Do something everyday and make it a habit


I read this article “Write Code Every Day” by John Resig before my daughter came back. I was going to share with her after she came back. This is once again written by someone who, apart from his day job, has side project or hobby or something he dreams of pursuing but it is not without a heavy dose of will power to make it happen.

“Last fall, work on my coding side projects came to a head: I wasn’t making adequate progress and I couldn’t find a way to get more done without sacrificing my ability to do effective work at Khan Academy. There were a few major problems with how I was working on my side projects. I was primarily working on them during the weekends and sometimes in the evenings during the week. This is a strategy that does not work well for me, as it turns out. I was burdened with an incredible amount of stress to try and complete as much high quality work as possible during the weekend (and if I was unable to it felt like a failure). This was a problem as there’s no guarantee that every weekend will be free – nor that I’ll want to program all day for two days (removing any chance of relaxation or doing anything fun).

There’s also the issue that a week between working on some code is a long time, it’s very easy to forget what you were working on or what you left off on (even if you keep notes). Not to mention if you miss a weekend you end up with a two week gap as a result. That massive multi-week context switch can be deadly (I’ve had many side projects die due to attention starvation like that).

Inspired by the incredible work that Jennifer Dewalt completed last year, in which she taught herself programming by building 180 web sites in 180 days, I felt compelled to try a similar tactic: working on my side projects every single day.”

Illustration by Steven ResigI decided to set a couple rules for myself:
I must write code every day. I can write docs, or blog posts, or other things but it must be in addition to the code that I write.

It must be useful code. No tweaking indentation, no code re-formatting, and if at all possible no refactoring. (All these things are permitted, but not as the exclusive work of the day.)
All code must be written before midnight.
The code must be Open Source and up on Github.

Some of these rules were arbitrary. The code doesn’t technically need to be written before midnight of the day of but I wanted to avoid staying up too late writing sloppy code. Neither does the code have to be Open Source or up on Github. This just forced me to be more mindful of the code that I was writing (thinking about reusability and deciding to create modules earlier in the process).

Thus far I’ve been very successful, I’m nearing 20 weeks of consecutive work. I wanted to write about it as it’s completely changed how I code and has had a substantial impact upon my life and psyche.
With this in mind a number of interesting things happened as a result of this change in habit:
Minimum viable code. I was forced to write code for no less than 30 minutes a day. (It’s really hard to write meaningful code in less time, especially after remembering where you left off the day before.) Some week days I work a little bit more (usually no more than an hour) and on weekends I’m sometimes able to work a full day.”



We all need to get started everyday


Getting Started Is Everything” by Adam Pash, someone who has a day job and a plan to work on his hobby after work but seldom puts his plan to action.

“Nothing’s better than sinking your teeth into a satisfying after-hours side project—or what I guess most people may just call a hobby. But after 10 hours at work, it’s not always easy to muster the energy to switch off your TV and go to work on your project. The trick I use is simple, self-evident, and it works. Getting started is everything.”

Sound familiar? Yes, like you and me, he takes forever to even get started, finds all kinds of excuses to postpone starting the project he has in mind. Thus, with each passing days, so passed whatever dream that we may initially have, till having no time and energy left for anything but cooking, cleaning and resting. Well, not he, but many people. That’s why I share his article here.



Key factors that help you land a job


During the last holiday season when I was chatting with the young folks at my home, I was further convinced of the factors that are crucial in career development, that is, your skills, network and experience.

To certain extent, having a marketable skill, a wide network and related work experience help you far effectively than a degree from a top ranking college.

Yesterday my daughter and I talked about this and the value of a college education. It is true that these key factors work better for you than a college degree, considering the exorbitant cost of college education now. In the long run, however, I told my daughter, it is better to have a college degree, expensive as it is.

On the other hand, if you go to college just for an education without building your network and gaining certain work experience, you are pretty much limited in your career development.

Keep in mind learning is a lifetime endeavor. You can always learn in or out of school. But network helps you build a wide career base. I hope young people today can understand this key point.



