Chapter 1

Use your talent
So how good are you in using your talent? It’s time for self-reflection.

Draw your own web!
Step 1: download and print a clean “web of science”
Step 2: fill in your current grades: very poor, poor, adequate, good, very good or excellent
Step 3: re-fill using your preferred grades
Step 4: define actions to get from current to preferred grades


The book offers questionnaires which you can use to get scores on the four webs. It also offers a range of exercises which you can try. They will help you defining actions to improve your scores.

1. Passion
Passion makes you say YES to the job you do. It points you where to go. It energizes you. It makes you forget time and (sometimes) work in the evenings and weekends. Now what if you don’t feel passionate? Maybe you are not on the right track and science is not your vocation. But it can also be that you just need to add “something” to keep on track.

2. Prioritize
Passionate curiosity may soon let you run out of the time: too many things to investigate. It may get worse if (honourable) invitations for meetings and committees further distract you. Learn to be selective, to say YES to the most important tasks and opportunities, and NO to all other ones, unless you want to loose passion.

3. Persevere
So you decide to focus on your most exciting scientific problem. Don’t be too frustrated that it looks unsolvable after a while. Instead, accept suffering and struggling to be an intrinsic aspect of a science job. From time to time take some distance from your work; breakthroughs often require hours of hard work alternated by taking a shower or biking home.

4. Speak
Once you have solved your problem, you want other people to hear about your breakthrough. Tell them your main story in five minutes only. Impossible? It will be difficult and time consuming to find simple words and convincing pictures that humans can grab and remember easily, but it will definitely pay off. You will have the core of an excellent presentation, poster or paper about your work; and are prepared to meet Nature’s editor at a conference!

5. Write
So you have prepared a five minute story. Write it on paper, as if you tell the story to somebody, add details and then critically prune the draft. Good writing is always a lot shorter than bad writing. Don’t be surprised if you can write the same full story with half the number of words! Ask colleagues for help. Ask editors for help. Send an outstanding pre-submission enquiry to a journal!

6. Fund
Also learn to sell your story to attract funding. Perhaps try to get your ideas published as “perspectives” or “opinion” paper before you submit your grant proposal. Make sure you build an excellent track record; graduate with honours degrees, publish in high impact journals, get invited for important conferences. Chance favours the prepared scientist!

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