Scott Meadow's Best Advice

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Toward the end of my class in private equity during the summer electives, Professor Meadow gave one of his charismatic speeches. The topic was about the pros and cons of getting a job in private equity, and contrasting that career path with entrepreneurship and other endeavors. There was one sentence that struck me: 'There's this idea, you know, of trying to keep up with the Joneses, and I'm telling you, you'll never succeed and just end up being unhappy and unfulfilled in the long run.


Eugene Fama's Best Advice

When I came to the University of Chicago in 1960, I was exposed to professors who were involved in the nascent subject of nance, which didn't exist as a discipline at the time. It was all being born, and it just happened that I had come to the place where that birth was happening. So I kind of got into it because everybody there was interested in it. In my first year I took an intermediate statistics class with a professor named Harry Roberts. I was 21 at the time. He was very much like me—he was into all kinds of sports, and he was a runner. I had done a lot of statistics work as an undergraduate and had already worked with data, so I was pretty advanced when I started.

But what I learned from Harry was a philosophy. He gave me an attitude toward statistics that has stuck with me ever since. With formal statistics, you say something—a hypothesis—and then you test it. Harry always said that your criterion should be not whether you can reject or accept the hypothesis, but what you can learn from the data. The best thing you can do is use the data to enhance your description of the world. That has been the guiding light of my research. You should use market data to understand markets better, not to say this or that hypothesis is literally true or false. No model is ever strictly true. The real criterion should be: Do I know more about markets when I'm finished than I did when I started? Harry's lesson is one that I’ve passed on to my students over the 49 years that I’ve been a teacher.


Jeff Pfeffer's Best Advice

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The best advice that I ever received came from Jeff Pfeffer. In 1989, I had moved across the country and gone from single to married, from graduate student to assistant professor, from studying experimental social psychology to teaching organizational behavior, in just one year. I had many demands on my time and not enough energy to get through my day…when Jeff stopped by my office, I told him that I had too many amazing opportunities—to work with people and on projects, to teach, and to present at conferences. “Linda, beware of once-in-a-lifetime opportunities that come along every day,” he said. Since then, whenever I have found myself feeling pressed about doing too much, and not doing it all very well, I have remembered Jeff’s advice. It reminds me that I am the only one who can determine my own priorities.