There is no shortcut to success…


What I read recently once again confirms what we all know about success, that is success always entails hard work — “The Big Secret to A Successful Career

“there’s one trait that always comes through among the highly successful: Hard work.” “In fact, I’d agree with the statement above: ‘Hard Work Beats Talent.'”

“six simple things that help in your quest to be a success.
#1. Get up early.
#2. Focus on what matters. Each day.
#3. Pay attention to detail.
#4. Do more listening, less talking.
#5. Develop yourself. Learn to use the tools around you.
#6. Practice mental toughness.

Final thought. Have fun. Then hard work is easy!”



Don’t be a permanent fixture in your company


I read this article by Alex Kecskes on 12/13.

“If you’ve been working at a job for several years and seem to be going nowhere—no promotion, no challenging tasks, feeling like a drone—it’s time to re-evaluate your situation and get out of your rut. Being stuck in job limbo can happen to even the best employees. And the sooner you take steps to move beyond this career roadblock the better.”

Being trapped and stuck in a dead end job. This is exactly how I feel now. He offers some suggestions.

(1) Don’t stop at job descriptions
Many workers fall into the job description rut. They get so used to performing the perfunctory tasks outlined in their job description that they never “go for gold.” …

(2) Don’t stop “connecting”
This one can be particularly tough for introverts. If you are one, break out of your shell and talk to more people—people outside your “drone zone.”

(3) Don’t stop being creative
Offering creative solutions to problems at work can be a real career booster. …Focus your creativity on solutions that improve productivity using existing resources. To improve your creativity, check out Start Being More Creative at Work.



The pay difference between a food prep and a software developer


I share this article with my children a few weeks ago. “New study reveals fastest-growing occupations through 2017” by By Susan Ricker. I want them to notice the pay difference between the highest and the lowest among the list:
The lowest is food prep and serving — $8.75,
The highest is software developers — $47.64

While the field that will see the highest growth is personal care and home health aides, but sadly to say, their pay is so indecent.

The following list, adapted from the report, spotlights the fastest-growing occupations that are projected to see at least 8 percent growth and 30,000 jobs added from 2013 through 2017.

1. Personal care and home health aides
Projected growth: 21 percent
New jobs: 473,965
Median hourly earnings: $9.77

2. Market research analysts and marketing specialists
Projected growth: 14 percent
New jobs: 60,889
Median hourly earnings: $29.10

3. Medical secretaries
Projected growth: 14 percent
New jobs: 76,386
Median hourly earnings: $15.17

4. Emergency medical technicians and paramedics
Projected growth: 13 percent
New jobs: 30,234
Median hourly earnings: $15.28

5. Software developers (systems and applications)
Projected growth: 11 percent
New jobs: 110,049
Median hourly earnings: $47.64 (This must be entry level pay for)

6. Medical assistants
Projected growth: 10 percent
New jobs: 60,109
Median hourly earnings: $14.35

7. Registered nurses
Growth: 9 percent
New jobs: 256,703
Median hourly earnings: $32.04

8. Network and computer systems administrators
Growth: 9 percent
New jobs: 34,825
Median hourly earnings: $35.14

9. Pharmacy technicians
Growth: 9 percent
New jobs: 31,975
Median hourly earnings: $14.29

10. Landscaping and groundskeeping workers
Growth: 9 percent
New jobs: 111,444
Median hourly earnings: $11.07

11. Social and human service assistants
Growth: 9 percent
New jobs: 34,411
Median hourly earnings: $14.02

12. Computer systems analysts
Growth: 8 percent
New jobs: 40,462
Median hourly earnings: $37.98

13. Management analysts
Growth: 8 percent
New jobs: 60,157
Median hourly earnings: $35.80

14. Cooks, restaurant
Growth: 8 percent
New jobs: 79,364
Median hourly earnings: $10.63

15. Insurance sales agents
Growth: 8 percent
New jobs: 52,565
Median hourly earnings: $23.20

16. Nursing assistants
Growth: 8 percent
New jobs: 117,400
Median hourly earnings: $12.01

17. Licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses
Growth: 8 percent
New jobs: 63,320
Median hourly earnings: $20.33

18. Combined food prep and serving, incl. fast food
Growth: 8 percent
New jobs: 237,192
Median hourly earnings: $8.75

19. Receptionists and information clerks
Growth: 8 percent
New jobs: 85,035
Median hourly earnings: $12.64



Add to your wealth not just money


I used to tell this to my son. Pretty soon, I will have to constantly pound this idea on my daughter when she lands on her first job.

