Measuring Success – Are you aware of the metrics within your particular field/vocation/etc.?

February 26, 2015 § Leave a comment

The ability to measure success is an important part of any goal or aspiration. If there are not measurables, you will not only preform at a lower level, but you will also miss out on the important psychological benefits of feeling accomplished. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Figure out what ‘success’ looks like. Oftentimes our idea of success and how it is actually measured in our field is very different. For example, the only real measure of success in academia is publishing. Teaching, getting good grades, attending meetings, etc. are all things that you must balance, but at the end of the day publishing reigns supreme. See Cal Newport’s extensive post about success in academia.
  2. Take it from an intangible idea and turn it into a concrete goal. “Doing well in school” –> “Getting a 3.7 gpa.” “Acquiring new clients” –> “Getting 6 new clients by the end of April.”
  3. Turn the goal into actionable steps. What will it take to accomplish that goal?
  4. Turn the steps into monthly, weekly, and daily meters. Accomplish those, move onto the next, and you’re goal will be attained. Think Covey’s big rocks constantly (Here’s a video that illustrates the concept if you’ve never heard of it).
  5. Ruthlessly cut out (or minimize/optimize/automate) unnecessary responsibilities that feel productive, but don’t really result in measurable success. Examples include responding to email, side projects, meetings, etc.

GRE Prep Schedule and Breakdown – 2 month plan for high scoring

February 24, 2015 § Leave a comment

Weekly/Monthly Schedule

Sunday – Thursday, 2 hours/day = 10 hours/week
Friday, 4 hour practice test = 4 hours/week
Saturday, OFF

Total: 14 hours/week
2 months prep = 112 hours total


Vocabulary – 30 minutes/day

10 new words/day from Manhattan GRE 500 essential and 500 advanced words
Daily review using Anki (spaced repitition)
Goal: Learn all 1,000 manhattan words

Verbal – 30 minutes/day

I read scores of scholarly journal articles each day for my M.A. program, so reading comprehension is not a serious concern for me. On my previous GRE I scored a 166v. If this is not a strength, add in reading 2ish articles from Academic Journals or popular press sources like The New Yorker or The Economist.


1 chapter Princeton Review/day (until finished)
1 chapter Manhattan/day
10 Magoosh practice questions/day

Quantitative – 60 minutes/day

This is my primary focus. I scored right at 150 on my previous GRE. My goal is to get accepted into a top 10 Business PhD program, which requires at least a 160quant and ideally a score > 165.


1 hour studying/day
Princeton Review (until finished) (UPDATE: Finished PR)
Manhatten GRE Quant Books (#1-6) (until finished) (UPDATE: Finished #1 & #2)
Once books are finished, 1 hour/day of practice questions using Magoosh and Manhattan 5lb practice book.

writing lessons 1

September 29, 2014 § Leave a comment

I have always loved to write. I used to write fairytales and poems and hated writing scientific things because most scientific writing is boring. But it doesn’t have to be. I am of the opinion that professionals – and by that I mean businessmen, academics, lawyers, politicians, and stay-at-home parents – can and should write better. And better is best operationalized as clear, concise, and direct. Imagine how the world would change if biologists and psychologists and Senators wrote in this way. People might actually read their work.


  1. Make your subjects preform your verbs.
  2. Make your verbs actions.

Here’s an example from Style, Lessons in Clarity and Grace by J.M. Williams and G.G. Colomb.

1a. The cause of our schools’ failures at teaching basic skills is not understanding the influence of cultural background on learning.

1b. Our schools have failed to teach basic skills because they do not understand how cultural background influences the way a child learns.

Quantitative Research Key Terms #1

September 23, 2014 § Leave a comment

I’m currently taking a graduate seminar in Quantitative Research Methods. To study, I’ve created physical flash cards with the dictionary definitions on them, but I am also experimenting using the Feynman Technique. To do so, I’ll be posting my Quantitative key terms on here with a simplified, laymen’s definition. This should help me better understand the concepts and maybe it will help you if you’re confused about what they mean.

  • Empiricism – Knowing through experience. Using your senses to observe something. E.g. smelling a rose, touching a burning stove, etc.
  • Descriptive Research – Simply gathering data without changing it. E.g. The U.S. Census gives us information about people, but doesn’t help us understand variables or relationships between data.
  • Explanatory Research – Tries to explain relationships between variables. E.g. As adults get older, their BMI increases.
  • Qualitative Research – Observing what people do and say and then compiling it without the use of numbers. Doesn’t try to generalize.
  • Quantitative Research -Uses numbers and a systematic approach and seeks to generalize human behavior. E.g. Using a questionnaire, an experiment, etc.
  • Experimental Research – When you manipulate the independent variable. E.g. If I put this Bunson burner over an open flame, what will happen?
  • Survey Research – Uses surveys  (questionnaires and interviews) to gather information.
  • Content Analysis – Looking for specific, observable content. E.g. Watching a movie and noting how many times women appeared on screen.
  • Deductive reasoning – Facts -> Facts. E.g. All oranges are fruits. All fruit grows on trees. Therefore, oranges grow on trees.
  • Inductive reasoning – Trends -> Generalizations. E.g. For the last 5 yeas, 100 more students a year at SDSU have started to ride skateboards, so I induce that in 2018, 300 more students will ride skateboards than they do now. (there’s no way of knowing if this is true)
  • Conceptual definition – The dictionary definition of something. E.g. Happiness means the state of well-being and contentment.
  • Operational definition – How are you going to measure the thing you are trying to measure? E.g. We’ll use the Subjective Happiness Scale to measure overall levels of happiness.

how to learn better

September 18, 2014 § Leave a comment

Most of my life I have employed inefficient and unproductive learning methods. I read the textbook (which takes me hours), make flash cards, take notes, and do everything that most people assume is effective. The only problem is this is time consuming and, ultimately, a complete waste of time.

Borrowing advice from Scott Young and his Learn More Study Less program and Peter C. Brown et. al.’s book, Make it StickI’ve revamped my studying techniques. Being my first semester of a rigorous research oriented masters degree, it’s about time I learn to study properly.


  1. Only cover information once. If your textbook is just a repeat of the lecture, ignore it or speed read the required chapters.
  2. Employe metaphors, visualization, and diagrams.
  3. Cover information once. Then do practice problems, flash cards, or quiz and recall depending upon the nature of the content.
  4. After following #3, if you need to re-read it should be very selective – i.e. pinpoint areas of weakness or insufficient understanding and cover that material again.
  5. Use the Feynman Technique.


September 2, 2014 § Leave a comment


A way of knowing or understanding the world that relies directly or indirectly on what we experience through our senses (e.g. sight, hearing, taste, smell, touch); validation through experience.

This is a radically different approach than a religious or idea driven approach to life.

What is the sand, the ocean, the expanse of billions of gallons of water moving in and out day after day? What is her hair, her laugh, the universes inside her eyes?

Save experience, you will never know the depth of these miracles.

In a world of digitialization, of status updates and edited photos, there is little room for empiricism left.

The future belongs to those willing to get their hands dirty in the mud, grime, and mystery of experience.