What are Transferable Skills?

I discovered this as I was wrapped in my own cocoon for the past month after I went over revisiting my strategy for writing and hustling to meet the deadline for a book that I was writing with one of my mentors and now a business partner. I couldn’t resist the urge to come out of my cocoon for a while to blurt about this and go back for some time.

A lot of people ask me what exactly I have been leveraging from cross-platform learning. I simply let them know the very word initially when I heard it from one of my good friends which sparked a thought. It’s simply taking a step back to see in which other area of my life can I use my existing skills.

What are the areas of my life where I can transfer a skill that I’m using in another area. 

It’s amazing that one can ordinarily build on existing skills thru applying them to different areas like using tracking in health to track your routines and rituals, in finance to keep an eagle’s eye on your spendings. Just starting off with such simple activities which most of us don’t do at all. We simply brush it under the carpet not knowing the tremendous pay-off’s this insight can potentially have 6 months down the line. From all I have learnt and researched about Habit making – one thing that’s clear is that beginning with a cue to perform a habit provides a better ROI over the long run versus getting into the strategy of getting the attitude right before doing something.

It amuses me to see people now including a lot of friends professing about how ATTITUDE is everything. There is simply a better way to start anything. Set-up an extrinsic reward, pick the smallest behavior, pace it up with continual behaviors that leads you to a routine. A few months later, you will wake up one day not needing the cue at all to perform that very same HABIT!

How might this be? One can ask –

What happens is our body naturally over time begins to recognize the difference b/w intrinsic rewards and extrinsic rewards. If it’s health for example – you will naturally begin to feel good after exercising for a period of time because your body has learnt the benefit from the neurotransmitters like endorphins which are now produced on a regular basis and distinguish that from the external reward that got you started on the habit towards the outcome which was – BETTER HEALTH!

Here tracking becomes a foundational skill that you could tweak and apply to learning. Say, you are just starting off with learning about auto-responders, lead generations, traffic strategies, for your online business. What if you actually set up different learning visual trackers and distinguish your mentors to learn in each segment whenever you get stuck.

Godsend! Right??

You have a system now which helps you get unstuck and keep moving to the next thing. The same thing is true for skills like

Following Through

Mutual Accountability

I began getting better at automating my finances after learning and spending the time and effort to improve my health. One day I just as I realized Woah! They include skills like –

  • Tracking
  • Setting realistic goals

Both which are very much applicable to finance. Once you make this connection, you can start applying them to tons of other areas. Sometimes I have even applied the same skills to a business challenge where I had to pace myself, work through fatigue etc. One major reason WHY am I telling you all this if you still haven’t figured it out yet is that –

Wake up sleepy head!



Maybe it’s losing 10 kilos.

Maybe it’s starting a business

Maybe it’s giving up your 9-5 lifestyle

All you have to do is a little TWEAK to connect the dots to reap massive benefits over the new few months should you choose to test this strategy out.


The Read Junk Hack

I have been missing out on my blogging behavior a lot lately and though I hate giving excuses but this time around I got so absorbed into writing and finishing a deadline for a book that I’m writing along with one of my mentors who is also a business partner now.

Though I began writing as a mere hobby over the last three years I feel like as If I was born to just read and write and do nothing but that. I guess that’s exaggerating it a bit too far….  In today’s world there are so many opportunities for anybody irrespective of the location they are in to become an entrepreneur at-least an Internet Entrepreneur in their area of interest. Though everyone needs to put down the work and the months and the years to make it happen. We so often swayed by overnight successes and search for these magic bullets and shortcuts. I have been a victim of this same charade day in and day out until finally I saw the futility of what I have been doing….

Think about it every person I speak with tells me two reasons all the time –

  1. I don’t have an idea .
  2. I don’t have the time/money.

Usually these are the top two or three reasons people get stuck going about becoming their own boss. One of the core mistakes that I have made in the beginning times and also I see others doing is they don’t know who they are talking to. This seems so simple but it is a very hard thing to do. I am learning more and more that in any venture 10% of your work is your work and rest invariably falls down to “MARKETING”. Yup that’s right. No matter who you are, even if you have written the next bestseller that will “SWEEP THE WORLD” nothing is going to work for you if you don’t start thinking about who you should talk to and either reach to influencers who will get your work noticed else come up with even a self designed book tour perhaps! In the beginning you need to do a lot of things that you hate. I have often observed even in myself the resistance to taking the time to truly spend time on this.

