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VERONIKA NESVEROVA

Pharmacist, PhD in protein biochemistry

How focus at work prevents dull life

Veronika Nesverova

I almost never work for more than 8 hours each day. And even though I can get a lot of things done the level of satisfaction from my work varies a lot. However, I was never able to pinpoint what exactly during my PhD in biochemistry makes it that some days I leave work more satisfied than others. I thought it was just arbitrary, depending on my mood or on the number of things I checked off my to-do list. Having just finished reading Deep Work by Cal Newport, this became so clear and it is this revelation that I want to share with you.

Cal defines deep work as

“Professional activity performed in a state of distraction-free concentration that pushes your cognitive capabilities to their limit. These efforts create new value, improve your skill, and are hard to replicate.”

He claims that by extending the time in deep focus we can maximalise our feeling of satisfaction and meaningfulness at work and at life.

Here is the answer to my question! Here is why I enjoy some tasks more and some less! I was rather ambivalent about lab work, not sure whether I would like to do some in my future job. This concept made me realize I don’t feel the satisfaction from a task that is not pushing my thinking to its limits (which routine experiments truly don’t but developing a new method does). This is also why I enjoyed some parts of being an entrepreneur (coming up with ideas, planning strategies, learning new skills like book-keeping and customer management) and really didn’t enjoy other parts (routine book-keeping once I learned it).

Some degree of shallow work will of course always be necessary. There will always be some paperwork to do and even keeping good relationships with your colleagues is worth your time. Moreover, Cal states several times that even the sharpest minds cannot work on the deepest possible level for more than 4 hours each day. That makes me feel less guilty when leaving work earlier after a bunch of really focused and productive hours.

How deep is deep?

It’s appropriate to mention here the author’s way of measuring the deepness of work that a certain task requires. I just love his way. Imagine a fresh graduate who is bright but without a training in a particular field. How long time would it take to train this person to perform the task well and independently? It would probably take a few hours to train somebody to run an SDS-PAGE gel in a lab, couple of weeks to purify a protein and quite some months or years for them to develop a new method. How long would it take to train somebody to write a PhD thesis? Right, 4 to 5 years.

Writing a doctoral thesis, summarizing one’s research and discussing it in a context of the whole bundle of current scientific knowledge requires deep focus and thinking to the limits. I’m just about to start writing and realizing it will be very difficult, I also expect it to be a very rewarding and satisfying experience.

The difference between satisfaction and pleasure

There is a counteracting force though, the one that sometimes make you feel like “maybe I should just become a … (fill this in yourself) and have a simple life”. I felt like this too sometimes, when struggling. I believe this is what Steven Pressfield calls the Resistance in this book The War of Art. Shallower work (like scheduling meetings, cleaning the toilets and keeping the books) often does not create new values, one doesn’t have to focus too much and is easy to replicate. The appeal is in that the task is very clear so that it is easy to judge whether I have succeeded or not. During shallow work I can rest my lazy brain that is used to the instant pleasure of finding a new email in the inbox or a new heart on Instagram.

Deep work is a hard work, for most of us. In this age, more people than ever have problems with keeping focused. According to Cal Newport the ability to work deeply will become more and more scarce and at the same time more and more valued by companies. Sadly, companies are not actively promoting deep work, quite the opposite (think open offices or Slack) and that’s probably because it is so difficult to calculate the economical value of deep thinking. This book has however convinced me and so I am now committed to practice deep work as much as I can. Furthermore, I believe my brain is capable of more complex thinking than I nowadays think possible. It would be a shame not to use its full capacity.

Using deep work as a criterion for deciding what job I would enjoy doing in the long run

I will be looking for a job in the spring 2020. Certainly, job hunting is much easier if you know what exactly you want to do. As a classic millennial this is a tough one for me.  This book made it slightly easier as it will help to narrow down opportunities to apply for based on how much shallow or deep work they would comprise of.

“Whenever you squander attention on something that doesn’t put your brain through its paces and stimulate change, your mind stagnates a little and life feels dull.”

Winifred Gallagher

The last thing I want is my life to feel dull.

Is this something you think about?

Some practical ideas for you:

  • Which tasks give you long-term satisfaction and which give you instant pleasure?
  • What percentage of time do you spend doing deep/shallow work at your job? (According to Cal 30-50% of shallow work is reasonable.)
  • How’s your ability to focus?

On snoozing and honouring one’s decisions

I am having a great struggle with getting up in the morning these days.

