Rosaly Lopes – A Little Self-Promotion Is Fine

Rosaly Lopes
Dr Rosaly M. C. Lopes is Directorate Scientist for the Planetary Science Directorate and a Senior Research Scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory she tells us why we should " Hang Out With People Who Are Brighter Than You Are ", and "Don’t Try To Please Everybody" and that "A Little Self-Promotion Is Fine" along with other lessons it took her 50 years to learn. Hosted by Duff Watkins.

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About Dr Rosaly Lopes

Dr. Rosaly M. C. Lopes is Directorate Scientist for the Planetary Science Directorate and a Senior Research Scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology. Dr. Lopes was born and raised in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. She has a Bachelor of Sciences in Astronomy and a Ph.D. in Planetary Sciences from University College London (part of the University of London, UK). Her major research interests are planetary and terrestrial geology and volcanology. During her Ph.D. she travelled extensively to active volcanoes, particularly Mount Etna in Sicily, and became a member of the U.K.’s Volcanic Eruption Surveillance Team. Dr. Lopes joined JPL as National Research Council Fellow in 1989 and, in 1991, became a JPL employee and a member of the Galileo Flight Project, a mission to Jupiter. She was responsible for observations of Jupiter’s volcanic moon Io from 1996 to 2001, using Galileo’s Near-infrared Mapping Spectrometer. During this exciting period of her career, she discovered 71 active volcanoes on Io, for which she was honoured in the 2006 edition of the Guinness Book of World Records as the discoverer of the most active volcanoes anywhere.

Dr. Lopes worked on the Cassini mission to Saturn from 2002 until 2018, with the role of Investigation Scientist for the Cassini Titan Radar Mapper Team. She is currently studying data acquired by Cassini, in particular, the geology and potential habitability of Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, as a Principal Investigator in NASA’s Astrobiology Institute, leading an international team.

 

She has received many honours for her contributions to the studies of volcanism on Earth and the planets. In 2006, she was elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and, in 2015, Fellow of the Geological Society of America. In 2018, she received the Ambassador Award from the American Geophysical Union and became a Fellow of that society, and an elected member of the International Academy of Astronautics. Other awards include two NASA Exceptional Public Service medals (2007 and 2019), the Adler Planetarium’s Women in Science award (2018), the Antarctica Medal from the National Science Foundation, the Lowell Thomas medal from the Explorers Club (2014), the Wings Women of Discovery Air and Space award (2009), the Women at Work Medal of Excellence (2006), the American Astronomical Society’s Carl Sagan medal for excellence in communicating science to the public (2005), the Woman of the Year in Science and Technology Award from GEMS television (1997), and the Latinas in Science medal from the Comision Feminil Mexicana Nacional (1991). In 2016, she was honoured by the International Astronomical Union with Asteroid (22454) Rosalylopes.

Dr Lopes has taken many leadership roles in the scientific community. In addition to serving as Vice-Chair of Commission B of COSPAR, she chairs the Outer Planets Task Group of the International Astronomical Union’s Working Group for Planetary System Nomenclature, is a member of the Space Studies Board of the US National Academies, and a member of the Steering Committee for the Keck Institute for Space Studies. She served as elected Chair of the Division for Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society 2012-2013, and as President of the American Geophysical Union’s Planetary Science Section. She was Editor-in-Chief for the planetary science journal Icarus from 2017-2020.

Dr. Lopes’s publications include over 140 peer-reviewed scientific publications and eight books, “The Volcano Adventure Guide” (Cambridge University Press, 2005; Portuguese translation 2008), “Volcanic Worlds: Exploring the Solar System Volcanoes” (Praxis-Springer, 2004; co-edited by Tracy Gregg), “Io After Galileo” (Praxis-Springer, 2007, co-edited by John Spencer), “Alien Volcanoes” (John Hopkins Press, 2008, co-authored by Michael Carroll), “Volcanoes: A Beginner’s Guide” (Oneworld Publishing Co., UK, 2011, also a book on tape), “Modelling Volcanic Processes” (Cambridge University Press, 2013, co-edited with S. Fagents and T. Gregg), “Alien Seas” (Praxis, 2013, co-edited with Michael Carroll) and “Antarctica: Earth’s Own Ice World” (Springer, 2018, with Michael Carroll). She was honoured to have Sally Ride write the Foreword for “Volcanic Worlds”, the first planetary science book to have all its chapters written by female scientists, and to have Arthur C. Clarke and James Cameron write the Forewords for, respectively, “Alien Volcanoes” and “Alien Seas”.

In addition to her science work, Dr Lopes is a strong supporter of education, diversity, and outreach, nationally and internationally. She has given numerous public lectures in the US and abroad, on every continent including Antarctica. She has been active in the media, giving hundreds of interviews, and has been featured on over twenty TV documentaries and shows in the US alone, including for National Geographic, Discovery, Science Channel, PBS, The Weather Channel and History channel.

Episode Notes

Lesson 1. Hang Out With People Who Are Brighter Than You Are 04:20
Lesson 2. Focus On Your Strong Points – We Can’t Be Good At Everything 06:48
Lesson 3. Don’t Try To Please Everybody, But Know What Your Bosses Expect Of You 09:24
Lesson 4. Share Credit For Good Ideas And Good Work 11:12
Lesson 5. Know How To Get Things Done In Your Organization 12:56
Lesson 6. Cultivate Friends At Work And In Your Field 14:54
Lesson 7. Take The Initiative To Propose Worthwhile Actions In Your Organization 18:35
Lesson 8. Step Up To The Plate And Be Helpful To Co-Workers And Colleagues 20:57
Lesson 9. A Little Self-Promotion Is Fine, Others Don’t Necessarily Know Your Good Work22:54
Lesson 10. Decide How You Would Like To Be Remembered 24:34

Rosaly Lopes – A Little Self-Promotion Is Fine

[00:00:06] Duff Watkins: Hello and welcome to the podcast. 10 lessons. It took me 50 years to learn where we to dispense wisdom for a career in life.

That’s wisdom for your career and you’re life. My name is Duff Watkins, and I’m your host. Our guest today as Dr. Rosaly Lopes who is a planetary scientist working for NASA and the jet propulsion laboratory. Welcome to the show Rosaly.

[00:00:26] Rosaly Lopes: Thank you so much. You’re glad to be here.

[00:00:28] Duff Watkins: Let me say to our listeners that, you were born in Rio de Janeiro, educated in London.

You, you now work live in California. And you are the author of eight books, 135 scientific articles, and you have the world’s Guinness record for most volcanoes discovered. And if that’s not cool enough, you have a, an asteroid named after you, which I think is pretty, pretty neat.

[00:00:53] Rosaly Lopes: Yeah, that’s pretty cool.

[00:00:54] Duff Watkins: yeah. All right. My first question, you, you grew up in Rio de Janeiro and somehow got hooked on very early to astronomy obviously you speak Portuguese coming from Brazil. You went to the UK, London to study, and then somebody took you to see an active volcano and you sort of switched from studying astronomy to being a volcanologist.

So, what happened.

[00:01:19] Rosaly Lopes: well, what happened, was that I, in my third year, which the final year in London of the astronomy course university course, I, chose a course in planetary geology. And I chose it because I had heard that the professor was really, really good. and I really like that course.

And when I was studying for the exams, I thought, this is what I want. To do. So, I switched from being interested in kind of extra galactic astronomy and solar astronomy, and I decided to study planetary geology. And he said, well, you’re my first. Student who doesn’t have a degree in geology, but I think you can do something.

at the end of my first year as a graduate student he took me to Mount Etna in Sicily as a helper with field work and Mount Etna erupted. And I really fell in love with volcanos then.