Always keep in mind this — increase your wealth not just your money. Wealth is more valuable than money.

Money does not always equal to wealth. Money comes and go monthly, a rather transient object. Without wealth, you constantly have to sell your time, your life and skill for money in order to have food and shelter.

Wealth include your skills, your connections, your social status, and many intangible and tangible assets that you can amass.

Without money, a CEO of a big company or president Clinton or his wife, even after white house stay, can still generate tons of money to buy a mansion of their dream.

The former manager of our research department left us in 2011. In less than three years, she changed job four times. She has this luxury and the freedom of hopping from one position to another because of her wealth — network. I wish I could have one of the jobs that she left behind, of course I am over-qualified for that but still cannot get it!

When we go to work everyday, most of us think we go to make money, on the surface at least. That’s it. But this is not what the higher level people think everyday. They think of increasing their wealth, making connection, achieving larger goals for their record, and how to make small potatoes like us serve their needs and help them toward achieving their goals.

It is such a shame that we spend our lives helping others realize their dreams, like an IOWA — an idiot out wandering aimlessly. Don’t just being instrumental to people above you. Don’t just be a small dispensable cog in the larger machine.

Make it your high priority everyday to increase your wealth, your intangible value, skills and connections, in whatever way you can think of, and get ready to fly higher. Seek opportunities to grow everyday and let go of nothing that you encounter in your daily life.



Watch what you post on the internet. Never know when it will come back


Sometimes it will hurt you when it comes back. This happened to a high school senior.

“Perhaps she hadn’t realized that colleges keep track of their social media mentions.

“It was incredibly unusual and foolish of her to do that,” Scott A. Meiklejohn, Bowdoin’s dean of admissions and financial aid, told me last week. The college ultimately denied the student admission, he said, because her academic record wasn’t competitive. But had her credentials been better, those indiscreet posts could have scuttled her chances.

“We would have wondered about the judgment of someone who spends their time on their mobile phone and makes such awful remarks,” Mr. Meiklejohn said.

People do make judgement based on what they read about you and your footprint on the internet. So, be careful what you utter or twitter on the supposedly free cyber space. You never know when it will come back and hurt you somewhere some day.

Scary.



Whether or not you should pursue a master’s degree


During last weekend, I bumped into an article that discusses the good and bad of various master degrees. This reminds me of the question that many of my friends asked, “Is your son going to graduate school?” I believe you have to have some good reasons to invest another two years and plenty of money for that gain. I am glad to read this part below.

“Bardaro says there are three good reasons to obtain a master’s degree (not including those required for a given career path).

One is the desire to increase your knowledge in a given field, which includes obtaining new skills not taught in many undergraduate educations;

the second is to make valuable alumni connections that can prove useful in today’s tough job market;

and third, to set yourself apart from those with only a bachelor’s degree.

‘However, more education can sometimes hinder you more than help you with certain job openings. In lean economic times, some companies may prefer the less educated cheaper employee than the more educated more expensive one.'”



Successful startup habits


I read this one during this past summer when my daughter was home and I tried to spend some quality time with her while she was home. It was written by Shane Snow, Chief Creative Officer of his company.

1) Systematizing Repeat Tasks –Entrepreneurship, by definition, is the art of creating systems that generate more value for less effort. Startups realize that the opportunity cost of doing mundane tasks adds up quickly, preventing them from doing the high-impact work they have set out to do.

2) Great Storytelling –Those who tell the stories rule the world.”

3) Carving Out “Heads Down” Time — Interruptions eat up a huge amount of the average person’s work time. Great startups have the habit of finding ways to protect their people from needless distractions. And smart managers block off swaths of their calendars for “productivity time.”

