Be super present: a lesson I learned from Joi Ito @TEDTalk on innovation

ServicefromHeart be super present

In the evening after attending an inspiring talk by Dr Stephen Turner, a physicist-turned-DNA sequencer,

who highlighted that the toughest decision (that he has to make over and over again) is just keep going, I am blessed with an opportunity to learn from Joi Ito through his inspiring TED talk.

A self-declared 3x college dropout, Joi highlighted the following lessons:

1. Learning over education. By defining education as what people do to you versus learning as what you do for yourself, it is clear that  learning matters much more than education for your survival and pursuits in creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship.

2. Meta learning is highly important. Learn how to learn.

3. Deploy or die. “You have to get it into the real world to have it actually count.”

4. Be connected. Connect ideas, connect inter-disciplinary fields, bridge geographical and cultural boundaries. Connect yourself to the world, connect people and you will be able to innovate valuable things in the process.

5. Be super present. Your future depends on now.

Many thanks
ServicefromHeart
20140724

How to quickly share multiple files in Google Drive to your collaborators?

ServicefromHeart  quickly share multiple files in Google Drive to your collaborators

METHOD 1
1. Go to drive.google.com
2. Select My Drive
3. Select All Ctrl+A
4. Click Share icon
5. Add collaborators’ emails or change visibility to public or those with links

METHOD 2
1. Create a folder
2. Right Click to change the Sharing options and each newly created item will have the same sharing permissions as the selected folder

Good Luck!

Last updated 20140716

Chinese idioms

Chinese idioms, known as ChengYu (成语), are beautiful 4-word sayings or proverbs that are derived from ancient poems and literature.

You can learn about the stories behind ChengYu and gain cultural appreciation and anthropological perspective in the process. Using them in writing or conversation can also add colors and joys to your life.  For students, appropriately dropping Chinese idioms in your essays is like Santa Claus or Santarina who generously give surprise gifts to your reader. For professionals interacting with your Chinese friends, colleagues and clients, using Chinese idioms properly can strengthen your relationships.

Like you, I love beautiful words, idioms and quotes.  In my teen, I was very fortunate to learn some Chinese idioms that stay on my mind until today.  It is my aspiration to learn as many ChengYu as possible as part of a lifelong learning curriculum.

A list of useful and more commonly used ChengYu:

爱不释手
爱屋及乌
按部就班
百年树人
百折不挠
班门弄斧
半途而废
包罗万象
闭门造车
变本加厉
标新立异
别出心裁
宾至如归
不耻下问
不攻自破
不可救药
不可思议
不劳而获
不务正业
不省人事
不遗余力
不翼而飞
不择手段
不自量力
长年累月
趁火打劫
重蹈覆辙
愁眉不展
出类拔萃
川流不息
吹毛求疵
垂涎三尺
唇亡齿寒
从容不迫
从善如流
措手不及
打草惊蛇
大刀阔斧
大公无私
大言不惭
当机立断
道听途说
得寸进尺
得过且过
得意忘形
德高望重
对牛弹琴
耳濡目染
发扬光大
废寝忘食
奋不顾身
风驰电掣
奉公守法
凤毛麟角
敷衍塞责
改过自新
高瞻远瞩
高枕无忧
隔岸观火
各有千秋
根深蒂固
功亏一篑
勾心斗角
苟且偷安
孤陋寡闻
孤掌难鸣
孤注一掷
沽名钓誉
古色古香
拐弯抹角
光明正大
光明磊落
海底捞针
含辛茹苦
好高骛远
好逸恶劳
和睦共处
狐假虎威
胡思乱想
胡作非为
花言巧语
画龙点睛
画蛇添足
挥金如土
混水摸鱼
鸡犬不宁
集思广益
家喻户晓
假公济私
见利忘义
见异思迁
见义勇为
捷足先登
津津有味
进退两难
进退维谷
精益求精
居安思危
井井有条
鞠躬尽瘁
举一反三
举足轻重
开门见山
开源节流
慷慨解囊
刻苦耐劳
口是心非
苦口婆心
脍炙人口
滥竽充数
老马识途
理直气壮
力不从心
励精图治
了如指掌
临渴掘井
流离失所
路不拾遗
落花流水
络绎不绝
满载而归
慢条斯理
毛遂自荐
每况愈下
每下愈况
面目全非
明目张胆
明哲保身
明知故犯
墨守成规
目中无人
弄巧反拙
破釜沉舟
普天同庆
杞人忧天
千钧一发
千篇一律
千载难逢
前车之鉴
潜移默化
强词夺理
青出于蓝
倾家荡产
情同手足
人浮于事
人云亦云
任劳任怨
荣华富贵
富贵荣华
如火如荼
如释重负
三思而行
僧多粥少
杀鸡取卵
舍己为人
事半功倍
事倍功半
视死如归
手不释卷
守口如瓶
守望相助
守株待兔
熟能生巧
束手无策
水到渠成
水落石出
顺手牵羊
司空见惯
似是而非
随遇而安
滔滔不绝
口若悬河
提心吊胆
挑拨离间
铤而走险
同甘共苦
同归于尽
同流合污
同舟共济
投机取巧
徒劳无功
推陈出新
望尘莫及
忘恩负义
为非作歹
未雨绸缪
温故知新
无病呻吟
无动于衷
无微不至
五体投地
息事宁人
相安无事
相辅相成
心灰意懒
心旷神怡
欣欣向荣
信口开河
信口雌黄
兴高采烈
胸有成竹
袖手旁观
栩栩如生
悬崖勒马
削足适履
寻根究底
循循善诱
鸦雀无声
雅俗共赏
言行一致
养尊处优
摇摇欲坠
一败涂地
一帆风顺
一见如故
一举两得
一箭双雕
一蹶不振
一劳永逸
一落千丈
一毛不拔
一目了然
一暴十寒
一视同仁
一事无成
一网打尽
一意孤行
一针见血
一知半解
以卵击石
以身作则
以牙还牙
易如反掌
异想天开
饮水思源
迎刃而解
应接不暇
优柔寡断
游手好闲
有目共睹
有勇无谋
与日俱增
再接再厉
真知灼见
蒸蒸日上
执迷不悟
趾高气扬
纸上谈兵
志同道合
置之不理
忠言逆耳
装聋作哑
自暴自弃
自力更生
自投罗网
自相矛盾
坐井观天
坐享其成

Just keep shipping ~ a secret of creative and productive people

“The reason I’ve managed a modicum of success is because I just keep shipping.” ~ Seth Godin in 99% Conference, 200804

In a broader context, “shipping” here means creating and sending stuff out. You “ship” when you deliver something.

The definition includes when you:

  1. transform your consumption of knowledge into productions of designs, prototypes and masterpieces
  2. file patents
  3. deliver a talk / workshop
  4. sell a (beautiful / useful / innovative) product
  5. send your creative / fiction / scientific manuscript to publisher(s)
  6. perform your (music, singing, dancing) talent into tangible digital pieces
  7. release your work to the world
  8. debut your latest artwork in a gallery
  9. startup a company
  10. … and the list goes on.

Those who ship, after perspiring sweats (and sometimes tears and blood), are admirable. A reason is that shipping, as the final act of execution, happens much less than people expect.

For you who pursue creative endeavors, the requirement to ship is even higher than ever.

To ship with high frequency, you know that you have to overcome some of major emotional barriers in your inner rugged landscape.

The barriers are like high hills and mountains when you are trapped in a valley, or strong currents when you have to move toward the opposite direction. The barriers of insecurity, fear (of failure, imperfection, criticism), inertia (due to procrastination or perfectionism) and resistance will always be there. Sometimes, we forget that we can cross over the barriers, because we are occluded by them.

You, however, have learned strategies to cross over the barriers.

You may have heard of the roles of amygdala, an almond-shaped structure found deep on either side of the brain, that evolved in early vertebrates.

Your amgydala is a wonderful ally. It links sensory (mainly visual and auditory) experience with emotional significance.  The emotionally-arousing memories that are formed and stored in amygdala, include those related to fear. For example, if you see a danger approaching, your amygdala learns about the fear stimulus and  mediate the associated fight-or-flight responses.

Undeniably, fear is an emotion essential for the survival of our ancestors and ourselves. However, we also subconsciously experience fear in situations when this emotion is inappropriate and discouraging creativity and productivity.

Now, you may be tempted to quiet your amygdala.

While it is impossible to live without fear, despite the adage of “have no fear”, you can choose to embrace your fear wisely.