[00:02:18] Duff Watkins: I have been to an active volcano once, and that will do me. That was, that was sufficient. I, I think there are two people in the world.

Rosaly there are people who run a volcano erupt. There are people like you who run to it. And there are people like me who run from it. So,

[00:02:33] Rosaly Lopes: well, it depends on the type of eruption because there are different types of volcanoes, and some are very dangerous, and I wouldn’t run towards those. I. And the, some are not so dangerous.

So, it, the I was in Iceland in July and really enjoyed seeing that eruption. And that’s not a particularly dangerous one.

[00:02:56] Duff Watkins: well, let’s talk about the 10 lessons that took you 50 years to learn. The first thing that I notice in your career, and you have won so many awards and accolades.

I simply don’t have time to record them all. But two things. I noticed very conspicuous one, you’re a female two, you’re a foreigner and you’ve kind of made it, what I thought was a pretty male dominated world. So, I, I think in some ways, what we’re going to talk about is how a female scientist makes it succeeds big time in male dominated professions.

So, with that, first of all, would you say that’s an accurate summary?

[00:03:33] Rosaly Lopes: yes, but I never really focused on the fact that I was female. Science is something I wanted to do. And specifically planetary science, planetary geology is something I fell in love with. And I think it’s really about what you want to do. And if you’re passionate about your career you go ahead and do it. And I got used to being the only woman in the room. These days is very different. There are a lot more women in science mm-hmm so the young women coming into the field don’t have the same experiences that I did.

 But I always felt that the men accepted me because I was serious and passionate about the subject.

[00:04:18] Duff Watkins: Clearly, it’s worked.

[00:04:20] Lesson 1: Hang Out With People Who Are Brighter Than You Are

[00:04:20] Duff Watkins: So, let’s go to lesson, number one, hang out with people who are brighter than you. Now I got to ask you Rosaly, how am I going to do that? How am I going to find somebody brighter than me?

[00:04:32] Rosaly Lopes: well, my father used to say that to me, that’s some advice from my father and he said that you should always. Be learning you know, and no matter how bright you are, there is always going to be somebody who is brighter, who knows more about particular subjects than you. you know, so it, it, it is about, you know, stretching yourself and learning from other people.

and instead of, you know, feeling. That you want to be the smartest person in the room. In fact, you should try to be in a room with people who are smarter than you, because then you learn from them.

[00:05:09] Duff Watkins: I am, of course, joking about being the smartest. I, I married somebody smarter than me. My wife is Brazilian.

And so is matter of fact, I have to tell you this true story. We’re watching. I’m, I’m sitting here in Brazil at the moment, probably about six hours from Ipanema, where you were raised. And we were watching global news one night and I, they were interviewing you and my wife says. you should interview her for the podcast.

And I said, think you’re right. so here we are. Well, what you’re saying though, actually seems to me, it takes a bit of courage because people invest so much in wanting to be the smartest person in the room. So, when you’re hanging around with people who are brighter than you it takes a bit of, self-awareness a bit of courage to admit that, well, perhaps, maybe you don’t know everything about your particular subject.

[00:05:57] Rosaly Lopes: but nobody knows everything about even their subject. so, you might be the smart, the smartest person or the person who knows more about a certain aspect of your subject. but, in my career, I always worked in teams, and I worked in teams with people who knew much more about certain aspects of the work that are things I really needed.

For example, if we are putting a, a space mission together, we need people from many different specialties. We need engineers, we need scientists. We need scientists who know about different aspects of, of the problem. and so, I think the idea is, yes, Hang out with smart people.

[00:06:46] Duff Watkins: because you’ll learn something.

[00:06:48] Lesson 2: Focus On Your Strong Points – We Can’t Be Good At Everything

[00:06:48] Duff Watkins: Lesson number two, focus on your strong points. We can’t be good at everything.

[00:06:54] Rosaly Lopes: Yes, that’s and it’s partly something that I was saying before. I couldn’t put a space mission together by myself. Absolutely not. and even in a research project, that’s very much in my expertise. I benefit from collaborators who, know.

Other aspects of the science better than I do. so, teamwork has always been very important to me, you know, and I may have, in some cases the initial idea,  , you know, be the driving force.  , but I collaborate with,  , with other people and, and,  , you know, in some cases I go and,  , help other people and be on their teams.

and everyone benefits, from that.

[00:07:39] Duff Watkins: How did you discover your strong points in your career?

[00:07:44] Rosaly Lopes: I think it’s experience. and sometimes you start discovering them even before you get to university. for example, I always like to write, and when I was in school in Brazil, I wrote in Portuguese, and just for fun it’s been a, a bit of a hobby.

and I found out that some of my colleagues really don’t like. To write and they are not very good writers. so that’s one of my strong points. you know, in the other hand, I, I found out for example, that I, I, you know, I completely. Hate writing software. but many of my colleagues actually would rather write software than anything else.

you know, so you team up you team up and you draw on each other’s strengths and likes because, you got to like the work you’re doing.

[00:08:38] Duff Watkins: and this is where I point out that you won, you were awarded the Carl Sagan medal. Now, when I was a kid growing up, Carl Sagan was a scientist astronomer, as I recall, he was the one who popularized science on TV.

When I was a kid growing up in the U S, the Carl Sagan medal is given to people like you who are popularisers of science, articulators of science who present science, dim it down a few shades for people like me, so we can understand. And, and your ability to do that in writing verbally, And not your native language either is quite commendable.

So, I wanted to mention that to our audience.

[00:09:18] Rosaly Lopes: Thank you. I have always enjoyed doing public outreach, so that’s another of my strengths.

[00:09:24] Lesson 3: Don’t Try To Please Everybody, But Know What Your Bosses Expect Of You

[00:09:24] Duff Watkins: takes us to point number three. Don’t try to please everybody, but understand what your bosses want.

[00:09:32] Rosaly Lopes: Yes. and you should always understand in a job what’s expected of you. sometimes you have a lot of competing forces let’s say,  , you know, for example, during times when I was working on a flight project, and it was supposed to be a certain percentage of my time, but,  , you know, people try to suck you in for a hundred percent mm-hmm or more, if you let them.

In the other hand, I knew that what my boss would value when he came to promotions or raises was also my publications and how much independent research I was doing. So, I had to play this game of kind of, you know, pushing back, on some people who I also worked for so that I would balance but understanding.

You know, how I would be assessed in my work was very important. And I think it’s important for everyone to understand what your boss expects of you.

[00:10:37] Duff Watkins: It is so absolutely crucial, and I think you’ve articulated quite well. What I’m hearing is how similar the world of science to the world of business and, and corporations, understanding what your boss is.

What boss wants.

[00:10:51] Rosaly Lopes: Yes, exactly. And sometimes, you know, people come in and they want you to do other things and it takes a lot of your time. And sometimes you got to say no and that can be very hard. I’m still learning to say no.

[00:11:07] Duff Watkins: Well, clearly you want to be a helpful person. And sometimes it does work against you.

[00:11:12] Lesson 4: Share Credit For Good Ideas And Good Work

[00:11:12] Duff Watkins: Well, and let’s go, this goes to point number four, share credit for good ideas and work. First thing I want to say, I read some research recently that said one of, I don’t know if it’s the number one, problem, number one, complainant work, but it’s very high up there. People who hog credit take credit for work that is not their own, that they didn’t really own or drive or, or, but they just happen to accept the credit.