4) Split Testing And Iterating — A hallmark of the Lean Startup movement, entrepreneurs are wont to constantly pit two or more approaches against one another and let data inform their decisions. What should the home page call-to-action say? Split test two different sentences and see which gets more clicks. How do I get more people to respond to my emails? Test different subject lines, lengths, and endings like “Thanks for your help in advance” versus “Warm regards.” What kind of outfit makes me look more professional? Try two different styles and keep track of the compliments.

5) Looking For 80/20s — There’s a strange phenomenon in work that almost always holds true: if you examine your life, you’ll often see that only 20% of the things you do account for 80% of the results you get. Being productive and being busy are two different things. If you want to quadruple your productivity, focus on the 20% first, and if you can, cut the other 80% that just makes you busy.

6) Rather Than Planning, Doing — Too many of us have meetings about meetings, and end meetings with lists of follow-up conversations to be had later. But startups, for which every second counts, have a habit of taking on-the-spot action. Instead of promising to email an introduction for you, a startup founder will pull out her phone and write the email while you sit there. Then the issue doesn’t have to take up future brain- or calendar-space.

7) Ditching Meetings… But Taking Every Networking Meeting —Most meetings are worthless. They usually have too many people, who feel obligated to talk because they are there, and they’re almost always too long.

8) Asking “Why” Like A Five-Year-Old –Entrepreneurs aren’t satisfied with the status quo. They ask “why” over and over again until they get to the bottom of things, rather than ascribing superficial blame on people, or worst of all, accepting the explanation, “That’s just the way it is.”

9) Seeing Every “It Can’t Be Done” As An Opportunity–This is the mindset from which innovation springs. To an entrepreneur, convention means average, and impossible means profit potential. People who see the opportunities in the can’ts in their work—and seize them—create positive change, get promoted, and work happier.



“We are all in sales” business


I read this article from Psychology Today “Strategic Thinking How to Get Your Way? New research dispels three common myths that prevent us from moving others,” 3/7/2013 by Nick Tasler.

The author tries to expose “three common misconceptions” about sales. Whether you know it or not, you will sell something today. “We are all in sales,” insists Daniel Pink, author of To Sell Is Human.

Myth#1: saying more sells more. The “fast-talkers and light-listeners were hardly better at sales than extremely introverted wallflowers. The top performers were actually ‘ambiverts’—those people who are smack dab in the middle of the introversion/extroversion bell curve. ‘Because they naturally engage in a flexible pattern of talking and listening,” Grant explains, ambiverts come across as “more conversational and authentic.’ They express appropriate levels of excitement without being in-your-face pushy or in-your-space creepy.”

Myth#2 empathy is the secret weapon. “This is a dangerous half-truth. It sounds good, but empathy by itself is not strategic enough to be effective. You must show some heart, but you can’t lose your head.”

Myth#3: optimism beats realism



A good writing skill is far from enough if you want to make a living


While I have been talking about the difficulties of writing over reading, this might not be entirely true. As I read more, I got the impression that writing comes really easy to some people. They can write naturally and of course with ease.

I have found many young people pouring out quality articles instantly, contrairement à moi. They are like the author mentioned in yesterday’s posting, well-educated in humanities yet living in poverty.

This makes me think about writing and college major. What’s the use of a good writing if you cannot make a living with that skill? I would say a good writing skill is just an instrument or even a healthy hobby. You really need something more, that is, some more useful skills or tools in order to make a living.



Nothing is guaranteed to you when you go to a college


On 2/14/2013, Valentine’s Day, I read this sad story about a college graduate applying for food stampts. “Young, Privileged, and Applying for Food Stamps,” by Karina Briski, 5/29/2012

She has a Bachelor degree in Sociology, which, according to her, “has fed many early curiosities, giving me the adequate chops for things like fighting cultural myopism, defending Marxism, and buying my professors’ books.” All these fun stuffs but nothing practical or nothing that could bring in paychecks.

After graduation, she spent over three years chasing entry-level work with nonprofits. She saw no success after some more years, though she has “gotten really good at scraping the gunk off of ketchup bottles.” Having failed on nearly all fronts, she turned to government handouts.

