Friday, December 6

Professors’ Pet Peeves


You'll be heading off to uni next year so some of these lessons learnt are important. It helps being professional at uni. Treat teachers with respect son. 

But there's one thing which I'm disappointed about in here. I firmly believe that if the student hasn't learnt the teacher hasn't taught. Far too many teachers teach as if it's a job and not a vocation and mission. You'll remember the great teachers son because they firmly believed that everybody can learn and also that a child/student isn't a vase to be filled but a fire to be lit. 

Here's hoping you have great teachers son. 



Professors’ Pet Peeves » Sociological Images

I got this email from a Yale student when I arrived to give a speech. She was responsible for making sure that I was delivered to my hotel and knew where to go the next day:

Omg you’re here! Ahh i need to get my shit together now lol. Jk. Give me a ring when u can/want, my cell is [redacted]. I have class until 1230 but then im free! i will let the teacher she u will be there, shes a darling. Perhaps ill come to the end of the talk and meet you there after. Between the faculty lunch and your talk, we can chat! ill take make sure the rooms are all ready for u. See ya!

To say the least, this did not make me feel confident that my visit would go smoothly.

I will use this poor student to kick off this year’s list of Professors’ Pet Peeves.  I reached out to my network and collected some things that really get on instructors’ nerves.  Here are the results: some of the “don’ts” for how to interact with your professor or teaching assistant.  For what it’s worth, #2 was by far the most common complaint.

1. Don’t use unprofessional correspondence.

Your instructors are not your friends. Correspond with them as if you’re in a workplace, because you are. We’re not saying that you can’t ever write like this, but you do need to demonstrate that you know when such communication is and isn’t appropriate.  You don’t wear pajamas to a job interview, right? Same thing.

Thursday, December 5

Why Are There Still So Few Women in Science?


You do fantastically well in science and mathematics. You are also awesome in the arts, history and drawing etc. Don't ever let anybody tell you that you can't do maths or science or physics if you're interested in them sweetheart. :) 

This is a bit of a long article but It's good to read about how other women managed to succeed in the sciences. 



Why Are There Still So Few Women in Science?

Last summer, researchers at Yale published a study proving that physicists, chemists and biologists are likely to view a young male scientist more favorably than a woman with the same qualifications. Presented with identical summaries of the accomplishments of two imaginary applicants, professors at six major research institutions were significantly more willing to offer the man a job. If they did hire the woman, they set her salary, on average, nearly $4,000 lower than the man’s. Surprisingly, female scientists were as biased as their male counterparts.

Wednesday, December 4

Harnessing the Science of Persuasion


Fascinating article on how to persuade people. 6 principles. Quite a lot of science behind this, but I would like to talk more about 2 things, the principle of liking and the principle of reciprocity. The principle of liking is the first and foremost, son. People will do what you tell them if you genuinely like them. And that cannot be faked. So tell people that you like them. I know it’s a British thing not to talk emotions and beat about the bush, but tell people straight off that you like them. And you want to do business together. Or whatever. It has to be genuine, mind you, and that’s what you need to cultivate, son. A deep abiding interest in other people. Know what they are doing, what they are up to, what is going on, what are their likes and dislikes. Understand their fears and emotions.

The second thing is reciprocity, son. I already told you that I was so happy to hear that you were helping out your friend. You haven’t seen the godfather film yet, you should son. It’s quite an interesting film. See how a man rose to become the godfather. You know what he did? He did favours for other people. That’s what I like to do, not because I want to be a godfather, but because its good. People know me as a person they can come for help. I very very rarely ask for a favour back. Almost never, but that’s the thing, son, you don’t need favours back. Help others, give help to them, make others successful. That’s the key thing in persuading people. Ensure that you are making them successful or removing a problem from their laps. And they will recognise that, son. People aren’t stupid. They are smart. But if you want them to do something that you want then you have to make sure that they are getting something out of it. So do favours for them, every time, all the time, son.

Rest, read this. It will help you throughout your life, son.




Harnessing the Science of Persuasion

by Robert B. Cialdini

A lucky few have it; most of us do not. A handful of gifted “naturals” simply know how to capture an audience, sway the undecided, and convert the opposition. Watching these masters of persuasion work their magic is at once impressive and frustrating. What’s impressive is not just the easy way they use charisma and eloquence to convince others to do as they ask. It’s also how eager those others are to do what’s requested of them, as if the persuasion itself were a favor they couldn’t wait to repay.

The frustrating part of the experience is that these born persuaders are often unable to account for their remarkable skill or pass it on to others. Their way with people is an art, and artists as a rule are far better at doing than at explaining. Most of them can’t offer much help to those of us who possess no more than the ordinary quotient of charisma and eloquence but who still have to wrestle with leadership’s fundamental challenge: getting things done through others. That challenge is painfully familiar to corporate executives, who every day have to figure out how to motivate and direct a highly individualistic work force. Playing the “Because I’m the boss” card is out. Even if it weren’t demeaning and demoralizing for all concerned, it would be out of place in a world where cross-functional teams, joint ventures, and intercompany partnerships have blurred the lines of authority. In such an environment, persuasion skills exert far greater influence over others’ behavior than formal power structures do.

