TEDMED Front Line Scholar

Being Cristiano Ronaldo in an era of Lionel Messi

Being Cristiano Ronaldo and living in an era of Lionel Messi make pretty much sense. Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are two different players. They have come from different countries; play for different teams and in different positions. But we keep comparing both of them.

Why?

Mostly because we are the human beings highly inspired by competition. We love to compare and compete with everything. On the other hand, we have lost our eyes of seeing and analyzing things. Unfortunately, media have become significant influencer in our life. It show us how to see things and we keep seeing everything with the eyes of media.

But we shouldn’t. Media work for big people but we don’t. Media work for maximizing profit we don’t. Our life isn’t all about money, profit and revenue. Media work for creating news and stay on top of the conversation. But we are not here only to become news. And we shouldn’t learn whatever media teach us. We shouldn’t see things with the eyes of media.

Think about you. See how many times you compare yourself with others.  How does competition make you insane, frustrated and sad very often? It’s not the competition it’s you. You have grown up differently. You have different set of ideas and you have the capability to be remarkable in your own ways.

Why do you forget that you are a different person? Your situation is different. No one actually knows about the struggle you face. No one knows about your hardship. No one knows how do you get things done living in the midst of hundreds of big problems. You are not here for competition. You’re not like her. You aren’t here to become an outcome of bloody competition.

Yes! You’ve gotten only one competitor of yourself! And that is YOU! Don’t compare yourself with others. Compare what you’ve done in the last year, what you are doing this year and what you will be doing next year! Focus on your own development cycle! See and measure how are you doing things. The world is full of opportunities. Be open to all. Read broadly, think broadly, engage in a wide variety of activity and do it with a learning orientation. Make things happen in far more better ways than previous year. Don’t be driven by competition. Be an example of your own self. And be an example of yourself!

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Job for money and work for meaning

Do you have a great idea? Do you want to change the way things happen? Do you want to build the next big social media platform that will enrich our life and make us wealthy? Do you want to change the way people connect with each other? Do you want to change our education system? Do you want to solve our energy crisis? Do you want to bring sustainable social change? Do you want to contribute in the mother earth significantly?

Probably the answers to all of these questions are YESes!

But you think your life is very complicated. You believe your day-to-day living has become highly challenging. You assume you are so messed up with the personal and the professional life. You ruminate you have been under pressured by some unexpected happenings. Everything seems vague to you. Life is becoming meaningless.  Surviving seems worthless. Nothing works at all.

If it is your current condition, you are not alone. There are so many of us with you. But life goes on. Time keeps flying. Only you stay stuck at the same point. Only you keep the same position for years having so many complaints and excuses.

I understand that your girl friend left you leaving behind a ton of golden memories. I know you are living with the inhuman burden of student loans. I can feel the pressure that you are taking to support your family and to strive for your career development. I realize you get no one in your side in need. But these are all parts of life. All of us go through the same situation unless you are exceptional and very lucky. But no one can escape. If you want to survive you have to suffer. But if you want to excel, you have to conquer almost every challenge. As you know every storm is followed by a sunny day, hence forget about the scary storms and live the life loving and cherishing sunny days. And have enough courage to give tight hug to all storms.

Now, let me ask you one question, how much you actually need to pay all the bills and to buy all the food for the month? Yes! A certain amount. So first of all, find a job to pay the bills and buy foods. Job is something all of us do. Job is always boring and even pain in the a*s. You shouldn’t have expectation of getting great boss, exciting working environment as well as supporting colleagues at your job. Whatever the working environment and whoever the boss, it is just a job for the sake of job. And frankly, you do it only because of paying your bills and buying your foods.

But you haven’t born only to have a job to pay your bills and buy foods and then to die. You have born for your work, to change everything and to make meaningful things. You are a great creation having a beautiful mind, having great ideas and having so much love in your heart. You have to flourish. You have to excel. You have to illuminate the world.

I know no one understand your insight. No one isn’t born to understand you. It is not someone’s responsibility to understand you. She is not bound to care about who you are, what you do and where you belong. It’s all about you. And you just have to make sure that you can understand yourself and eventually control yourself. Don’t bring world’s all problems in your mind. You are not responsible for all the shits that we have been crating for years after years. You shouldn’t take all problems in your shoulders and then keep trying solving all of them. Take a Breath. Love. Smell. Smile. Keep Calm and Quite. And keep going in the right path.

