Hush-hush

In kindergarten, most of my peers wanted to become either models, actors, or doctors when they grow up. For a change, I was jealous of priests, and of the fact that they are allowed to listen to people’s confessions for the whole days. I wanted to know the truth about people, however dirty this truth might be. And, I was bitter thinking that I would actually never become a priest. Until I did.

Navigate

I was always wondering why some people are so lucky in life - they are neither geniuses nor work that hard, yet always find themselves in the right place at the right moment, gather the right people around them, embark on the best projects or get the best jobs. Now I think I know.

People is the answer

It’s been a long road up to this point, since I left my parents’ place at the age of 18. But, when I look back at the past 15 years, I some some patterns clearly, coming over over again. First of all, I see that there is only one asset which has been systematically accumulating over these 15 years. It was not money, which you can easily lose in the nearest bubble. It was not knowledge, which can become useless once you change the discipline or profession. It was actually people. 

These dark hours

The peak is so close; glowing somewhere on the horizon, yet looking like a fata morgana - step after step, and you do not feel like you are coming any closer. I felt exactly the same way while approaching the peak of Kilimanjaro in 2013. I am making this last effort in order to finally submit my PhD thesis now. And this will happen in literally a few hours. I expected it would feel orgasmic, but instead, it feels like a sad relief. Yet, I would like to capture this moment - just for the sake of memory. Maybe one day, I would get back to what I felt when I realised that all this tantalising pain is finally over.

What I learned past few months...

…about entrepreneurship and entrepreneurs. In this time I was attending quite a few conferences in industry, I was informally involved in some projects, and I made many entrepreneurial friends. And, I was observing. As for a researcher who spent her whole youth solving integral equations, this is quite a new and exotic experience. I am on the learning curve now, in this fascinating new world. Hereby, I would like to list a few stereotypes I had about entrepreneurs, and how I feel about these stereotypes right now.

Mythology

This week was interesting; I just realised that even though we live in 21st century, virtually anything can be explained by science and most youngsters are atheists, people still crave for mythological, mystical, superhuman heroes. Maybe even more than ever. 

Respect

According to a common opinion, former researchers tend to function really well as entrepreneurs. This is true. However, there is one useful quality missing in academia - which turned out to be very painful to me when I went a little bit more into the entrepreneurial direction. Namely, in academia, no one teaches us how to value our time.

Real choices, fake choices

At some point I realised that the decision on whether or not to stay in academia - or in other words, whether to do research or focus on commercial projects instead - is not the real choice I need to make right now. In fact, the real choice is: how much am I willing to risk? Let me explain. 

Born to do it

One insight I remember from all the motivational books and movies I ever consumed is that, entrepreneurs always underscore how difficult it is to go against your relatives and friends when it comes to risking, investing and dropping day jobs on behalf of starting new ventures. In my case, family and friends react completely differently than in most cases I ever heard of - and it gives me goose bumps.

15 years later

I spent Christmas among family and friends quite as every time before. However, this time, I also had a few afterthoughts as there are some examples of common knowledge that stroke me really hard. You might hear some simple truths from your parents and teachers over and over again - or read about it from motivational books - but after all, you only learn how important they are when you see the consequences in real life. 

A gap - vol. 2

In August this year, I wrote a compilation of seven things I had learned from having a gap year. Funny thing is: the gap year was only halfway back then. Now, when it slowly comes to the end, I can easily add yet another seven things I learned since then. Some of these things are almost like rediscovering America, but I would like to shortly highlight them here anyways.

Moonlight

Blockchain is already changing the world of supply chains, higher-education certificates, internet of things, communication between institutions etc. All these systems work well when they do not need to rely on human trust. In blockchain industry, trustless systems are implemented by means of decentralization. Does it also imply that you could, in principle, move labor onto a blockchain? One platform created with a purpose of creating such a friendly marketplace, is Moonlight. The main goal of this initiative is to optimize employment both from the employer’s and employee’s point of view. Could Moonlight change academia?

The Tangle Approach

I was recently recommended to read the book by Emilie Wapnick ‘How to Be Everything: A Guide for Those Who (Still) Don’t Know What They Want to Be When They Grow Up' (2017), dedicated to the concept of multipotentiality. In the book, Emilie refers to her own experience as a person who cannot fully commit herself to just one profession, but instead, has multiple passions and can only find fulfilment by sequentially indulging in multiple professions on her career path. When I read this book, I have a feeling that it resonates with my own story to a high extent. However, I developed my own model of labor, which I could call a tangle (or a plaid).

So close yet so far: a postcard from Kilimanjaro

Five years have passed since I hiked to the top of Kilimanjaro; it happened precisely on the morning of 16th September 2013. It surprises me how vivid this memory still remains. Especially the last day of the hike, a lonely path from the last camp of Barafu towards the peak, I remember as bright as if it happened yesterday - maybe because finishing a PhD feels EXACTLY like that day.

How to conduct an interview?

Perhaps, some latent hobbies or talents you inherit after your parents, but for a really long time, you do not realise this. I have recently discovered that I am actually fond of interviewing people. I also learned that an interview can go way smoother than expected when you follow just a few general rules. I would also like to share the tips in here - who knows, maybe it turns out useful for more people. We are not formally trained how to interview people during our scientific careers after all.

The Virtual Brain

Neuroscience is changing very quickly in the spirit of open science. This involves not only sharing big datasets but also creating new, open-source tools that allow for testing research hypotheses derived in the clinics. One such tool is The Virtual Brain (TVB): a software developed to launch meso-scale simulations of the human brain.

Mission: Impossible

How to predict the future? That’s the whole difficulty when it comes to making any choices, from choosing the right studies, through choosing the right friends, choosing the right investments, to choosing the right projects at work. A mundane, typical scientist (such as me) can produce one, two, sometimes three first-author publications per year - not much more is physically possible. In such a situation, it is crucial to choose the right projects.