In the last decade or so, I came across some intellectual celebrities in various occasions in various places. No, I don’t have any evidence of my encounters with these people, no autograph, no selfies, nada. I had some email exchanges with a couple of them but I’d keep these to myself. Also, while they’re inspirational, meeting them didn’t not make me any special. Just because they’re brilliant, genius, and famous, it doesn’t mean that I turned brilliant, genius, and famous once I met them. Unlike in scenes of many feel-good Hollywood movies, I don’t have any life-changing moments in any of these encounters. In fact, some of the stories are probably rather ordinary, as exemplified in the story I am going to tell you. Continue reading “A neighbour with a beautiful mind”
Grad students, have you ever received an email from a publishing company claiming to have selected your thesis/dissertation for publication? If you have written a Masters or doctoral thesis, you probably have. I have received tons of emails like that in the last 10 years.* It seems that end of semester is the peak time for “bad” publishing companies to send such emails. Sorry to bring you bad news, no established and quality publishers will actively solicit publications from doctoral/masters thesis!
My grad students asked me for some tips to handle conferences’ Q&A session. Here are my answers. I actually use these not only for conferences, but also in everyday interactions.
1. when you think you really know the answer, wait 5 seconds before you say it. sometimes you don’t really know whether you really know or just think you really know.
2. avoid a ‘stupid’ moment: before reacting (negatively/harshly/carelessly/…), think of something stupid and don’t say it.
3. don’t answer too quickly, always buy time. for example by saying “thank you for your question”, “that’s an interesting question”, or just “thank you”.
4. when someone gives you a stupid irrelevant question that has nothing to do with your topic, you can say “oh gosh this is so stupid” in your mind, but verbally say “thank you” anyway. be gentle, stupidity is not a crime.
5. when you don’t know the answer, say you don’t know, but you don’t have to say it too enthusiastically.
6. when someone attacks you with a rude or dismissive question/statement, focus your eyes on his face and imagine an ugly(funny) caricature of him, and take time to smile before responding.