Her failure to make a decent living after a college education comes from the myth that many have held, that is, “the educated middle class as automatic recipients of middle class incomes” and “the assumption that college is some great equalizer (was it ever?).”

I hope college students keep this in mind, that is, nothing is guaranteed when you go to a college or when you graduate from a college. Your major, your hard work, your network, your connections, and your accomplishments during these four college years all play key parts in the outcome and in the life beyond college.



What do you want to do with your life


During Thanksgiving break, a friend of mine asked me about high school. “What should the kids do in high school?” To be sure, this is not the first time that this question was brought up to me. The answer is simple. Ask the kid “What do you want to do with your life?”

Why do I ask this question? Because high school is one of the transitional years during which a child tries to find out where her passion lies and what she wants to pursue in college. If a child cannot answer these questions, she’d better start thinking about them now

“What do you want to do with your life?” Nobody ever told you not to think or postpone thinking about this question during your high school years. In fact, if you don’t have any idea about how you want to live your life, chances are you are more likely to drift away beyond high school.



Personality makes a huge difference


On Thanksgiving evening, we went to a friend’s house for a small gathering, where I talked to two interesting young Chinese girls.

The first one came to the States at age 12. She merged into American culture and has made an excellent adaptation — graduated from a KU master program, has an American boyfriend and got a job three years ago.

The second one came to the States at age 16. After over 5 years here, she told me she planned to go back to China after college graduation because she was not used to life here. When asked if she had already found a job in China, she said no. She insisted she was too old when she came to the US and would never be able to assimilate into American culture.

On the surface, it may seem the age makes the difference, the younger you are, the easy it is to adapt to the new environment. As a matter of fact, age is not the decisive factor.

What really makes the difference here is their personality. While the first one has an outgoing personality, the second one is just the opposite. She is introvert to the point of not talking to anyone at all when we first saw her. During the party, she spent most of the time either watching TV or on her laptop.

Life might be easier and happier for an introvert person if she stays within her familiar zone without having to venture out. Then again, are we missing something out in life if we never step out of our comfort zone?



A good habit makes a big difference in a decade


The day before Thanksgiving a friend of mine emailed me this writing. I thought it rather thought provoking and a bit shocking. I shared the story with both of my children and my sister’s son in Houston. Of course, I have to tell the story to my children as their Chinese is not up to the task.

The article tells the transformation and life experience of three persons. In the beginning, the three of them are not that far apart. In a matter of a decade, the gap among them has glaringly widened. The article is rather long. I like the above part.

Some students think school grades are not that important. But they fail to realize that seeking excellence in whatever they do is a habit. Being lazy, making least efforts, coasting away each day is also a habit. The effect of this habit compounds daily.

It is like two persons starting at the same point and heading two opposite directions. Time will wide the distance. And eventually the day will come when you see this distance and realize it is this daily habit that creates the vast distance among people. Of course, when people look back, they will be amazed to realize that they were so close at the beginning. The tragic part is they cannot turn back clock and relive the lost youth.



The last thing one would do is to waste time


On 10/27/2012, we went to Kansas City Art Institute for the National Portfolio Day. On the way back, my daughter said she was not going to major in art or to be an artist.

At that time, I didn’t know exactly what caused her to change her mind. Later when I asked her what she wanted to pursue now. She has not decided yet, which is perfectly normal.

I have repeatedly told my daughter — “You might not know what you want to pursue now, but I want you to keep in mind one thing, no matter what you decide or not decide, you must not waste time, sitting around idly, without actively seeking and enriching yourself, waiting for the day when you find your passion.”

“All you have in life is time. You know time is the only thing that once it is gone, it will never come back. Always try to get most out of the time you put in.”



A general not fallen on the battleground but before a beauty



On 11/9, just three days after President Obama’s re-election, we learned the resignation of CIA director David Petraeus over an extra-marital affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell.

These Chinese words came to my mind as I watched the news on TV. Of course, Bill Clinton’s affair surfaced in my head, too. He was full of remorse and penitence when he announced his decision to step down. I feel sad that a general ended his highly luminary career in such a disgrace.

