About the Dark Side of Life Hacks

© Omid Scheybani

© Omid Scheybani

What if I told you that the Silicon Valley productivity hack culture (no netflix, no games, ...) is not that efficient at all as many claim it to be. Instead, being able to unplug yourself, being able to anti-hack yourself is what is key for artistic creation, for excellence, for innovation and for quality work that stands out. Life hacks are great and may be inspiring, but are there any good life hacks to increase your creativity, to make your work feel unique for others?

Most probably this is the wrong question to ask. Life hackers always have in mind to increase their productivity, lean their processes, and push themselves to become more efficient in what they do. Now, what if creativity actually requires you to do the complete opposite. What if creative work can only be done if you dare to be inefficient, if you take the risk to be unproductive, if you are patient and wait for a better thought?

Indeed, creativity needs an emptiness before being able to fill it again. A kind of wash-out, cleaning, and inner balance for creativity and waste. A creative moment is nothing you can hack or enforce or squeeze or dense or adjust, it's just there. You have got to embrace it or you loose it.

Do we need structure at all?

 © Omid Scheybani

 © Omid Scheybani

Of course, you need some structure, something to write down your ideas, a place to note your history of memories, but creative minds always search for topics, titles, texts, thoughts, tragedies until they get to a point where they need to let it out. The idea won. It took itself too seriously, and it needed to spread itself.

Creative minds, indeed, manage to distance themselves from their ideas and let the ideas evolve themselves. They are able to control the overall idea creating process, but the details appear just to happen. And if creativity is missing, they may feel anger, distress or anxiety. It's a reaction to their quality expectation that is not met. Creative minds take the risk to wait until a better idea comes to their mind.

Some time ago, when I first learned about the Silicon Valley hack culture, I started to not unplug myself for some time and I begun to feel miserable. Actually it was a friend's comment. I was like: How do you manage all that? He said: no tv, no netflix, no games... I said to myself, well I can do that. Let's kick out all of that fun and joy and pleasure and arousal and kick another round on my laptop, my phone, my tablet, my office desk, ...

Well. I felt miserable after 4 weeks. I got more done. I enjoyed it less and the quality suffered. I felt less productive over all. I learned from this time that creativity comes and goes as it likes. There is no structured way of being creative, it's a loose thing.

What can we do to become more creative?

 © Omid Scheybani

 © Omid Scheybani

One of the best advices that I can give that worked for me to become more creative is to unplug myself with something really stupid I love doing. And I don't mean going to the gym. I mean doing something I wouldn't put proudly on facebook. Like playing a shitty video game I love. Waste myself with a bottle of wine and watch how i met your mother binge for the third time. Go and watch with my wife Germany's next Top Model and have a laugh.

I mean seriously we all should do stupid stuff that we love. Nobody wants to admit it, post it in social media or else, but we should actually embrace this habit. It's the moment where we don't take ourselves too seriously. Being ridicolous for some time helps cleaning all this self-esteem that is often in our way to creativity. 

Being creative is more an attitude than a skill. You may need to be patient, waiting for a good thought, take risks in getting inspired by others and most importantly you may need to unplug yourself one time or the other. Hacking your way to creativity makes it only longer and less fun.

I am deeply convinced that everyone is creative, be it painting, writing, photography, interior design, or fashion. We create every day. It's in our nature, but to exploit this creativity, we need to unplug ourselves for some time. So forget all these hacks, lean back, relax and let the creativity come to you. 

If you liked this text, please feel free to share it. Subscribe to my blog to get some weekly thoughts about my life at the intersection of academia and entrepreneurship. Follow me on FacebookLinkedIn and Twitter (@MarcelHofeditz)

Source: http://

How I Wrote My Foreword

© Omid Scheybani

© Omid Scheybani

I encourage everyone to write a foreword after having finished a large piece of writing. Within this foreword you may be able to give general advice, introduce your topic, put your overall theme into a broader context, but most importantly it gives you the power to say thank you. It gives you the unique chance to say thank you to everyone involved in your journey. I encourage you to do so, because what has ultimately driven your courage (besides your enthusiasm for your topic) were the people around you that supported and inspired you. I may disappoint those of you that hoped for a list of smart and intelligent things that should be said in a foreword. But, in my opinion it's more simple than that.

Just write about the people you care.