Prioritize your fear. If you can allow your fear of being unproductive to rule over your fear of criticism or perfectionism, you will ship more often.

♥♥♥

The first law of thermodynamics states that energy can be converted from one form to another, but that it cannot be created or destroyed. Since all energy forms are (in principle) interconvertible, it is highly possible to convert your fear into positive energy. The process can be effortless, for the experienced creative converters.

The next question is how to convert the fear into positive energy.

Remember that our body, plants and animals are made up of molecules of atoms. When we eat plant- or animal-based meals, the chemical energy present in their molecules is converted into thermal motion, known as heat energy. The heat energy in turn catalyzes reactions inside our cells.

In an analogous way, you can convert your fear into positive energy, by carefully internalizing the (right) fear and selecting the optimum catalysts to harvest its energy. Think of inner strength such as self-control, discipline, and openness to constructive feedback.

♥♥♥

In Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway (which was rejected many, many times in its shipping attempts to the right publisher), Susan Jeffers highlights that “the initial stages are the most difficult and require the greatest concentration.

Be determined enough to leave the port of your comfort zone.

Ship by the end of the hour, the day, and the week.

A step by a step, even if it is just a tiny one, you weather every rack of internal and external storms and thunders.

Remember to sprinkle and drizzle your journey with a little more courage, passion, perseverance, and patience. You are almost there.

“O Captain! My Captain!”

Be a captain of your ships who just keeps shipping (better and better)!

Just keep shipping ~ a secret of creative and productive people ServicefromHeart

Many thanks
ServicefromHeart
20140624

Interview: Professor Athene Donald on connecting people and interdisciplinary scientific fields

In 2009, I helped a student-run publication to interview and photograph Professor Dame Athene Donald. When I embark on a (lifelong) project to learn about being creative and transforming our creativity into a reality, I strongly feel that her story of connecting her body of work is inspiring courage and creativity in others.

In her office at the legendary Cavendish Laboratory in West Cambridge, she generously shared her insights (some are applicable to life) and hopes for our future creative generations, especially those who are interested in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

♥♥♥

ServicefromHeart interview Professor Dame Athene Donald Cambridge Cavendish Laboratory

In the 800th anniversary year of the University of Cambridge, Professor Athene Donald of the Cavendish Laboratory, has received the 2009 L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Award. The awards established by the cosmetics company L’Oreal jointly with UNESCO, on the premise that the world needs science … science needs women, have annually celebrated the achievements of five leading women scientists – one scientist from each continent. Dubbed as the Nobel Prize for Women in Science, the award aims to change the perception of women in science.

Could you please tell us about your scientific contributions which have led to your L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Award? 

Athene: “I found this a very difficult question, because I think it’s a lot of different thing and it’s the sum of all that I do. I have had a career where I have worked in lots of different area, and my strength is making connections between different fields.

I have done lots of works in electron microscopy, developed a technique known as environmental scanning electron microscopy (ESEM) for samples which are traditionally very difficult to look at using an ordinary scanning electron microscope, which works in a vacuum.  If you are looking at wet or biological samples, you have to do a lot of sample preparation first. ESEM allows you to look at biological materials without drying them out and killing them.

We have also been looking at how native proteins stick together. When we deliberately denature proteins, they unfold and start to behave like synthetic polymers (plastics), which formed part of my earlier career. We use the ideas of polymer physics and apply them to biological materials.

By moving from traditional physics to non-traditional areas, you open up a lot of new opportunities. One of the things that I am very proud of is that we used Small Angle X¬–ray scattering to study the starch granule. We developed a structural model for how the starch granules are put together, and at one point this was being taught at Part IB Plant Sciences. I thought it was wonderful to be able to bridge into a different discipline!

How do you nurture inter-disciplinary collaborations? 

Athene: “Within the university, we have a lot of brilliant people. One of the challenges is finding someone to spend some time talking to you to the point that they understand what you are saying and vice versa. Sitting in committees with different people has helped to find new contacts. It takes time to do inter-disciplinary work. A key thing in my inter-disciplinary work is finding people who you like, who share ways of thinking about the world, and who are prepared to commit the necessary time.”

Athene is also the director of a newly-established Physics of Medicine Initiative in the University. She continued, “We try to bring physicists, biologists, and clinicians together. The traditional medical physics discipline is aimed at developing techniques, such as MRI and ultrasound, and to apply them in clinics. That’s what I would refer to as Medical Physics, and is not what we are doing.