Here’s the highlights in his career.
Graduated from West Point in 1974
Commander of Multinational Force Iraq, Feb 2007 to Sept 2008
Commander of International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) in Afghanistan, July 2010 to July 2011
CIA director in Sept 2011 to 11/9/2012

I cannot understand how a hero or a President falls before a beauty instead of his enemy. Here’s another lesson for people to learn and to remember.



Character and personality assessment, part IV


Continued from yesterday’s assessment. They reveal so much of a person if he can answer truthfully. Don’t you find it interesting!

31. If somebody is really disagreeing with me in a discussion: (1) that is okay, because people will not respect you if you readily give in (2) in between  (3) I will sometimes give in just to avoid the unpleasantness that goes with confrontation

32. When something is very important and others don’t understand the significance of it, I: (1) get a little irritated  (2) in between (3) am not bothered

33. In discussions with friends about controversial issues, I try to: (1) keep the discussions calm and orderly (2) in between (3) let people know for certain where I stand

34. For the most part I am not happy with my level of performance at anything I do and am striving to perfect myself in all areas.  Agree/In between/Disagree

35. When someone asks me a direct question on an uncomfortable subject: (1) I tend to be vague and indirect (2) uncertain (3) I give a direct answer

36. I tend to lose my temper from time to time but I get over it easily. (1) I don’t flare up  (2) in between (3) agree

37. In regard to arguments: (1) there is nothing better than a good, forceful discussion (2) in between (3) I don’t like them and even when not involved I may try to change the subject

38. When people try to make me do something I disagree with, I:  (1) tend to get a little upset  (2) in between  (3) know that everyone has to do some things they disagree with and it does not bother me

39. It is better to stay out of battles you know you can’t win than to pitch in and lose even for a good cause.  A/I/D

40. If a task I am working on becomes especially difficult or time-consuming, I tend to become frustrated after a while. A/I/D

41. If I am in a theater or movie and some people sitting near me are talking and spoiling my enjoyment, I would typically: (1) get up and move to another place (2) say nothing but glare at them (3) tell them to be quiet

42. Some people talk and think so slowly that I find myself suggesting words for them or finishing their sentences. A/I/D

43. The idea of going into a cave, like Carlsbad Caverns or Mammoth Cave, I find: (1) nothing to worry about (2) uncertain (3) makes me a little uneasy

44. It is true to say of me: (1) the ability to take occasional diversions and breaks is important in order to plunge back into work with renewed vigor (2) in between (3)  the ability to say no to myself is an important part of any long-term success

45. When I get a bill in the mail that I know has been paid, I: (1) call or write and set it straight (2) uncertain (3) let it go, knowing that they will catch their error

THE END



Character and personality assessment, part III


Continued from yesterday’s assessment.

21. In regard to showing my affection to my family and relatives, I: (1) enjoy hugging and am demonstrative  (2) in between (3) am quite reserved

22. If given the chance to compete in a contest against my close friends, I would: (1)  relish the opportunity (2) uncertain (3) prefer to enjoy the company of my friends in a more relaxed atmosphere

23. On occasion, I need to unleash built-up energy. Agree/In between/Disagree

24. One of the problems of our time is that people do not pay enough attention to the tried and established rules and values of our society. A/I/D

25. I prefer to have a few intimate friends to many friends whom I could get to know less well.  A/I/D

26. When those close to me forget anniversaries, birthdays, and other special dates, I: (1) find that it does not bother me (2) in between (3) find that it annoys me a little bit

27. There are occasions when I have to insist that those about me be quiet so that I can get some work done. A/I/D

28. When faced with a bureaucratic organization, I tend to: (1) try to see what rules can be gotten around  (2) in between  (3) follow rules as closely as possible

29. When I am in a social group and feel that I am being ignored, I will do something to call attention to myself. A/I/D

30. When somebody criticizes me: (1) it makes me uncomfortable (2) in between  (3) it has little or no effect



Character and personality assessment, part II


Continued from yesterday’s assessment.

