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Client Buying Experiences

It’s not about how long you’ve been a practicing attorney.

It’s not about how big or small your law firm is.

It’s not about how impressive your network is.

You can get outsized clients if you know how to construct the buying experience.

The research backs me up:

“The Corporate Executive Board (CEB) found that 53% of customer loyalty is attributed to the customer’s buying experience, according to a survey of over 5,000 people at members’ customer organizations. Compare this to company and brand impact (19%)…and value-to-price ratio (9%).”

Have you ever constructed a Client Buying Experience (CBE)?

I’ve identified 9 different variables you can use to construct your own CBE in 5 minutes or less.

I’ve created a short email course to get into this topic.

5 Ideas. Shared over 5 Days. Actionable in 5 Minutes.

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Copies of Copies

“What’s your plan to provide value to your prospective clients?” I asked the lawyers.

“We will publish thought leadership and post it on LinkedIn and our site,” they replied back.

“Does anyone read it? Have you gotten any business from it?” I asked back.

“Uhh…we aren’t really sure.”

Without optimizing any content, without any measurement, without any calls to actions, law firms are all following the same “playbook” of publishing content that no one reads or engages with.

It’s the blind leading the blind.

This is a way of deluding yourselves into thinking you’re doing big things with little to no payoff.

No, this is not about asking for likes on an article. But you do need a strategy.

Even if you rise conversions from 1% to 2%, you’ve just DOUBLED your revenues or client base. Are you measuring this? Do you have a plan?

In the interest of walking the talk, I’ll make an offer: If you’d like to talk about how to have a coherent game plan for business development, keep reading these posts. Over the next month, I’d like to pull back the curtain on how to do this all right and identify the biggest mistakes that lawyers make right now.

If you’d like to short circuit that and move faster, check out my services here.

Setting Yourself Apart

“I don’t know why a client would choose me vs any other lawyer or law firms out there.”

This is a common thing I hear when working with lawyers. Despite all the posturing, most lawyers I’ve spoken with are deeply unsure about their place in front of the client.

To combat this, most of them were putting in even more effort. Attending more virtual events. Writing more pieces. Grinding even more to become more technically proficient. And of course burning out in the process.

This is so unfortunate.

The fact is simple: you don’t need to do MORE.

Your success in front of the client has everything to do with being able to deeply understand your client and solve their needs then and there. You don’t need to be a superhero lawyer for this.

You just need to be more human.

Thankfully, this skill is learnable. It is the first thing we go over when I work with lawyers.

Sadly, lawyers are often taught to suppress this. They aren’t taught how to do this while being professional.

The other antidote is to find your unique selling proposition or USP. This is one of the first things we do when we start working together. If you’re curious about this, check it out here.

The Dharma of a Leader

The bedside clock flashed 5:12 am. My phone was ringing and I instinctively answered it.

“I need to talk. Nothing is working out. Can we talk?”

Half in a daze, I was trying to figure out what was happening. It was a friend whom I hadn’t spoken to in 6 months.

“My entire business is falling apart. My life is falling apart. I don’t know how to do this anymore. I don’t know how to make this all work.”

We had left school almost a decade ago, and had sporadically exchanged messages on birthdays and holidays. He had gone on to become a successful entrepreneur, leading one of the fastest growing online fashion companies in North America.

He started speaking. At first hesitatingly, testing the waters to see how I reacted, but then in big bursts of vulnerability.

He spoke about his struggles and challenges, the pressures he faces as a leader, and the burden of expectations from his customers, his employees. Not to mention the self-imposed pressure from his family.

“I just had a second kid last month. A girl this time. Did I tell you that?,” he asked.

We spoke for the next hour, trying to abate the mental breakdown he was having. He spoke about his hopes and dreams when he graduated with me. He spoke about all he had accomplished. And through it all, he spoke about the hollowness that came from getting everything he wanted.

His business was struck deep from the CoVID-19 crisis and the economic downturn.

