Codex Vitae: A Book of Life

I’ve embarked on a fun new side project: creating a codex vitae, or a “book of life.” I’ve adapted this idea from Buster Benson, who was inspired by Robin Sloan’s novel Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. The quote from the book that inspired Benson is the following: “And this is the other treasure. Following in the Founder’s footsteps, every…

On Active Listening and Mental Fatigue

I’ve recently become interested in active listening due to some internal projects on the subject at work. People, especially today, mainly engage in passive listening. We hear the other person’s words but not their message. Mainly, we’re simply waiting for our turn to speak without even weighing the other person’s arguments, opinions, and points. This makes…

Learning How to Tell Stories

As a species, we thrive on stories. Before we could write, we used stories in an oral tradition to communicate with each other. Over time, these stories went from tales told around a fire to complex, moving pieces about religion, morality, war, and much more. The Epic of Gilgamesh, the Odyssey, and the Ramayana are…

Predicting the Future with Genomics

We’ve made huge leaps in biotechnology in the last few decades. From not even knowing how DNA was structured in the 1950s, we’re now at the point where we can engineer DNA. Just last month, the U.S. Patent Trial and Appeal Board ruled on the CRISPR / Cas-9 case between the Broad Institute of MIT…

3 Questions To Test Contrarian Ideas

In the course of my work, I often think about what makes things insightful or compelling. Despite the nuances and complexity that necessarily go into making ideas truly interesting, I believe I’ve found a meaningful shorthand for determining whether an idea is truly new or fresh. I was mainly inspired by Roger Martin’s “The First…

Against the Wisdom of Crowds

The popular phrase “the wisdom of crowds” is derived from James Surowiecki’s 2004 book of the same name. The book contains its premise in its subtitle: Why the Many Are Smarter Than the Few and How Collective Wisdom Shapes Business, Economies, Societies and Nations. Simply put, the opinions of many people are, in the aggregate, more…

Unsocial Sociability: Why People Cooperate and Defect

Human beings are tough to predict because our social dynamics are vastly different from other animals. Some animals, like wolves, must function in packs; a so-called “lone wolf” would in most circumstances perish. Others, like tigers, are solitary, so that they do not need to compete with other members of their species for resources; a…

An Effective Guide For Interviewers

Much of our society structures itself around perceptions of intelligence. This is why, for example, students around the world are required to take numerous standardized tests. Indeed, the role of intelligence in society is the premise behind academic and job performance grading at large. As Stephen Cave of Aeon puts it, “to say that someone is…

How Nepotism and Tenure Create Bad Outcomes

Nepotism is defined as the practice of favoring relatives or friends, especially by giving them jobs. The reason I wish to discuss it today is because of Georgetown basketball’s lackluster season, the worst in 40 years. The common view is that Gtown’s coach, John Thompson III, has a job simply because his father, John Thompson Jr.,…

12 Techniques to Learn Charisma

Charisma is a personal quality that makes someone capable of influencing or inspiring large amounts of people. More specifically, it’s a compelling attractiveness, personal magnetism, or charm that can inspire devotion in others. Even so, charisma is a tough thing to pin down: our definitions are vague and fluffy at best. While we can easily…