It’s about time for all the blinded entrepreneurs to see what is really important: making a connection with an audience. The term–not exactly new–that seems to be displacing SEO is OAO, online audience optimization. Now it’s not really about the new Hummingbird algorithm that I’m talking about although you do have to tweak the way you use your Ad-words and tags now. Even this is useless tactic when you start out. You need the next best thing.

One hour a day, read. Read everything in the world except your business. Read junk. Very much junk. Read so that anything that interests you will stick in your memory. Just read, just read, just read… There is your audience. There is the language. There are the words that they use ~ Eugene Shwartz

I’ll take it a step further. Not only do you need to know how they talk, which lets you better guess how they might specifically look for what you offer, but you also need to understand what they find funny. What scares them. What is important to them. How they think. Until you do, they’re only marks and you do nothing more than run calculated cons. After you do understand them, they’re real people and you might find yourself caring a bit about them which is a good thing to cultivate. Empathy drives authenticity and when you incorporate that in your content everything shifts in seconds when it clicks with “YOUR” audience.

Do you care about your family or friends? If so, then there are plenty of times that you’ll do specific things that you know make them happy. Emotion isn’t an abstract concept, but something that drives behavior. Let the same thing happen in your marketing after you start to care about the audience. Inject the emotion of your audience into your content. When you they read your offer or content  – if it makes sense that you understand their pain more than anybody else. Then, price always comes last. They wouldn’t think twice in reaching out to you or signing up to your newsletter or buying your product.

It’s like going into a shop you like where the people recognize you and get your interests and tastes. That’s all you’re trying to do. When the technology, any technology, gets in the way, throw it out and return back to the basics. If you are talking to everybody you are talking to nobody. Strategically talking to your audience is the key.

Hack of Perspective Ignorance

The Hack of Perspective Ignorance.

What I do mean by this is all of us in this information driven age are swamped with information every single day and not many of us have the effective mental frameworks to sift through this information overload.

It leads to two things.

1> We always jump from one shiny idea to another which eventually keeps us glued to square one.
2> Analysis Paralysis – We just can’t seem to discern step 2 all the while pontificating to glory while still being glued to square one.

I watch and read almost everything like a big creep always consuming information but one fine day it just hit me when one of my mentors pointed the obvious to me. You seem to come up with such crazy ideas that are phenomenal yet why don’t you direct your intention and put your collective potential into manifesting just one.

I thought to myself – it’s easier said than done! Right! Then even he acknowledged that it’s one of his struggles as well to keep up with different ideas and stick to just one. I was taken away when he said that to me. Wow! I thought to myself.

I just came up with this term at that moment. Maybe I need to be ignorant of all my potential shiny ideas not that I don’t need them. From then on, I’d just made the habit of making a note of it in my diary and forgetting all about it knowing that my idea vault is always there should I need them at any time.

This allowed me to have perspective ignorance to not get sucked away by one single perspective while still having more perspectives and has been one of my powerful triggers to hustle and get things done while learning new stuff all the time!


The Post Is Coming

Life just handed me a shit sandwich these last two weeks, and this week it has been the worse. Though I couldn’t get out the post I had to in the last two days. I thought staying committed to the schedule of my blogging behavior is more important than actually having a post out every week.

Sometimes, it’s just important to stick to the schedule of writing which is more important that consistently delivering great content every week. After, I am still Human and live on Planet Earth!

So here is a post to say that the post is coming next week!

The Quit Sunday Principle

One of the things of being an avid learner is to juggle with a lot of new things to try and test and see if one can override their toolkit with new practices that amplify the old ones. Think about it in our lives, the reason we aren’t able to scale faster is because we stick to tried and tested things even if it works and have a ROI say with timelines of 4 months, 6 months, a year and so on. While I’m not against this at all, as we all would definitely be better off starting off with a blueprint.

In my journey so far from all the mentors, my learning projects and conversations one thing that has emerged as an insight is this:

Mixing up mentors. A better way of putting it is while there are tons of tested methodologies and practices that are out there not all of them will sync with one’s personality and the path they are on. A customized solution is often what works and here is the deal-breaker – The process is a never ending one!

What I have developed as a practice is once a month I use the Quit Sunday Principle – The last Sunday of every month is my introspection day of all the hacks, strategies that I have tried and picked up and check to see if they align perfectly to create a work-life balance and at the same time if they are accelerating me towards my realistic outcomes that I have set for myself. One thing I’d like to highlight is – Although I’m always on the lookout of new services, tech, skills, perspective shifts, paradigm shifts which enable me to optimize myself – It’s more often a recombination of all the skills, strategies that I already have in my skill vault.

