Tip Included

Access to good mentors is invaluable and a good advice at the right time is priceless. We are starting here a new project where we will collect advice that members of our community find valuable. The one tip you got and always try to follow, the one advice you find yourself repeating to others.  Please share with us the wisdom you accumulated in comments or by emailing me (and I will incorporate down the line). I will spread out the tips that are already lined up and those that will come in bite-size quantities and I am convinced the cumulative effect will be powerful.

If this reminds you the Research-Life Stories project (which still accepts new entries), you are not wrong. Many of the stories do have some lesson in them, but in the new project we are targeting those lessons more directly.

To get us started, I would like to share a lesson that I hold dear: “better make your own mistakes than others‘.” My wise (older) brother Eyal Reingold gave me this advice when I was toying with an unconventional career choice and it empowered me to follow my gut feeling.

I also think that my brother’s advice is appropriate at the beginning of this project and it should serve as a warning: what works for some doesn’t always work for others and you should only adopt what feels right to you. Indeed, I expect that we will see conflicting advices in this project, which would also be interesting. (As a side story, before the birth of my first child, away from all relatives, I bought a variety of parenting books with a variety of perspectives all the way from “carry your children on you till their marriage” to “put your child in a boarding school upon birth.” This way, whatever felt right to us could be justified with an advice from the right book).

5 Comments on Tip Included

  1. How about the opposite? Researchers comment (anonymously) on what they wish their advisors would have done to improve their research quality.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Absolutely! The advice you wish you got, the mentoring you wish you had. You can leave here or email me something more detailed and I will be happy to post anonymously on your behalf.


  3. Nice project!

    One piece of advice I remember Sanjeev Arora giving me when I joined Princeton: “The way to get tenure is to act like you already have it”.

    I think this is a very good piece of advice, which I have often repeated to others. It’s somewhat similar to your brother’s advice, Whatever is the risky but exciting thing you plan to purse after you have tenure, just do it now.


    • I had the same piece of advice from my adviser too! I attempted to attack a hard problem when I started my tenure-track position. Then I failed to get tenured and had to leave academia to feed my family of 4. I no longer have the time and freedom to work on research anymore.


  4. I don’t remember someone giving me this advice explicitly but one of my major aha moments as a grad student was when I realized that we tend to confuse experience with (innate) smartness. I still vividly remember sitting in the first lecture in David Zuckerman‘s Combinatorics and Graph theory course and being intimidated by other students in the course answering David’s questions on combinatorics even before I could process what David was asking. This being my first graduate theory course, it was not a comfortable position to be be but I persisted. As I went along in my Ph.D., I started to realize that in many (most?) cases someone would be very fast to answer a question it they had the experience working on similar questions (but then would be as “slow” as me if they were thinking about a question outside of their comfort zone).

    I relay this advice to students esp. undergrads and new graduate students whenever I get the chance 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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  1. Donald Knuth – On Doing Research – Theory Dish

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