VIC Grad Banquet 2012

Vicki Samaras, Guest Speaker at the VIC Grad Banquet 2012

Vicki’s Books and link list

In my speech I mentioned a list of books, and within these books, concepts, that I found helpful in shaping my career path. 

Where possible I’ve provided a link to a website or blog that will provide a live presentation or content that covers the topic of the book.  Each of these books is available at the Toronto Public Library.

Sheena Iyengar: How to make choosing easier, TED talk click here


Paradox of Choice by Barry Schwartz

Why I chose the topic of CHOICE:
As I mentioned at the Grad Banquet, the graduates of today are faced with more choice than ever.  Even if you've taken a traditional career path and have entered medical school for instance, you will be faced with choice of specialty, where to practice, etc.  I feel you are at a disadvantage because there is evidence to show that when you are faced with multiple choices, the satisfaction when finally making a choice decreases.  Essentially you will always wonder if choosing door number 2 or 7 or 38 would have been a better choice.  Sheena Iyengar's TED talk presentation (she is a Prof at Columbia School of Business) is a great place to start if you're short on time.  Especially since you are in the middle of exams.

Why I chose SWITCH:
You, dear VIC GRADS, are in a major time of transition, and when faced with major change and uncertainty many of us choose inactivity, procrastination or reverting back to the known.  Some of us consider graduate studies mostly because it is a good fall back for those of us who aren't ready to choose a definite career path.  Before pressing the snooze button of life, I encourage you to read this book, which left a huge impact on me.  They offer some extraordinary examples of how small changes (and actions of regular people) brought huge results.  At the end of the book Chip & Dan Heath (Chip is a Prof at Stanford, Dan is a Senior Fellow at Duke) go on to recommend some other great books to read.  

Magic of Thinking Big by David J. Schwartz

Ah, the Magic of Thinking Big.  Dr. Schwartz was a Prof from Georgia U in Atlanta.  He defines the reasons we hold ourselves back and provides clear practical advise on how to overcome them. I actually bought this book (through online bookseller ABE books, for about $5) because even though it was written decades ago, the Toronto Public Library actually had holds on it.  After reading it, I can see why.  I can't express how great this book is so I'll just list the Contents: 1. Believe You Can Succeed and You Will 2. Cure Yourself of Excusitis, the Failure Disease 3. Build Confidence and Destroy Fear 4. How to Think Big 5. How to Think and Dream Creatively 6. You Are What You Think You Are 7. Manage Your Environment: Go First Class 8. Make Your Attitudes Your Allies 9. Think Right Toward People 10. Get the Action Habit 11. How to Turn Defeat Into Victory 12. Use Goals to Help You Grow 13. How to Think Like a Leader.  Millions have read this book.  You should too.

Why I chose to EAT THE FROG:
Well, because it works.  This book will help you complete the necessary steps in your job hunt, applications for graduate studies, or any objective you are trying to achieve.  In the past, I tended to avoid work I disliked, I would leave it to the last minute then force myself to complete it by bribing myself with sugar-laced foods.  Then I would enter a period of self-loathing.  Repeat.  Not anymore!  The reality is, even if you've found your dream job there will always be about 5-15% of work you would prefer not to do.  But sometimes that particular activity is necessary and will take you to the job or project you truly enjoy.  Example: any administration is about as enjoyable for me as filling a cavity without painkillers. But every morning this week I completed an important activity, for example this morning I submitted a VQA approval request (not fun) for our newest bubbly, the Whitecap, which will allow me to begin selling it (fun).  Eventually I will hire someone to do all of the administration and paperwork but until then I will continue to Eat the Frog.  Which is a great segway to my last book.

Timothy Ferriss provides concepts in his book that changed the way I approach life. Lifestyle Quotient.  Parkinson's Law.  To focus on being effective (over efficient).  That's why I always ask myself questions.  Will this action provide the desired outcome or am I doing this because everyone else is?  This is a must read for you, dear VIC GRAD, because you are in a time of transition and this is a great book to read when making lifestyle choices (which I mentioned during my speech, matter as much as your career choices).  His way of thinking and living is changing how people live.  His concept of joining the NR and outsourcing life is one worth reading. Visit the site here

The Flow Concept will help you determine what it is you want to do with the rest of your life.  Try to recall moments of your life when you were in the state of flow and list them.  It can be anytime and anywhere.  During class or outdoors.  List them an a pattern will emerge. Don't be too literal when reviewing your list though, look for the meaning within. For example I loved meeting people while on a consulate sponsored trip in Greece when I was 22. This told me I loved networking, I enjoy activities in large groups, not necessarily taking tour group holidays to Greece.  Read the signs!

Flow is the mental state of operation in which a person in an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and success in the process of the activity. Proposed by Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, the positive psychologyconcept has been widely referenced across a variety of fields.

According to Csikszentmihalyi, flow is completely focused motivation. It is a single-minded immersion and represents perhaps the ultimate in harnessing the emotions in the service of performing and learning. In flow, the emotions are not just contained and channeled, but positive, energized, and aligned with the task at hand.

(Taken directly from Wikipedia)

Is the psychologist whose name my own cold-ridden brain I couldn’t recall during my speech at the grad banquet.

He is a Hungarian psychology professor, who emigrated to the United States at the age of 22. Now at Claremont Graduate University, he is the former head of the department of psychology at the University of Chicago and of the department of sociology and anthropology at Lake Forest College.

He is noted for both his work in the study of happiness and creativity and also for his notoriously difficult name, in terms of pronunciation for non-native speakers of the Hungarian language, but is best known as the architect of the notion of flow and for his years of research and writing on the topic.

(Taken directly from Wikipedia)