So, instead I will provide you with a glimpse into how I wrote my PhD foreword. I will give you some insights who were these people that mattered during  my PhD time. In the same vein, I share my foreword and say thank you to my dear friends and colleagues:

"Finishing my Phd makes me feel happily exhausted. I tasted the sweet bitterness of working as an academic and it remains the question, what did I learn? Indeed, I learned that the cup of science is not half empty, but instead half full. Science is so much fun. If you imagine life as a Phd student, you may think of nerf guns, kicker tables, reading and writing papers, teaching students, speaking at conferences, and yes, all of that is part of doing a PhD. But the PhD time becomes even better if you can share it with the people you care about.  So, if you imagine the road to PhD, then you definitely need some good thoughts, a little bit of success, but most importantly many great people to join you on this journey.

I want to thank these people.

I want to honor these people that made this journey joyful and give some insights about what makes them so great. If you think about the PhD being about the people around you, you are going to have a great time. I promise you that...

© Omid Scheybani

© Omid Scheybani

I want to thank everyone, who has supported this dissertation with her and his thoughtful arguments, great humor, big entertainment and fun stories. Particularly and first of all, I want to thank my supervisor Prof. Dr. Gerhard Schewe. He is an excellent PhD supervisor, who has mastered the balance of providing space to develop my own ideas while thoroughly supporting my work during every major step. Second, I want to thank our secretary assistant Mrs. Semptner. Her great sense of humor has made me laugh many times. She is the soul of our institute.

Third, I owe a big thank you to my personal research assistant Richard Hossiep. His strong analytical and research skills have been of great help for my PhD. I also want to thank my former colleague Dr. Marcel Gölden. His positive spirit is an enrichment for every team he forms a part of.

He’s an exceptional athlete and a great friend.

Thanks also to my former colleague Dr. Bernd Liesenkötter, who has been my first mentor and friend at the institute. He has always encouraged me to continue my work promoting it within the institute. I also want to thank Sven-Olaf Gerdt for his positive and engaging attitude. His passion for entrepreneurship is very addictive. In the same breath, I want to thank Dr. Ansgar Buschmann for spreading the passion of entrepreneurship at our institute. Both personalities have been successfully running a family business and a PhD.

© Omid Scheybani

© Omid Scheybani

I would like to thank Philipp Borgstedt for adding his great sense of humor to the team. He always made me laugh with his funny jokes. I am also very happy that I met Daniel Westmattelmann. He is not only a fantastic athlete but also a great personality.

It is great to have him around with his infinite positive energy.

Finally, my brother-in-crime Dr. Philipp Romeike has to be thanked for going the entire PhD way together from the first written word until the submission, celebration and party. This has been an unforgettable memory that we now undeniably share together. I also want to say thank you to Dr. Oliver Elling. His magic and his excellent entertainment skills really make him a great addition to every team. I am also happy that I met Dr. Markus Borgstädt because of his down-to-earth and loyal character and his capability to spread a good mood anywhere where he is.

I also want to thank Dr. Frederick Röhder for his inspiring personality and his passion about entrepreneurship. His strong analytical skills and his great character have left a lasting impression on me. I thank Dr. Astrid Lenczyk, who has always been there to talk to and give advice. My dear colleague Bastian Neyer has to be thanked for his great organizational talent, his fine cooking skills and shared passion for compliance research. I also owe a big thanks to Dr. Christoph Brast, who is not only supporting the institute with his long-time experience and his excellence in teaching, but also with his loyal and wise character.

 © Omid Scheybani

 © Omid Scheybani

Special thanks to Maximilian Holtgrave, who has supported my journey in publishing articles and who was always there to answer methodological, logical and conceptual questions. 

He is a great researcher and person.

I also say thanks to Carolin Neugebauer for having supported several sustainability projects of NGOs that I tried to support. Your work in this field needs to be recognized as very important. I finally say thank you to Dr. Stefan Becker and Stefan Sautmann for always spreading an amazing mood during the institute’s seminars and celebrations. I wish every new member of the institute who I just met, the best of luck with their thesis and lots of fun with these amazing people. You have a great time ahead.

I owe a special thanks to my co-authors Dr. Ann-Marie Nienaber, Professor Rosalind Searle, and Prof. Anders Dysvik.

Writing this thesis without you would have been only half the fun.  

I also want to thank at this point the numerous anonymous reviewers who have improved the articles included in this thesis. You are the backbone of science and I am looking forward to give back by providing constructive reviews myself. I also want to say thank you to the co-supervisor of my thesis Prof. Dr. Thomas Ehrmann. I feel very fortunate that I met all of you on my PhD road. 

 © Omid Scheybani

 © Omid Scheybani

My close friends Johannes and Thomas have to be thanked for their supporting attitude and enthusiasm for my topic. Finally, my wife Eliana and my little son Milo have to be thanked for their infinite patience during long working periods.