So, your point is very good. Share it.

[00:11:43] Rosaly Lopes: Yes, and a lot of success comes from teamwork. and, and certainly in my job, I have relied a lot on teamwork. And sometimes I was a driving force and yes, you know, people will, give me the, the awards or, you know, mention me in the Guinness book of records, which was quite funny.

Uh, but in fact it was all about teamwork, and I may have been the one who. Did those detections of active volcanoes on Jupiter, moon, Io, but you know that to be able to do those detections, it relied on the work of a lot of people. you know, people who, built the instrument, people who flew the mission, so as much as possible, you know, share credit.

And give credit to other people for their good ideas.

[00:12:40] Duff Watkins: and these missions that you’re talking about. I want listeners to understand, we’re talking about interplanetary missions, you know, going to different planets and, and looking for a volcano’s not here, but there, out there on Jupiter, Pluto, or whatever, your whatever, your particularly mission is yeah.

[00:12:56] Lesson 5: Know How To Get Things Done In Your Organization

[00:12:56] Duff Watkins: That, that’s such a good point, which takes me to point number five and listeners. If you want to remember anything from this podcast, this next one is to me the most crucial point number five, know how things get done in your organization?

[00:13:13] Rosaly Lopes: Yes, that is very important. And, you know, it, it’s very important to know how to deal with the bureaucracy, know who can help you. I mean, we have, remarkable, you know, administrative assistance and personnel, because, you don’t want to have to spend a lot of time on things that, are not your expertise, but still need to be done. And also, so much comes from, knowing people.

And being friendly with people so that you can call someone on the phone and say, I’m not really sure where I’ll go, you know, to do this, or I need an expert on, let’s say spacecraft navigation on my team, or whatever it is, but you need to know. Particularly in a large organization, you know, how to find experts and how people, can help you, from the lowest to the highest.

it’s really important to try to understand your organization and understand the priorities of your organization. It it’s kind of like understanding also. What your boss expects of you, but at the higher level, what your organization expects of you and how your organization works, you know, even, at the lowest levels.

[00:14:43] Duff Watkins: It’s the, how in the sentence I think is most important, but do you think it, it makes it from what you’re saying?

It sounds like. Largely it’s the personal touch. It’s cultivating relationships.

[00:14:54] Lesson 6: Cultivate Friends At Work And In Your Field

[00:14:54] Duff Watkins: In fact, this takes us to the next lesson. Number six, cultivate friends at work and in your field.

[00:15:01] Rosaly Lopes: Yes. a lot of what we do that is successful, comes from, you know, chatting with people you are comfortable chatting with.

Ideas for projects, you know, ideas for science missions, ideas for science projects and, mostly A lot of the time people like to work with people. They like so we’ll gravitate towards those people first. And, then you know, if I’m having an idea, you know, for a, you know, let let’s, let’s say the is a mission to Jupiter’s volcanic moon Io, I, you know, I’m, I’m going to call my buddy and say, look, you know, I have these ideas, but what do you think? You know? And then we bring in somebody else and, you know, we thrash these ideas around. so, you can’t isolate yourself, except, you know, I mean maybe there are few professions where you can really work by yourself.

but I think in a lot of professions, it’s really teamwork. and cultivating relationships is very important.

[00:16:09] Duff Watkins: Well, the saying in business is that there’s no, I it’s we, and what you’re saying reminds me of something in the military. I was addressing a us military war college in Sydney, Australia one time.

And I was asking him, what is a war college? And it, and it’s just what you said, Rosaly. They have these. people from different branches, air force, army, Navy, Marine Corps, and they go there, and they study together. And the whole idea is I’ve got this problem. So, I call, I pick up the phone and I call Rosaly and I say, Rosaly, remember, remember that time we were studying at war college and well, you’re in the air force and I’m, in the us Marines and I’ve got this problem. So maybe you can help me out with it, and you say sure Duff, and it goes on like that even at the highest levels it’s so that personal touch is so important.

[00:16:57] Rosaly Lopes: Yes. And for negotiations of all kinds as well, it’s far easier to negotiate with, people, you have a personal relationship with.

[00:17:07] Duff Watkins: There’s a famous book in business. What they didn’t teach me at the Harvard business school. And the author said he went to Japan to do business time and time again. And every time he went, they wanted to have these Japanese stupid Japanese tea ceremonies over and over. And he was, you know, in America, come on, let’s get to it.

You know, times went. And he said after a while, a long while it took him, he finally realized. They’re trying to get to like me so we can do business because until they know me and like me it’s too damn hard.

[00:17:38] Rosaly Lopes: Yes. And actually, my PhD advisor. Taught me that, that, we would, want to collaborate with someone and we would be, let’s say at a, a conference.

And so, he would arrange for us to go out to dinner, and I was, oh, ready to talk about the particular science project, but no, you know, I mean that would come at the end of the dinner, we would talk about all kinds of other things. And, you know, again, in young people, there can be this impatience. It’s like I’m here to do business.

Uh, but no, the, the, the building of the relationship of the trust is very important.

[00:18:16] Duff Watkins: Well, as you know, in Brazil, there are very, very warm people. My wife, who is a Brazilian, she thinks I was raised by wolves, because I just want to, you know, time’s running out this, let’s just get to business. Let’s get to the point.

And she says, we don’t do that. We don’t operate that way here. which I like you. I have learned.

[00:18:35] Lesson 7: Take The Initiative To Propose Worthwhile Actions In Your Organization

[00:18:35] Duff Watkins: takes us to lesson number seven, take the initiative to propose worthwhile actions in your organization.

[00:18:42] Rosaly Lopes: yes. And that also comes from understanding how your organization works. but if you see something that, you don’t think is right, or could be done more efficiently, or is a, is an idea for, some other is, speak up. because,  you know, I mean the words that can happen, but speak up nicely.

criticism should be constructive. and the worst they can tell you is actually no, and sometimes they will explain to you why we can’t do that. maybe it’s a legal thing. Maybe there are other constraints that you don’t know about, but that all comes from understanding your organization.

[00:19:33] Duff Watkins: Okay what if I’m the junior person in the room on the team? What if I’m young? What if I’m female? What if I’m an introvert? What if I’m shy? I got some things to say, but I’m not, how do I go about, broaching the subject then.

[00:19:47] Rosaly Lopes: Well, if you are shy, one way is to just meet, with one of the people one on one and say someone more experienced and say, well, I was thinking about that.

Uh, and what do you think. And they might say, yes, it’s a great idea. You should bring it up at the next meeting, or sometimes, you might write an email, to the boss and say, you know, I have this thinking about this and notice that, and here are a suggestion and people appreciate suggestions.

So sometimes you have to explain, well, yes, it’s a good suggestions, but we can’t do it for whatever reasons, but then you learn more about the organization

[00:20:32] Duff Watkins: and it’s I guess the, what you’re illustrating is that a person can contribute really. They can lead from any position they are, are in the hierarchy.

[00:20:42] Rosaly Lopes: oh, yeah. Yes. And you know, and in general, we do reward, you know, people who are, and doesn’t matter how young or new they are, but if they come up with good ideas, you know, we’ll take them.

[00:20:57] Lesson 8: Step Up To The Plate And Be Helpful To Co-Workers And Colleagues

[00:20:57] Duff Watkins: lesson number, an extension of that is lesson number eight, step up, be helpful to your co-workers and colleagues.

