Tis the season for new faculty appointments. Ten years out from grad school, I think there are exactly two of my classmates who have tenure-track research professorships. Four percent success rate, give or take. To help them along, I've written a recipe for success for any new professor for whom the tenure clock ticks.
Move in to lab. Scrounge/steal any equipment that not's already nailed down. Recruit at least four grad students immediately. Hire a postdoc to train them all in the basics. Try to include at least one guy who can't speak english (bonus if it's your trainer). Take advantage of their youthful enthusiasm while it's still intact - use the last embers of your excitement for research to convince your fledglings that they too can live the academic tenure dream. Create a bubble environment of fun-filled competition where students kill themselves competing to earn your love and respect. Make them grovel to go to a conference where they will go four to a room at a hotel that is in a different city from the actual meeting location. Bring on AT LEAST one new student per year - they can't deny you tenure if doing so puts a dozen PhD students on the streets. Create the appearance of family by taking everyone out to a mid-range restaurant twice a year. While there, take a lot of photos and post them on your lab's web page. Write grant applications nonstop. Recycle the same material over and over. Flood the system with the same idea until something sticks. Get funding. Write papers. So many papers. Submit them to Nature and Science and Cell. Then submit them to the next-most-prestigious journal when they're rejected. Do it again and again until something sticks. When your first student graduates, help them out with a postdoc in the lab of a guy you know, then immediately forget about them.
Give talks. Travel to give talks. It doesn't matter where, so long as someone is paying for it. Try to get the good talks at that conference in the nice place. Say no when your students ask to present a poster there. Throw ideas out there until something sticks that people start repeating. Keep saying shit. If you make a mistake, refuse to acknowledge it and hope everyone else forgets. Just say new shit or tweak the old shit into a revised hypothesis. If enough people repeat your various pontifications, you'll be "famous" and your name will be known and revered by upwards of two hundred people. Become an advisor to a startup company that will fizzle out in two years.
Obtain tenure. Euthanize remaining grad students. Hire army of postdocs. Allow them to form self-sustaining society. Continue to clutter office. Awkwardly wear a lab coat when the medical school's science magazine wants a picture of you. Maneuver your way into the 30-second university commercial that airs during football games. That's when you know you've made it.
Noah's Inner Monologue
Scribblings of a man who can barely operate an idiotproof website.