Category Archives: College

Venturing Forth Beyond College

Source: Both Sides of the Table, May 2019

1. Networks.

You learn so much more in life by surrounding yourself with talented people.

2. The world works on a pull model.

The best opportunities in life come from people who PULL you into them. When people are building teams and looking for talented, hard-working people they break down walls to pull you in.

you need to build a network even outside of your company.

3. If you don’t ask, you don’t get.

It’s not good enough to know people. In order for them to pull you in and pull you up you need to ASK.

4. It is better to beg for forgiveness than to ask for permission.

… Sometimes asking alone isn’t enough. Decide which rules are acceptable to break.

5. There’s a time to learn and a time to earn.

Learn tangible skills that will be valuable in your future.

6. Be politely persistent.

More than 50% of people I meet with don’t proactively push for more meetings or interactions. You can’t get mad if people don’t return your emails or calls. Every person worth meeting is so busy they can barely get through their day’s work. Success comes to those who follow through and do so with grace and humility.

7. Get your foot in the door.

8. Build a personal brand. Be known for something. Develop your voice.

Every now and again somebody figures out how to communicate a unique message to an audience and become known for something in a field. Developing an audience gives you a bigger network, bigger knowledge and more power to get ahead.


  • Take some risks. I have.
  • Take the time to experience new things in life.
  • Take hard forks in the road and don’t worry about what the other path held. As you age your crossroads narrow.
  • Take chances.
  • Ask for the crazy promotion with a sly smile on your face.
  • Show up in an unexpected place.
  • Every now and again beg for forgiveness. Taking risks is, by definition, risky! But nothing ventured, nothing gained.

If you make the most of your crossroads and live without regret, your relatives will smile from the beyond knowing their hard work gave you the freedoms of choice that you now enjoy.

Nerds Learn Improv Comedy

Source: ZeroHedge, May 2019

Computer-science majors at Northeastern University face perhaps the most difficult test they’ve ever encountered; improv class.

The class forces the bona-fide computer nerds to bring out, or at least emulate, their inner alpha – overcoming crippling fears of interacting with other humans, face-to-face, in front of a bunch of other people. The course requires public speaking, lecturing on nontechnical topics, and speaking gibberish such as “butuga dubuka manala phuthusa,” according to the WSJ’s Sara Castellanos.

Over 800 Northwestern CS majors have taken the class, which also involves awkwardly staring into a classmate’s eyes for 60 seconds unless someone laughs first. Another activity requires students to tell a joke.

“The stereotype is that we can’t talk to people and we’re nerds and wear hoodies,” said Catherine McLean who was initially skeptical about the course, only to find that she learned to better use her voice’s volume and pitch, as well as the ability to hold casual conversations with people on topics which she was not an expert.

Harvard Almost Went Bankrupt

Source: Manifold Learning, May 2019

the four fund managers at Harvard, just four individuals who were involved in running Harvard’s endowment, they together earned more money than all the professors at Harvard combined, which is astonishing. And because Harvard had invested in mortgage securities and derivatives, Harvard actually almost went bankrupt.

Harvard came within a whisker of going bankrupt — if not for the bailout, you know, the financial bailout, Harvard would have gone bankrupt.

Related Resource: Reuters, Nov 2009

Most people, if they’ve hired a legendary fund manager on a multi-million-dollar salary to look after investments and liquidity, would listen to the advice of that person. But most people aren’t Larry Summers:

It happened at least once a year, every year. In a roomful of a dozen Harvard University financial officials, Jack Meyer, the hugely successful head of Harvard’s endowment, and Lawrence Summers, then the school’s president, would face off in a heated debate. The topic: cash and how the university was managing – or mismanaging – its basic operating funds.

Through the first half of this decade, Meyer repeatedly warned Summers and other Harvard officials that the school was being too aggressive with billions of dollars in cash, according to people present for the discussions, investing almost all of it with the endowment’s risky mix of stocks, bonds, hedge funds, and private equity. Meyer’s successor, Mohamed El-Erian, would later sound the same warnings to Summers, and to Harvard financial staff and board members.

“Mohamed was having a heart attack,’’ said one former financial executive, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of angering Harvard and Summers. He considered the cash investment a “doubling up’’ of the university’s investment risk.

But the warnings fell on deaf ears.

Summers, amazingly, wanted to invest 100% of the university’s cash in the endowment, and had to be talked down to investing a mere 80%. No wonder Meyer and El-Erian tried to talk him out of it: the Harvard endowment was never designed as a place to invest sums of cash which might be needed immediately. Instead, it’s designed to invest for the very long term, taking advantage of the higher returns on illiquid investments.

Summers was playing a high-risk carry-trade game with Harvard’s cash:

The aggressive investment of cash accounts is part of how the university has long run its “central bank,’’ an account that holds funds from its various schools and pays them a modest US Treasury rate of return. The “bank,’’ in turn, has invested the lion’s share of that money with the endowment, generating returns that are used to pay for shared needs, like graduate housing and financial aid.