[00:21:05] Rosaly Lopes: yes. And you have to balance that with, knowing what is expected of you and the work that you really have to do. but if someone says, you know, I, I need you to be, let’s say on the, the search committee, we are searching for new scientists or whatever don’t think, oh, that’s going to be so much work.

Yes, it’ll be. But again, it’s part of being a team player in your organization. sometimes you got to put your other priorities aside and step up to something that your organization really needs. It is rewarded, because in any organization, yes, you know, people have to step up, you know, they can’t just be in their back room, doing their own work unless they’re on some very specialized, a job that I have never been in

[00:22:04] Duff Watkins: And when we say step up, I guess, what were. It’s an American phrase. What it means is initiate action. Take the initiative to, and you know what? It reminds me of the Royal Australian, the Royal, the Royal Navy in, in England. they’ve trained their officers like this for about 400 years, and they have, and they train, they train.

They cultivate very much to, for an officer to be bothered. That is to take action. And the example I remember in a book about this, you’re the first one in the meeting room. And there is ice water on the table. Pour everybody a glass before people get there because it saves time. And it’s a way to contribute.

Look for act, look, actively, seek positive ways to contribute all the bloody time. And that’s what they teach in the rural Navy. And I think that’s re reminds me of what you’re saying.

[00:22:53] Rosaly Lopes: Yes, yes.

[00:22:54] Lesson 9: A Little Self-Promotion Is Fine, Others Don’t Necessarily Know Your Good Work

[00:22:54] Duff Watkins: lesson number nine, the other. This is another lesson that should be carved in stoned for people. A little self-promotion is fine at work.

[00:23:04] Rosaly Lopes: Yes. As long as, you don’t hog credit. You got to be able to tell your boss or bosses, that you are doing good work. and it’s also a matter of keeping them informed, because, you know, I mean, I’ve been a manager and, I don’t know what mm-hmm, all my people are doing.

Uh, and, when I was a, a section manager and had like over 80 people, it, I mean, I had some middle managers in between, but I, I couldn’t know what everybody was doing. So sometimes if someone sent me an email and saying, Well, you know, this project of mine got funded or,  you know, here is a, new paper ahead that actually, got some publicity, you know, that that’s good, that that helps your managers, your bosses, you know, understand the good work that, you’re doing.

[00:24:02] Duff Watkins: Yes. And that’s what I would like people to know that the manager, the boss is grateful for that sort of news. If you capture the right tone in promoting yourself. Yes,

[00:24:13] Rosaly Lopes: yes. Yes. And, and it’s more a matter of, that’s why I said a little, it it’s more, a matter of information rather than saying Aren’t I great.

No one likes that.

[00:24:27] Duff Watkins: No one, no country, no culture likes that. Look at me. Look at, look how valuable I am to the team. Yes. Right?

[00:24:34] Lesson 10: Decide How You Would Like To Be Remembered

[00:24:34] Duff Watkins: Lesson number 10. Now this is curious to me. I I’d like, I do want you to discuss this, lesson number 10. Decide how you’d like to be remembered.

[00:24:43] Rosaly Lopes: yes. It’s worth stopping to think now and then. After all this work is done and you retired, disappear in the sunset or, or whatever. what is it that you are really leaving behind? And in fact, that was actually, a. Perhaps my main motivation for pursuing, science is that I wanted to do something that was important, that I felt was important.

And I thought space exploration was the most important thing that my generation was doing. and that’s why I wanted to be part of it. new generation may feel. That there are other things that,   , you know, they feel it’s really important for the world, whether you more go more in the, you know, climate change area or medicine or whatever it is, but,  it’s about, looking at what you’re doing and,  , and asking yourself, can I leave the world,  , a little bit better than the way I found it?

And that doesn’t mean just, you know, your day-to-day work. I think one of the valuable things I have done, is, public outreach and encouraging students, to pursue careers in, science and technology. and maybe I’ll be remembered more for that than for my actual papers and books, you know, and that’s fine.

but is always trying to keep that kind of big picture. Maybe a bit of a philosophical big picture in mind. Mm-hmm is how am I helping. The world how am I helping other people? so that’s, that’s really what I meant by that statement.

[00:26:29] Duff Watkins: I guess the way I hear that Rosaly is, is to urge people, to stop thinking about your own, sorry, self and start thinking about how you contribute to the bigger, the bigger picture, something of which most of us need to be reminded daily.

[00:26:43] Rosaly Lopes: Right, right. It’s not, the world is not about you. It’s more about what you can do for the world.

[00:26:50] Duff Watkins: All right. Well, let me finish up with one question, unscheduled question. We’ve been talking about the things that you’ve learned in your life and in your career, but what have you unlearned lately?

And by that, I mean, something that you knew to be absolutely true. Then, but now realize, that’s not the case.

[00:27:09] Rosaly Lopes: Hmm. That’s a, that’s a tough one. you know, I can’t think of something that, you know, has so fundamentally changed, that, you know, I, I feel is no longer important. you know, maybe something I have unlearned is, But it goes back to one of my lessons.

when you’re young, especially,  , you feel that, if you are, let’s say in a meeting and people start talking about something that you.  , you know, you don’t really understand, that you feel inferior and insecure and I have learned that, there will always be people if you’re with smart people, there will always be people who are talking about some aspect, of the problem or of the mission or whatever that you, don’t actually understand.

And that’s fine. and, you can’t know everything. Even in your own subject area is don’t be too hard on yourself. we tend to be sometimes our worst critics, and also that, you know, maybe, something that,  I thought that was really, you know, major in my younger days, I thought that,  you know, the guy who got the highest grades or the girl, who seemed to be the smartest was the person who was going to become the most successful and that didn’t actually happen. The people who became, the most successful were the people who had drive, persistence, and who could work with others who had, pleasant personalities who could actually work with other people.

Success is, it is not just about, being the smartest or, being the one who gets the highest grades, who is the best technically in a subject.

It is about. how much drive and persistence you have that, you know, even when, you have setbacks, you can carry on and not give up. and it is about, being able to work with others and, and being a nice person. so, you know, at the end of the day, those are the things that matter the most.

[00:29:25] Duff Watkins: Well, you combine those three things, and you make a contribution to the world and that’s a pretty good career. That’s a pretty good life.

[00:29:31] Rosaly Lopes: Exactly. Yes.

[00:29:34] Duff Watkins: Okay. We will close on that note. Our guest today has been Dr. Roasaly Lopes of NASAs jet propulsion laboratory. You’ve been listening to us, and we would like to hear from you.

You can email us. The podcast. Email is podcast@10lessonslearned.com. That’s. Podcast at 10, the number one zero lessons learned.com. please let us know what you think of this episode. This episode has been produced by Robert Hossary and is sponsored as always by the professional development forum. You can find them on professionaldevelopmentforum.org.

And while you’re emailing us, go ahead and hit that subscribe button because this is the only podcast on the that’s making the world a wiser place lesson by lesson. Thanks for listening. And thank you Rosaly for joining us today.

[00:30:16] Rosaly Lopes: Thank you. That’s a pleasure.

 This episode is produced by Robert Hossary. Sponsored as always by Professional Development Forum, which office insights, community or discussions, podcasts, parties, anything you want here, but they’re unique and it’s all free online. You can find the www.professionaldevelopmentforum.org you’ve heard from us we’d like to hear from you. Email us it’s podcast@10lessonslearned.com that’s podcast, 10 number one zero, lessons learned.com. Remember, this is the podcast the only podcast. That’s makes the world wiser lesson by lesson.