They have been my main source of energy.

In this vein, I also want to thank my sister Vanessa and my parents Brigitte and Hansfried Hofeditz for their long-time ideal and financial support. You are the ones who have made this time an unforgettable memory. I thank you for that.

Münster, September 2015

Marcel Hofeditz"

That has been my foreword. 32 people that I wanted to say thank you to. When else do we get the chance to appreciate the people around us? So take your foreword and write it about them. 

If you liked this text, please feel free to share it. Subscribe to my blog to get some weekly thoughts about my life at the intersection of academia and entrepreneurship. Follow me on FacebookLinkedIn and Twitter (@MarcelHofeditz)

P.s.: I also have to thank Omid Scheybani for letting me use his gorgeous pictures for my blog. I am extremely amazed by the opportunity to join our creative forces. For more of his work, you can visit: www.omidscheybani.com

10 Reasons NOT to Do a PhD by Publication

After I wrote about the 10 Reasons to Do a PhD by Publication, I decided to write about the 10 reasons why not do it. This is because if you are doing a PhD by publication or by thesis, it actually may not matter. Never forget that there is no better way of doing a PhD. Only doing a PhD is what matters.

1 You Can't

Well, that has been the most obvious reason. The U.S. system, for instance, doesn't allow for a PhD by publication. Its highly structured PhD program of 10 semesters focuses on writing a thesis at the end. In other countries, such as Great Britain or Germany, it depends from faculty to faculty if you are able to do a PhD by publication. 

image.jpg

2 You Dislike High Uncertainty

Doing a PhD by publication means not knowing when you get published. It confronts you with the uncertainty of not being able to fully control the success of your thesis. As a rule of thumb, imagine being in control of half of what determines your success. If you rather feel uncomfortable in such a situation, which may hinder your productivity, I recommend to not do a PHD by publication. For those that look for a thrill, here are some tips how to deal with this uncertainty.

image.jpg

3 You Feel Uncomfortable with Cherry Picking

When doing a PhD by publication you should focus your attention on the most relevant topics and data that you discover during your PhD time. Although the publication may not ultimately fit your thesis topic, it could help you getting your needed number of publications. As a result, this sort of cherry picking may decrease the coherence of your papers. In fact, the topic may get broader than you first thought. 

image.jpg

4 Early Outing Stresses You

Publishing early during your research career may make you uncomfortable because you feel that you would benefit more from taking more time than rushing things. Indeed, you should ask yourself if you are ready for the fact that your thinking hasn't been top notch. Such early outings could also bear the potential to close some doors for you that you may have been able to enter on a later point of time. But always remember that closed doors may open again.

image.jpg

5 You Prefer to Strive for Perfection

It makes no sense when doing a PhD by publication to head for the best journals out there, because most of the time good journals will also get you your PhD. As a publishing strategy, therefore, it makes sense to write more good quality papers, instead of focusing on a single excellent paper. Focusing on a single excellent paper, however, has actually a higher value in research.

image.jpg

6 You Want to Specialize

Becoming a specialist or a so-called expert of a topic is a strong skill that you acquire by doing a PhD. A PhD by publication, however, may make you rather dive into various topics than letting you deeply explore one topic. As a result, you may find yourself less specialized, but with a broader skill set.

image.jpg

7 Novelty is Key for You

The thesis that is your own work and striving, allows you to think without reviewers and co-authors. It gives you the freedom to develop your own ideas free from compromises and conventions. As such the classic thesis can be a fountain of novelty, if it's well done. When doing a PhD by publication agreeing on compromises may hinder the development of novel ideas for the reason that you have to satisfy various stakeholders of your work.

image.jpg

8 You Do a Practitioner PhD

In case your PhD is part of a bigger company project, you may have not the freedom, time or mind to write several papers from the data that you gathered within the company. Although it is possible, it's perhaps much harder to accomplish a PhD by publication when having to focus your entire PhD on one single company. Keep in mind though that indeed such a situation can bear a huge potential to access sensible data.

image.jpg

9 Your Supervisor is Against It

That's a show-stopper. As you may know that your supervisor is your first gate keeper to the holy halls of research, you should try to address the wishes of your supervisor always if possible. Sometimes it helps to talk through it and find a compromise. But keep in mind that you should try to make your point clear and involve your supervisor early on to avoid any misunderstandings at a later point of time.

image.jpg

10 You Want to Finish with a Boom

When doing a PhD by thesis, you keep your writing to yourself until the end and then finish with huge fireworks, trumpets and a rabbit out of the hat including all-nighters and definitely some strong emotions after submission in the aftermath of your PhD. A PhD by publication would take that away from you leaving you with a rather calm finish and some smaller thrills and incentives along the PhD way with each publication that gets passed. Think about that fact and prepare yourself for what you have signed up for.

image.jpg

Now, what is better? PhD by publication or PhD by thesis? For what did you decide? And why? Let me know your thoughts in the comment section. Tell me what you think.

