Successful people giving advice, making me feel good

27 Jun

I came across two different individuals, both of whom have advice to people younger than them.

First, Chris Guillebeau advises people on how to jury rig a graduate school education in one year. He describes it as “approximately the same amount of knowledge (if not more) you’d receive in a general social science or humanities program,” which might be more or less accurate. I think that a real graduate program would involve considerably more analysis, and if Chris hasn’t gone to graduate school himself, he certainly doesn’t seem qualified to judge it. However, I do like the things that he lists, and many of them describe me and my habits already. Here are some of what he lists and how I compare:

  • Subscribe to the Economist and read every issue religiously. – I used to read the NYT and the Economist quite seriously. I’ve mostly left mainstream media behind now, so I give myself a partial for this one.
  • Memorize the names of every country, world capital, and current president or prime minister in the world. – I’ve got world geography down, but the heads of state are something that I haven’t yet attempted.
  • Buy a Round-the-World plane ticket or use Frequent Flyer Miles to travel to several major world regions, including somewhere in Africa and somewhere in Asia. – I’ve been to Asia and Europe already, and I’m on the cusp of visiting South America. I haven’t travelled as extensively as I would like to but I think that I am well underway.
  • Read the basic texts of the major world religions: the Torah, the New Testament, the Koran, and the teachings of Buddha. Visit a church, a mosque, a synagogue, and a temple. – I’m got a strong grasp of Buddhism, a fairly strong understanding of Christianity, but I am very ignorant of Islam.
  • Subscribe to a language-learning podcast and listen to each 20-minute episode five times a week for the entire year. – I’m through the roof on this one. I’m working on my third foreign language.
  • Read at least 30 non-fiction books and 20 classic novels. – Over the past two years I think that I’ve gotten this finished already, but at the rate I’m going I’ll continue for a long time.
  • Set your home page to http://wikipedia.org/random. Over the next year, every time you open your browser, you’ll see a different, random Wikipedia page. Read it. – I scoured Wikipedia during my college years, so I consider that to be already finished.

Next, I found that Derek Sivers tends to think like me in at least one aspect: culture. For a very quick idea, check out his TED Talk on Japanese and American roads, blocks, and buildings for a wonderful illustration of cultural differences. From what little I know of him, he seems like enjoy learning about other cultural views, which is something that I am fascinated by. After listening to a long conversation/interview with him in which he mentioned differing values and viewpoints between different cultures, I decided that he had gone through some similar experiences to me. He recommends that people pick everything up and immerse themselves in a new environment. Well, I’m doing that pretty strongly so far.

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