Every evening when I set my alarm, I make a decision about what time I should get up the next day, it’s usually 7 am, so not too bad. But when my alarm rings almost instantaneously I push the snooze button, curl up closer to my boyfriend, appreciate how nicely warm and soft it is under the blanket.

Sometimes I snooze once or twice, then get up. Usually when I have a meeting in the morning where I must go. But when I don’t have anything or when I have decided the previous evening that I should get up a little earlier to get something done at home before going to work, that’s when the troubles arise. I’m able to hit the snooze button many times. Is that really a problem? Depends if it feels like a problem to you and for me it absolutely does.

There are many pieces of advice I could give to myself and to you if you have the same problem: like keep your alarm off your reach so that you have to get up, this is a brutal one. The internet is full of reason why you shouldn’t hit the snooze button: you’ll get more tired, feel guilty, start your day with failure. But I am going to dig a little bit deeper, as I like to do these days. Credits for this go as usually to Brooke Castillo.

Imagine this situation:

You have a meeting with your colleague at 9am. 9 am it is but you are not there, and your colleague is calling. “I’ll be there in 10 minutes!” you say. At 9.10, your colleague is calling again. “I just need another 10 minutes!” you say, feeling sorry but not sorry. 9.20 hits and your colleague is calling again, of course. “Give me 10 more minutes, I just need a tiny bit more sleep!”

Ridiculous, isn’t it? I’d never ever EVER voluntarily do this to my colleague! I’m really trying to be in time on meetings that I have scheduled with other people. So why am I doing it to myself? Why do I treat other people with more respect than myself?

I asked my boyfriend his opinion this morning and what he said is probably the core of the issue. He said: “It’s easy to make changes to your plans when it’s just yourself.” Just myself. Just. Clearly I don’t value my own decision, no matter how small, equally as decisions that I have made together with other people. Sure, rescheduling meetings with other people is more complicated and it sucks, but why doesn’t it suck equally to reschedule one’s own plans? Or maybe it does and we just don’t see it? I do believe that is the case.

How do you value yourself?

Honouring one’s own decisions is in my opinion a very important personal quality. Because it’s through honouring our decisions that we can drive change, that we build new habits, that we get stuff done, that we work on living the lives we want to live. It’s through honouring my decisions that I’m able to keep exercising regularly. It’s through keeping my word to myself that I am able to avoid extra sugar. Any new habit, anything that we want to start or stop doing in our lives REQUIRES that we honour our own decision.

If you have a long-term problem with getting up, if you have decided to not eat candy but still can’t help it when a friend brings some, if you have decided not to check social media during working hours but then you allow yourself a short peek anyways… You should probably give it more thought and start noticing how you honour your own decisions and how you value yourself. If we all honoured our decisions we would all be healthy and fit, there would be no cheating on our partners and nobody would ever complain about social media.

Back to my snoozing problem, here is my plan:

Prove myself that I value myself. Make decisions (and honour them) about going to bed early enough. Make decisions about getting up that are realistic as I know that I need 8 hours of sleep to feel great during the day. Allow myself to snooze one time as I cannot think of a better start of the day other than some cosy cuddling while giving it a conscious thought of appreciation that there is this wonderful person sleeping next to me every night. The second time the alarm rings – I will just get up immediately. No more thinking, the decision has been made by myself, for myself, the evening before so that I don’t have to make the decision at that moment when my decision-making machinery is weakened. All I have to do is to trust the yesterday’s Veronika and honour her decisions.

What’s your stand on this? Do you have troubles getting up in the morning? Do you also honour decisions that involve other people much more easily that decisions which involve just yourself?

(People with smaller children, hope you had a good laugh on this article, keep on doing the great job you are doing!)

Exploring my emotions while dealing with failure

Veronika Nesverova - dealing with failure, exploring emotions

Tomorrow my passion project, the Malmö Workshop Festival, would have happened if it wasn’t cancelled. And today I’ll share with you my story of how I was dealing with my emotions during canceling it. An emotional journey, a wonderful opportunity to study my thinking. And so deep I dug.

Our thoughts create our emotions

Before we begin I want to explain a few concepts about emotions that I believe are true. Lately, the way I study and analyse my thoughts, emotions and actions has been hugely influenced by Brook Castillo and her The Life Coach School Podcast. Really recommend! (If you choose to listen start with the older episodes.) There I learned that all our emotions are created by our thoughts. All of them!

Here is an example: Somebody told you: “I don’t believe in your work! I think what you do is bullshit.” We will hear this and we create a thought about it.