 
Rosaly Lopes

Rosaly Lopes – A Little Self-Promotion Is Fine

Dr Rosaly M. C. Lopes is Directorate Scientist for the Planetary Science Directorate and a Senior Research Scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory she tells us why we should " Hang Out With People Who Are Brighter Than You Are ", and "Don’t Try To Please Everybody" and that "A Little Self-Promotion Is Fine" along with other lessons it took her 50 years to learn. Hosted by Duff Watkins.

About Dr Rosaly Lopes

Dr. Rosaly M. C. Lopes is Directorate Scientist for the Planetary Science Directorate and a Senior Research Scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology. Dr. Lopes was born and raised in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. She has a Bachelor of Sciences in Astronomy and a Ph.D. in Planetary Sciences from University College London (part of the University of London, UK). Her major research interests are planetary and terrestrial geology and volcanology. During her Ph.D. she travelled extensively to active volcanoes, particularly Mount Etna in Sicily, and became a member of the U.K.’s Volcanic Eruption Surveillance Team. Dr. Lopes joined JPL as National Research Council Fellow in 1989 and, in 1991, became a JPL employee and a member of the Galileo Flight Project, a mission to Jupiter. She was responsible for observations of Jupiter’s volcanic moon Io from 1996 to 2001, using Galileo’s Near-infrared Mapping Spectrometer. During this exciting period of her career, she discovered 71 active volcanoes on Io, for which she was honoured in the 2006 edition of the Guinness Book of World Records as the discoverer of the most active volcanoes anywhere.

Dr. Lopes worked on the Cassini mission to Saturn from 2002 until 2018, with the role of Investigation Scientist for the Cassini Titan Radar Mapper Team. She is currently studying data acquired by Cassini, in particular, the geology and potential habitability of Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, as a Principal Investigator in NASA’s Astrobiology Institute, leading an international team.

 

She has received many honours for her contributions to the studies of volcanism on Earth and the planets. In 2006, she was elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and, in 2015, Fellow of the Geological Society of America. In 2018, she received the Ambassador Award from the American Geophysical Union and became a Fellow of that society, and an elected member of the International Academy of Astronautics. Other awards include two NASA Exceptional Public Service medals (2007 and 2019), the Adler Planetarium’s Women in Science award (2018), the Antarctica Medal from the National Science Foundation, the Lowell Thomas medal from the Explorers Club (2014), the Wings Women of Discovery Air and Space award (2009), the Women at Work Medal of Excellence (2006), the American Astronomical Society’s Carl Sagan medal for excellence in communicating science to the public (2005), the Woman of the Year in Science and Technology Award from GEMS television (1997), and the Latinas in Science medal from the Comision Feminil Mexicana Nacional (1991). In 2016, she was honoured by the International Astronomical Union with Asteroid (22454) Rosalylopes.

Dr Lopes has taken many leadership roles in the scientific community. In addition to serving as Vice-Chair of Commission B of COSPAR, she chairs the Outer Planets Task Group of the International Astronomical Union’s Working Group for Planetary System Nomenclature, is a member of the Space Studies Board of the US National Academies, and a member of the Steering Committee for the Keck Institute for Space Studies. She served as elected Chair of the Division for Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society 2012-2013, and as President of the American Geophysical Union’s Planetary Science Section. She was Editor-in-Chief for the planetary science journal Icarus from 2017-2020.

Dr. Lopes’s publications include over 140 peer-reviewed scientific publications and eight books, “The Volcano Adventure Guide” (Cambridge University Press, 2005; Portuguese translation 2008), “Volcanic Worlds: Exploring the Solar System Volcanoes” (Praxis-Springer, 2004; co-edited by Tracy Gregg), “Io After Galileo” (Praxis-Springer, 2007, co-edited by John Spencer), “Alien Volcanoes” (John Hopkins Press, 2008, co-authored by Michael Carroll), “Volcanoes: A Beginner’s Guide” (Oneworld Publishing Co., UK, 2011, also a book on tape), “Modelling Volcanic Processes” (Cambridge University Press, 2013, co-edited with S. Fagents and T. Gregg), “Alien Seas” (Praxis, 2013, co-edited with Michael Carroll) and “Antarctica: Earth’s Own Ice World” (Springer, 2018, with Michael Carroll). She was honoured to have Sally Ride write the Foreword for “Volcanic Worlds”, the first planetary science book to have all its chapters written by female scientists, and to have Arthur C. Clarke and James Cameron write the Forewords for, respectively, “Alien Volcanoes” and “Alien Seas”.

In addition to her science work, Dr Lopes is a strong supporter of education, diversity, and outreach, nationally and internationally. She has given numerous public lectures in the US and abroad, on every continent including Antarctica. She has been active in the media, giving hundreds of interviews, and has been featured on over twenty TV documentaries and shows in the US alone, including for National Geographic, Discovery, Science Channel, PBS, The Weather Channel and History channel.

Episode Notes

Lesson 1. Hang Out With People Who Are Brighter Than You Are 04:20
Lesson 2. Focus On Your Strong Points – We Can’t Be Good At Everything 06:48
Lesson 3. Don’t Try To Please Everybody, But Know What Your Bosses Expect Of You 09:24
Lesson 4. Share Credit For Good Ideas And Good Work 11:12
Lesson 5. Know How To Get Things Done In Your Organization 12:56
Lesson 6. Cultivate Friends At Work And In Your Field 14:54
Lesson 7. Take The Initiative To Propose Worthwhile Actions In Your Organization 18:35
Lesson 8. Step Up To The Plate And Be Helpful To Co-Workers And Colleagues 20:57
Lesson 9. A Little Self-Promotion Is Fine, Others Don’t Necessarily Know Your Good Work22:54
Lesson 10. Decide How You Would Like To Be Remembered 24:34

Rosaly Lopes – A Little Self-Promotion Is Fine

[00:00:06] Duff Watkins: Hello and welcome to the podcast. 10 lessons. It took me 50 years to learn where we to dispense wisdom for a career in life.

That’s wisdom for your career and you’re life. My name is Duff Watkins, and I’m your host. Our guest today as Dr. Rosaly Lopes who is a planetary scientist working for NASA and the jet propulsion laboratory. Welcome to the show Rosaly.

[00:00:26] Rosaly Lopes: Thank you so much. You’re glad to be here.

[00:00:28] Duff Watkins: Let me say to our listeners that, you were born in Rio de Janeiro, educated in London.

You, you now work live in California. And you are the author of eight books, 135 scientific articles, and you have the world’s Guinness record for most volcanoes discovered. And if that’s not cool enough, you have a, an asteroid named after you, which I think is pretty, pretty neat.

[00:00:53] Rosaly Lopes: Yeah, that’s pretty cool.

[00:00:54] Duff Watkins: yeah. All right. My first question, you, you grew up in Rio de Janeiro and somehow got hooked on very early to astronomy obviously you speak Portuguese coming from Brazil. You went to the UK, London to study, and then somebody took you to see an active volcano and you sort of switched from studying astronomy to being a volcanologist.

So, what happened.

[00:01:19] Rosaly Lopes: well, what happened, was that I, in my third year, which the final year in London of the astronomy course university course, I, chose a course in planetary geology. And I chose it because I had heard that the professor was really, really good. and I really like that course.

And when I was studying for the exams, I thought, this is what I want. To do. So, I switched from being interested in kind of extra galactic astronomy and solar astronomy, and I decided to study planetary geology. And he said, well, you’re my first. Student who doesn’t have a degree in geology, but I think you can do something.

at the end of my first year as a graduate student he took me to Mount Etna in Sicily as a helper with field work and Mount Etna erupted. And I really fell in love with volcanos then.