11. I enjoy joining organizations and activities where I get to know new and different people and have done so.  Agree/In between/Disagree

12. It would be fair to say that I am: (1) a fairly excitable person (2) in between (3) pretty calm and relaxed

13. One must always keep to a bargain even when it works out very badly for you.  A/I/D

14. Considering my social position, I: (1) entertain and visit with people more often than most others at the same level (2) in between (3) get together with others socially less often than most others at my level

15. When you have people working for you it is: (1) best to maintain a distance to keep from getting too involved  (2) in between (3) important to make them feel friendly toward you

16. Compared to people I work with, I find that I need to move about more. A/I/D

17. In regard to deadlines I have to meet: (1) I meet them as required and don’t like myself very much if I do not  (2) in between  (3) people don`t expect all deadlines to be met and it is okay if some things are a little late

18. When I am going somewhere on a bus or plane, I prefer to: (1) sit and talk with someone (2) in between (3) sit alone

19. It is fair to say that I: (1) sometimes enjoy an emergency or task where I must work against time  (2) in between  (3) need occasional diversions to relieve the stress of my work

20. I admire a guy who can gain the advantage, even if it means deviating from the rules. A/I/D



Character and personality assessment, part I


On 10/6/2012, Saturday morning when my daughter went to take another SAT subject test at SME, a friend of mine came over asking us to help him fill an application for a HyVee job. After online submission, we were led to an assessment page. As I went through these questions, I realized they were to assess the personality and character of the applicants. It is very interesting. I am going to post them here today, tomorrow, and day after that.  You are supposed to choose one out of three possible answers.

1. I prefer work that allows me some mobility to that which requires that I remain in one place most of the day. Agree/In between/Disagree

2. It is more important to follow the laws and values of our society than it is to satisfy personal wants and needs.  A/I/D

3. It is fair to say that I am:  (1) quiet and reserved (2) in between (3) friendly and outgoing

4. When under stress at work, I (1) react to pressure only when it is intense (2) in between (3) tend to get irritated once in a while

5. Promises are made to be kept and nothing should interfere with making certain that they are carried out. A/I/D

6. When I apply myself to tasks, I (1) achieve by creative spontaneous bursts (2) in between (3) have self discipline and control

7. When working on a task, I find that I: (1) need to take periodic breaks to maintain ny concentration (2) in between (3) can fully apply myself for extended periods without interruption

8. In waiting rooms, such as the airport or doctor’s office, I find myself striking up a conversation with strangers. (1) almost never (2) sometimes (3) quite frequently

9. Any project worth doing is worth doing exactly right. A/I/D

10. My work habits are such that: (1) creative thought and action do not require order or planning (2) in between (3) my work space must be kept neat and tidy



When the monitor is an MD…


On 8/30, we had a monitor from San Diego. She handed me her business card which I didn’t pay any attention. But my colleague noticed that she was an MD. “She is an MD. What does she do here doing monitor work?” came the question.

We could tell from her foreign accent that she is not a native here, even though she sounds very smart. Next I heard some negative comments and gossip about her, like she got her education in a foreign country and is not good enough to become a doctor here, so she ended up doing monitor job. She is actually a senior CRA for early phase clinical trial.

She reminds me of a friend of mine who got her education and work experience back in China, came over, took the needed courses and passed all the exams to become an MD, but couldn’t find residency in three years. Last time I heard from her, she is a medical monitor for a clinic trial.

While I feel sad for people like this monitor and my friend, I can also identify with them in that both of us are over-educated for our position, which, in a way, is a waste of time and life. This is something I hope my children can avoid in their lives.

You do not really need a PhD unless you go to the world of academia.



You will get there as long as you don’t give up.



Last weekend, I went to Costco, where I met a Chinese couple. About two years ago, they were certain their son would be accepted by MIT, but that didn’t happen. The mother was very upset and the son felt hurt. The incident reminds me of this Chinese poem.

I didn’t ask them about their son as I was not sure how they felt about it now. Much as I was anxious to share with them some of my thought on college education, I did not say anything to them. I thought it a good policy not to offer advice when I am not asked to.

If the boy were my son, I would tell him to work hard during the first year of college at KU, then transfer to MIT with both your high school and college achievements. That is, if MIT is the place of his dream.

If that doesn’t work, get your bachelor in three instead of normal four years, graduate summa cum laude, apply for MIT graduate program.