“What I don’t understand is why I feel so empty. What’s going on right now has just increased the weight of hollowness in my heart. I don’t know what I’m doing wrong.”

As the sun started to rise outside my window, I couldn’t help but reflect on the universality of this feeling. Of the challenges that come during critical times when the mind cannot find solutions and the heart’s voice becomes louder. The bumps are felt more sharply in critical times, as the pressure to act is ever greater.

This had been the silent voice in my heart as well, and the voice of many other entrepreneurs, founders, and CEOs I work with.

As my friend finished his story and waited for me to respond, I found my mind wandering to the lessons I had learned from observing the friendship between two unlikely people, and a silent practice of my life.

The President and the Monk

Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam was the man that turned India into a nuclear power. He was a nuclear physicist, the chief scientist of the country, inventor of stents, and a writer of books. He was the chief scientist of the country. He represented the pinnacle of critical and scientific thinking.

He was tasked with the work of finding how to advance India into the 21st century. He scoured far and wide to find answers to this question.

He created a vision that was focused on 6 areas. Food production, healthcare, education, technology, infrastructure, and security. He would consult with politicians and business leaders, scientists and thought leaders on these topics. This vision became his rallying cry. It was this vision that turned him into the most popular President of the country with unanimous support across party lines, and won the admiration and respect of a billion people.

He had heard about Pramukh Swami, a humble monk who had traveled the world with no possessions, without a penny to his name. He had heard about his love and compassion and how it had brought clarity and focus to the hearts of thousands across all walks of life. Dr. Kalam wanted to meet this monk.

A Muslim scientist meeting a Hindu monk. This was never meant to be more than a formal meeting of two leaders to exchange pleasantries.

Dr. Kalam presented his vision to Pramukh Swami who listened quietly with a smile on his face. At its end, the monk decided to suggest something.

“In addition to these areas you have spoken about, add one more: Faith. Nothing will happen without faith. It is faith that will bring people together. It is faith that will change the vision of people. It is faith that will unite.”

As Pramukh Swami kept talking, something started to shift inside Dr. Kalam. He had found the missing factor in all his critically thought out plans. It was the hidden dimension that he had not considered.

Faith.

Dr. Kalam found an awakening in his spiritual consciousness by that meeting. Over the next 14 years, he had 8 more meetings with Pramukh Swami. The final book of his life was titled “Transcendence: My Spiritual Experiences with Pramukh Swamiji.”

This is altogether remarkable since Dr. Kalam was a Muslim, who learned his most profound lesson from a Hindu monk.

In it, he wrote “[Pramukh Swami] has indeed transformed me. He has removed I-ness and My-ness from my life. He is the ultimate stage of the spiritual ascent in my life… Pramukh Swamiji has put me in a God-synchronous orbit. No maneuvers are required any more, as I am placed in my final position in eternity.”

This is the lesson we must embrace again.

Spiritual Leadership

The concept of spirituality feels taboo. This is meant to be a deeply personal and intimate area of life, not meant to be discussed openly and in public, let alone in the cold sterile corporate environments we often find ourselves in. After all, no one wishes to impose their views on another.

But this viewpoint stems from a lens where for one perspective to be true, another one has to be false. The lens through which Pramukh Swami was operating, and the lens through which much of the Dharma traditions of the East operate claim that there are multiple answers on the path of spirituality. No one path becomes wrong for another to be right.

From this perspective, the personal becomes universal. It becomes a means of exploring, understanding, and learning from others to broaden one’s own repertoire.

Peter Drucker felt similarly. He writes in Landmarks of Tomorrow, his lesser cited work: “Society needs a return to spiritual values–not to offset the material but to make it fully productive…Mankind needs the return to spiritual values, for it needs compassion.”

A broader spiritual consciousness lies at the very heart of widening the vision of a leader. A spiritual consciousness is what elevates the ability of a leader to lead in critical times. It is not critical thinking, the ability to think like an algorithm that defines critical times.

A true spiritual lens is also meant to be practical, not reserved for yogis and theologians. Limitations of Knowledge & Power It is tempting to think that the work of a leader during critical times is to gather more knowledge and power so that one may lead more effectively.