And the thought could be for example “Oh no, somebody thinks I’m doing bullshit! Maybe I really am.” And we feel doubtful and sad.

Or it could be: “Who the hell do they think they are to tell me this!” and we feel angry.

Or: “That person is really confused and has no idea what they are talking about!” and we feel compassionate.

Or: “Finally somebody said it out loud and I can go and do something else!” and we feel relieved.

You get my point, right? A person saying words is a fact, it in itself doesn’t crete any emotion. It’s what we think about the situation what will determine what emotion we will feel. We are in charge of what we feel. Which doesn’t mean we should want to feel good all the time. Life is a balance of feeling good and feeling miserable. Sadness, grief, anger, fear, all those emotions can also serve us very well and should not be refused. They should be understood.

Now that I explained principle of how emotions are created let me get back to my personal story and how I was thinking about my own emotions when my passion project that I was working on for more than 2 months and that I gave my heart to was cancelled.

“What if we have to cancel?”

When we launched the event I felt excited and proud. It was a lot of work to prepare everything and I was truly and 100% believing that this was going to be a huge success. I was looking forward to meeting all the new people and looking forward to my reward in form of glad participants.

But a few days after the launch I realized that only a few participants signed up, much fewer than we counted with. I remember it was an evening, I was getting ready to go to bed when the thought stroke me for the first time: “What if we will have to cancel the festival?!” I was suddenly overpowered by fear, I was completely emotionally paralysed in this fear. And of course it felt awful and I cried.

Fear is good, you know? Because if you find out what exactly you fear you can account for it, you know what to focus on and you can create a strategy. From this moment on I knew that I need to focus all my effort into marketing. And so I did, I started fighting like a lion! I shot videos, pinged journalists, interviewed the people who were supposed to teach at the festival, did all sort of amazing stuff that I never got myself to do before. What a learning opportunity, this fear!

So I did all these marketing efforts, some of them way out of my comfort zone. And as the days passed and the sign-up trend really wasn’t improving I slowly started to realize the reality. From “Hm, maybe we really will have to cancel.” to “Shit, we WILL have to cancel!” Slowly, I stopped believing that we would make it. I felt sad about this but I allowed myself this sadness. Who wouldn’t feel sad when a project you gave your belief, energy and your passion into doesn’t work? My sadness was completely appropriate.

Hacking the confirmation bias

Now I’d like to discuss this from the perspective of confirmation bias.

Confirmation bias is a tendency we all have to favor information that confirm what we already believe.

This is a huge factor in personal life but also finance or science. If you believe that your experiment will generate a certain result you will unconsciously preferentially interpret the data in a way that it will fit the result you expected and ignore the data that doesn’t fit your expected result. I don’t have to tell you how dangerous confirmation bias is!

I’m trying to be aware of my confirmation bias and here it is where it really showed, especially once I knew I internally gave up on believing that we will find enough participants. That’s why I intentionally tried not to listen to the confirmations around me that were whispering: “I told you so, of course you’ll have to cancel.” Like when one of the teachers cancelled the workshop, when we created a video and it didn’t result in any new signups, when the email I sent to all the subscribers didn’t lead to any signups and when one of the participants cancelled.

Instead I tried to intentionally listen to the opposite bias. I imagined “If I was still believing that we were going to make it, that we were going to sell enough tickets, what confirmation bias would I have then?” What would be the confirmations telling me that we are on the good way? The fact that Sydsvenskan wanted to write about it, the fact that here and there people were actually signing up, the fact that all my friends were so supportive and gladly sharing the event with their friends and the never-ending hope coming from the partner organization.

A disbalance between thoughts and actions

From this moment on – when deep inside I stopped believing that we will make it to our goal – that’s when the real struggle started. Since I stopped believing, I knew that all my future marketing efforts will just be waste of time. And even more difficult was to keep marketing and not let it know in public that I have already stopped believing. Why did I do that? Why didn’t I just cancel the event after I stopped believing? Well I guess there was still a little sparkle of hope with me, kept alive by inputs from the outside – from the partner organization that didn’t give up, from my friends who kept believing in me and helping me. But also inputs from the inside – I just didn’t want to feel like a quitter. I’m a fighter and I’m going to fight until the end. But where’s the end? When are you just fighting the windmills, without any sense, for the sake of fighting? I’d find it extremely difficult to decide when to stop believing, not sure if it’s possible to affect it or maybe I just haven’t mastered my thoughts well enough yet. It is however possible to affect when we stop fighting in our actions. But even this decision is in my opinion extremely difficult, especially if you are trying to be a fighter and not a quitter.

