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Wile E. Coyote is my mascot

He’s the ultimate entrepreneur. Most of the Looney Tunes characters talk, sing, dance, whistle, drive, argue, strut, scream, shout, entertain, and, yes, even watch TV. Not Wile E. Coyote. He has no time for all that. He’s a doer, not a talker. He’s a builder. A tinkerer. An experimenter. He’s a …


How to find a research problem in a haystack of papers

Your professor hands you a haystack of research papers, and asks you to go “find a research problem so you can work on it.”

How do you get started?


Why I choose to be a professor at Carnegie Mellon

19 years after I first set foot on the Carnegie Mellon campus to start my journey as a professor, I choose to do this job because of one thing — the students.


The spirit of YinzCam. What drove us then. What drives us now.

12 years ago, I walked into a hockey arena to work, and my life changed. The Pittsburgh Penguins had given us a chance to try out a new research idea at their arena, and YinzCam was born. I believe that we are as scrappy as we were when we started, as hungry, as enthusiastic, and […]


I’ve found my purpose in my people

Ikigai is a beautiful Japanese word that stands for “what makes you get out of bed every morning.


Maintain a career brag-book

Your future promotion would like to thank you now. If you’re a junior career professional, whether you’re in academia or industry, keep a brag book, a work portfolio of sorts, one that showcases your tangible and intangible impact at work, as well as others’ appreciation of you. A brag-book sets you apart. A brag-book is […]


Act like you have it

Dear Nicky, In 2001, I was an assistant professor starting out at Carnegie Mellon,

Priya Narasimhan, how to build your reputation

20 ways to build your reputation

Build your reputation, build your career.

Your professional reputation dictates your career trajectory.


Ask for more before you ask for more

Dear Nicky, You feel you’ve done a great job. But nobody notices it.


Chase what matters in your startup

Don’t chase a business plan (yet).
Don’t chase venture capital (yet).
Don’t chase board members (yet).


20 practical ways to make the most out of your time on campus

A university is a special place of unparalleled energy, optimism, risk-taking, ideas, debates, and learning. It’s a place to find what you love, to find what you’re great at, and to find a way to combine the two.


How to give a great presentation in the Jurassic Park style

You’re asked to give a research talk, but you’re stuck for inspiration when putting together your slides. Your want your talk to engage, entertain, and inspire.


The best PhDs open doors for more PhDs

A very little key will open a very heavy door. ― Charles Dickens I was a third-year PhD student scrolling through the online publication of a systems conference, looking for papers to read. I was stopped in my tracks by the title of a paper that sounded exactly like my PhD thesis topic. Anxious but […]


A Ph.D. Pitch Deck

Because you’re always selling your Ph.D., whether you know it or not.


Sell people on your credibility before you sell them on your ideas

Selling gets a bad rap. Most people view selling as manipulating or pressuring people with words. The phrase “I’m not sold on it” says it right there. You feel you’re being imposed or put upon. Selling is about communicating well. Selling is about having credibility with your audience so that your communication goes over well. […]


Builders should be sellers

11 years ago, when I started YinzCam, I had my fair share of doubters. I was told that there was just no way that the company would survive if led by me. “You’re an engineer. You don’t know business. You don’t have a network. You don’t know the industry. You can’t sell.” It’s true. I […]


10 steps to start and maintain an evergreen literature survey

“How’s your literature survey coming along?” I was a first-year graduate student, when a fourth-year Ph.D. student asked me this question at a weekly meeting. I had no clue what a “literature survey” was. After asking around, I learned that “literature survey” was research speak for “Go find out everything others have done in your […]


A Great Paper Abstract in 5 Sentences

Your abstract is the trailer to the movie that is your paper. The abstract. The hurried after-thought to the paper you just finished writing. You dash off a few rambling words, just minutes before you hit “Submit” to ship your paper off for review to a conference or a journal. Here’s the rub. Your after-thought […]


Writing a research paper is like training for a marathon

You can’t cram all of your training mileage in at the end. The publication deadline looms. You open up your laptop, create a blank new document, but you don’t know where to start. I’ve been there. As a first-year Ph.D. student. I was paralyzed with anxiety the first few times I had to write a […]


How to spot a leader in the making

Look for those who change the dynamic in the room, when it matters. We all have been in meetings with people whose words and actions have the ability to change the dynamic in the room, to electrify the room, to reduce tension in a meeting, to show courage, and to …