Sometimes the strategy is having no-strategy! For all beginners it’s as simple as rolling out of the bed each morning and punching the clock until you feel you have your legs under you for a sprint! 🙂 – The art of the start is in just getting started and not breaking the chain while having a check-in once a month which I call the flash-forward exercise. The first step in getting what you want involves having the courage to get rid of what you don’t want.

The Flash-Forward Exercise:

Imagine you have already achieved your full potential in all respects and are fully self-actualized. How do you describe who you are and your purpose? How is your day like in that scenario?

What ever it is that excites you while you start doing it, having a check-in to flash-forward the future of your path and playing it back a year from now, 6 months from now, 3 months from now and asking yourself if I take this path what is my day like in those times. Is my ambition / purpose having me? Am I still able to discern and make space for myself?

I got inspired to make this principle up from Bruce Lee – Here is that quote!

One does not accumulate but eliminate. It is not daily increase but daily decrease. The height of cultivation always runs to simplicity.

Hack Away At The Inessential!

What do you plan on hacking away this Sunday? Let me know.

The Hack of Co-Coaching

 if-youd-listen-id-speak-upSource: Dharma Comics

It sure as hell got me curious to the hilt, when I heard this term from Shiva and Som that there is a person called Kiran who practices something called as co-coaching. The skeptic in me shot up to the surface and spoke, no way this must be just another “jargon” or a fancy name for coaching that he must be throwing around and has built a USP around coaching for himself.

To my dismay when I first experienced this paradigm with Kiran. I found it to be the one of the most liberating experiences in my life. I call it truly the ‘Art’ of having a conscious conversation with another human – soul to soul. No judgments, no one here to take on the role of an adviser. Even the coach and the person being coached disappear into the process and make space for a “togetherness” to emerge. That day, I went into the process with a curiosity to find out what it was and nothing else. Maybe that was what was required in the first place! Soon, there was no Bharath and Kiran there were just two people conversing and the truest wisdom that is omniscient in all of us – emerged and guided the process ahead. It is a process that has 3 stages –

1 – 10 minutes of Questions and Silence mixed together.

2 – 10 minutes of an honest conversation between what emerged in the last 10 minutes.

3 – 10 minutes of a together “wondering” to see if there were any insights that are emerging as a result of the process and also looking at the process itself.

That’s it – as simple as 1, 2, and 3.

It can challenge what most of us have heard or experienced about Coaching. Is it really possible to coach in just 10 minutes? Normally coaches typically take an hour, sometimes many such sessions… So what could possibly happen in a mere 10 minutes? You might ask? – Just as I began an inquiry with myself.

The simple answer is this:

Through the power of Silence and Questions, I found that it is possible to go beyond time! And access a space and a potential which is normally lost to us in the noise of the daily life and mind.

When I brought a bit of Silence into my own daily conversations, the power of listening and questioning born of that, allowed a lot to happen! Often I have been baffled by what becomes possible ever since I started to experience and practice this method. I remember instances of people breaking down out of certain realizations, people suddenly feeling light as if a huge burden was lifted from their shoulders, a transformation in which both the coach and the person being coached experiences a state shift. I suspect what becomes available is the power of being, the invitation of silence. Silence, when used consciously blows the mind away. Maybe, so far in my life I have perceived Silence to be something that I need to use but I guess the deeper insight from my experiences so far has been to let myself be used by it. It has helped me evoke, provoke and above all invoke my essence.

The nature of life is such that often the issue/ challenge that the people come with inevitably mirror something that the coach has either walked through deeply or to a fair degree of depth and is currently grappling with. This makes it very real.

Both come in touch with how time is actually non-linear. We have all seen that often more gets done in an hour than in a whole day, which clearly shows it’s not just about time but the quality of presence we bring to that time.