As a last chance and with a tiny bit of hope left we have decided to reveal our cards. We publicly announced that we might have to cancel and urged people to sign up before a deadline. I felt rather relieved to finally be able to stop pretending in our marketing effort that everything was fine. But it also created a wave of compassionate and supportive messages from my friends. “Maybe you could try this and this?”, “Have you tried that? Maybe you could still completely change the design of the whole event?” And a human as I am for a short while I felt angry. “Don’t they know I have tried everything possible?” “Don’t they realize it’s almost impossible to completely change the whole concept in just one week?” Of course, I knew in the moment this reaction was inappropriate, my friends were only trying to help me!

Now when I am writing this text and really thinking about what happened inside of me then I realize why I felt angry. I wasn’t angry at them, I felt angry at myself for not wanting to receive any advice any more. I wanted to just cancel the event to be done with this emotional journey and I was angry at myself for wanting to cancel something that I once really wanted to happen.

After the final decision has been made

Well, we did cancel the event in the end. The event design was simply not made for a small group of people and continuing would leave our budget in red numbers which was a no no.

If you remember the theory of how emotions are created, I hope you will agree with me on this: The cancellation in itself is not sad. Events all over the world get cancelled all the time and I don’t feel sad about it! It’s my thoughts about cancelling the event that were causing this sadness. But sadness was just a small part of what I felt. The majority of what I felt was actually relief! A relief that finally I can allow myself to stop fighting. That this disbalance between my thoughts (stopped believing) and my actions (kept going) is finally over. I have not yet decided whether trying to hack your biased thinking and going against your thoughts with actions that don’t match is useful or not. Let me know if you have any opinion on this!

So how do I feel now about the whole thing? I feel content. The project has failed but I have not. I honestly know that I did my best. I feel glad that that the negative emotions are over thought. More than that I feel grateful for the experience and for that I once again have some empty time in my life that I can use for self-reflection. I feel ready to see what else I can do, I feel empowered knowing that no matter what kind of emotion my thoughts will create I can deal with it.

Do you also study your thinking? Do you also analyse your emotions and try to understand how and why they occur? I only started in the past couple of months. And now I finally understand what it means to learn to know oneself better. If you haven’t tried this yet, I’d suggest that you do. It’s so damn interesting!

Here is how you can start learning to understand your emotions:

  1. Pick something that happened in your life
  2. Try to list all the emotions that you felt, it’s usually not just one.
  3. Try to identify the underlying thought that caused each of the emotions.
  4. You can also think of what actions (things you did, what you said, your decisions) were originating from which of the emotions. Did you allow yourself to feel what you felt or did you try to get rid of the feeling?
  5. Which of the emotions are good for you and which didn’t serve you?

I’ll be happy if you let me know your thoughts about the topic as I’m excited to discuss this and learn more!

I’m obsessed with nature and why you should be too

I love nature, I love surrounding myself with nature and I love creating nature in my home. It’s one of the things in the world that I cannot imagine my life without. (Technically speaking there is no life without nature but you know what I mean.)

Here does how my obsession manifest

  • My apartment is becoming a jungle. I’m sitting in the dining room/kitchen/hallway now and when I looked around I counted 22 plants around me. Tending to my plants is one of the most calming activities I know. I guess it’s my kind of meditation. Watching the water soak in the soil, watching the leaves grow bigger day by day, even watching the leaves being the same day by day.

Two years ago I grew radishes on my balcony

  • I grow stuff outside too. We have a little 50 sqm allotment nearby where we try to grow some vegetables. We only started last year but it’s really satisfying to eat the beet that just a few months back was only a seed. The little seedling that almost didn’t make it through the hail storm. Then you pick the beet and there are pieces of black wet soil clinging to it. There are small hair-like roots too! This is real food the real way. It’s very easy to forget what our food really is when you get used to picking the vacuum sealed pre-cooked beet in the supermarket.

  • My computer is too full with photos of flowers, landscapes and beautiful paths. Only recently I started sharing them on my green Instagram account:

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  • Ask me about my vacation this year, last year, next year – the answer will be the same: hiking and camping. Spending several days and nights in a row outdoors – that’s a real detox.

