How to succeed

My new kitten is a highly successful cat — at least he’s successful against me. To find the silver lining in my defeat, I’ve been cataloging the secrets of his success. They turn out, with minimal translation, to be valid advice for mathematicians or, really, for anyone.

  1. If you’re being dragged away, concentrate on what you can take with you.
  2. Don’t worry for a second about how failing makes you look.
  3. If the direct approach is being guarded, try cozying up to your target gradually.
  4. Always have two projects on the go: if one is being guarded, the other may not be.
  5. Be ready to eat anything.
  6. Keep to a schedule.
  7. Patrol regularly for opportunities.

The most powerful secret is not available to the rest of us.

  1. Be charming in the way only a cat can be.

And some probably aren’t good advice.

  1. Always attack people wiping something with a paper towel.

Photo: Mackey Functor at five months, 6 lbs 3 oz.

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