Tag Archive for 'success'

Time Debt and Harvard’s Addiction to Over-Commitment

My Economics professor made an interesting analogy last week, comparing time commitments to “time debt.” Harvard students have a tendency to “promise” time to other parties that will be collected at a future point in time in exchange for things like grades, money, fun, etc.

Unfortunately, we too suffer from time inconsistencies regarding our time use. We commit to too much now, but have to perhaps renege on our promises later. Time inconsistencies are generally used by economists to explain things like addiction to procrastination, but at the core of it all, is a self-control issue. Whereas some people cannot help but to pull out their credit card to buy that new pair of shoes, we cannot help but to say yes to an awesome opportunity that will only maybe just take 2 hours a week.

The funny thing about “time debt” — a promise to pay back time/effort at a future date — is that the interest compounds. Time commitments snow ball, people expect and demand more from you, and soon your 2 hour a week gig ends up 3 or 4 hours a week, during a week, of course, of midterms.

So what is this “time debt,” and why in the world is this a problem of many successful people?

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The Death of Wall Street, and Why Harvard Students Should Cheer

For better (or worse), ibanking is dead in the way we once knew it. Lehman Brothers ain’t coming back three or four times this semester tossing magnetic clips and shiny brochures at eager undergraduates and touting their numerous job opportunities.

The seniors this year will be pouting, missing out on the chance to sell their lives for a bazillion bucks a year. (Perhaps it’s too late for them to change their ways.) But, the juniors, sophomores and freshmen should take this as a sign of what will most likely be a turning point for the better when it comes to selecting a career.

If you have no idea what ibanking is, bless your soul. And for those who do know of it, this is why the death of 50% of the e-recruiting jobs is good for you.

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Just-In-Time Thinking

The Japanese perfected just-in-time inventory, with a great many savings and benefits. Right when you need a product, you produce it. No need to worry about the cost of holding that inventory and sitting pretty on potentially 5,000 extra units of stuff that might not sell.

Similarly, while I was stressing out over my class schedule last summer, I realized the sheer pointlessness of brooding over decisions that I can’t possibly make without further, next-to-the-last-minute information. I’m not going to be able to decide between two core classes unless I shop both of them…two or three months down the road. There’s no point in spending hours two or three months ahead of time trying to decide between the two.

Just-In-Time thinking is a way of managing decision-making, so that you think through what you need to think through WHEN you need to think through it.

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Business Ain’t Science: Lessons from Observation

I come from a science-esque background, loving lots of data, data analysis, theory, graphs and abstracts. Because Harvard lacks a business/retail/management major, I found myself applying much of the scientific method to solving the business problem for my internship.

The scientific method, after all, has gotten us Einstein’s equations, so why shouldn’t we be able to use that same method to embark on the most basic human enterprise of business? Unfortunately, scientists and business people generally do not see eye-to-eye. A scientist appreciates the intricacies and design of a Segway. The business person ponders how Segways translates into dollars.

Understanding the difference between science and business is essential in making the leap from a scientist’s mindset to that of a business person.

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Being the Team Player Among Leaders

Everyone at Harvard is pretty much trained to be a leader. They arrive having been the president of the debate club, CEO of a small company and captain of the fencing team.

One of the major transitions is learning how to work as a team amongst a group of type A people. It’s easy to lead when people are used to following, less so when other people are used to leading.

There are a few strategies you can take to help lead a team of leaders without appearing to be THAT obnoxiously bossy person.

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On Surviving E-Recruiting

E-Recruiting is one of those phrases you hear tossed by upperclassmen as a freshmen. They bemoan it, love it, hate it, need it. And as a freshmen, you’re not quite sure what to make of it. But, once you hit sophomore year, that word “e-recruiting” is on everyone’s lips.

Some start early and fast — attending the recruiting sessions for SENIORS as sophomores during the first week or so of September. Others realize belatedly that deadlines start as early as mid-reading period for the first semester!

Here are a few tips for surviving e-recruiting (as it pertains for those searching for internships).

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What My Chinese Language Class Taught Me

Chinese is one of those damningly difficult languages. At Harvard (and I’m sure elsewhere), it is a doubly damningly difficult language. Taking a “native speaker” Chinese language class with overly eager/perfectionist students just like you!, damns you thrice.

Taking Chinese has realized that sometimes, you just need to keep chipping away with a spoon to wear down a mountain. You need persistence, patience, and self-awareness to succeed.

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Happiness: The Most Underutilized Asset at Harvard

It is uncanny how many of my friends have confessed with particular enthusiasm: I hate Harvard. Some attribute it to the “sophomore slump.” Others complain — rightly so — about the arrogance, stupidity and frustrating qualities of our classmates.

I will admit it is true. One of the one true pastimes of the Harvard student is complaining about Harvard. From food to bureaucracy, from professors to classes, Harvard students are notorious for the amount of complaining they do.

But — for all of our complaining, we do very little to try to nip the unhappiness bud. It seems like we glorify our unhappiness: you think your life is bad? well, I just had 3 200-level problem sets due, a thesis to write, and ten organizations to save from self-combustion.

Right. This entry will be dedicated to why happiness is as important of an asset as time (arguably one of the most valuable things a Harvard student has, but that’s another entry).

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Most Commonly Overlooked Things When Choosing Classes

Harvard, fortunately, has what is known as a “Shopping Period,” in which students have a full week before actually deciding on which courses to register for. This is the perfect time to test out a new professor, see how interesting that Lit class is, or just to sit back and relax as school starts (sort of).

While we all know that previous year’s recommendations, Professors, class size, syllabus, workload and difficulty are important, there are some things that are notoriously overlooked…

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Success: Little Fish in the Ocean — How to Deal, How to Survive

The problem and beauty with Harvard College is that it takes the creme of the crop of mostly high school seniors — the math geniuses, the Olympic hockey players, the beauty queens, the famously politically inclined — tosses them together in a tin pot and tells them to play nicely.

There are crazy premeds who stay up to late hours of the night completing (competing) their problem sets. There are quiet geniuses that inhale mathematical theorems the way my roommate D. inhales microwavable popcorn. There are sons of millionaires who sell millions of dollars of ads for their organization. There are professional musicians, ballet company level dancers, Jeopardy winners, and so on.

In the midst of all this splendor/glamor/wonder, it was very easy to feel like: what the fuck am I doing here?

This is how I’ve learned how to deal, how to survive…

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