  • My obsession with weather reached a new level ever since I discovered now the well known Norwegian weather app yr.no. Weather forecast in a form of a graph = heaven. I get very excited every time they forecast a big rain. That means that I end up checking the radar pictures during the day to see how the rainclouds are moving and what time they shall hit where I live. If then the cloud ends up avoiding us I get disappointed. Storms and big rains cause a huge adrenaline rush in my body and I can’t help but stand by the window and keep watching. When days start to get really dark here at the end of November I check the sunset and sunrise times in different places at different dates and compare. “We have as much daylight here now as they had in Prague three weeks ago.” You could hear me say. “We will have the same amount of daylight in the middle of January as it is today! Which means it will only be worse than this for the next one and half months!” Yup, that’s me, nerd.
  • Orienteering is one of my newest hobbies but it really grew dear to me. It’s not the competing I do if for. What I love about orienteering is that it forces me to move through nature off the paths. I cross ravines, jump over creeks and try to find my way between steep cliffs. I regularly get my feet wet by crossing marshes. Orienteering has forced me to accept that sometimes my feet and my calves end up covered in mud and that it doesn’t matter because it can be washed. (I’m still fighting with the mud attitude sometimes.) There is an utter joy hidden in being able to navigate precisely from a point A to a point B through a terrain where I have never been before.

  • I listen to nature noises when doing deep-focus work. My co-workers sometimes make fun of me when there are frogs croaking and complain that they need to pee when brooks are bubbling out of my office.
  • I have couple of trees and bushes that I say hi to every day as I bike to work. Every day I have a glimpse of what’s new. It’s a fascinating story these days as the light green tender leaves unravel.

I’m pretty satisfied with my relationship with nature. There are however a few things I still need to work on. For example I’m afraid of spiders, I’m really disgusted by slugs and I think going out of the tent to pee in the middle of the night when wild camping is really scary.

When I was hiking alone last weekend I started digging. Not literally (even though that shouldn’t surprise you after what you have just read) – I started digging in myself and in why I actually love nature so much. What is it that I feel at different nature-related situations and how can I use this to make my life happier? Thoughts were many but I came to one conclusion: Being surrounded by nature reminds me that there is much more going on other than my stuff. It puts my life into a perspective. When I walk through a forest, the sun shining between the branches, when I hear the bird’s songs I feel bliss. No need to worry about the past or the future, only feel the presence.

Why you should be obsessed with nature

One reason: It will make you a happier person.

How you can reconnect with nature

Nature just does not happen to us any more, not to us who live in cities. You yourself have to craft and nurture your relationship with nature. And it’s not enough to just surround yourself with nature, you need to actively interact with it. Here comes a couple of super easy things you can try to feel more connected to nature:

  • Grow something from a seed. Sure you could buy a plant too but watching something grow out of a seed is way more fascinating. For a couple of days it seems like that nothing is happening. But then the first pair of tiny leaves unfolds – a new life begins. Start off with your favorite herb on your window sill. Basilica? Or maybe coriander? Or with some climbing beans – they grow fast and you might even get to harvest some! Now in the spring it is the perfect time for this!
  • Find your own corner in your nearby park. In Sweden we are lucky that there are plenty of parks in the cities. Found your own little cozy spot and just spend time there, no agenda. Examine what’s around you, learn to know every stone.
  • Plan your getaway trips in advance, especially if getting out of the city requires some effort. Find and mark the bus connection you will take. Buy stuff to make sandwiches the day before. Such simple arrangements will ensure that you don’t just end up staying home because by the time you feel ready half of the day has already gone. (Been there many times.)
  • When in nature go offline.
  • Lie on the grass. Directly on it. Feel it tickling your neck.
  • Pick a dandelion leaf and eat it, just like that.
  • Watch a bug walk on your leg.
  • Observe the waves.
  • Turn a stone and look what’s under.
  • Pee outdoors. (Can you believe some of my colleagues have never peed outside? Yes, peeing is quite a common topic, don’t ask.)

It’s the simple things that count. Find your connection with nature and you will be happier.

First I wanted to write that I’m a nature freak but there is nothing freaky about loving nature. It’s called biophilia and even though you probably don’t realize it you have it too!

What is your relationship with nature?

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This article was written while listening to this.

I have two lives (My thoughts on combining science and entrepreneurship)

Do you know me through the startup world? Or through Workshoppa? And did you know that I actually spend most of my day time doing something else than business? Not enough people know this. And even though it’s a bit wrong to think that – I’m writing this post also to justify a certain lack of progress in my company, my lack of ambition to take it to the next level and why I sometimes say ‘no’ to good opportunities.

“I’m a pharmacist with a career in sciences, doing my Ph.D. in structural biology.”

Baam, now even you know this.