In response, Drucker writes in Landmarks of Tomorrow that “knowledge and power have been problems of man since the Garden of Eden. Now they are in the center of his existence. The solution to them which the new age finds will, in the last analysis, determine its character and meaning. If it fails to solve them, it will not only be a dark age…it may well be the last age of man — and conquest of space will not alter this. If however the new age succeeds in solving these problems, it could become one of the greatest eras of man.”

More knowledge, information or power will not help one lead better. To lead through critical times, we must think outside of ourselves, outside of the prejudices and snap judgements that the human mind is prone to. To not let ourselves be influenced by cold hard numbers that give the illusion of certainty.

Therefore, good judgement and the courage to act stems from the ability to get out of one’s ever-changing mind. After all, how can one make a tough decision when we are influenced by the problems of the world, by our own stories, prejudices, and priorities?

The Dharmic idea of spirituality offers a way to help us step outside of ourselves.

The Lessons of Spirituality

The dharmic lens teaches us that the greatest illusion and delusion we harbour is the belief that we are this body and this mind. We believe the story of us as definite. We cannot imagine a world that exists after we have passed on. We insert ourselves and our legacy into everything. But it is your true self that allows the body and mind to exist, to perceive, to experience, to be conscious. This consciousness is the real you. Not the body and the mind that you inhabit. This consciousness or awareness is the experiencer of everything that you consider to be “your” life. Thus, “you” are completely distinct from it all. This is not an intellectual exercise, but a plane of existing and seeing if one pauses and tries.

The dharmic lens asks: Who are you?

Consider this. Look at a picture of yourself as a baby. You were that person, yet somehow, that person you see is a different person than what you are now. It seems like a completely different person altogether. All those memories, all those moments—were you any of those?

In other words, at what point did you become you? Was the child, the newborn photo not you as well? Yet, that baby can seem like a different person completely to what you feel like today. Similarly, if that person—the boy or girl, seems like a distant person, perhaps a different person altogether, then it is equally possible that the person whom you believe to be you right now is not you either.

On closer introspection, we realize that the mind’s conception of “you” is flawed. It takes an amalgamation of your memories and makes it your identity. This identity always keeps changing. The mind’s conception of you is also ever changing.

When we keep asking ourselves this simple question “who am I?” we are forced to realize that all the problems, successes and failures, the weight and pressure that we feel as leaders are not really ours after all. They belong to the body and the mind.

Like the bulb that gives light to a room, it is the consciousness of our true self that gives light to the body and mind, which allows us to think, which allows us to feel. It challenges the adage “I think therefore I am.” It tells us instead to realize “I am, therefore I think.”

When we live and lead from this perspective, we are able to see the critical challenges we face more dispassionately. It removes the burden of leadership and gives us courage to act with our conviction. It removes our ego and lets us lead with freedom.

In Action

In January 2001, a 7.7 ML earthquake had devastated Western India. More than 20,000 people died, and more than 160,000 people were injured. Everyone was completely unprepared for this. Pramukh Swami, the humble monk who had advised Dr. Kalam, was one of the first on site in the areas which were most affected.

He inspired other monks who would otherwise spend their time in a monastery to serve others. Spirituality after all is meant to help us live in the world, not retreat from it.

Many months later, President Bill Clinton was visiting India and had decided to visit the affected sites. His work led him to be introduced to the work of Pramukh Swami. A brief 5 minute meeting was scheduled between the two leaders.

But 5 minutes became 15, 20, 30, 40 minutes. Their dialogue happened through the intermediary of an imperfect translator, and yet President Clinton felt a sense of ease and peace in the presence of Pramukh Swami.

He later remarked: “When I look into his eyes, they are filled with integrity. I saw in his eyes that he is a man who has not come ahead by eclipsing others. He has come forward by always placing others before him.”

A simple monk like Pramukh Swamiji had just received the validation, recognition, and attention of a world leader with considerable power and ability.

