Archive for 'Academia'

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Little Capitalist

It’s last Wednesday night. We’re having dinner, and I’m telling my father about “Shark Tank,” that show where newbie entrepreneurs go in front of uber-wealthy VCs, and do their best to work an investment miracle. The entrepreneurs ask the sharks for a certain amount of money in exchange for equity in their company. The pitch always involves a little song and dance about how earth shattering their new inflatable necktie, or glow-in-the-dark shoelace, or edible hand sanitizer is. And in turn, the sharks ask pointed questions, like: What are your actual margins? How many customers do you really have? Do ...

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Mining for Idea

Yesterday, I returned to my high school after seventeen years away. I was back to teach a writing workshop to seniors on the secrets of the college essay. Now, truth be told, these secrets aren’t secrets at all, but they bear the full weight of enigma to those not trained in the art of the personal essay. And more often than not, when the demands of the personal essay make themselves felt for the first time—usually around the age of seventeen, when students mistakenly believe that the essay prompt requires them to distill their “essence” into a palatable 500 words—the ...

The Reality Test

“Now you just have to live in reality like the rest of us.” This was my father’s response when I told him that I was leaving academia. Never one to opt for the minor comfort of euphemism, my father prefers the open air of a blunt comment. Skip the niceties. Say things as you see them. So, he said it as he saw it, and what he saw was this: that somewhere in the not-too-distant future, I had a date fixed with reality, and now that I had jumped ship, the inevitable was on its way for me. Just to admit ...