Some people from the scientific community around me also know that I actually run my own company. However, I think I will need to talk about this more in that social bubble too – to justify a certain lack of ambition in my research. How do these two worlds meet in me? How do I juggle in between? Do they sometimes clash? And how’s doing a Ph.D. surprisingly similar doing business?

What it means to do a Ph.D.

In my Ph.D. studies the absolutely most important part is research. The lab work, the data analysis, making progress in several projects in parallel, keeping up with the progress in the field by reading scientific papers. I’m going to explain my research in one of my future blog posts.

As if this wasn’t enough – large part of my Ph.D. is teaching. I supervise students for thesis projects and I teach laboratory exercises in undergraduate courses. I also need to study myself. (After all, I’m a Ph.D. student. Even though here in Sweden, unlike in other countries, being a postgraduate actually comes with employment and a salary.) There is a certain amount of credits I need to collect in courses throughout my Ph.D.

Part of my undergrad education as a pharmacist was an internship in a hospital.

No research is useful unless it’s shared with the scientific community. (Not everybody has this point of view.) That is why part of being a good researcher is also to write scientific articles about one’s findings and to present one’s results on various scientific conferences.

I hope you get an idea about what it means to be a Ph.D. student in natural sciences (other fields might be very different). Don’t get me wrong – I’m not complaining here! I love the diversity of the tasks! I just wanted to point out the complexity of the job. When doing a Ph.D. the requirement of being able to effectively manage one’s time and all the projects is high. So is the requirement of being able to quickly jump from one task to another while not loosing focus.

I’m a scientist AND an entrepreneur

Starting ones own business is so much like this. An entrepreneur has to perform many very different tasks like business development, finding money, networking, marketing, managing social media, making websites, doing book-keeping, studying the market, customer support, recruiting team members, the tasks simply never end.

Good project management skills are absolutely crucial for succeeding in both research and building a startup. Doing both at the same time? Get ready to sky-rocket your management skills or to drown in chaos.

Combining doing my Ph.D. and running my business at the same time is extremely challenging. It was especially hard in the beginning but I have now learned how I work best and how to best plan my days so that I feel comfortable with my progress in both parts of my life. I’m currently employed on 70% at Lund University and I spend the rest (30% plus evenings plus weekends) running Workshoppa. Getting a 30% long-term unpaid leave was a piece of cake and I thank LU deeply for supporting this decision! If you are thinking about starting your own company but you are not ready to leave the comforts of your job – this might be something you could try.

There is another aspect that is scarily similar between starting a business and doing a Ph.D. – the roller-coaster. The ups and the down which are an absolutely inevitable part of both. Only the persistent ones win. In both.

Why scientists should get a salesman training

Sure there are parts that are completely different – tasks that I had to learn almost from scratch when starting my business and that research haven’t prepared me for. One of those skills is talking to people. I think of ‘talking to people’ as a skill that needs to be learned and practiced, a skill that is absolutely necessary in business and very neglected in science.

It sounds like a cliché but I have seen it too many times. Often scientists suck at human interaction, especially when it comes to talking to new people. At least in Sweden it’s true. And I was guilty as well. Mingling and networking on conferences was encouraged while non-existent. Everybody would just end up talking to their colleagues from the same group/department instead of learning about what kind of science happens next door and how could that be exploited. Standing on a poster sessions trying to ‘sell’ my project and make people I never met interested in my science was part of my nightmares.

Here is something: I can feel how I’m gradually becoming better and better at this, being forced by the needs of my startup.

All the pitching training, all the networking events, all the demo-days. All this helps me to become a better scientist.

The same way how I’m pitching my business idea I have learned to pitch my research project. I’m better at convincing even non-scientists that my research is interesting. (Wait until I try to convince you!)

We have plenty to learn from the entrepreneurs. We in the scientific community need to become better at talking about our research to each other, at making human connections and also at communicating our research to the broad public. This is why I believe that all researchers should get a salesman training.

Living two lives? Not forever.

I transfer my newly acquired people skills, presentation and networking skills to become a better scientist. I use my time management methods I learned doing science to become a better entrepreneur. Not being able to (read not wanting to) do either my Ph.D. or my business full time comes with a price. The progress in each of them is rather slow. And I feel like I need to justify this out loud.

If you read carefully the opening paragraphs, you have probably noticed that I wrote I wasn’t particularly ambitious neither in my research nor in my company. Dividing my attention and living two lives that are quite independent on each other has caused that I have divided how I identify myself. I love both of my lives but I believe both of them are in my world as a part of a bigger plan which yet remains for me to discover.