Advice for ambitious teenagers by Laura Deming
Shared by peggy2 · 529d ago · 2 comments

What advice in Laura's post do you particularly agree or disagree with?

Some of my favorite snippets:

The obvious is that which is never seen until someone expresses it simply. Grothendiek (one of the most famous and influential mathematicians of the 20th century) famously became completely confused in college by what a teacher meant by ‘volume’. This is a simple concept everyone learns in high school. Grothendiek was completely confused by the explanation most high school students accept as rote. He subsequently made some of the most important mathematical advances in the 20th century. Learn to be very skeptical when everyone talks about something as though it is obvious - few things in science are, at their core.

The most common way smart teenagers neuter their success is by becoming addicted to wunderkind fame. This phenomenon is at a fever pitch in the modern era of social networking. Being a TedXYouth speaker should not be your goal. Status is an infinite treadmill. You can spend your entire life trying to chase it and achieve little societal value.

Public recognition can be helpful, but treat it like a dangerous resource.

Action comes before motivation. Learn to get work done even if you don’t feel like it at first. Find which actions lead to the flywheel of effects (positive reinforcement from others, successful completion of tasks you enjoy) that will motivate you to pursue a certain path. Carefully design systems for yourself. You may feel extreme motivation after watching the Social Network movie, but in the 11th hour get bored and tired of chasing down some abstract programming bug - you must ensure that, if there is an important goal you’d like to achieve, the clear-eyed version of yourself sets up a system to ensure that a later, less motivated of yourself will get it done.

brandon · 529d ago

I have mixed feelings on this:

Say you are 14, and plan to go to college at 18. You have 4-5 years, an equivalent length of time to many graduate students or postdocs. Use this time to pick a significant project and make real progress.

Pick one project and work on it for at least one year. Pick a research question appropriate for a graduate rotation student in a lab, if applicable. Discriminate between projects ‘for show’ and work that you truly find good and original.

Ambitious teenagers should _build_. But I think the likelihood of someone picking the right thing to work on that early is low. I'd encourage them to jump around quite a lot. Build, but keep exploring.

yussef · 528d ago

Love this. Feel like there's a whole category of founder psychology (at any age) that's not written about enough.

You may feel depressed, anxious or lonely. Know that you are not alone. In almost all cases, things will get better, and you will make it through. My Dad used to tell me ‘it always gets darkest before dawn’. I didn’t understand what he meant when I was a kid, but now I do.