Links of the week

Ski-mountaineers climbing the last steep meters to the summit of the Bishorn (4153m) in Valais, Switzerland

Time And Tide Wait For No Economist – UNLIMITED
The changing market of time and how the leisure time gap is widening between skilled and unskilled labour.

The Simple Economics of Machine Intelligence – Harvard Business Review
AI-based prediction tasks will get cheaper and cheaper, but the value of still-to-be-automatized complementary tasks, such as judgement will increase. A simple, but effective, economic perspective on the impact of AI.

Do you need a Data Engineer before you need a Data Scientist? – Michael Young
How Data Engineer and Data Architects can make your Data Science team more effective and satisfied.

The Art of the Finish: How to Go From Busy to Accomplished – Cal Newport
How task-based planning makes you productive, but not accomplished. A simple strategy to change that.

Data Science jargon buster – for Data Scientists – Guerrilla Analytics
Do your data scientists confuse your customers. Here’s a useful translating table.


Book review: So Good They Can’t Ignore You by Cal Newport


After having read Deep Work, been a follower of Study Hacks, and checked the Top Performers course (yet to take it though), I was curious to read Cal Newport’s book about career advice: So Good They Can’t Ignore You.

It does punch like the title, delivering immediately actionable advice on how best to steer, improve and leverage your career to get your dream job.

How does it all play out then? By following four simple rules (and corollary laws).

Rule #1: Don’t follow your passion.
First of all, we very rarely know what our passions truly are. It’s more the norm to become passionate about something we do really well. Secondly, passion is dangerous, since it can lead you to jump onto options for which you do not have the necessary skills. Thirdly, by trying to follow your passion, you end up assessing each job opportunity according to what it offer you, instead of what value your are producing.

Rule #2: Be so good they can’t ignore it (or, the importance of skill)
One needs to develop rare and valuable skills, a career capital, in order to trade them for better and better jobs. These skills are best acquired via the craftsman mindset, “a focus on what value you’re producing in the job” and through deliberate practice, “an approach to work where you deliberately stretch your abilities beyond where you’re comfortable and then receive ruthless feedback on your performance.” (more on this in Deep Work).

Rule #3: Turn down a promotion (or, the importance of control)
So now that your have built up your career capital, what do you trade it for? One of the most powerful traits to acquire is control over what you do, and how you do it. Deciding how much and where to work. Control has it traps though.
The first control trap states that “control that is acquired without career capital is not sustainable.”
The second control trap is that “the point at which you have acquired enough career capital to get meaning control is exactly the point when you’ve become valuable enough to your current employer that they will try to prevent your from making the change.”
In order to avoid these traps, one should follow the Law of financial viability, which briefly states that you should always check your desired changes against the willingness of people to pay for it.

Rule #4: Think Small, Act Big (or, the importance of mission)
Another fundamental source of satisfaction of your work is having a mission, but finding such a mission is not an easy task. Like control, mission also requires career capital: having a clear defined mission but no skills to carry it out will only leave you unsatisfied and looking for another job to pay for your bills. Ok. You’ve got the necessary skills, but still lack a driving mission. How do you find it? Cal argues that great missions are found in the adjacent possible of your field, meaning you first need to become an expert to spot new fruitful directions. Exactly like in science. Great discoveries are found at the edges of the current knowledge. Good. You found a possible direction. Do you jump head on into it? No, you take small bets in many of these direction, in order to probe what’s truly feasible, and also remarkable. A small bet is transformed into a compelling mission and then into a great success if it satisfies the law of remarkability, “which requires than an idea inspires people to remark about it, and is launched in a venue where such remarking in made easy.” Example? Intriguing scientific discoveries in peer-review journals and innovative software in open-source GitHub repositories.

That’s a quite concise summary of the book. In order to dig deeper into the arguments behind these rules and laws, and read many peoples’ stories, successful and not, you ought to read the whole book. At 230 pages at large font is a fast read, but you’ll come back to some chapters multiple times, to adjust your understanding to your current career situation.

Personally, I found the advice clear, which is not always the case, sound, which is even less so, and immediately applicable. Overall, what’s best about the book is that it frames career development and finding the dream job in very practical and no-nonsense terms.

Buy it here.

Links of the week

Balda_20120325_D700_3741Sunday morning in Brick Lane – March 24th, 2012

Flow doesn’t lead to mastery – Scott Young
While many seek a state of flow as way to deliver one’s best, research on deliberate practice shows that one has to go beyond flow, to a state of high and uncomfortable intensity in order to achieve mastery.

What do Hiring Managers Look For in a Data Scientist’s CV? – Ben Dias
The title explains it all. A great post to read if you are applying for a data scientist position, or are hiring data scientists.

The Obvious Value of Communication is Perhaps Not So Obvious – Study Hacks
Hyperconnected offices (email, slack, smartphone) may just be a very poorly designed distributed system. How can we improve that?

Book Review: The Wisdom of Insecurity – Scott Young
Scott writes a wonderful, if not a tad too long, review of The Wisdom of Insecurity by Alan Watts, expounding Watts’s view of Zen philosophy. I particularly enjoyed how Scotts blends summary with his own opinions. To learn from for improving my own reviews.

Links of the week

To Become A Data Scientist, Focus On Competencies before Skills – Guerrilla Analytics
A good short blog post about the core competencies of a data scientist.

Reprogramming the Human Genome with AI featuring Brendan Frey – This Week In Machine Learning and AI
Very interesting podcast about Frey’s research on using machine learning to model molecular biology process for understanding genetic diseases.

The Man Who Wants To Kill Your Desk Job – Unlimited
Have you ever heard of Roam, the co-working and living spaces startup?

The DIY Cyborg Who Thinks Tech Can Help Us Cheat Death – Unlimited
If you could live up to 150, would you still stress out about your career? And other views for a leading biohacker.

Yuval Harari Works Less Than You – Study Hacks
The bestselling author of Sapiens and Homo Deus meditates one to two hours of meditation per day. Each year he goes to one-two month retreats, completely offline. And still manages to be a best-selling author and tenured professor at 41.

Links of the week