I am sure there are more than one roads leading to Rome. You will get there as long as you don’t give up. In the long run, being resourceful, resilient and persistent will help you more than anything else.



Security and stability do not sit well with me


On 8/29, a monitor from Dallas said she would see me this time next year since our patient is in long term yearly follow up. I was thinking to myself “Oh mine, I would go crazy if I were still here by then.”

From my own experience and from what I heard at clinic level, it is getting somehow rather difficult for people to make internal transfer after the merger.

When I mentioned about my intention to move back to the IT field away from the clinic, I was asked if I would get paid more. “Not sure,” I said. “What’s the point of changing your job if you don’t get pay increase?”

I cannot even begin to mention this topic. This all ties back to the purpose of a job, which, to me, is much more than paychecks. I would move if I see no room for growth or individual development or no challenge at all. Of course, I would not accept a cut just for that extra challenge. For some reason, security and stability do not sit well with me.



The future is bright though the roads might be full of obstables


I sounded overly optimistic on my yesterday’s posting, as if I were not worried at all over my son’s decision to go on his own.

For the record, I do worry as I always do. There is no change on that part of me. Yet, I am more delighted and encouraged than worried and concerned. I try to see the bright side. And I believe you cannot expect to gain anything without losing something. In this case, he stands to gain everything at the cost of his job. Or you have to break your iron bowl in order to gain a gold bowl.

Still, I keep telling my son that he needs to prepare for any possible obstacles and setbacks, as the road to glory is always full of hardships, twists and turns. Keep alive your dreams, but never dream of smooth sailing in your searching for the bright future.



Life is full of risks and adventures, no risk, no gain.


On 8/9/2012, my son called home. He told me one of his high school classmates was in New York, looking for jobs. She told my son that she would move back to Kansas if she couldn’t find a job in New York.

Of course, many people were surprised over my son’s choice. That is, quit his day job at the time when many people cannot find jobs. Once again, I shared with him my thought on this.

Most people seek stability and avoid risk, the so-called keeping one’s iron bowl. That’s why most people remain relatively stable and unchanged throughout their lives.

Yet, life is full of risks and adventures. No risk, no gain. The higher the risk, the higher the potential gain. Venture out on your own legs, even if you have to give up your current position. In the long run, you will be much better off after you try out yourself. You got nothing to lose but everything to gain. Go your own way and you won’t regret.



Get into the habit of finding out the answer yourself


On 7/24/2012, my daughter told me of her finalist place in the essay contest. The next day I told a few of my friends. One of them asked me about essay contest. Over that weekend, a friend of mine called, asking what activities my daughter was engaged in.

Sometimes, the school offered information on contest but mostly the students need to do their own research on the Internet. My daughter was lucky in that she has a big brother who often fills in some information. This is how my daughter found all of her local and national contests.

Well, my ultimate message is this. Don’t wait for others to tell you what to do or show you how to do it. Get into the habit of finding out the answer yourself. Be proactive, starting as early as possible. Have initiative if you really want to rise.



Quitting when millions are seeking jobs


On 7/31/2012, my son called in the evening. He was going to tell his boss the next day that the end of August would be his last day with the company.

I asked him why he gave the company a month instead of normal two-week notice. He said it would take more than a month for him to transfer over his projects. It would be more responsible if he could hand over his work smoothly to the next person.

I applaud for his courage and confidence to quit a good-paid job and go on his own. Meanwhile, I wish him good luck.



Six secrets to your career sucesss


I read this back in 2006. I am not sure if I have ever written anything on this topic. Before I trash this piece of note, I am going to share it here.

“Six career secrets you won’t learn in school ” by Alexandra Levit.
(1) Develop a marketable corporate person. Think of yourself as a publicist with the task of promoting yourself.
(2) Establish profitable relationship. Business networking.
(3) Master transferable skills like goal setting, effective  communication and time management, like your emotional intelligence.
(4) Stay motivated despite trying circumstances
(5) Get people to cooperate.
(6) Be proactive about your career growth. After all, it is your career and no one but you should take care of it all the time

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