The Ronald Coase Institute Xiamen Workshop, 2013

What’s the question?

The central message from the workshop, repeated again and again, reminds me that integral part of learning is to question whether these are the right questions.

The Master said, “When I walk along with two others, they may serve me as my teachers. I will select their good qualities and follow them, their bad qualities and avoid them.” – The Analects of Confucius.

The comments that I received in Xiamen were very different from those that I received in Seoul or in Jeju. The former always returned me back to square one: they severed, shook, and stripped my ideas down in a plainspoken manner. But a good medicine is always bitter! “You are the baby here,” reassured Lee, but being less trained statistically and mathematically has nothing to do with what I should keep in mind when approaching a research topic. Gary summed it up very nicely: “Now, take a step back, and …”

5 lessons I learned from RCI:

  1. What’s the question? If you can’t formulate a short, clear question, then it is not really worth it.
  2. You must be able to present your work in 30 seconds, 1 minute, 5 minutes, 10 minutes, and up to 30 minutes. Imagine the late Professor Coase getting into the lift with you and turning to you, asking, “So, young lady, what is it that you are doing?” Now that really adds a sense of urgency.
  3. Do take time to network. Many of the Chinese participants kept their distance from other participants, conversing in their own tongue. I am pretty sure that their works were brilliant, but when your presence itself is not advocated, the research is also undersold.
  4. Create a common denominator between you and other international participants. Lee’s question gave me something to think about: “What is the funniest joke in your country?” That shut me up for a good 15 minutes. Trust me, it’s hard to conjure up a ‘walked into a bar’ joke on the spot.
  5. Respect and focus on other participants’ presentations. RCI’s policy of ‘no electronic devices allowed during presentations’ let me fully concentrate on them, and that makes a difference. You have something new to learn from everyone. In fact if you can, look their papers up beforehand.

5 personal advice that I am jotting down:

  1. Apply for a masters in LSE that is in the track for a PhD.
  2. Study IO (metrics), real analysis, and more stats courses.
  3. Read the Institutions of the English Novel.
  4. A good IV is equivalent to a good, convincing story. Find it!
  5. Do not ever be afraid of negative comments.

I am very grateful.

 

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