As my mentor Kiran says:

“It is about discovering and accessing intuition. The resolution can be ‘received’ instead of being ‘thought through’ or analyzed through ‘Problem solving’. Often what results is Problem dissolving’! The process of ‘Creating’ becomes available in which there is no problem. Everything that emerges is honored. “

P.S. This is something anybody can try and be baffled by what they will eventually discover. It can be done anytime, anywhere, anyplace. A very simple no-constraint process. 🙂

Let’s Rethink Learning

Writers BlockI guess I could call myself smart. I can usually get good grades. Sometimes, I worry that I am just a tape recorder…I worry that once I’m out of college  and people don’t keep handing me information with questions in another job, I’ll be lost.  – Person A

The things I’m scared of is, say I got fired, I’ve got nothing, nothing to help me get another job..I’ve got no other skill.  – Person B

These were the exact words of two youngsters among others who answered to my inquiries with them and I wouldn’t like to take the names of these two people: one who is pondering over leaving his current job, and the other who is about to graduate from college which says not only a lot about themselves but also about the sad state of education in India.

There are 2 good reasons for reconfiguring 21st century education: economic and personal. The well-rehearsed economic argument says that knowledge is changing so fast that we cannot give young people what they will need to know, because we do not know what it will be. Instead, we should be helping them develop supple minds, so that they will be able to learn whatever they will need  to. If we can achieve that, we will have a world class workforce comprising people who are innovative and resourceful.

My personal argument converges on the same conclusion. Many young people are floundering in the face of all the complexities and uncertainties of modern life: the relatively successful children of the middle class, like Person B, as much as the more conspicuous, traditional failures of the education system such as Person B. Person A sees himself as ready for a life of tests, but not the tests of life. Person B doesn’t even believe that he has it in him to master a new skill. Now people like Person B are labelled the “losers of the system. These are the people for whom the system isn’t working!

They differ greatly in how ‘literate’ and ‘numerate’, but Person A & B are both, in their different ways different! They think that school hasn’t only failed to give them what they need; it has actually compounded the problem, and they are right again. Many young people live in a Matrix world in which there is often no consensual ‘reality’, no agreement about what to do when they don’t know what to do. Their public culture of ‘cool’ is, in part, a reaction to their sense of inadequacy and a sense of extreme insecurity in the face of real difficulty. Young people want more real-life gumption, initiative, just as their prospective employers and anxious governments do. More fundamental even than the concern with literacy is the need to protect and develop young people’s ‘learn-ability’ (A word that I’m throwing around). That the need is personal and social, even more, than it is economic.

Government reforms have tinkered with existing provisions and structures in dozens of ways: the timetable, the curriculum, the methods of assessment and so on. Such tinkering has been going on for a long time, and it hasn’t addressed the hole in the heart of education which is leading young people to make statements like the ones mentioned above and these are a result of what they are experiencing so keenly. However, recent progress in the human sciences is beginning to fire people’s imagination with new possibilities. Science cannot tell a society what its schools should be aiming to achieve, but it can suggest new avenues of thought. One of these is that its actually possible to help young people become better learners – not just in the sense of getting better degrees, but in real-life terms. One contributory line of thought comes from cognitive science, one from neuroscience, and one from a Russian psychologist Lev Zygotsky. Let me address the first two as the last one has been addressed before here.

P.S. There is another worldview / model that I’ll present in the coming months which is a hush hush secret for now!

In cognitive science, a revolution has taken place in the way we think of ‘intelligence’. For a while, people believed that it was a blob of mental resource that God or your genes gave you when you were born; that it didn’t change much over the course of one’s life; that if followed you around from place to place and didn’t vary with the situation; that it’s main effect was to set a ceiling on what you could achieve; that when you struggled or failed, that was evidence that you had got to the limit of your ‘ability’; and that you could make a reliable measure of the size of someone’s reservoir of intelligence by asking them to solve abstract puzzles under intense pressure. We now know that this model is scientifically vulnerable, factually incorrect, and educationally insidious. It is vulnerable because, you cannot separate ‘nature’ and ‘nurture’  in that way. Its incorrect because intelligence varies enormously across time and place, and IQ bears no relation to being real-life smart.

Its dangerous because it leads people to feel ashamed (rather than challenged) when they find things difficult, and therefore it undermines their ambition and determination. Here is a wonderful online service that I have been following for the last one year and now it’s available for people. They can create their own memory banks online and for free! It’s called Cerego. Check out their awesome learning platform here.

In fact, there is enormous room for everyone to get smarter by developing their ‘learn-ability’. Even if there were some hypothetical limit on my ability, in practice I am nowhere near it. True, I am never going to be as fit and strong as Micheal Phelps, nor as fast and tough as Usain Bolt, but that doesn’t mean that it is therefore a waste of time of me hitting the gym. And when I don’t go, the whole point is to get sweaty and find it ‘hard’. Pushing myself needn’t mean ‘I’m hopelessly unfit – and that’s that: it just shows that I’m in the process of getting fitter.

