram:

“For heaven’s sake, Dad, don’t dig up the garden!! That’s where I buried the GUNS!!”

At 4 a.m. the next morning, dozen FBI agents and local police officers showed up and dug up the entire garden without finding any guns. Confused the old man wrote another note to his son telling him what happened, and asked him what to do next. His son’s reply was:

“Go ahead and plant your potatoes, Dad… It’s the best I could do for you from here.”




Applying for a Job at the CIA

A few months ago, there was an opening with the CIA for an assassin. These highly classified positions are hard to fill, and there’s a lot of testing and background checks involved before you can even be considered for the position. After sending some applicants through the background checks, training and testing, they narrowed the possible choices down to two men and a woman, but only one position was available.

The day came for the final test to see which peson would get the extremely secretive job. The CIA men administering the test took one of the men to a large metal door and handed him a gun. “We must know that you will follow our instructions whatever the circumstances,” they explained. “Inside this room, you will find your wife sitting in a chair. Take this gun and kill her.” The man looked horrified and said, “You can’t be serious! I could never shoot my wife!” “Well,” said the CIA man, “you’re definitely not the right man for this job then.”

So they brought the second man to the same door and handed him a gun. “We must know that you will follow instructions no matter what the circumstances,” they explained to the second man. “Inside you will find your wife sitting in a chair. Take this gun and kill her.” The second man looked a bit shocked, but nevertheless took the gun and went in the room. All was quiet for about 5 minutes; then the door opened. The man came out of the room with tears in his eyes. “I tried to shoot her; I just couldn’t pull the trigger and shoot my wife. I guess I’m not the right man for the job.”

“No,” the CIA man replied, “You don’t have what it takes. Take your wife and go home.”

Now they only had the woman left to test. They led her to the same door to the same room and handed her the same gun. “We must be sure that you will follow instructions no matter what the circumstances; this is your final test. Inside you will find your husband sitting in a chair. Take this gun and kill him.” The woman took the gun and opened the door. Before the door even closed all the way, the CIA men heard the gun start firing, one shot after another for 13 shots. Then all hell broke loose in the room. They heard screaming, rashing, and banging on the walls. This went on for several minutes; then all went quiet.

The door opened slowly, and there stood the woman. She wiped the sweat from her brow and said, “You guys didn’t tell me the gun was loaded with blanks. I had to beat the son of a bitch to death with the chair!”

Railway Tracks

The story given below is quite interesting and really gives us an insight into DECISION MAKING. I got this story from a friend of mine and would like to share with you.

Which one will you choose?

A group of children were playing near two railway tracks, one still in use while the other disused. Only one child played on the disused track, the rest on the operational track. The train came, and you were just beside the track interchange. You could make the train change its course to the disused track and saved most of the kids.

However, that would also mean the lone child playing by the disused track would be sacrificed.

Or would you rather let the train go its way?

Let’s take a pause to think what kind of decision we could make.

Most people might choose to divert the course of the train, and sacrifice only one child.

You might think the same way, I guess.

Exactly, I thought the same way initially because to save most of the children at the expense of only one child was rational decision most people would make, morally and emotionally.

But, have you ever thought that the child choosing to play on the disused track had in fact made the right decision to play at a safe place?

Nevertheless, he had to be sacrificed because of his ignorant friends who chose to play where the danger was.

This kind of dilemma happens around us everyday. In the office, community, in politics and especially in a democratic society, the minority is often sacrificed for the interest of the majority, no matter how foolish or ignorant the majority are, and how farsighted and knowledgeable the minority are.

The child who chose not to play with the rest on the operational track was sidelined. And in the case he was sacrificed, no one would shed a tear for him.

The friend who forwarded me the story said he would not try to change the course of the train because he believed that the kids playing on the operational track should have known very well that track was still in use, and that they should have run away if they heard the train’s sirens.

If the train was diverted, that lone child would definitely die because he never thought the train could come over to that track!

Moreover, that track was not in use probably because it was not safe.

If the train was diverted to the track, we could put the lives of all passengers on board at stake! And in your attempt to save a few kids by sacrificing one child, you might end up sacrificing hundreds of people to save these few kids.

While we are all aware that life is full of tough decisions that need to be made, we may not realize that hasty decisions may not always be the right one.

“Remember that what’s right isn’t always popular… and what’s popular isn’t always right.”

The Tortoise and The Hare (Part 3)

The story still hasn’t ended. The hare and the tortoise, by this time, had become pretty good friends and they did some thinking together. Both realised that the last race could have been run much better. So they decided to do the last race again, but to run as a team this time. They started off, and this time the hare carried the tortoise till the riverbank. There, the tortoise took over and swam across with the hare on his back. On the opposite bank, the hare again carried the tortoise and they reached the finishing line together. They both felt a greater sense of satisfaction than they’d felt earlier.

The moral of the story? It’s good to be individually brilliant and to have strong core competencies; but unless you’re able to work in

a team and harness each other’s core competencies, you’ll always perform below par because there will always be situations at which you’ll do poorly and someone else does well.

Teamwork is mainly about situational leadership, letting the person with the relevant core competency for a situation take leadership. There are more lessons to be learnt from this story.

Note that neither the hare nor the tortoise gave up after failures. The hare decided to work harder and put in more effort after his failure. The tortoise changed his strategy because he was already working as hard as he could. In life, when faced with failure, sometimes it is appropriate to work harder and put in more effort. Sometimes it is appropriate to change strategy and try something different. And sometimes it is appropriate to do both.

The hare and the tortoise also learnt another vital lesson. When we stop competing against a rival and instead start competing against the situation, we perform far better.

When Roberto Goizueta took over as CEO of Coca-Cola in the 1980s, he was faced with intense competition from Pepsi that was eating into Coke’s growth. His executives were Pepsi-focused and intent on increasing market share 0.1 per cent a time.

Goizueta decided to stop competing against Pepsi and instead compete against the situation of 0.1 per cent growth. He asked his executives what was the average fluid intake of an American per day? The answer was 14 ounces. What was Coke’s share of that? Two ounces. Goizueta said Coke needed a larger share of that market. The competition wasn’t Pepsi. It was the water, tea, coffee, milk and fruit juices that went into the remaining 12 ounces. The public should reach for a Coke whenever they felt like drinking something.

To this end, Coke put up vending machines at every street corner. Sales took a quantum jump and Pepsi has never quite caught up since. To sum up, the story of the hare and tortoise teaches us many things.

Chief among them are that fast and consistent will always beat slow and steady; work to your competencies; pooling resources and working as a team will always beat individual performers; never give up when faced with failure; and finally, compete against the situation, not against a rival.