|Stumbling with words| Recommendation N.09


Things I read

  • A Companion to the History of Economic Thought: Since I don't sit in the History of Economic thoughts class at university, I found this book enlightening. The revolution of knowledge is a continuation of past ideas. Economics is no exception. For example, Plato put the foundation on Smith's thoughts on the division of labor.

Well then, how will our state supply these needs? It will need a farmer, a builder, and a weaver, and also, I think, a shoemaker and one or two others to provide for our bodily needs. So that the minimum state would consist of four or five men — Republic (Penguin Classics ed.), p. 103

And then, Bernard Mandeville also developed the ideas of labor division before Smith in Fable of the Bees. The greatness of Smith and his pin factory do not come from thin air. It inherits from the past. So do not forget to read; your following great ideas might come from the next books you read.

100 -1 = 0 Làm 100 việc tốt chỉ cần 1 việc không tốt thì mọi thứ bằng 0
  • Emails from students Last summer, I received some thank you emails from my students. I found it is a beautiful practice to keep in touch with your professor (of course, the email should sound genuine) + put a smile on them (which is never superfluous).

Things I listened to

  • Learning how to learn: This is quite a fascinating talk on how to learn. The main idea is to study persistently in smaller chunks. Most of all, we have to know why we look to put all the effort into it (For Vietnamese review, click HERE). It reminds me of the passage I read in David Perell's Monday Musings newsletter.

Learning is Like a Song

The process of learning is like falling in love with a song. Initially, you’re only attracted to songs that move you emotionally. If they’re catchy, you’ll listen to them enough to get stuck in your head. If the song keeps resonating with you, you’ll learn about the artist and explore the lyrics in depth. Talk to an obsessive and in addition to singing the lyrics for you, they’ll tell you the backstory behind the music.

Learning works the same way.

You can’t invert the process and expect the same intensity of learning. When it comes to music, we intuitively know that nobody wants to read the lyrics of an album before they listen to the music. But that’s exactly what we do whenever we ask students to memorize nitty-gritty details before inspiring them to learn. (David Perell)


  • Another excellent talk on learning I found very intriguing is between Professor Ngô Bảo Châu and Professor Nguyễn Xuân Long. Lessons I learned from the conversation:

  1. Share what you are doing with others; they might have keys to your problems somewhere somehow.

  2. It is essential to: i) to learn independently, ii) to write clearly to summarize what we learn for future reference.

  3. Develop your niche. Your expertise. Your philosophy. Don't be afraid to tackle complex problems (but don't be too hard, lol)

Smart people love to over-complicate things so they can feel like they're working hard. And if they fail, at least they can say to themselves: "I tried something though and it just didn't work." But the world rewards you for outcomes, not effort. When you insist on working hard, even when it's not the most effective strategy, you miss obvious solutions that are right in front of your eyes (David Perell)

4. As young researchers, we don't have to focus too much on the "big picture" to avoid getting lost/distracted.

5. For postdoc time, we have to compete on grants and papers aggressively.


  • The following is also an exciting talk on intellectuals in Economics of Education. I learned that besides learning how to write, I should be able to code. So game on with R.

Song of the post


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