We intend to take a different set of tools to solve biological problems, for example to use lasers to deform cells in order to distinguish healthy from cancerous cells. This is one step back from the clinic, but will give us a profound insight into what is going on. This is rather different from traditional medical physics. It is harder to find clinicians than scientists, who are willing to share what they need with us.”

Her secret is to be constantly innovative.

“I have never stayed working in a single area for very long. I always started working in a new area before I drop one. For me, I have never wanted to know absolutely everything about a very small area. I am much more interested in taking a broad approach. It’s risky.

Sometimes I am not always successful, but that way you get new ideas and new challenges. I started researching starch in 1986, it went on for 20 years, and now I am not working on it at all.

Knowing when to stop is important. Now, I am working on proteins, cells, and also photovoltaics. My projects tend to have about a ten-year lifespan. We take a technique, start off in a very simple system, and then make it more complex.”

How can we attract more female students to pursue science? 

Athene: “The first challenge is in school. Science is not a very popular subject, it seems hard and people don’t know what it can be used for in a career.

The second challenge is not to lose women at the later stages, when you are 25 and upwards. You talk to up and coming female researchers, who ask how can I manage to have a family and an academic career?

You don’t necessarily get your permanent position until you are in your 30s. There are too many people out there saying you can’t do it.

We need to counter that view, and there are many different ways of achieving your goals. If you want to be an academic scientist, it’s very hard work, you probably have to give up other things like much of a social life, but it’s not impossible.”

How do you combine family and work?

Athene shared, “my family is very important to me. My husband is a mathematician, so we can understand each other’s science up to a point. My husband has been fantastically supportive.

As a woman and a scientist, you really need a supportive partner. My husband actually stopped his career, he became the primary carer. Not every couple will find that solution acceptable, you have to find the right solution for you, and that’s going to vary for everyone.”

On renewable energy, Athene thinks that we need to do a better job in researching on energy, because the world is going to have problems if scientists can’t solve that. If we don’t solve the energy crisis, we may end up having to go back to living in something like Victorian-time conditions.

In the next ten years, Athene will continue to use microscopy and microrheology (a non-invasive technique to analyze the visco-elastic properties of complex fluids) for understanding particle diffusion in cellular systems.

At the time of this interview (200902), Athene and her collaborators, Viji Draviam at the Department of Genetics in the University of Cambridge, have just begun a project to make patterns on which to stick cells and to investigate on how the patterns affect cell divisions and the implications in cancer.

You may be interested in their 2013 publication on live imaging of the spindle orientation during cell division (mitosis) to determine the function of LGN – a protein that is critical for spindle positioning.

A final take home message : Athene advised that everyone should know that it’s okay to ask questions. Most people need help.

This piece of advice also reminds me on a Chinese idiom 不耻下问, which literally means No Shame To Question.
Never feel embarrassed to ask and learn.
♥♥♥

Many thanks
ServicefromHeart
201406

Overcome the shame of imperfection

Have anyone said “shame on you” to you before?

It does not feel good being reproved, even if you have done something wrong.

When we were younger, that someone can be a person of authority, such as parents, teachers, religious leaders or peers. Their words might made a permanent imprint in our mind.

As a grown-up, that someone can also be your inner judge, whom you may NOT aware well. The judge learn the laws through your years of experiences and past interactions with others.

To overcome shame, we must first understand shame and its relationship with guilt.

Could you please tell me the difference between shame and guilt?

In shame, we feel that we are bad.

In guilt, we feel that we have done something bad.

In my perspective, if a child makes a mistake, it is better for him to feel sorry for his inappropriate action than to feel ashamed of himself. What’s your view?

In Spiritual Capital, Danah Zohar rated both shame and guilt -7 in a scale of motivation from -8 to +8, which corresponds to negative and positive motivations, emotions and drives that propel our lives and actions.

She defines shame as having no right to be here.

For individuals, both shame and guilt are more discouraging than fear (-4), craving / greed (-3), and anger (-2).

When we experience shame and guilt, it is extremely hard to listen to our inner voices, to be creative and create something out of passion.

There are many forms of shame. An extreme one is the shame of existing. Other forms include the shame of addiction, shame of illness such as cancers and diabetes.

