Monthly Archives: October 2010

Kawasaki on entrepreneurs, education and Singapore

In a conversation at the Stanford Global Entrepreneurs Challenge held in Singapore, Kawasaki held forth about all three. Paraphrasing wildly,

On education:When you educate young minds that the best thing that can happen to them is to land a government or a MNC (Multinational) job, why are you surprised that they dont want to be an entrepreneur?  They are not prepared for it. ” In America, if you work for a large company for a long time, people ask why. In Singapore, if people leave a large company, people ask why. This is a huge difference.”  He also said that the educational system, great though it is, has not really focused on “being creative” which as we all know is essential for entrepreneurship.

On entrepreneurship in Singapore, I have to say Guy is more enthusiastic.  He notes that resources are being deployed and  that the government has decided to pursue this trail, and we know

Singapore’s track record when the Government decides to pursue something. (This is the country whose per capita GDP was three digits a few years ago and look at them now! Wow!)  But some things like regulations will have to ease up.

The best quote though, came at the end, when he was asked whether

Singapore’s small size would be an obstacle.  “They have to go international” he said and added in pure Kawasaki-ese, ” Israel has five million people, six million entrepreneurs, and fifteen million opinions. Singapore has five million people, six entrepreneurs, and one opinion.” but he concludes, “If Israel can do it, why can’t Singapore?”

So look out Silicon Valley, here comes Singapore Island. Agree or disagree?

MR5 has nothing to do with James Bond.

At a session for Emory premeds, Dean Neumeyer, the Dean of Medical School Admissions at Tufts brought up a slide with MR5 and reassured the 19-21 year olds in the room that this had nothing to do with James Bond. My staff and I were most appreciative of this joke of course, having seen all the James Bond movies at least once, some of us have even read the Alistair Maclean books and get the allusion to MI6.  But the MR5 is a committee of the AAMC ( and they are trying to come up with alternate measures to evaluate students for admissions into medical school.

He talked about the MR5 Innovation lab’s suggestions to AAMC that applicants be gauged on other measures that are hard to quantify.  Things like integrity, dependability, respect, altruism, empathy, and other personal characteristics.  Here is the impressive list of updated competencies that Dean Neumeyer put up,

  • Integrity and Ethics
  • Reliability and Dependability
  • Service Orientation
  • Social, Interpersonal and Teamwork skills
  • Desire to Learn
  • Resilience and Adaptability

Whether MR5’s Innovation lab comes up with measurements or not, it would be good for premeds to be thinking about how to exemplify these traits.  For the rest of us who will be at the mercy of these future doctors, its all good news.  Who would not want their doctor to have this impressive list of competencies?  Even James (Bond) would have appreciated these qualities in his docs.

Of course, organic chemistry grades will still be important, and Dean Neumeyer got a bigger applause from the crowd when he reassured them by revealing his organic chemistry grade.  Clearly, that did not stand in the way of his admission to medical school.


Why science for Tibetan monks at Emory?

Today (October 18) in a rare moment, His Holiness the Dalai Lama explained the background for why he encouraged teaching monks modern science.  At a lunch at Emory, honoring the science faculty and translators who have been working for three years on developing a ground breaking science curriculum for Tibetan monastics, His Holiness started with, “Let me give a little background.”  He talked about how an early 5th Century BC university, Nalanda University, possibly visited by the Buddha, was the inspiration.  Early scholarly works from Nalanda were translated into Tibetan and set up the framework of logic and learning that is followed even today in monastic training.  This system of logic is ingrained in Buddhist teaching, said His Holiness.  He said, people have asked him if science would not destroy religion.  His response, “The Buddha himself said, Do not believe what I say because I say it, investigate it for yourself.” And for this reason, he said, there was no conflict between the inquiry based approach of science and Tibetan Buddhist monastic training.

Faculty from Emory, Georgia Tech and other universities have been teaching at Dharamsala the past two summers.  The curriculum, initiated in 2009 by Geshe Lobsang Negi and me, has gained popularity and students.  It is a two way street, as we teach the monastics modern science, quite often we are forced to reevaluate what we have taken for granted.  “If I had an object shaped like a cone, would the force of gravity be different on the pointed edge or the flat edge? ” “When you talk about a cell, are you talking about its body or its mind? ” and so on.

To take it to the next level, we welcomed six special freshmen this month on campus, six monks wandering through introductory biology and chemistry with other Emory freshmen.  I can’t wait to see their mid term grades.

Stanford Advice to Emory premeds

Emory undergrads were privileged to hear Mr. Greg Vaughn, Assistant Director of Admissions at Stanford Medical School talk to them about what Stanford was looking for in a premed applicant.  A standing room only crowd kept Mr. Vaughn for at least three hours, as he explained, took answers, fielded questions and provided information.  There are several applicants to Stanford in this year’s Emory applicants, and we hope they were all present.  Also present were many freshmen and sophomores, and Mr. Vaughn was especially welcoming to these early starters.

What DOES Stanford look for?  I particularly liked the very first slide in Mr. Vaughn’s deck, “What We Value”. The answer is “Scholarly Endeavors, Clinical Experiences, Service.”  In the next few slides Mr. Vaughn talked about how the application should bring out evidence of “originality and creativity” in academic and non academic activities. I also heard the theme of “Deep involvement in research and scholarly activities”.  If you are considering applying to Stanford, not only should you have research on your resume, but you should also be prepared to talk about your research project, its impact on you and your academic career.

On Leadership, Mr, Vaughn shared with us a model of a Leadership Ladder, from involvement to advocacy to legacy.  You start by attending a prehealth club for example, move to become the president, then become an active advocate for the cause, and leave a legacy behind that persists after your departure.  For many in the audience the concept of “distance travelled” must have been reassuring; Mr. Vaughn noted wisely that when looking at applicants, Stanford considers where applicants started in their freshman year and where their academic journey took them.  It is the distance travelled that is meaningful – not a list of activities.

Of course, most important, an applicant should be able to articulate what they hope to get out of a Stanford education, because like everyone else, Stanford is looking for the perfect “fit”.  Learn about the curriculum.  Learn about what makes this school of medicine distinct and different.  Learn about yourself and know what you seek in your graduate professional experience.  And be able to articulate that!