[00:02:18] Duff Watkins: I have been to an active volcano once, and that will do me. That was, that was sufficient. I, I think there are two people in the world.

Rosaly there are people who run a volcano erupt. There are people like you who run to it. And there are people like me who run from it. So,

[00:02:33] Rosaly Lopes: well, it depends on the type of eruption because there are different types of volcanoes, and some are very dangerous, and I wouldn’t run towards those. I. And the, some are not so dangerous.

So, it, the I was in Iceland in July and really enjoyed seeing that eruption. And that’s not a particularly dangerous one.

[00:02:56] Duff Watkins: well, let’s talk about the 10 lessons that took you 50 years to learn. The first thing that I notice in your career, and you have won so many awards and accolades.

I simply don’t have time to record them all. But two things. I noticed very conspicuous one, you’re a female two, you’re a foreigner and you’ve kind of made it, what I thought was a pretty male dominated world. So, I, I think in some ways, what we’re going to talk about is how a female scientist makes it succeeds big time in male dominated professions.

So, with that, first of all, would you say that’s an accurate summary?

[00:03:33] Rosaly Lopes: yes, but I never really focused on the fact that I was female. Science is something I wanted to do. And specifically planetary science, planetary geology is something I fell in love with. And I think it’s really about what you want to do. And if you’re passionate about your career you go ahead and do it. And I got used to being the only woman in the room. These days is very different. There are a lot more women in science mm-hmm so the young women coming into the field don’t have the same experiences that I did.

 But I always felt that the men accepted me because I was serious and passionate about the subject.

[00:04:18] Duff Watkins: Clearly, it’s worked.

[00:04:20] Lesson 1: Hang Out With People Who Are Brighter Than You Are

[00:04:20] Duff Watkins: So, let’s go to lesson, number one, hang out with people who are brighter than you. Now I got to ask you Rosaly, how am I going to do that? How am I going to find somebody brighter than me?

[00:04:32] Rosaly Lopes: well, my father used to say that to me, that’s some advice from my father and he said that you should always. Be learning you know, and no matter how bright you are, there is always going to be somebody who is brighter, who knows more about particular subjects than you. you know, so it, it, it is about, you know, stretching yourself and learning from other people.

and instead of, you know, feeling. That you want to be the smartest person in the room. In fact, you should try to be in a room with people who are smarter than you, because then you learn from them.

[00:05:09] Duff Watkins: I am, of course, joking about being the smartest. I, I married somebody smarter than me. My wife is Brazilian.

And so is matter of fact, I have to tell you this true story. We’re watching. I’m, I’m sitting here in Brazil at the moment, probably about six hours from Ipanema, where you were raised. And we were watching global news one night and I, they were interviewing you and my wife says. you should interview her for the podcast.

And I said, think you’re right. so here we are. Well, what you’re saying though, actually seems to me, it takes a bit of courage because people invest so much in wanting to be the smartest person in the room. So, when you’re hanging around with people who are brighter than you it takes a bit of, self-awareness a bit of courage to admit that, well, perhaps, maybe you don’t know everything about your particular subject.

[00:05:57] Rosaly Lopes: but nobody knows everything about even their subject. so, you might be the smart, the smartest person or the person who knows more about a certain aspect of your subject. but, in my career, I always worked in teams, and I worked in teams with people who knew much more about certain aspects of the work that are things I really needed.

For example, if we are putting a, a space mission together, we need people from many different specialties. We need engineers, we need scientists. We need scientists who know about different aspects of, of the problem. and so, I think the idea is, yes, Hang out with smart people.

[00:06:46] Duff Watkins: because you’ll learn something.

[00:06:48] Lesson 2: Focus On Your Strong Points – We Can’t Be Good At Everything

[00:06:48] Duff Watkins: Lesson number two, focus on your strong points. We can’t be good at everything.

[00:06:54] Rosaly Lopes: Yes, that’s and it’s partly something that I was saying before. I couldn’t put a space mission together by myself. Absolutely not. and even in a research project, that’s very much in my expertise. I benefit from collaborators who, know.

Other aspects of the science better than I do. so, teamwork has always been very important to me, you know, and I may have, in some cases the initial idea,  , you know, be the driving force.  , but I collaborate with,  , with other people and, and,  , you know, in some cases I go and,  , help other people and be on their teams.

and everyone benefits, from that.

[00:07:39] Duff Watkins: How did you discover your strong points in your career?

[00:07:44] Rosaly Lopes: I think it’s experience. and sometimes you start discovering them even before you get to university. for example, I always like to write, and when I was in school in Brazil, I wrote in Portuguese, and just for fun it’s been a, a bit of a hobby.

and I found out that some of my colleagues really don’t like. To write and they are not very good writers. so that’s one of my strong points. you know, in the other hand, I, I found out for example, that I, I, you know, I completely. Hate writing software. but many of my colleagues actually would rather write software than anything else.

you know, so you team up you team up and you draw on each other’s strengths and likes because, you got to like the work you’re doing.

[00:08:38] Duff Watkins: and this is where I point out that you won, you were awarded the Carl Sagan medal. Now, when I was a kid growing up, Carl Sagan was a scientist astronomer, as I recall, he was the one who popularized science on TV.

When I was a kid growing up in the U S, the Carl Sagan medal is given to people like you who are popularisers of science, articulators of science who present science, dim it down a few shades for people like me, so we can understand. And, and your ability to do that in writing verbally, And not your native language either is quite commendable.

So, I wanted to mention that to our audience.

[00:09:18] Rosaly Lopes: Thank you. I have always enjoyed doing public outreach, so that’s another of my strengths.

[00:09:24] Lesson 3: Don’t Try To Please Everybody, But Know What Your Bosses Expect Of You

[00:09:24] Duff Watkins: takes us to point number three. Don’t try to please everybody, but understand what your bosses want.

[00:09:32] Rosaly Lopes: Yes. and you should always understand in a job what’s expected of you. sometimes you have a lot of competing forces let’s say,  , you know, for example, during times when I was working on a flight project, and it was supposed to be a certain percentage of my time, but,  , you know, people try to suck you in for a hundred percent mm-hmm or more, if you let them.

In the other hand, I knew that what my boss would value when he came to promotions or raises was also my publications and how much independent research I was doing. So, I had to play this game of kind of, you know, pushing back, on some people who I also worked for so that I would balance but understanding.

You know, how I would be assessed in my work was very important. And I think it’s important for everyone to understand what your boss expects of you.

[00:10:37] Duff Watkins: It is so absolutely crucial, and I think you’ve articulated quite well. What I’m hearing is how similar the world of science to the world of business and, and corporations, understanding what your boss is.

What boss wants.

[00:10:51] Rosaly Lopes: Yes, exactly. And sometimes, you know, people come in and they want you to do other things and it takes a lot of your time. And sometimes you got to say no and that can be very hard. I’m still learning to say no.

[00:11:07] Duff Watkins: Well, clearly you want to be a helpful person. And sometimes it does work against you.

[00:11:12] Lesson 4: Share Credit For Good Ideas And Good Work

[00:11:12] Duff Watkins: Well, and let’s go, this goes to point number four, share credit for good ideas and work. First thing I want to say, I read some research recently that said one of, I don’t know if it’s the number one, problem, number one, complainant work, but it’s very high up there. People who hog credit take credit for work that is not their own, that they didn’t really own or drive or, or, but they just happen to accept the credit.