No one had the stones to stand up to Summers when it came to this high-risk strategy of essentially borrowing at Treasury rates and investing the proceeds in an illiquid long-term endowment — certainly not James Rothenberg, Harvard’s part-time, unpaid, California-based treasurer.

After Summers left, sheer inertia took over, and nothing happened — maybe because El-Erian was soon on his way out as well. The result was that the university ended up losing 27% of its $6 billion in “cash”: a whopping $1.8 billion. 

An Education .NE. A Degree

Source: ZeroHedge, Mar 2019

there’s an enormous difference between an education and a university degree.


a university degree is just an expensive piece of paper; it doesn’t actually confer any real knowledge.

An education, on the other hand, develops skills and mental agility to create real value in the world.

There are thousands of free resources out there that people can take advantage of to learn valuable skills. That’s an incredible opportunity to learn real-world, applicable skills that you can use to create an income for yourself.

every time I hear someone whining about wanting free university education, I always ask them how many online courses they’ve taken. How many books have they read?

I typically receive nothing more than a confused look in return.

But that’s the nature of entitlements: people feel that they should have everything provided for them without having to lift a finger to help themselves.

Let’s be honest– a lot of people waste away in university. They skip classes, drink beer, and learn nothing.

Others work their butts off to learn and live as much as they can, and genuinely become better people as a result.

This notion of treating them all the same, and investing equally in each of them, is beyond insane.

Aceing Your Next Exam

Source: Scott Young blog, Mar 2019

1. When to Study and How Much

2. What to Study and How to Do It

3. What Kinds of Practice to Do

4. Make Sure You Really Understand

5. Beat Anxiety by Simulating the Exam First

Why US’s Ivy League (and plus) over Oxbridge

Source: Quora, date indeterminate

I come from a junior college in Singapore that is the number one feeder of Oxford and Cambridge in the world — Raffles Institution. When I was applying for college, I had 5–6 different close friends with similar profiles to me who were applying to the same colleges I was. All 5 of my friends got into Cambridge or Oxford, while only one of us got into MIT — me. This anecdote was not meant to illustrate any sort of qualitative difference between Oxbridge and American universities, but it does have an interesting point — elite American colleges are exclusive and extremely inaccessible. Whereas most high-performing students can stand a realistic chance at Oxbridge.

American universities will only become more popular in the near future as Britain loses its influence. Stanford’s acceptance rate has already gone under 5%, so has Harvard’s. In the era where almost everything we use can be traced back to a teenage hacker in an American college dorm, there are very few things more appealing.

My uncle (an LSE academic) recommended MIT: Quora, Feb 2019

I remember having to convince my parents to send me to MIT instead of Oxford. But since I had an uncle who was an academic at LSE, convincing them was much easier. And yes, my uncle, an economics professor at LSE, made sure my dad sent me to MIT at whatever the cost. He never calls. But when I told him that I was about to make a decision, he called my dad every day for a week just to talk about how rare an opportunity it is to get to study at MIT, while getting to LSE and Oxford were relative easy for a straight A student from RI.

The value of stupid questions: Quora, Jan 2019

A lot of great ideas actually come from young and curious undergraduate students asking interesting, and sometimes stupid questions during office hours and lectures. Graduate students benefit a lot from the interaction.



Straight-A in School .NE. Straight-A in Life

Source: NYTimes, Dec 2018

Academic excellence is not a strong predictor of career excellence. Across industries, research shows that the correlation between grades and job performance is modest in the first year after college and trivial within a handful of years. For example, at Google, once employees are two or three years out of college, their grades have no bearing on their performance. (Of course, it must be said that if you got D’s, you probably didn’t end up at Google.)

Academic grades rarely assess qualities like creativity, leadership and teamwork skills, or social, emotional and political intelligence. Yes, straight-A students master cramming information and regurgitating it on exams. But career success is rarely about finding the right solution to a problem — it’s more about finding the right problem to solve.

In a classic 1962 study, a team of psychologists tracked down America’s most creative architects and compared them with their technically skilled but less original peers.

One of the factors that distinguished the creative architects was a record of spiky grades. “In college our creative architects earned about a B average,” Donald MacKinnon wrote. “In work and courses which caught their interest they could turn in an A performance, but in courses that failed to strike their imagination, they were quite willing to do no work at all.” They paid attention to their curiosity and prioritized activities that they found intrinsically motivating — which ultimately served them well in their careers.

Getting straight A’s requires conformity. Having an influential career demands originality.

In a study of students who graduated at the top of their class, the education researcher Karen Arnold found that although they usually had successful careers, they rarely reached the upper echelons. “Valedictorians aren’t likely to be the future’s visionaries,” Dr. Arnold explained. “They typically settle into the system instead of shaking it up.” 

This might explain why Steve Jobs finished high school with a 2.65 G.P.A., J.K. Rowling graduated from the University of Exeter with roughly a C average …

If your goal is to graduate without a blemish on your transcript, you end up taking easier classes and staying within your comfort zone. If you’re willing to tolerate the occasional B, you can learn to program in Python while struggling to decipher “Finnegans Wake.” You gain experience coping with failures and setbacks, which builds resilience.