The Confucian virtues include shame. While other Confucian virtues of loyalty, filial piety, benevolence, love, harmony, courtesy and integrity appear to be positive motivators, the (lost-in-translation) shame that Confucius referred to is the judgement and the sense of right and wrong.

Sadly, many times we feel ashamed because we are not good enough in our life, work, study, look, sport, and the list goes on. We need more courage to ignore this form of shame — the shame of imperfection.

To overcome fear (-4) or a sense of being threatened or too vulnerable, one has to first overcome shame and guilt (-7).

“We all have shame. We all have good and bad, dark and light, inside of us. But if we don’t come to terms with our shame, our struggles, we start believing that there’s something wrong with us — that we’re bad, flawed, not good enough — and even worse, we start acting on those beliefs. If we want to be fully engaged, to be connected, we have to be vulnerable. In order to be vulnerable, we need to develop resilience to shame.” ~ Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brené Brown of University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work

Sometimes, we may experience shame because we do not fit in. We do not always fit in to the ideals expected and determined by others (parents, teachers, bosses, society or media).

The good news is we can learn to be aware of the difference between fitting in and belonging, both concepts are often thought as being synonymous but they can be quite different and have significant influences on our choices, emotions and well-beings. Having such an awareness helps us to develop resilience to shame.

Could you please tell me the difference between fitting in and belonging?

To fit in, one assesses a situation and changes to be accepted (by others).

To belong means just be yourself, accept yourself and you will be accepted (by others who really care about you).

The shaming culture we live in makes it harder than ever to show courage and be vulnerable” but if a person starts overcoming shame, he or she can have a viral effect to people whom he or she influences.

For example, as a big sister I would like my sister to love her healthy body (she used to idealize the very slim figures of models) and as an aunt I would love my niece Michelle to love her hair (ignore some people who said she has too little hair to grow long hair).

Instead of telling them or nagging to love their bodies and looks – the gifts that God and nature have bestowed to them, I choose to be a positive role model, a servant leader by loving my body, look, style and appearance. I am grateful for every cell, organ, part and feature of my face and body.

Let us learn from the nature. The clouds are not perfect yet they are beautiful. It is perfectly okay to be imperfect. No more shame, but more courage to be imperfect.

ServicefromHeart overcome shame of imperfection

With love,
ServicefromHeart
20140617

Thank you post to Jen

Dear Jen

I hope you are doing very well.

This week, I attended a talk by a charming professor from Korea, who looks like a slender Korean pop star. She is 45 years old but appears as youthful as 30s.

Professor Ham immediately reminded me on you, Jen! Both Professor Ham and you are highly enthusiastic, confident and knowledgeable.

ServicefromHeart Thank you post to Jen be like water

I would also not forget how Sir went an extra mile to dim the projector by climbing onto the table.  It is an inspiration for delivering service from our most sincere hearts.

Both you and Professor Ham are interested in the molecular mechanism of amyloid-beta in the Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia.

Sadly, most people will develop Alzheimer’s, if they live long enough.  But again, this experience beats the other alternative – dying young.

Of course, everyone wants to delay the onset of Alzheimer’s.  Recently, I learned that just by inheriting a copy of APOE4 allele (alternative form of the gene) on chromosome 19, increases the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.  About a quarter of people carry an APOE4 allele, that codes for the ApoE4 protein.

The ApoE4 protein strongly promotes the deposition of amyloid-beta in the brain, and ApoE are made by neurons under stress. No matter what happens, let us calm down and be stress-free. Choose and decide on happiness.

In the middle of Professor Ham’s talk, she gave us a quiz. Simply put, she asked a question to reinforce the concepts that she was sharing.

While a student, I have been trained rigorously to find patterns (including similarities) in my study projects. I could not help noticing that both Prof Ham and you have beautiful eyes and long delicate fingers with a ring and polished nails, that both of you use aptly to explain some (difficult) concepts.

Recalling how we met, it was a serendipitous one for me at the staircase outside the CyberCafe that encircles the pyramid. Thank you for offering your help in the technical details of my projects. You were a God-sent angel to me, then a struggling student.

I must also credit you for introducing me to Andy, from whom I get to know other awesome mentors.

Herein, I express how much I am thankful for your early guidance in my formative years in Cambridge.

Many thanks
ServicefromHeart
20140602