1.01.2005

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» TIP: The rifle approach to landing a job
» MISC: I realized the impact of computers
» MISC: 1421 - the year China discovered your Mom
» RANT: When technology breaks the good old rules of common courtesy
» TIP: 8 winning tips from a winner
» TIP: Be there as the world enters a new age of numbers
» TIP: When failure becomes unbearable
» RANT: Bragging about traditions
» TIP: A man is only as faithful as his options
» MISC: Why you have to be fat for an efficient economy

TIP: The rifle approach to landing a job

The key to getting the job you want is to be oriented to the needs and wants of... your prospective employer. Get out of your head and into theirs, Executive Coach Alec Watson blogged.

...The traditional approach of sending out resumes, seeking employment interviews and filling out applications is illustrative of the old world approach to getting a job. It's what I refer to as the shotgun approach, where your exposure to the market is very broad. The problem is that... As good or experienced as you may be, to most of them you are a problem, a hassle, one of a stack of letters or calls they have to answer today...

If you are going to position yourself as a solution to some significant need or opportunity that an organization faces, you are going to have to take a rifle approach - one that focuses and penetrates deeply. You are going to have to be enormously resourceful and creative in learning about the organization you want to work for. Creativity is a unique human endowment, and is a powerful capacity that lies largely dormant in most people. Unfreeze yourself from the panic and nervousness you may feel about not having a job, and start immersing yourself in the realities of the company you want to work for. Creatively find ways of talking with and learning from the company's employees and managers - talk to their suppliers, their customers, and even their competitors. Reach the point that you can describe their challenges and needs as well as or better than they could themselves. Then you can position yourself - your unique skills, education, experience and talents (some of which you may need to further develop first) in the context of their needs. Your resourcefulness and insight will deeply impress them.

Finally, in your creative research it is vital to learn about the culture and norms of the organization. Every organization is different. This awareness should govern how you should approach the organization for an interview or meeting with their managers or executives. Be creative. It will be different in every case - for proactivity without empathy and awareness will also bring failure. Combine them, and you will have the wisdom that will bring tremendous results...

Category: C++ Quant > Land the Job You Want

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MISC: I realized the impact of computers

...on my young son one evening when there was a dramatic sunset.

Pointing to the western sky, David said, "I wish we could click and save that!" - via RD

Category: C++ Quant > Random Walk > Jokes

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MISC: 1421 - the year China discovered your Mom

via MetaFilter -- China may actually have discovered the Americas first.

Two years ago, Gavin Menzies released a book entitled 1421: The Year China Discovered America. The book was widely read, but its contents were controversial and the evidence not strong enough to convince everyone.

Now, a two hundred and fifty year old map, apparently copied from one made in 1418, will be revealed to the public and may permanently change the way we think about the Americas.

Category: C++ Quant > Random Walk

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RANT: When technology breaks the good old rules of common courtesy

Techology, culture and behavior seem to evolve together, Steve Yastrow blogged. Years ago, we started to see people walking through airports talking on cellphones with headsets. In order not to seem like wierdos talking to themselves, these folks would routinely hold the headset microphone to their mouths, so you could clearly see that they were on the phone.

Then people dropped their hands from their headsets, assuming you'd know they were on the phone because of the cord dangling from their ear. After a while, the introduction of the bluetooth headset took away that cord, but by then nobody was self-conscious anymore, and it became commonplace to see people walking through airline terminals talking without shame to an unseen companion.

But now, at least for men, social norms have relaxed to a new level. Many times in the past year I've walked into an airport men's room and seen a lone man standing at a bank of urinals, actively engaged in a hands-free conversation with someone hundreds of miles away, presumably with a hidden bluetooth headset in his ear. These people inevitably speak in extra loud voices, as people speaking on cell phones in public often do...

Category: C++ Quant > Random Walk > Opportunity vs Trap > Success Breeds Failure

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TIP: 8 winning tips from a winner

via MSNBC - One day, you become a leader. On Monday, you're talking and laughing with colleagues about life and work, and gossiping about how stupid management can be. Then on Tuesday, you are management. You're a boss. Suddenly, everything feels different because it is different. Leadership requires distinct behaviors and attitudes, and for many people, they debut with the job. Before you become a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.

Without question, there are lots of ways to be a leader. You need to look only as far as the freewheeling, straight-talking Herb Kelleher, who ran Southwest Airlines for 30 years, and Microsoft's quiet innovator, Bill Gates, to know that leaders come in all varieties. In politics, take Churchill and Gandhi. In football, take Lombardi and Belichick. Each of these leaders would give you a different list of "rules."...