Lauren Resnick, the doyenne of educational psychologists in the US, now defines intelligence as ‘the sum total of your habits in mind.’ And habits grow, change, and can be broken.”

This work is also showing that growing more intelligent isn’t just a matter of learning a few techniques, or even mastering some new skills like ‘critical thinking’. Its as much to do with attributes, beliefs, emotional tolerances and values. And these change more slowly. You can’t change someone’s interest in learning overnight. But schools and classrooms have systematic, cumulative, influence. For example when teachers change their way of talking with their students about learning, those students’ attitudes change, in turn, within a term (and by the way, their results go up). To get a deeper insight into this, I’d highly recommend Parker Palmer’s book – The Courage To Teach & The Heart of A Teacher.

The second discipline is neuroscience. One has to tread carefully here, for a great deal of B.S is being talked about the implications of brain science for education. It isn’t true that playing your baby Mozart will make him/her smarter, nor that your child’s brain will dry up if your kid isn’t drip-fed water from a fancy bottle, though some people will try to tell you otherwise. What is important is the understanding that the brain is built to distil the world’s hidden regularities into practical expertise, fueled only by interest and attention. It does so continually, without any supervision, either internal or external, and often in the absence of any conscious comprehension of what is going on. Indeed, the effort to seek or maintain conscious comprehension can get in the way of this brilliant ‘natural learning ability’. Something I learnt myself and have seen it in action from another one of my sources. His name is Jinan and he runs a natural learning initiative around India and blogs about it. Check out his radical insights here.

Thinking too much can decrease your intelligence. Being explicit and strategic are not always the smartest ways to learn, and people who become too addicted to conscious clarity undermine their creativity. We are discovering that, during early life, this natural learning ability, placed in an adequate setting, develops itself by discovering and exploiting a range of ‘learning amplifiers’. There are many cells in the human brain – the ‘mirror neurons’ – that automatically get ready to initiate an action that they have just seen someone else do: so many, that it begins to look as if we are hard-wired to pick up the habits of those around us.

As the brain builds up a stock of mental models of different people, so we become able to ‘put ourselves in others shoes’ which is another ability that is activated only after the age of 7, and lets us explore different scenarios. We can sometimes benefit from turning down the ego control, and become quietly receptive to the internal pattern-seeking and metaphor making that is latent in the brain’s modulus operandi, and this intuitive receptivity, if we cultivate it, becomes central to creativity. And, with language, we develop a whole new toolkit of ways of thinking and learning.

Each of these ways of learning –

  • through Experiential Learning
  • through Imitation
  • through Imagination
  • through Intuition
  • through the Intellect

We never grow out of the need for any of them, nor do we ever cease being able to refine and develop their power further.

Yet education has tended to treat intellectual learning as the tops, and to neglect the continuing development of others!! If a teacher never lets her students see her being a learner, but only a ‘know-er’, s/he is depriving them of the vital experience which their brains are built to pickup, and to turn into more effective ways of learning for themselves. Helping young people, become better learners means daring to give up the old-fashioned belief that a teacher’s top professional responsibility is to be omniscient.

There are, in short, many lines of educational exploration that are being opened up by the new learning sciences. Already dozens of practical methods for building young people’s ‘learning power’ have been devised, and ingenious teachers throughout the world are developing more by the day. Some of these are quite unusual or challenging, while others add depth and coherence to more familiar aspects of ‘good teaching’. Many more questions have been raised that we are yet to solve – but that, or course, is the essence of learning.

  1. What kinds of topics are best for developing different kinds of learning muscles?
  2. How are minds stretched differently by hard and soft sciences?
  3. How is resilience, say, different for a 4 and 15 year old?
  4. How widely do people vary as learners, and can we help them import their best learning habits from sports or the dance class into school and the other way round as well?
  5. What ways of organizing schools will be the most successful for both developing learn-ability and mastering important bodies of knowledge at the right age and facilitated by the right person with a correct understanding of the child?

As I say, we do not yet have the answers to all these questions. The realization that learning is learnable, and that learning is a much more complex and variegated process than schooling has traditionally assumed, will underpin innovation and changes in the field of educational research going ahead. Stay tuned to my further posts in the coming months, I’m working on something crazy along with my mentor and friend Glen to address this issue.

P.S. (If it’s knowledge you want, it’s usually easier now to get it from the Internet, anyway.)