If you liked this text, please feel free to share it. Subscribe to my blog to get some weekly thoughts about my life at the intersection of academia and entrepreneurship. Follow me on FacebookLinkedIn and Twitter (@MarcelHofeditz)

 

Related articles: 

 How to Get Out of the PhD Prison

Publish & Perish? Better Publish & Party! 

6 Tips to Improve Your PhD Outcome

 

10 Reasons to Do a PhD by Publication

It's two days after my defense and I am too awake to sleep. What a hell of a ride my PhD time has been. I am not only talking about the good friends and colleagues that I met on the way, but also the time that I actually spent writing my PhD. This has been an unforgettable period in my life. One of the reasons why it has been such a lasting memory was my intuition to do a PhD by publication. Let me tell you ten reasons why I enjoyed it so much and why you may consider a PhD by publication, too:

1 You Work Like an Academic

When starting off your PhD journey, you may want to feel being part of the research circus. Doing a PhD by publication makes you definitely a guest at the party. You are going to suffer and celebrate as anyone else. How else will you find out if research is something for you?

image.jpg

2 The Thrill May Get You Further

Everytime you publish a paper or set up a new project, or review some data, your heart is going to make a little jump. There are many little thrills on the way while publishing that may keep you entertained and motivated. You have to see them and embrace them.

image.jpg

3 You Have Seizable Projects

When you start your first paper, you will still be enthusiastic because you just started your PhD. This first boost may quickly dry out. A new paper with new co-authors from different countries adds some spice to your journey. So every time you start a new paper, you may feel a new motivation that keeps you going.

image.jpg

4 Reviews May Improve Your Research

Receiving a reject always hurt, but after some time you may realize that the input you receive increases your chances to get published the next time. Revisions from your peers improve the quality of each paper. This way the papers of your thesis have already run through several quality cycles and defending it will be much easier.

image.jpg

5 Your Job Chances Increase

If you want to continue an academic career or not, trying and being able to publish is a quality signal of your work. Even in practice, there exists an acknowledgement of the needed skills to accomplish such an endeavour. Writing various projects trains you for the skill set that is needed in practice, such as being able to deal with high uncertainty, increased stress, and various dead-lines.

image.jpg

6 You Work in a Team of Experts

On top, you prove yourself to work in a team. It means to promote your project and win other team mates to support you, discuss the plan and the vision of the research project, divide the work and motivate everyone to become invested in the project. Finally, it also means to celebrate together the success or share the failures if a project didn't go as planned.

image.jpg

7 You Support Your Supervisor

For your supervisor, it is obviously a relieve if you support his work with more publications. When you write a book it may not contribute to his research reputation as much as publications do. While books are dying, publications are becoming more and more relevant. Therefore, doing three years or more something that also helps your supervisor is certainly a good thing. You may feel more comfortable during your PhD when you know that your supervisor will also benefit from it.

image.jpg

8 You Qualify for International Conferences

Attending conferences is definitely one of the best things you can do during your PhD. Now, doing a PhD by publication may not only qualify you to go to conferences, but also requires you to go to conferences to meet with your co-authors and get feedback before submission from other experts. 

image.jpg

9 Others May Read and Cite Your Work

Indeed, when you think about what you want to do with these three to five years of your PhD life, the first thing that comes to my mind, is doing something that lasts, that people care about, to leave something behind for good. If you follow this idea, you may have to acknowledge that papers get cited and become part of the scientific discussion more easily than books nowadays. There is a good chance with a PhD by publication to be recognized and read by your peers.

image.jpg

10 You Have A Calm Finish

In the last weeks, I often heard from many PhD students how stressed out they were, how much time they invested to re-write and format their dissertation. In my case, I wrote an introduction and a conclusion, thought about a title, something that holds it all together and that was it. No all-nighters, no stress, it rather felt like driving home and having some 10 miles left. Things felt like a deja-vu, as if you have been there already and you just need to follow your intuition.

image.jpg

Let me just say that doing a PhD by publication isn't an easy ride and you may find definitely 10 reasons why you shouldn't do it. But, if you are unsure which road to take, maybe one or two of the mentioned reasons above convinced you to take the risk and try it. It's definitely worth it! 

