How much is your dream worth?

Thoughts and dreams, employment and careers

Dear Reader,

Can you put a price on a dream, even though you do not know how it ends?
I have been offered a really, really nice consulting position. It is well paid, it is interesting and I already know three employees so it would be easy to feel at home. However, it involves a lot of traveling. I am fine with travel. I actually like to sit on a plane and work. So what is stoping my from leaving my current situation and start a new career?

In short, it is my desire to become a patent agent or a patent attorney. I have gone through the roundabout several times, making pros & cons lists, discussions with my wife, asking friends and family. But it always just boils down to this single fact, I think I will enjoy working in the law profession (and of course working locally).

Think is a big and a powerful word and we do not give it much credit.

For example, we say “I think that I am right” in the meaning of I am not sure that I am right. It is like we do not trust ourselves enough to only go with our own thoughts. I think a lot, seriously a whole lot. I am a intuitive thinker according to the tests. This ability is my strength and makes me good at what I am. However, I do no fully trust it.

Basketball players need to have trust in their ability. Standup comedians need to believe in their strengths. Heck, everyone needs to believe in their ability to excel. So do thinkers. We need to substitute the meaning of think in your head with I know, instead of I am not sure. We need to trust our guts more, trust our instincts and take the decisions that WE think are the right ones.

We are not always going to be right but basketball players do not always make a basket.

Have a good one.


When accidents occur!

Be an occasional risk taker.

Good morning Reader,

Something happened to me yesterday. Something that had not happened to me in a while. I fell of my bicycle and bruised my elbows and got “road rashes.” It was uncomfortable, yes but I think that it sparked a feeling within that I had not experienced in a while. Feeling that I experienced a lot in my youth, a mixture of embarrassment and failure. This got me thinking.

In our youth, we lived every minute to explore. One of my examples include finding a bee nest, aggravate them and fight them off with a tennis racket. I got stung once. Another example included rushing down the meanest hill of them all, on my BMX. Now, I would not even consider that hill a slope but we all had hills or dangerous acts that we did not even think twice about performing when we were younger.

Did we lose this ability when we got older?

I tend to be an over thinker. It might be a relaxing day in the office but my brain is constantly on. If I have a decision to make, I not only think it, I obsess about it. When the decision has been made, I still think about it. This was quite the opposite when I was younger. I thought, I did. I thought and I did not. End of story.

I miss that part of myself. Can it be that I got scared? Did I make the wrong decision and it got stuck in my head, making me rethink every possibility? I do not know (but I will tell you if I find out). I believe that we all need to have that childhood spirit of doing and then reacting, not thinking, doing, reacting, think some more. We all need to get rid of that fear that we seem to get when we become “grown-ups.” We need to allow the risk taker to work sometimes in our lives,

because it did not matter if that hill gave you bruises or you hit your head (no helmets in my day), it healed up.

Have a good weekend!

Introverted Postdocs

Dear readers,
I think PhD students and most postdoctoral research are introverts, even if they are not outside of work, I think that our work forces us to be some kind of introvert types. We are struggling with our OWN project, we will have to find ways to do that by ourselves. This becomes more obvious when I watch students give their first talk in front of a group. Hell! my own first research meeting was horrible, I was not able to even speak clearly, throat was dry and I could feel the pearls of sweat on my forehead. Anyway, due to this we (introverts) do horrible at networking, its like pulling out my own teeth with a screwdriver. However, this is what I am doing to overcome this horrible problem:
1. Force yourself to talk to a stranger.
Hey, I am not saying that you should talk to the weird person at the train station! He smells for a reason. But try to have a chat about the weather, riding a bike to work etc. I have tried to do this every day for about a month and it works like a charm and has helped me in a lot of ways. For example, I talked to this guy this morning about the setup of the train car, why the seats were facing each other, since nobody wants to stare at someone else for the whole train ride. Sometimes people just say “aha” and I just leave it at that. Fair enough, don’t overdo it…then you are only a bad smell away from being that weird person at the train station.

2. Linkedin stalking.
Linkedin is interesting to me. Not because I think it works beautifully but it is a true test of curiosity. As a member, you can see who has looked at your profile within the last week. This is a good tool to get noticed. I have found all the recruiting people I talked to, all the hiring managers and looked at their profile. This will mean that a) they get my application and b) they will get a notification about someone looking at their linkedin profile at the same time. Voila, its that person!

3. Business cards!
I personally think that us postdocs in science are not taught well how to interact in the world. I remember going to this course dinner event and every MBA gave me his business card. Of course being from the other dimension, I thought: “What a douche!” But I see now how efficient that can be. I have just made up my own business card with my contact details and a QR code on the back with my vCard and linkedin profile. So if I get an informal interview, I am going to be sure to give that person my business card.

Bench is calling, gels need to be run.

Doctors in Lab Coats

Dear Readers (yes, more than that first one, hurray!)
At my College, there is a yearly ceremony. The White Lab coat ceremony for MDs. Since I am not a real doctor (MD) just a research doctor, I consider this ceremony very weird and outright dangerous. Are you surprised? Let me explain.
If you have ever stepped into a hospital you have noticed white lab coats. If you are extremely aware of your surroundings, you might have noticed the difference in “uniforms” between doctors, nurses, surgeons etc wear. By having this ceremony, then we are automatically putting this White Lab Coat as the top of the ladder (you don’t see ceremony for handing out scrubs, do you?). Doctors themselves see this as a totem of success, they have earned it and if they would take it off, jeez nobody would respect them or listen to them. This is why you should not be surprised to see doctors wear their lab coats in the cafeteria or other places around campus.

Is it OK that doctors do not need to remove their lab coats to go to the cafeteria but the cafeteria staff need to have hairnets, wash their hands etc.?

According to a study¬†from 2011, MRSA (bacteria that is insensitive to antibiotics) was found on both shortsleeve and longsleeve lab coats at the same concentration after 8 hour workday. Another more recent study, showed that “[P]atients are likely exposed to many bacteria through direct contact with white coats, curtains, and ties. They may be exposed to additional bacterial reservoirs indirectly through the hands of clinicians, using computer keyboards and cell phones.

The flip side of it is: If the lab coat is contaminated, wouldn’t the doctor’s clothes be contaminated as well? Good question.

I asked my doctor to take off his lab coat and wash his hands for my last physical. It was weird but he did it…

Your Significant Other

Dear Reader,

Something just occurred to me…while it is easy to feel sorry for myself, doomed in the thought process of the waste of time my Phd has been, how is my wife still living with me!?
Although I try not to let the current work situation affect us, I am probably a bore to hang around with. Thats not cool. So today, I am going to come home and ooze positivity, forget about everything and just give myself and us a brake from it. Jeeez, my poor wifey.
I suggest that even if this is the only thing that is rattling inside that head of yours (just like it is in mine), lets give it a breather when I clock out from work today.

It’s important to stay positive.