Which brings us back to where we started. Persuasion skills may be more necessary than ever, but how can executives acquire them if the most talented practitioners can’t pass them along? By looking to science. For the past five decades, behavioral scientists have conducted experiments that shed considerable light on the way certain interactions lead people to concede, comply, or change. This research shows that persuasion works by appealing to a limited set of deeply rooted human drives and needs, and it does so in predictable ways. Persuasion, in other words, is governed by basic principles that can be taught, learned, and applied. By mastering these principles, executives can bring scientific rigor to the business of securing consensus, cutting deals, and winning concessions. In the pages that follow, I describe six fundamental principles of persuasion and suggest a few ways that executives can apply them in their own organizations.

The Principle of Liking:

People like those who like them.

The Application:

Uncover real similarities and offer genuine praise.

The retailing phenomenon known as the Tupperware party is a vivid illustration of this principle in action. The demonstration party for Tupperware products is hosted by an individual, almost always a woman, who invites to her home an array of friends, neighbors, and relatives. The guests’ affection for their hostess predisposes them to buy from her, a dynamic that was confirmed by a 1990 study of purchase decisions made at demonstration parties. The researchers, Jonathan Frenzen and Harry Davis, writing in theJournal of Consumer Research, found that the guests’ fondness for their hostess weighed twice as heavily in their purchase decisions as their regard for the products they bought. So when guests at a Tupperware party buy something, they aren’t just buying to please themselves. They’re buying to please their hostess as well.

Tuesday, December 3

What Men Like in Men: An Argument from 1902

Quite an interesting article son even though this was written in 1902, 110 years back. I quote the last para 

What then is the conclusion? Men like in men these traits: the honour that ennobles; the justice that insures the right; the reasonableness that mellows and makes plain; the courage that proclaims virility; the generous instinct that disdains all meanness; the modesty that makes no boast; the dignity that wins respect; the fineness and the tenderness that know and feel. But when one thinks of it more carefully, may he not sum it up in just a single sentence, and accept it as truth, that all men like a gentleman?

There isn't any definition of a gentleman although the above characteristics do apply son. You can't be born as a gentleman although upbringing helps. Some traits can be learnt as well. One thing which I missed above and that's a sense of humour and the ability to laugh at yourself and others. How about optimism? Surely a vital trait? Passion? The burning desire to do something?



What Men Like in Men: An Argument from 1902

Editor’s Note: The following article appeared in a 1902 issue of Cosmopolitan Magazine (which started out as a quality family magazine before becoming a women’s rag). I think it raises an interesting question: What do men like or admire in other men? Lots of articles these days are about what men find attractive in women or what women find attractive in men, but rarely discussed are the qualities that men respect and admire in each other. It seems like men sort of intuitively know what traits we respect in other men, but we often cannot articulate them. This article attempts to put such thoughts into words.
I’d be curious to know if you think the same traits that the author found noteworthy in men over 100 years ago are still ones that modern men admire in each other. What traits would you leave out or add in? Share in the comments!Please remember as you read this article that it was written in 1902. So the author has some opinions — particularly about women — that might offend modern sensibilities. “What Men Like in Men”
By Rafford Pyke
Cosmopolitan Magazine, August 1902

If you were to ask the average man to tell you offhand just what qualities he likes in other men, he would probably boggle a good deal over his answer. His first impulse would be to say, “Oh, I don’t know!” which is with men a convenient formula for avoiding thought upon unexpected or (to them) uninteresting topics. A little later, after turning the matter over in his mind, he would give you a catalogue of qualities to which he would be willing to swear. His list, however, would bear a strong resemblance to the “hundred-best-book” lists made my persons who sincerely believe that they are expressing their own literary preferences, but who are actually indulging in a bit of intellectual pose. Just as these individuals mention the books which they feel they ought to enjoy reading rather than those which they really read, so the average man will name a number of qualities which he thinks he likes, rather than those which in his heart of hearts he actually does like.

Monday, December 2

Islam’s Medieval Underworld


Here's a fascinating story about how thieves and burglars operated in the Islamic Middle East. Imagine going around with a tortoise in your bag? 

But imagine you are a householder and wake up at night and see this eerie candle moving around on the ground? Scary. 

And then again this quote; 

who used the Islamic religion as a cloak for their predatory ways, well aware that the purse-strings of the faithful could easily be loosed by the eloquence of the man who claims to be an ascetic or or mystic, or a worker of miracles and wonders, to be selling relics of the Muslim martyrs and holy men, or to have undergone a spectacular conversion from the purblindness of Christianity or Judaism to the clear light of the faith of Muhammad.

. People are so gullible in terms of religion. Their brains turn into hay and mush. Serves them right. 



Islam’s Medieval Underworld

Arab city

An Arab city of the early medieval period. Urban centers in the Middle East were of a size and wealth all but unknown in the Christian west during this period, encouraging the development of a large and diverse fraternity of criminals. From a contemporary manuscript.

The year is—let us say—1170, and you are the leader of a city watch in medieval Persia. Patrolling the dangerous alleyways in the small hours of the morning, you and your men chance upon two or three shady-looking characters loitering outside the home of a wealthy merchant. Suspecting that you have stumbled across a gang of housebreakers, you order them searched. From various hidden pockets in the suspects’ robes, your men produce a candle, a crowbar, stale bread, an iron spike, a drill, a bag of sand—and a live tortoise.

The reptile is, of course, the clincher. There are a hundred and one reasons why an honest man might be carrying a crowbar and a drill at three in the morning, but only a gang of experienced burglars would be abroad at such an hour equipped with a tortoise. It was a vital tool in the Persian criminals’ armory, used—after the iron spike had made a breach in a victim’s dried-mud wall—to explore the property’s interior.