Hello again!


I've been a while since my last post. I have hibernated to reflect, struggling to be motivated. Sometimes, all you need is a vacation to recharge and restart. This post is just a hello from me; yes, I will write more often.

The highlight of life recently is the Mixtape podcast by Scott Cunningham. If you learnt from me, you might remember the video of Kathryn Graddy on perfect competition.



The recent podcast from Scott reveals the story behind her fish research. It is always inspiring to learn from another economist and the intuition behind their research. Should the economics teaching more research-led? I need you, my readers, for your opinion.

Should economics teaching be more research-led?

  • Yesssss

  • Nahhh

Until then, I will try to write more post on research I came across.

Thank you for keep hanging around <3


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Hello you, it has been a while!


I have undergone a rollercoaster of emotion in the past month. The feeling was uneasy yet necessary for me to navigate the next stage of life. March also comes with beautiful adventures in Da Lat and Ha Giang. Here is my memory dumping post.


1. Books:

Trịnh Lữ, ghi chép (Trinh Lu, notes)

My highlight last month was the interview of Trinh Lu by DJ. Thuy Minh. I have always fascinated with conversations. Conversation of all kind. This one however brought me back to core. As I go further down in life, I become more appreciate the the humility and simplicity of a human being. No frills and flares. I have grown to stay grateful with my friends who look so ordinary with extraordinary minds. I am thankful for our conversation and reading recommendations throughout the year. The book is another reminder to stay true to the self. There are many uncertainties, the only way to live is stay humble and grateful.

“Những nỗi khổ sinh ra lại có tư chất thông minh và vài năng khiếu bẩm sinh nên học gì làm cũng dễ dàng, thể là sinh ra ảo tưởng tài năng, rồi sinh lòng tự phụ. Bé được khen quen rồi, đến lúc lớn ra đời hễ không được khen là chán nản, mà bị chê bai chỉ trích thì sinh lòng oán ghét. Nhẽ ra phải lột xác ảo tưởng, để sống đời chân thực càng sớm càng tốt, nhưng vì có chút tài mọn nên thỉnh thoảng lại được khen, thành ra cái ý thức đúng đắn ấy hễ cứ ló ra lại bị ngắt bỏ. Quả thực khen tặng là phân bón tốt nhất để nuôi dưỡng ảo tưởng. Nó vặt trụi mọi mầm mống tự thức. “
Sufferings are born with intelligence and some innate talent. If it is too easy to learn anything, there might lead to an illusion of mastery and growing arrogant. If one is used to being praised, one is depressed when one is not, growing hatred once being criticized. It is much better to strip down such an illusion, to face reality as soon as possible. Yet, once you are down with some talent, minor achievement comes with accolades; sense of deccency got interrupted every time it appeared. Indeed, praise is the best fertilizer for cultivating illusions. It wipes out all seeds of self-consciousness.

Nhà đầu tư 1970 (Investor 1970)

As the stock market in the recent year is on the craze, investor 1970 (active under the name A7) is praised for being money savvy. I listened to his audio book during my leisure walk. His sharing go line with Warren Buffet's principle (with a strong preference over real estate investment in the context of fast urbanization in Vietnam).


From Good to Great

This is a classic management book yet I have neglected it for a while. As my student recommended to book for my teaching materials, I gave it a try and found the books quietly resonate with what I learn in recent year. Here are the few lessons from the books:


Level 5 Leadership: The book advocates for leaders who are humble, most of them come within the company. Someone who is modest and willful, humble and fearless.

Level 5 leaders look out the window to apportion credit to factors outside themselves when things go well (and if they cannot find a specific person or even to give credit to, they credit good luck). At the same time, they look in the mirror to apportion responsibility, never blaming badluck when things go poorly.

Around the time I read this book, I also listened to Freakonomics Podcast on why we have many "bad" boss. As company tends to promote good employees as a form of incentives. Good employees, however, doesn’t mean good managers. It is cheaper entitling employees in comparison to raising their salaries. Yet, the policy costs companies future greater earnings from "good employees now turning bad bosses". It is not necessary true that Level 5 leaders should come from the company (not until the company change its promotion criteria).


Get the right people on the bus: Basically we need good people before good idea. I particularly impressed with Nucor as the company in this book. Bellow is the story of the company on recruiting "right people"

Nucor built its entire system on the idea that you can teach farmers how to make steel, but you can’t teach a farmer work ethic to people who don’t have it in the first place. So, instead of setting up mills in traditional steel towns like Pittsburgh and Gary, it located its plants in places like Crawfordsville, Indiana; Norfolk, Nebraska; and Plymouth, Utah—places full of real farmers who go to bed early, rise at dawn, and get right to work without fanfare. “Gotta milk the cows” and “Gonna plow the north forty before noon” translated easily into “Gotta roll some sheet steel” and “Gonna cast forty tons before lunch.” Nucor ejected people who did not share this work ethic, generating as high as 50 percent turnover in the first year of a plant, followed by very low turnover as the right people settled in for the long haul.” workers would either jump or get thrown right off the bus.

Culture of Discipline: To ensure great companies stay great, the book advocate for a long-lived company culture. It echos with what shared by Prof. Phan Van Trong in his podcast on company culture. No wonder why companies or schools always seek people share the same mindset or vibes.


And finally, there is the flywheel effect: Good things take time. The great time will come.

“Steady, consistent progress leads to eventual breakthrough”

One side note: Don't take everything for granted. Even the best-of-the-best selling books, here is WHY

2. Movies:

The fight club (1999):

This is a breath of fresh air after watching too many chick flicks. It is a thought provoking movie dragging me out of the rabbit hole of consumerism. There are many traps out there. You live the life you want, not the life IKEA (and many other fast consummption companies) want.

My Dinner with Andre (1981)

After watching The Fight club, I read many critics and many recommended this movie. Just two men talking about love, death, money, and all the superstition. As a fan of podcast and chitchat, this movie served me so well.

3. Course:

BREAD-IGC Virtual PhD Course : This is an excellent course on current landscape of economics. I have fun learning this. I hope you find them fun too!


Finally my tune for the post from Olivia Dean

Until then, stay happy



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Every year, around this time, I revamp my teaching materials. This year, I switched to the co-construction approach of teaching. Before each chapter, students in the team will send me articles, movies, and exercises they want me to include. Such team will then host an independent study session for the class. I want to explain my WHY here for future reflection.


1. As the age and generation gap between my students and I have been widening throughout the year, I want my teaching to stay current. In the past year, I surveyed to understand them better. However, eighteen-year-old seems to be the age of unsureness. I saw the same pattern in their answers. Students find information from the same source, either Facebook or Kenh 14. They have not figured out their answers when asked about the career plan. I want my students to find their sureness through reading, decide what instil their curiosity, and share with their classmates. More important, I want them to start a habit of research prior to learning session.


2. Some ten years ago, when I was their age, we had two learning sessions: one with our professors and one with our teaching assistant for Q&A. We do not have this luxury in Vietnam. There is no separate Q&A session. Hence, we do not have enough time to deliver our lessons and dig deep into problem sets. The time shortage leads students to believe they need extra classes and crash courses before an exam. Making the independent learning sessions compulsory, I hope to introduce them to working in a team regularly.


3. The final and very selfish reason, I want to grow as a teacher and a learner. I have learned incredibly from my students and younger friends over the past years. I want to continue such learning habits through this co-construction approach with my students. The first week went well. I can't wait to watch a student's recommended movie called Gung Ho! this Tet Holiday.


When writing these lines, I am listening to Spotify's curated Viet Hip-hop. I arrived at this Suboi track, and I would like to share with you all.


Happy Tet holiday you all!



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