Far from being elated however, Pramukh Swamiji immediately spotted two brothers in a distance who had arrived from a nearby village. As soon as the President left, he went to the two brothers and started talking with them asking them about their families, their safety, their accomodations on the volunteer grounds. He arranged for their meals, and consoled them through their crises.

This is the essence of the spiritual leader. Someone who can completely step outside of themselves, and not be bound by praise, personal biases, or the weight of an ego.

Perhaps it is this state of realization that helped so many people, including President Clinton, and Dr. Kalam experience such profound love and peace from him.

Perhaps it was this spiritual leadership that inspired Dr. Kalam to remove the “I-ness and My-ness in life…where nothing else remains to be done.”

The Effective Human

As I shared my experiences, insights, and anecdotes with my friend, I heard him confused at first. But this state of being outside of himself sounded so appealing to him, that he committed himself to a process of self-inquiry to help him touch this experience more tangibly. He committed to asking himself two questions:

• Who am I?
• And if I am not that, then who am I?

The first question engages the mind to give an answer, while the second question gets one to go continuously deeper. He committed to repeatedly ask himself these two questions in a regular meditation practice.

The last time I spoke with my friend, he had scaled down his operations to tide through the shifting landscapes. He had to let go of some staff, but he paid them well above what was required of him. He is happier now too, less stressed about running his business.

I too find myself asking these two questions above. As I deal with unemployment, economic turmoil, and the barrage of anxiety producing news, when panic and anxiety overwhelm me, I try to find a center of existence through these two questions.

Who am I? And if I am not even that, then who am I?

More than anything else, finding and identifying with this unchanging core as the real me has been the most effective way I have found of leading and managing myself.

Now more than ever, we must find a way to incorporate this spiritual lesson if we are to lead effectively through these critical times.

This type of dharmic spirituality, the lessons that Pramukh Swami transmitted and helped Dr. Kalam experience, is not just the need of an effective executive, but of an effective human.

Bibliography

Abdul Kalam, A. P. J., and Arun Tiwari. Transcendence: My Spiritual Experiences with Pramukh Swamiji. Noida, Uttar Pradesh, India: Harper Element, 2015.

Aksharvatsaldas, and Trivedi Yogi. Eternal Virtues: Spiritual Attributes of Pramukh Swami Maharaj. 2. ed. Ahmedabad: Swaminarayan Aksharpith, 2011.

Drucker, Peter F. Landmarks of Tomorrow: A Report on the New “Post-Modern” World. New Brunswick, N.J., U.S.A: Transaction Publishers, 1996.

Drucker, Peter F. Managing Oneself. Harvard Business Review Classics. Boston, Mass: Harvard Business Press, 2008.

Drucker, Peter F. The Effective Executive: The Definitive Guide to Getting the Right Things Done. New York, NY: Harper Business, 1967.

Be Human, Be An Imperfectionist

Perfectionism is the greatest trap we fall in. Our entire society, our businesses, our culture runs on this idea. We’re all lesser for it.

This past week, I had a meeting scheduled with a successful entrepreneur in Atlanta. Before the call, I started hoping he wouldn’t attend the call. I was unsure of what value I had to contribute to him. I was thinking about all the ways I fall short in life.

We try so hard to be perfect, to keep up an image that others have about us. Even the image that we have for ourselves.

“I was meant for more. I should’ve been further along. Why am I like this?”

We beat ourselves up. In this way, we become our own worst enemies.

It’s hard to not feel defeated, overwhelmed, out of breath sometimes when everyone else around us appears to be running ahead just fine. Everyone else appears more accomplished, more fit, richer, with better relationships and partners.

We’re all in this. Men and women who are in their 30s, 40s, 50s who are afraid to admit they have any feelings of doubt, insecurity, vulnerability, loneliness.

“Oh no, everything is going great!” they say with a fake cheeriness.

Businesses and governments put on an armor of invulnerability. Everything is structured, static, sterile. There’s a reason why hundreds of millions across the world with these jobs are dissatisfied, disengaged, and unhappy in their work. They feel they have to suppress a big part of themselves to do the work. Their vulnerabilities, their doubts, their fears.