So, your point is very good. Share it.

[00:11:43] Rosaly Lopes: Yes, and a lot of success comes from teamwork. and, and certainly in my job, I have relied a lot on teamwork. And sometimes I was a driving force and yes, you know, people will, give me the, the awards or, you know, mention me in the Guinness book of records, which was quite funny.

Uh, but in fact it was all about teamwork, and I may have been the one who. Did those detections of active volcanoes on Jupiter, moon, Io, but you know that to be able to do those detections, it relied on the work of a lot of people. you know, people who, built the instrument, people who flew the mission, so as much as possible, you know, share credit.

And give credit to other people for their good ideas.

[00:12:40] Duff Watkins: and these missions that you’re talking about. I want listeners to understand, we’re talking about interplanetary missions, you know, going to different planets and, and looking for a volcano’s not here, but there, out there on Jupiter, Pluto, or whatever, your whatever, your particularly mission is yeah.

[00:12:56] Lesson 5: Know How To Get Things Done In Your Organization

[00:12:56] Duff Watkins: That, that’s such a good point, which takes me to point number five and listeners. If you want to remember anything from this podcast, this next one is to me the most crucial point number five, know how things get done in your organization?

[00:13:13] Rosaly Lopes: Yes, that is very important. And, you know, it, it’s very important to know how to deal with the bureaucracy, know who can help you. I mean, we have, remarkable, you know, administrative assistance and personnel, because, you don’t want to have to spend a lot of time on things that, are not your expertise, but still need to be done. And also, so much comes from, knowing people.

And being friendly with people so that you can call someone on the phone and say, I’m not really sure where I’ll go, you know, to do this, or I need an expert on, let’s say spacecraft navigation on my team, or whatever it is, but you need to know. Particularly in a large organization, you know, how to find experts and how people, can help you, from the lowest to the highest.

it’s really important to try to understand your organization and understand the priorities of your organization. It it’s kind of like understanding also. What your boss expects of you, but at the higher level, what your organization expects of you and how your organization works, you know, even, at the lowest levels.

[00:14:43] Duff Watkins: It’s the, how in the sentence I think is most important, but do you think it, it makes it from what you’re saying?

It sounds like. Largely it’s the personal touch. It’s cultivating relationships.

[00:14:54] Lesson 6: Cultivate Friends At Work And In Your Field

[00:14:54] Duff Watkins: In fact, this takes us to the next lesson. Number six, cultivate friends at work and in your field.

[00:15:01] Rosaly Lopes: Yes. a lot of what we do that is successful, comes from, you know, chatting with people you are comfortable chatting with.

Ideas for projects, you know, ideas for science missions, ideas for science projects and, mostly A lot of the time people like to work with people. They like so we’ll gravitate towards those people first. And, then you know, if I’m having an idea, you know, for a, you know, let let’s, let’s say the is a mission to Jupiter’s volcanic moon Io, I, you know, I’m, I’m going to call my buddy and say, look, you know, I have these ideas, but what do you think? You know? And then we bring in somebody else and, you know, we thrash these ideas around. so, you can’t isolate yourself, except, you know, I mean maybe there are few professions where you can really work by yourself.

but I think in a lot of professions, it’s really teamwork. and cultivating relationships is very important.

[00:16:09] Duff Watkins: Well, the saying in business is that there’s no, I it’s we, and what you’re saying reminds me of something in the military. I was addressing a us military war college in Sydney, Australia one time.

And I was asking him, what is a war college? And it, and it’s just what you said, Rosaly. They have these. people from different branches, air force, army, Navy, Marine Corps, and they go there, and they study together. And the whole idea is I’ve got this problem. So, I call, I pick up the phone and I call Rosaly and I say, Rosaly, remember, remember that time we were studying at war college and well, you’re in the air force and I’m, in the us Marines and I’ve got this problem. So maybe you can help me out with it, and you say sure Duff, and it goes on like that even at the highest levels it’s so that personal touch is so important.

[00:16:57] Rosaly Lopes: Yes. And for negotiations of all kinds as well, it’s far easier to negotiate with, people, you have a personal relationship with.

[00:17:07] Duff Watkins: There’s a famous book in business. What they didn’t teach me at the Harvard business school. And the author said he went to Japan to do business time and time again. And every time he went, they wanted to have these Japanese stupid Japanese tea ceremonies over and over. And he was, you know, in America, come on, let’s get to it.

You know, times went. And he said after a while, a long while it took him, he finally realized. They’re trying to get to like me so we can do business because until they know me and like me it’s too damn hard.

[00:17:38] Rosaly Lopes: Yes. And actually, my PhD advisor. Taught me that, that, we would, want to collaborate with someone and we would be, let’s say at a, a conference.

And so, he would arrange for us to go out to dinner, and I was, oh, ready to talk about the particular science project, but no, you know, I mean that would come at the end of the dinner, we would talk about all kinds of other things. And, you know, again, in young people, there can be this impatience. It’s like I’m here to do business.

Uh, but no, the, the, the building of the relationship of the trust is very important.

[00:18:16] Duff Watkins: Well, as you know, in Brazil, there are very, very warm people. My wife, who is a Brazilian, she thinks I was raised by wolves, because I just want to, you know, time’s running out this, let’s just get to business. Let’s get to the point.

And she says, we don’t do that. We don’t operate that way here. which I like you. I have learned.

[00:18:35] Lesson 7: Take The Initiative To Propose Worthwhile Actions In Your Organization

[00:18:35] Duff Watkins: takes us to lesson number seven, take the initiative to propose worthwhile actions in your organization.

[00:18:42] Rosaly Lopes: yes. And that also comes from understanding how your organization works. but if you see something that, you don’t think is right, or could be done more efficiently, or is a, is an idea for, some other is, speak up. because,  you know, I mean the words that can happen, but speak up nicely.

criticism should be constructive. and the worst they can tell you is actually no, and sometimes they will explain to you why we can’t do that. maybe it’s a legal thing. Maybe there are other constraints that you don’t know about, but that all comes from understanding your organization.

[00:19:33] Duff Watkins: Okay what if I’m the junior person in the room on the team? What if I’m young? What if I’m female? What if I’m an introvert? What if I’m shy? I got some things to say, but I’m not, how do I go about, broaching the subject then.

[00:19:47] Rosaly Lopes: Well, if you are shy, one way is to just meet, with one of the people one on one and say someone more experienced and say, well, I was thinking about that.

Uh, and what do you think. And they might say, yes, it’s a great idea. You should bring it up at the next meeting, or sometimes, you might write an email, to the boss and say, you know, I have this thinking about this and notice that, and here are a suggestion and people appreciate suggestions.

So sometimes you have to explain, well, yes, it’s a good suggestions, but we can’t do it for whatever reasons, but then you learn more about the organization

[00:20:32] Duff Watkins: and it’s I guess the, what you’re illustrating is that a person can contribute really. They can lead from any position they are, are in the hierarchy.

[00:20:42] Rosaly Lopes: oh, yeah. Yes. And you know, and in general, we do reward, you know, people who are, and doesn’t matter how young or new they are, but if they come up with good ideas, you know, we’ll take them.

[00:20:57] Lesson 8: Step Up To The Plate And Be Helpful To Co-Workers And Colleagues

[00:20:57] Duff Watkins: lesson number, an extension of that is lesson number eight, step up, be helpful to your co-workers and colleagues.

