My Intuition Experiment

A few weeks ago, I re-read Pragmatic Thinking and Learning: Refactor Your Wetware, by Andy Hunt. I’ve read it before, but this time something stood out to me: the Dreyfus model of skill acquisition. This model was first explained by the brothers Stuart and Hubert Dreyfus, in their original paper: A Five-Stage Model of the Mental Activities Involved in Directed Skill Acquisition (February 1980).

In their paper, the brothers discern five stages in mastering any skill:

1 – Novice
2 – Competence
3 – Proficiency
4 – Expertise
5 – Mastery

I’m not going to explain the whole model, instead, I’m going to focus on one aspect of the shift from Proficiency to Expertise. Continue reading

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The basics of Net Present Value

You’ve probably heard of the Stanford Marshmallow experiment. Researchers offered children a piece of their favorite candy with two options: to eat it right now, or to wait for fifteen minutes and receive an extra piece of candy. Supposedly, the children who were able to delay gratification grew up to be more successful than the ones who ate their candy right away.

Why am I telling you this? Because I want to talk about Net Present Value, which is a tool that helps you decide which option is best: to have one marshmallow today, or to have two tomorrow. Here’s a nice video introduction.
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Fighting time and looking forward

Over the last month, I’ve come to realize that maintaining this blog is going to take a LOT of work. If I compare the free time I have available in a given week to the time it takes to write just one entry, it’s obvious that it will be almost impossible to keep posting on a weekly basis. Right now, I’m writing this from the passenger’s seat of my colleague’s car while carpooling to work.

Another reason why it’s been more than a month since I’ve last posted is that my next subject has proven quite elusive. This post is intended to break the deadlock. Right now, I’m just going to outline the general idea of my next few posts and nothing more. I hope that this will bring some clarity to my thinking and clear a path forward.

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Risk Management (and why most people get it wrong)

Why is Philip Morris still in business? Why do some people refuse to board an airplane? Do you play the  lottery?

Most people are horrible at risk management. Our human brains aren’t wired to handle probability calculations. There’s a ton of cognitive biases working against us.

But I’m convinced we can improve on this. In this article, I will show you how to assess risk and how you can benefit from this skill in everyday life.

So far, I’ve met two kinds of people who get it right: engineers (but not all of them) and gamblers (but only some of them). Let’s start with the gamblers.

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Why Getting Started Is Good Advice

In a guest post on I Will Teach You To Be Rich, Cal Newport argues that the conventional wisdom about big accomplishment, which says getting started is the key to success, might be dead wrong.

I disagree.

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Making Career Vertically Is Like Overtaking Without Changing Lanes

During my professional life as an Industrial Engineer, I’ve considered a number of career moves. This was either because I received an offer, or because I applied for a position. Some, I accepted. Others, I declined. I imagine it’s that way for most of us.

Two weeks ago, a very large project I’m managing was approved for implementation. It is scheduled for delivery in the summer of 2014. The approval process for this project took several months because of the large amount of money involved. I defended the project to all ranks within the organization, from the workers and supervisors all the way up to the CEO.

During this time of uncertainty about the project’s future, I felt a corresponding uncertainty regarding my own position as its project manager. My thoughts often turned to alternative career options, should this investment not make it through the approval process. Here’s what I came up with.

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Hi Cal

I recently read your blog post: Following passion is Different than Cultivating Passion, and something about it really struck a chord with me. It even made me start this blog, something that I’ve been thinking (and procrastinating) about for a few months.

So, I’m going to take you up on your challenge to help you: “carefully separate the goal of developing passion from the flawed strategy of following it.” Why am I qualified to contribute? Because I’ve done both. First, I lived the life on the road as a professional gambler. And after that, I’ve become a highly valued project manager at a multinational materials technology company.

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Posted in Career | 4 Comments