I am giving up this idea. Embracing imperfectionism is freeing. It lets us connect with others more authentically. Happiness, satisfaction, success, growth all comes from rich connections and relationships. This is possible when I don’t have to pretend to be perfect.

This is not about avoiding progress. This is not about stopping ourselves from improving.

Just to be clear…

This isn’t a “trick” to make you happier. Remember, the unrealistic, ridiculous side of this coin is perfectionism. The idea that we can do anything perfectly is completely and irreversibly contrary to logic, the history of mankind, and every person’s experience. 

Against a giant tortoise, we’re all speed demons! Against a cheetah, even Usain “The Human Lightning” Bolt will get embarrassed. Your confidence in your foot speed depends on what relative benchmarks you consider to be adequate, poor, or remarkable…Every confidence benchmark is arbitrary, so we may as well create our own.

The two quotes above are from Stephen Guise and his excellent book How to be an Imperfectionist.

We don’t have everything in our lives figured out. That’s okay. We’re all going to be okay. I don’t want to be perfect anymore for anyone else. It takes too much energy.

When I started talking with the entrepreneur, I decided to be a bit bold and tell him about this feeling of insecurity I felt when we started the call. And it was such a relief. We connected authentically and genuinely. It was good.

As a consultant, I am trying to do this with businesses. I want to help businesses make change more human. I want them to account for human psychology, human imperfections in their work. I want organizations to sell without treating someone else like an object.

You can read about what work I am doing here (and if you think of any business that can use a gentler and more human way of managing change and growing, let me know).

I hope this week you will let go of a tendency to be perfect and instead be imperfect while trying to be a bit better. To stop comparing yourself with others. To stop making yourself seem invulnerable. Don’t resist the doubts and fears. In fact, have a conversation with someone who can respect it and your relationship with them will become richer for it.


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Go Outwards to go Inwards

I finished reading this excellent book: The Outward Mindset by The Arbinger Institute. Rarely does a leadership book resound so deeply with me. I found myself highlighting large chunks of the book, and I wanted to share some of the choicest passages from the book with you.

The basic premise of the book tells us that we need to change our mindset and see people as, well, people instead of objects or obstacles to manipulate, push, persuade, or overcome. They are people with their own internal needs, challenges, wants, objectives, hopes and dreams. When we see truly see people for who they are and what they want, make our work about serving them, and constantly adjust to make sure we see people for who they are, we create better families, communities, and organizations.

This is far from a “soft skills” book. Getting this right creates a strategic competitive advantage which cannot be replicated. It creates record breaking profits, low turnover rates, and drives real business results. This set of ideas have been used by SWAT Teams, non-profits, and multinational corporations.

This is similar to the premise of Listen & Lead by Richard Himmer which I wrote about in my two previous posts here and here. This books flows nicely from these other linked articles.

I have seen the power of these ideas in over a decade of my volunteering effort with BAPS, and BAPS Charities. While no one has formalized these ideas in this non-profit organization, I have seen its spirit everyday. The results have been breathtaking as a small organization founded in early 20th century India in a tiny village has grown to become one of the largest international India-based non-profits in the world with a host of activities impacting millions and thousands of centres globally.

I would say that if Arbinger really wants to see how deeply the Outward Mindset is embedded in an organization, they should carefully study BAPS.

Here are the excerpts:

In whatever a person does, his or her mind-set comes through, and others respond to this combination of behavior and mindset. This means that the effectiveness of an individual’s behaviors will depend to some significant degree on that individual’s mindset.


Seeing people as people rather than as objects enables better thinking because such thinking is done in response to the truth: others really are people and not objects.


When my mindset is outward, I am alive to and interested in other people and their objectives and needs. I see others as people whom I am open to helping.


Not caring to notice or be moved by others requires something of me that takes a tremendous personal and social toll: it requires me to feel justified for not caring. I find justification by focusing on others’ faults, real and imagined.