I hope you liked this text. Please feel free to comment and share it. Subscribe to my blog to get some weekly thoughts about the PhD, startups and social media. And follow me on FacebookLinkedIn and Twitter (@MarcelHofeditz)

Related articles: 

 How to Get Out of the PhD Prison

Publish & Perish? Better Publish & Party! 

6 Tips to Improve Your PhD Outcome

What are the Odds to Publish During a PhD?

Do you ask yourself: Why the hell have I been so unlucky in my PhD? Maybe you look at your colleagues and see some people that have worked less and got more recognition due to some scholarship, award or published paper. Let me try to explain why you shouldn't worry about luck and misfortune and what you can do to beat your odds, win the game and to get your momentum going.

Read More

The Death of Content

If there was an internet contest that would honor the ugliest word in the internet, my vote went for the holy, glowing, irritating word "content". Why? Because the use of the word suggerates that any content is good content. The missing proposition tells others that it's dominating and demanding at once. It's perhaps the thing that most of us are afraid when starting out with a fresh and new shiny url. Its heavy weight squeezes us to become smaller and smaller and to finally let us disappear in the eternity of the universe.  Let me hang that Democlas (s)word down for you.

Let me take that weigh from your shoulders.

Read More

How to Get Out of The PhD Prison!

It's hard to find positivity out there when talking about a PhD. Sometimes I myself even avoid blogs because the posts are so negative and discouraging. They tend to drag me down! I hope that this post may make you feel better about the journey you are on. 

So do you feel frustrated? Do you feel sad? If so, you are not alone. Let me tell you my top three reasons for PhD frustration.

Read More

How to Overcome the "I" of the Internet

What's it with the "I" in our writing and selfies that fascinates us so much? What's it that others perceive as an ego-centric social-media presence? Are we really in a time of narcissm or is it just our way of being ourselves in the internet adjusting our digital self to our analog self? How can we convince the rest that it's not about the "I" for us, but about the "We"?

Read More

Publish & Perish? Better Publish & Party!

You may feel that there are not many moments to celebrate in research and I get that. Nobody tells you, you did something great today. You are on your own. But I also know, the only way to get out of the PhD cave is to celebrate and have fun. You are doing something tremendous unique and important for humanity. You are creating knowledge, that's possibly one of the most civilized things humans can do.

Read More

Page versus Profile: The Facebook Experiment

This is for all writers, academics, Twitter enthusiasts, blogger, forbes contributer, Linkedin influencer, wannabe celebrities, one man companies, advisors, business angels, innovators and single moms. Once you want to step out of your fb friend's inner circle and connect to the world, you are confronted with a big decision, which may seem trivial for some, but is more complex than you can imagine: Profile versus Page!

Read More

National Cultures are Dying! It's Time to Build your Own Culture!

One of the first article I read back in my bachelor studies was "Culture and Organizations" from Hofstede published in 1980. The paper has been one of the most frequently quoted articles of the social science literature with almost 25000 citations by now. Three decades ago, Hofstede found out that countries differ regarding individualism, uncertainty avoidance, power distance, masculinity, long-term orientation and indulgence. 

Read More

4 Tips to Master the Art of Intrinsic Motivation

Being so important, it's scary how little we actually know about intrinsic motivation. Many don't know that we may be able to manipulate our motivation in order to only do the things we are good at and we are able to excel at. Wouldn't it be great to know how we can intentionally fuel us or others with intrinsic motivating thoughts?

Read More

The End of Work-Life Balance in Modern Academia

Most people would agree that professors have "the best job in the world". This statement runs in complete opposite to the increasing number of burn-outs of professors and doctoral students today. In the following, I will try to explain you why there is no such thing as work-life balance in the academic world and why integrating your job in your life is becoming part of being a modern academic.

Read More

6 Tips to Improve your Phd Outcome

The phd journey is certainly an experience that is uniquely challenging and requires a different mind and skill set than any other job out there. While doing my phd I always thought about how to get the most out of this special time. In this article I wrote down my six key learnings that I gathered during this journey in social science. Your individual key learnings obviously depend on what your discipline is, but there are certain general rules that may work for everyone.

Read More

The Sad Truth about the Access Economy

Access is claimed to be by practitioners and scholars the (next) big thing. Instead of owning products, we are increasingly gaining access to it: Be it music streaming (like spotify), movie libraries (like Netflix), having access suggests efficiency, convenience and good value for money. But the sad truth is that the access economy may not be the "social revolution" or "economic game-changer" that many wants it to be. It's just a marketing campaign that will make us pay more and save less.

Read More