The OurBigBook Project has sporadically offered a fellowship called the "OurBigBook.com Fellowship". Its recipients are called the "OurBigBook.com Fellows".
The goal of the fellowship is to pay brilliant students to focus exclusively on pursuing ambitious goals in STEM research and education for a pre-determined length of time, without having to worry about earning money in the short term.
The fellowship is both excellency and need based, focusing on brilliant students from developing countries whose families were not financially able to support them.
Being brilliant, such students would be tempted and able to go for less ambitious jobs that pay them the short term. The goal of the fellowship is to free such students to instead pursue more ambitious, longer term goals.
Or in other words: to allow smart people to do whatever the fuck they really want to do.
The fellowship is paid as a single monetary transfer to the recipient.
There are no legally binding terms to the fellowship: we pick good people and trust them to do what they think is best.
The fellowship is more accurately simply a donation. There is no contract. Whatever happens, the OurBigBook Project will never able to take legal action against a recipient for not "using well" their donation.
The following ethical guidelines are however highly encouraged:
  • to acknowledge the funding where appropriate, e.g.:
    • at "funding slide" (usually the last one) of a presentation for work done during, or that you feel is a direct consequence of the fellowship
    • by marking yourself as a "OurBigBook.com Fellow" on LinkedIn, under the organization: www.linkedin.com/company/ourbigbook for the period of award
  • keep in touch. Let us know about any large successes (or failures!) you've have as the consequence of the funding, e.g. publications, starting a cool new job, or deciding to quit academia.
  • give back culture: if one day, in a potentially far and undefined future, recipients achieve a stable financial situation with some money to spare, they are encouraged to give back to the OurBigBook.com Fellowship fund an amount at least equal to their funding.
    This enables us to keep sustainably investing in new brilliant talent who needs the money.
    We are more than happy to take the consider the fellow's suggestion for a recipient of their choice.
    Remember that an investment in the American stock market doubles every 10 years. So if you do go into a money making area, can you as a "person investment", match, or even beat the market? :-) Or conversely, the sooner you give back, the less you are morally required to give back.
    Fellows who go on to work on charitable causes, which includes the incredibly underpaid academics jobs, absolutely don't have to give back.
    If you are able to give back by doing a corresponding amount of good to the world all the better.
    It is you that have to look into your heart and decide: how much free or underpaid work have I done? And then if there is some money left after this consideration, you give that amount back.
  • pivoting is OK. If you decide half way that your initial project plan is crap, change! We can only notice that something won't work once we try to do it for real. At least now you know!
    If you do pivot to something that makes money immediately however, the correct thing to do is to return any unused funds of the fellowship. The sooner you pay, the lesser your moral dividend obligation, right?
  • be bold. Don't ever think "I'll take this safer option because it will allow me to pay back earlier".
    The entire goal of the scholarship is to allow smart people to take greater risks. If you took the risk, e.g. made a startup instead of going to a safer job, failed, and that made you make less money than you would have otherwise, no problem, deduce that cost from the value you can return in the future, and move on.
    But if you take a bet and it pays big time, do remember us ;-)
We also encourage fellows to take good care of their health, and strive for a good work/life balance. Exercise. Eat well. Rest. Don't work when you're tired. Take time off if when you are stressed. Keep in touch with good friends and family. Talk to someone if you feel down. Taking good care of yourself pays back with great dividends in the long run. Invest in it.

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