Yet, some ways of leading always seemed to work. These became (Jack Welch's) eight "rules."

  • Leaders relentlessly upgrade their team, using every encounter as an opportunity to evaluate, coach, and build self-confidence.
  • Leaders make sure people not only see the vision, they live and breath it.
  • Leaders get into everyone's skin, exuding positive energy and optimism.
  • Leaders establish trust with candor, transparency, and credit.
  • Leaders have the courage to make unpopular decisions and gut calls.
  • Leaders probe and push with a curiosity that borders on skepticism, making sure their questions are answered with action.
  • Leaders inspire risk taking and learning by setting the example.
  • Leaders celebrate.

Category: C++ Quant > Fix the Job You Got

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TIP: Be there as the world enters a new age of numbers

via BusinessWeek - ...Partnerships between mathematicians and computer scientists are bulling into whole new domains of business and imposing the efficiencies of math. This has happened before. In past decades, the marriage of higher math and computer modeling transformed science and engineering. Quants turned finance upside down a generation ago. And data miners plucked useful nuggets from vast consumer and business databases. But just look at where the mathematicians are now. They're helping to map out advertising campaigns, they're changing the nature of research in newsrooms and in biology labs, and they're enabling marketers to forge new one-on-one relationships with customers. As this occurs, more of the economy falls into the realm of numbers. Says James R. Schatz, chief of the mathematics research group at the National Security Agency: "There has never been a better time to be a mathematician."...

The rise of mathematics is heating up the job market for luminary quants, especially at the Internet powerhouses where new math grads land with six-figure salaries and rich stock deals. Tom Leighton, an entrepreneur and applied math professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, says: "All of my students have standing offers at Yahoo! (YHOO ) and Google (GOOG )." Top mathematicians are becoming a new global elite. It's a force of barely 5,000, by some guesstimates, but every bit as powerful as the armies of Harvard University MBAs who shook up corner suites a generation ago...

Just as mathematicians need to grapple with human quirks and mysteries, managers and entrepreneurs must bone up on mathematics. Midcareer managers can delegate much of this work to their staffers. But they still must understand enough about math to question the assumptions behind the numbers. "Now it's easier for people to bamboozle someone by having analysis based on lots of data and graphs," says Paul C. Pfleiderer, a finance professor at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. "We have to train people in business to spot a bogus argument."

And to spot opportunities. As more of the world's information is pooled into mathematics, the realm of numbers becomes an ever larger meeting ground. It's a percolating laboratory full of surprising connections, and a birthplace for new industries. Yes, it's a magnificent time to know math.

Category: C++ Quant > Land the Job You Want

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TIP: When failure becomes unbearable

Some words of wisdom may help.

Success vs. Failure

  • Failure is The tuition You pay for success. - Walter Brunell
  • Sometimes a noble failure serves the world as faithfully as a distinguished success. - Edward Dowden.
  • A minute's success pays The failure of years.
  • One slip does not make a person forever a failure, any more than one good turn makes a person forever a saint.
  • Excuses are the nails used to build a house of failure
  • Failure should be our teacher, not our undertaker. Failure is delay, not defeat. It is a temporary detour, not a dead end. Failure is something we can avoid only by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing. - Denis Waitley
  • There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure. - Paulo Coelho
  • Failure is not falling down but refusing to get up. - Chinese Proverb
  • Try and fail, but don't fail to try. - Stephen Kaggwa
  • I didn't fail the test, I just found 100 ways to do it wrong - Benjamin Franklin
  • Failure? I never encountered it. All I ever met were temporary setbacks. -Dottie Walters

Success within Failure, and vice versa

  • Success is The Ability To go from one failure To another with no loss of enthusiasm. - Sir Winston Churchill
  • Failure is The condiment that gives Success its flavor. - Truman Capote
  • you are thinking of failure as The enemy of success. but it isn't as all. you can be discouraged by failure - or you can learn from it.
  • Good people are good because they've come to wisdom through failure. We get very little wisdom from success, you know. - William Saroyan, in New York Journal-American (23 August 1961).
  • I'd rather be a failure at something I love than a success at something I hate. - George Burns US actor & comedian
  • Success builds character, failure reveals it. - Dave Checkett
  • Never walk away from failure. On the contrary, study it carefully -- and imaginatively -- for its hidden assets. - Michael Korda
  • A failure is a man who has blundered, but is not able to cash in on the experience. - Elbert Hubbard