[00:21:05] Rosaly Lopes: yes. And you have to balance that with, knowing what is expected of you and the work that you really have to do. but if someone says, you know, I, I need you to be, let’s say on the, the search committee, we are searching for new scientists or whatever don’t think, oh, that’s going to be so much work.

Yes, it’ll be. But again, it’s part of being a team player in your organization. sometimes you got to put your other priorities aside and step up to something that your organization really needs. It is rewarded, because in any organization, yes, you know, people have to step up, you know, they can’t just be in their back room, doing their own work unless they’re on some very specialized, a job that I have never been in

[00:22:04] Duff Watkins: And when we say step up, I guess, what were. It’s an American phrase. What it means is initiate action. Take the initiative to, and you know what? It reminds me of the Royal Australian, the Royal, the Royal Navy in, in England. they’ve trained their officers like this for about 400 years, and they have, and they train, they train.

They cultivate very much to, for an officer to be bothered. That is to take action. And the example I remember in a book about this, you’re the first one in the meeting room. And there is ice water on the table. Pour everybody a glass before people get there because it saves time. And it’s a way to contribute.

Look for act, look, actively, seek positive ways to contribute all the bloody time. And that’s what they teach in the rural Navy. And I think that’s re reminds me of what you’re saying.

[00:22:53] Rosaly Lopes: Yes, yes.

[00:22:54] Lesson 9: A Little Self-Promotion Is Fine, Others Don’t Necessarily Know Your Good Work

[00:22:54] Duff Watkins: lesson number nine, the other. This is another lesson that should be carved in stoned for people. A little self-promotion is fine at work.

[00:23:04] Rosaly Lopes: Yes. As long as, you don’t hog credit. You got to be able to tell your boss or bosses, that you are doing good work. and it’s also a matter of keeping them informed, because, you know, I mean, I’ve been a manager and, I don’t know what mm-hmm, all my people are doing.

Uh, and, when I was a, a section manager and had like over 80 people, it, I mean, I had some middle managers in between, but I, I couldn’t know what everybody was doing. So sometimes if someone sent me an email and saying, Well, you know, this project of mine got funded or,  you know, here is a, new paper ahead that actually, got some publicity, you know, that that’s good, that that helps your managers, your bosses, you know, understand the good work that, you’re doing.

[00:24:02] Duff Watkins: Yes. And that’s what I would like people to know that the manager, the boss is grateful for that sort of news. If you capture the right tone in promoting yourself. Yes,

[00:24:13] Rosaly Lopes: yes. Yes. And, and it’s more a matter of, that’s why I said a little, it it’s more, a matter of information rather than saying Aren’t I great.

No one likes that.

[00:24:27] Duff Watkins: No one, no country, no culture likes that. Look at me. Look at, look how valuable I am to the team. Yes. Right?

[00:24:34] Lesson 10: Decide How You Would Like To Be Remembered

[00:24:34] Duff Watkins: Lesson number 10. Now this is curious to me. I I’d like, I do want you to discuss this, lesson number 10. Decide how you’d like to be remembered.

[00:24:43] Rosaly Lopes: yes. It’s worth stopping to think now and then. After all this work is done and you retired, disappear in the sunset or, or whatever. what is it that you are really leaving behind? And in fact, that was actually, a. Perhaps my main motivation for pursuing, science is that I wanted to do something that was important, that I felt was important.

And I thought space exploration was the most important thing that my generation was doing. and that’s why I wanted to be part of it. new generation may feel. That there are other things that,   , you know, they feel it’s really important for the world, whether you more go more in the, you know, climate change area or medicine or whatever it is, but,  it’s about, looking at what you’re doing and,  , and asking yourself, can I leave the world,  , a little bit better than the way I found it?

And that doesn’t mean just, you know, your day-to-day work. I think one of the valuable things I have done, is, public outreach and encouraging students, to pursue careers in, science and technology. and maybe I’ll be remembered more for that than for my actual papers and books, you know, and that’s fine.

but is always trying to keep that kind of big picture. Maybe a bit of a philosophical big picture in mind. Mm-hmm is how am I helping. The world how am I helping other people? so that’s, that’s really what I meant by that statement.

[00:26:29] Duff Watkins: I guess the way I hear that Rosaly is, is to urge people, to stop thinking about your own, sorry, self and start thinking about how you contribute to the bigger, the bigger picture, something of which most of us need to be reminded daily.

[00:26:43] Rosaly Lopes: Right, right. It’s not, the world is not about you. It’s more about what you can do for the world.

[00:26:50] Duff Watkins: All right. Well, let me finish up with one question, unscheduled question. We’ve been talking about the things that you’ve learned in your life and in your career, but what have you unlearned lately?

And by that, I mean, something that you knew to be absolutely true. Then, but now realize, that’s not the case.

[00:27:09] Rosaly Lopes: Hmm. That’s a, that’s a tough one. you know, I can’t think of something that, you know, has so fundamentally changed, that, you know, I, I feel is no longer important. you know, maybe something I have unlearned is, But it goes back to one of my lessons.

when you’re young, especially,  , you feel that, if you are, let’s say in a meeting and people start talking about something that you.  , you know, you don’t really understand, that you feel inferior and insecure and I have learned that, there will always be people if you’re with smart people, there will always be people who are talking about some aspect, of the problem or of the mission or whatever that you, don’t actually understand.

And that’s fine. and, you can’t know everything. Even in your own subject area is don’t be too hard on yourself. we tend to be sometimes our worst critics, and also that, you know, maybe, something that,  I thought that was really, you know, major in my younger days, I thought that,  you know, the guy who got the highest grades or the girl, who seemed to be the smartest was the person who was going to become the most successful and that didn’t actually happen. The people who became, the most successful were the people who had drive, persistence, and who could work with others who had, pleasant personalities who could actually work with other people.

Success is, it is not just about, being the smartest or, being the one who gets the highest grades, who is the best technically in a subject.

It is about. how much drive and persistence you have that, you know, even when, you have setbacks, you can carry on and not give up. and it is about, being able to work with others and, and being a nice person. so, you know, at the end of the day, those are the things that matter the most.

[00:29:25] Duff Watkins: Well, you combine those three things, and you make a contribution to the world and that’s a pretty good career. That’s a pretty good life.

[00:29:31] Rosaly Lopes: Exactly. Yes.

[00:29:34] Duff Watkins: Okay. We will close on that note. Our guest today has been Dr. Roasaly Lopes of NASAs jet propulsion laboratory. You’ve been listening to us, and we would like to hear from you.

You can email us. The podcast. Email is podcast@10lessonslearned.com. That’s. Podcast at 10, the number one zero lessons learned.com. please let us know what you think of this episode. This episode has been produced by Robert Hossary and is sponsored as always by the professional development forum. You can find them on professionaldevelopmentforum.org.

And while you’re emailing us, go ahead and hit that subscribe button because this is the only podcast on the that’s making the world a wiser place lesson by lesson. Thanks for listening. And thank you Rosaly for joining us today.

[00:30:16] Rosaly Lopes: Thank you. That’s a pleasure.

 This episode is produced by Robert Hossary. Sponsored as always by Professional Development Forum, which office insights, community or discussions, podcasts, parties, anything you want here, but they’re unique and it’s all free online. You can find the www.professionaldevelopmentforum.org you’ve heard from us we’d like to hear from you. Email us it’s podcast@10lessonslearned.com that’s podcast, 10 number one zero, lessons learned.com. Remember, this is the podcast the only podcast. That’s makes the world wiser lesson by lesson.

 

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