Are there people in your life, either at work or at home, whose needs, objectives, and burdens you resist seeing? How about people that you don’t resist—people with whom you are open, curious, interested, aware?
As you compare these relationships, what differences do you notice in how you feel and act? Can you spot any blame in what you tell yourself about others or any self-justifying narratives that you’ve come to believe


The most troubling areas of our lives will be those in which we resist what the humanity of others invites us to see. This is a hopeful truth.


What is the cost of an inward mindset? When people focus on themselves rather than on their impact, lots of activity and effort get wasted on the wrong things.


Think about the times in your life when you have felt most alive and engaged. Who and what were you focused on in those moments—on yourself or on something bigger that included others?


Real helpfulness can’t be made into a formula. To be outward doesn’t mean that people should adopt this or that prescribed behavior. Rather, it means that when people see the needs, challenges, desires, and humanity of others, the most effective ways to adjust their efforts occur to them in the moment. When they see others as people, they respond in human and helpful ways.


This approach to measuring one’s impact requires nothing but a willingness to stay in regular conversations with others about whether they feel one’s efforts are helping them or not.

While the goal in shifting mindsets is to get everyone turned toward each other, accomplishing this goal is possible only if people are prepared to turn their mindsets toward others with no expectation that others will change their mindsets in return.

For all these reasons—as well as because widespread mindset change happens in large measure in response to those who change first—being able to operate with an outward mind-set when others do not is a critically important ability. It is the most important move.


People misunderstand the most important move we are talking about if they think that working with an outward mindset when others refuse to do the same makes a person blind to reality or soft on bad behavior. It does neither. In fact, what obscures vision and exposes people to more risk is not an outward mindset, which stays fully alive to and aware of others, but an inward one.


If you start with changing mindsets, behavioral transformations can happen quickly.


Whether in rethinking community policing or resolving labor- management disputes, when people see situations that need to change, the temptation is to immediately apply a behavioral solution. That seems like the fast approach. But if mindset is not addressed, it is usually the slow approach to change.


We’re not trying to have a homogenized group of people who work in the same way. Everybody works individually, but they work toward a collective solution. It’s about taking difference and focusing together on results.


Without realizing it, too many leaders assume that the role of leadership is to control.


When I try to impose my ideas on others and thereby refuse to allow them to think, I end up getting in the way more than I end up being helpful. It’s not my job as a leader to have the solution to every problem.

The Schoolteacher’s Lessons and Choosing Yourself

We fail to grow during this time of isolation because of a few unconscious lessons we learned during our time in school. The antidote is to choose ourselves.

We wait too long for others to choose us. We wait for the right schools, universities, employers, partners to choose us. We wait for someone else to give us permission to do what we really want to do. To learn what we want to learn, to make what we want to make.

Self-directed learning via online courses and books are more abundant than ever before. But my mind goes to why we so often fail at following through, on learning ourselves, or insisting that we get the right credentials.

On waiting for someone else to choose us.

The Seven Lesson School Teacher

Meet John Taylor Gatto.

John Taylor Gatto from The Ultimate History Lesson

He was New York State’s and New York City’s Teacher of the Year for 3 years. He took underperforming kids and made them into smart, interesting, curious, and well prepared individuals. In short, he did what great teachers do.

It was during the last year where he won the Teacher of the Year award that he wrote a very public column in the Wall Street Journal announcing that he was quitting teaching for good.

He said he was done harming kids.