From Success to Failure, and vice versa

  • Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.
  • I will not allow yesterday's success to lull me into today's complacency, for this is the great foundation of failure. -Og Mandino
  • You always pass failure on the way to success. - Mickey Rooney

Category: C++ Quant > Fix the Job You Got

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RANT: Bragging about traditions

Have you ever wondered why some people brag about their "traditional" values when they obviously mean "superior", Dilbert creator Scott Adams asked. It's because "traditional" is a more flexible word. It implies an inherent goodness without the need to defend the details...

Parent: Here's a picture of my family.
Me: That's one traditional looking family!

Fiancee: Which blouse do you like better?
Me: I'd have to go with the traditional one.

Economist: Do you support higher interest rates to fend off inflation or would you prefer a more pro-growth policy?
Me: Um, which one is more traditional?...

Scott also wonder how long you need to age a crappy set of values before they became desirable via the process of traditionalization...

Category: C++ Quant > Random Walk > Strength vs Weakness

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TIP: A man is only as faithful as his options

that's what Chris Rock tells us in one of his stand up specials for HBO, ccckim blogged. This is meant to be a slam on men and fidelity but it applies to humanity in general.

People are only as faithful as their options... People are only as "good" (that being a relative term) as they are incentified to be. You are incentified not to break the law by your freedom. You are incentified not to speed by not wanting to part with $$. But it's finding that balance that makes the incentives worth it.

Would you be so worried about speeding if the fine was only $5, payable on the spot and nothing ever went on your record?...

On April 15, 1987, 7 million children in the United States disappeared. Do you know why? Because that was the first year the IRS required Social Security Numbers of dependents on tax returns. Whoops. People were suddenly incentified to do the right thing. Were there some that still cheated? I'm sure, but there were 7 million less dependents that year.

It made me think about my customers. What incentives do I give them to continue doing business with me? Are they good enough?

I would say our customer retention is about average. But average isn't remarkable.

People still buy from people. All your cutting edge technology and buzzwords aren't why people sign the checks. They sign them because they like you, you somehow make their lives easier, you make them look smarter, you take away some pain... All this technology meant to bring us together, actually pushes us apart...

Working Smart quick takeaway: The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Category: C++ Quant > Fix the Job You Got > Something vs Nothing > Style vs Substance

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MISC: Why you have to be fat for an efficient economy

via WashingtonPost -- I am fat. Sixty pounds too hefty, in my doctor's opinion. Probably 80 pounds, in my fiancee's view. Being fat makes me a lot of things -- a top contender for type II diabetes, for instance, or a heart attack, or stroke, maybe even a replacement knee or hip... But in many ways, my being fat also makes me pretty good for the economy...

It turns out, economists say, that changes in food technology (producing tasty, easy-to-cook food, such as french fries) and changes in labor (we use to be paid to exercise at work, now we pay to exercise after work) combined with women's importance in the workforce, not the kitchen, have combined to produce industries able to cheaply and efficiently meet the demands of our busy lives. The cookie industry. The fast-food industry. Potato chips. Soda. The chain-restaurant industry, with its heaping portions of low-priced, high-calorie foods.

In some ways, we are better off in this Fat Economy. Many people work in easier, better-paying jobs, which help pay for their big homes in the suburbs. Women don't have to spend two hours preparing dinner every night; many have risen to unprecedented levels of corporate and political power. Flat-panel plasma TVs hang over fireplaces, which can be lit using the same remote control for flipping channels. But the unintended consequence of these economic changes is that many of us have become fat. An efficient economy produces sluggish, inefficient bodies.

"The obesity problem is really a side effect of things that are good for the economy," said Tomas J. Philipson, an economics professor who studies obesity at the University of Chicago, a city recently named the fattest in America. "But we would rather take improvements in technology and agriculture than go back to the way we lived in the 1950s when everyone was thin. Nobody wants to sweat at work for 10 hours a day and be poor. Yes, you're obese, but you have a life that is much more comfortable."

For many corporations, and even for physicians, Americans' obesity has also fattened the bottom line. William L. Weis, a management professor at Seattle University, says revenue from the "obesity industries" will likely top $315 billion this year, and perhaps far more...

Category: C++ Quant > Random Walk > Opportunity vs Trap > Success Breeds Failure

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