Separate correlation and causality.

Screenshot by Author. Source

I am a big supporter of financial planning, but I'm not too fond of the above visualization.

What’s the implied message popping into your head?

Does it mean that having a financial plan will double your net worth? That could be the intended message. We can at least agree the chart is trying to convey that planning helps with net worth growth.

But with the information given, I am not confident about this conclusion at all. The data merely tells us there is a correlation between one’s net worth and the existence of a financial plan. The causality could go…


Be curious and be respectful. Ask, and don’t assume.

How to bridge the generation gaps as educators. Image of a long bridge.
How to bridge the generation gaps as educators. Image of a long bridge.
By Author

This week is teacher appreciation week.

Teaching is a fascinating profession in the sense of widening the age gap between students and instructors. Every year, the age gap between my students and me gets wider. I remember the first few semesters in my teaching career, students used to quiz me on certain comic books to check if we belonged to the same generation. No one does that anymore, so I guess I finally look mature enough to void the necessity of a quiz.

There are many articles on the generation gap between Millennials and Boomers. Generation labels are useful to…


what I learned from economics and management research

Photo by Linda Xu on Unsplash

When should you consider a career shift and look for the next development opportunity? Or, in more general terms, when should we seek change?

Consider the following two scenarios:

Scenario A: Everything is going well at work for John. In fact, it is very difficult for John to envision a better work-life style.

Scenario B: John’s company has suffered from the recession and many colleagues have been laid off. John is worried about when he will be the next one to let go.

In which scenario is John more likely to consider seeking growth and change?

But, in which scenario…


The paradox of connectivity.

Photo by freestocks on Unsplash

After four years of graduate school in the U.S, I returned to China for a faculty position in 2014. For a developed country like the U.S., there is very little noticeable change within 4 to 5 years. A fast-growing economy like China is a completely different story. Born and raised in the country, a four-year absence made me relearn how to navigate life in China.

One adjustment I had to make was learning to manage WeChat. This multi-purpose app is great considering its function: social media, video-conferencing, text-message, voice message, E-Wallet, Online Retail, etc. …


Tips on reading, handling test banks, and choking during exams.

A picture of two students studying.
A picture of two students studying.
Photo by Jeswin Thomas on Unsplash

Let’s dive right into it and waste no time!

Before Exam: How To Study for the Sake for Test Taking

Hack 1: Exam Preparation Strategy Is Not the Same As Learning Strategies

I am an excellent test taker.

Something I observe as a student and a teacher are that taking exams and learning require different strategies.

If you use exam strategies all the time, you will miss out on learning. Meanwhile, if you use the learning strategies during exam preparation, your grade might suffer as a result.

Choosing the right strategies at the right time is the key.

While you are learning a subject, say Gross Domestic Product (GDP), for example. You should give yourself as much room as possible to explore and…


My Source of Inspirations and Writing Tools

by author

I started writing on Medium at the beginning of this month. Time goes even faster when you give it extra meaning by writing more. This month, I published 20 articles and produced plenty of half-written ones on my laptop (I am an academic who is very used to having unfinished projects.)

The process of writing on Medium gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling. In such a short amount of time, I get to know a few writers. You get to meet people here through reading the stories they have written, and you are excited to see how their journey…


Evaluate and challenge your assumptions.

A puppy in a cardboard box.
A puppy in a cardboard box.
Photo by Erda Estremera on Unsplash

Do you evaluate your assumptions when making a decision?

Shane Snow discussed an interesting dilemma in his book Smartcuts.

“Pretend you are driving a car in the middle of a thunderstorm and you happen upon three people on the side of the road. One of them is a frail old woman, who looks on the verge of collapse. Another is a friend who once saved your life. The other is the romantic interest of your dreams, and this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet him or her. You have only one other seat in the car.

How do you decide…


How to harness the Negative inner voice.

Photo by Matt Botsford on Unsplash

Growing up, I constantly talked to myself. I thought it is a single-child thing.

I am not alone. Many people have this inner dialogue, voluntarily or involuntarily.

According to Dr. Kross, the chatter can benefit and hurt us simultaneously, depending on how we approach it and how mindful we are about it.

Here I share my combating experience with the negative inner voice and three methods that have helped me transform those voices into productive reflection opportunities.

Undesirable Chatter: The Negative Inner Voice

I don’t belong to a Dale Carnegie fan club, but the title “How to stop worrying and start living.” truly captured my attention.


It’s time to update sentence examples in vocabulary books

An open book without words.
An open book without words.
Photo by Alice Hampson on Unsplash

What does a more powerful vocabulary mean? What kind of powers do vocabulary books have on us?

My vocabulary-building exercise today did not empower me.

Explaining “sublimate”:

“A female whose unconscious desire it is to enslave men, to dominate and destroy all males, becomes the energetic and successful business executive or the president of a college with a largely male faculty, and only her psychiatrist knows that she is sublimating.”

Source: 30 Days to a More Powerful Vocabulary, by Dr. Wilfred Funk and Norman Lewis

This book was originally published in 1974, and the revised edition I have was published…


financial literacy, confidence, and math anxiety of women

Yes, you can.
Yes, you can.
Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

There is a gender gap in both perceived the actual financial literacy. According to Bucher‐Koenen et al., (2017), women scored lower than men on both test-based and self-assessment of financial literacy. Women are also more likely to choose the “Don’t know” option on the test.

What does “don’t know” imply?

A more recent report by Global Financial Literacy Excellence Center (GFLEC) found that women often select the correct answer when “Don’t know” is no longer an option on the test. The authors concluded that “about one-third of the financial literacy gender gap can be explained by women’s lower confidence levels.”

Xu Xu, Ph.D.

Mom, wife, daughter, and university professor. Trained economist. Self-taught data science nerd. Transitioning into behavioral science with great enthusiasm.

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