He believed that the real lessons of school were very different than what we believe them to be. These lessons are:

  1. Confusion: Schools teach us everything, disconnectedly. Math is different from history is different from science is different from language. But true education is meant to be an in-depth understanding of the world and to develop a skill set that can serve us navigate it. That is how the world functions. Everything is meant to be integrated. Schools teach unrelating everything from everything. It isn’t until much later years where the synthesis of these things come together.
  2. Indifference: Classes are strictly divided into a timetable. English is homeroom, Science is second, and then math. You can have a great teacher at the front of the class, but when the bell rings, you must stop and just shut off your brain and rapidly go do something else. No wonder we struggle at finishing long term projects that matter in our lives in our adult age. No wonder we struggle to keep focus on doing deep work, which is where mastery and greatness happens.
  3. Position: Students are numbered, and they are put in a strict position. You know what your position is, and you don’t like to deviate from it. I see this (and it’s happened with me as well), where it is very difficult to relate and connect with people of different age groups, different socio-economic factors. We know our position, and our world starts revolving only around people in the right class, the right subjects, the right position. This is not the way the real world is supposed to work. No wonder we are so divided. Why we struggle to see the other person.
  4. Emotional Dependence: The golden star stickers in the report card, the permission to go use the bathroom, the rankings and class performance charts. They all teach us that we need someone else to bestow their good graces upon us so that we may express our individuality. There is value in this of course. When we are small children, we need this to teach us social norms to function well. But after a while, we keep chasing the golden star sticker in everything we do, from the universities we want to go to, the jobs we pursue, the vacations we take. Everything is a signal waiting for someone else to validate us and give us permission to be. There is no outlet to fight against this.
  5. Self-esteem dependence: Of course a result of the above issue is that our confidence is highly tied to how someone else approves of us or not. You are constantly evaluated and judged. A quiz a day, a test a week, exams, etc. Most of us remember the relief of the summer vacation. When we returned from these vacations, we ourselves know how little we remember from what we learned the year before. Instead, it was only the things that we were interested in that stayed with us. But despite that, the grade we get can devastate us or make us.
  6. Intellectual Dependence: Someone else always sets the agenda of what we need to learn, and how we must learn. We wait for instructions. Someone tells us we are Wrong (with a capital W) when we get something incorrect. I have barely used the tools from my English classes in school, but yet back then there was a correct way of doing things and an incorrect way. We are supposed to learn self-evaluation. But instead, we wait for others. This carries over to performance and annual reviews in jobs. Instead of focusing on continuous self-driven improvement, we wait for someone else.

Of course the question becomes, if schools are so ineffective, how else are people supposed to learn? But learning was always supposed to be a self-driven thing. And teaching kids to be motivated to self-learn, self-evaluate, and chase their own interests and how it relates to everything else is supremely more powerful.

This isn’t about becoming drop-outs. This is about understanding the hidden lessons we have learned in school and what it has done to us. I highly recommend looking through John Taylor Gatto’s books (do we even have the concentration to read a full book anymore?) to think about alternative ways of learning.

It is heartening to hear things changing. A great family friend whom I had the pleasure of spending a weekend with last month told us she was homeschooling her two kids. She comes from a conservative Hindu family, and she herself has a PhD in Chemistry from a major American university on the west coast. It was amazing to see her insistence on this.

Forced to stay at home, many of us with kids are waking up and are faced with a choice to either hand our kids a screen so they can distract and entertain themselves, or engage in serious self-directed study and learning. Self-directed being the key here.

Consider looking into the unschooling, self-direct learning movements, and home schooling movements if you have kids. These children have and can grow up to be marvelously well rounded and successful people (that’s what the data shows).

In the meantime, we all need to unschool ourselves a little bit as well. The mental baggage can slow ourselves. Being aware of it is sometimes all we need to unload it.

In short, we need to choose ourselves.

That’s how we make this time of isolation into a time of productivity. Where we let our own self-directed curiosity guide us to grow. That is because ideas are powerful.

On great ideas

Ideas are the real currency of this century. I’ve gotten work without resumes and cover letters, just through the strength of ideas. This week alone, I was contacted on Twitter by an entrepreneur for a major (at least for me) business transaction based on the strength of my ideas. I’ve gotten large consulting projects through cold emails and the strength of my ideas. And of course sharing those ideas.

I’d like to encourage all of us to please do share your ideas! What are you learning? What are you thinking about? What are you curious about? Help me be of service to you by either making me a sounding board or someone who can recommend a book, course, or resource to guide you through your curiosity.

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