Axiom: I only work for myself.
Theorem 1: If I ever want to work for a company, I try to find one that happens to want me to do what I want to work for myself. Thus, I get paid for working for myself, and no manager ever needs to bother to monitor or push me. Everybody is happy.
Theorem 2: I only collaborate with people who want to work on things that I want to work on. Thus, I never have to push or monitor them. A good example is a bunch of students who also want to do SIGGRAPH and who would work with me for free and who also would work their ass off (to the point that I have to mandate a curfew that everybody go home and sleep no later than 2 AM everyday).
Theorem 3: If an unfortunate temporary situation arises that the company wants me to work on something that I am not interested in, then I try to package my stuff so that I can continue to work on what I want but also make it appear to be something the company wants. However if the situation persists, go to Theorem 1.
There is this guy who I regularly bumped into around my office building as well as the nearby bus stop.
From the way he talked and walked it appears that he has suffered from some kind of strokes and/or autism/Asperger syndromes. I regularly saw him during holidays and weekends in our office building. Often, he just sat in the corner of a conference room table without seeming to be doing anything else. I can also detect certain stale smells on him through my somehow sensitive olfactory system (a main reason that I do not eat meat). All in all, he appears to be a strange guy, even in my standard.
But my experience also told me that a seeming eccentric guy in MSR is probably famous or important or both, so the day before I chatted with him while waiting for the bus together, got his name, and looked it up online. Well, he is obviously famous enough to have a Wikipedia page, and according to that he has made fundamental theoretical contributions to cryptography. He also has an Erdos number of 1 and received several major awards.
I wonder if I will be (or already am) considered eccentric by other people around me. But honestly I do not think I care. I plan to chat with that guy more next time I bump into him.
When I was younger I always thought if I am smart enough I ought to be able to learn everything faster than normal (e.g. trying to pick up calculus at fifth grade but did not succeed until ninth). But as I grew older I gradually discovered that there are things that simply cannot and should not be accelerated. The universe moves at its own grace, and sometimes it is best to decipher its mystery simply by playing along.
Smart people can go faster, but intelligent people know when to take their time.
If you were an unusual and eccentric kid growing up in a culture that encourages harmony and conformity, you might have been taught, either implicitly or explicitly through the family and school education, that you should hide your peculiarities and try to appear as a normal person.
Please do not heed such advices. Always try to be yourself as much as possible, up to your personal threshold of withstanding societal pressures that try to “hammer down every nail that sticks up” (a Japanese proverb).
In retrospect, this is a major source of unhappiness in my early life. And I did not fully realize it until very recently. I guess one has to grow to be extremely confident to be able to identify this issue and choose to disobey such social norms. (It also helps that I have been living under a more individualist culture later on.) Without being fully myself, I simply cannot wield my full power. I remember I did not get the job for one of the first interviews upon graduation. I was trying very hard to behave like a normal job candidate. Later on, that very same hiring manager saw a more true-to-myself performance in a conference, and told me that he would have hired me if I had performed that way.
So from now on I will be true to myself and do what I am destined to do. Get in my way at your own peril. Life is too short otherwise.