Punch Lines:

# Job and work are different things. But you have to do both. Job for money and work for meaning

# Before letting others create an opportunity, create your own opportunities

# If someone very special leaves you, let her go and help her find her own path

# If you have someone to love in this world, first and foremost it is YOU.

# If you have something to care in this world, first and foremost it is your work that will keep you alive.

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Question Storming

It was in 2011. I was invited by the Founders and CEOs of two different organizations to join in a meeting for discussing about their new social event that was designed for ‘Labor Day’. After listening to their presentations, I raised about 10 basic questions. Both of the founders couldn’t answer my questions. They didn’t understand what actually they were going to do. They didn’t analyze the feasibility of the project. They were only stuck with the popularity of doing that project. I realized that was not a project I wanted to involve. Fortunately, they lost their motivation of taking me with the project. I did quit happily. And that project didn’t work out.

Yes! We want to do so many things. We want to do big projects. We want to be great teachers. We want to be remarkable leaders. We want to write impressive books. We want to change the world. But we don’t like questions. And all of our plans, efforts, money, industry and labor get wasted most of the time. The main reasons of this failure are ‘we don’t like to ask questions’ and ‘we don’t like to be questioned’.

John Maeda, President of Rhodes Island School of Design, cited in his TED2012 Talk -

‘Art makes questions and leadership is something that is asking a lot of questions’

There are hundreds of questions behind the creation of a great art, effective business model or a sustainable project. And the challenge for that artist, curator or creator who creates great art, business model or project is to ask big questions and find answers to those questions. If those questions are associated with humanity that great art, business model or project will be the blessing for all and bring sustainable changes in the society.

On the other hand, a great leader is someone who has the courage to ask and accept hundreds of questions from so many people of so many different directions. Every great question makes him/her to re-imagine things and then to come up with great solution. A great solution is an answer to so many big questions that come from great minds.

Asking questions always open the door of opportunities. Asking questions welcome change. Asking questions bring innovation. Asking question itself is an art.

So in your next business meeting, next class or any gathering, stop doing brain storming, forget about mind map and start question storming as well as question map. Start every small project or initiative with great questions. Think of all questions that your critics or competitors can ask you and then redesign, rebuild and rebirth your project, initiatives or business model.

The world itself is a game of question storming. So everything you do or plan to do, you should start with why, who, how, what and whom. The more questions you can ask and accept, the stronger your project, idea or innovation will become. Question Storming should be the base of your next big ideas and trust me it will help turning your big ideas into next big innovation.

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Saying NO

Saying ‘YES’ to a proposal, contract, offer, relationship or a partnership is the easiest thing in this world. It doesn’t necessarily take enough effort, time, decision and consideration.

But saying ‘NO’? It’s associated with making the right decision, giving enough effort, choosing the best alternative and considering so many things.

Remember, you’ve limited resource, specific amount of time, few numbers of people in your team and huge challenges. Even staying in a turbulent situation, you have to make sure of the best uses of your resources. So there is no alternative of saying ‘NO’.

You’ve to say ‘NO’ as because you believe in something that’s very significant

You’ve to say ‘NO’ as because you are doing something that matters

You’ve to say ‘NO’ as because you are here for a certain period of time

You’ve to say ‘NO’ as because you can’t do everything that someone offers to you

You’ve to say ‘NO’ as because you can’t please everybody at every time

You’ve to say no as because saying ‘YES’ is associated with investing certain amount of your resources

So you’ve to keep saying ‘NO’ as many times as you can to stay away from all of the noises that distract you from your focus. No matter whoever is offering what. It’s not about that big profile person. It’s not about her most attractive offer. It’s not about winning an exciting game. It’s all about you and your work. It’s all about your beliefs and philosophies. You are not here to win only one game. You will have to win hundreds of games. You only do the things that matter to you. You are born to live a remarkable life and to do all great things.

Hence, say ‘NO’ and get locked on your vision.

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Life as progressive metal

“I can’t see the meaning of this life I’m leading

I try to forget you as you forgot me

This time there is nothing left for you to take

This is goodbye” 

- In My Time of Need by Opeth

Yes! One of my favorite music genres is Progressive Metal. My fascination for Progressive Metal is not only for its music but also for the lessons it has given me in my life. Folks define Progressive Metal as ’Intelligent music for intelligent people’. Yes! Progressive Metal is intelligent music. But I argue, it is essentially for all!

The key characteristics of Progressive Metal are

1) Longer songs: Songs are longer in duration than usual songs

2) Odd time signatures: There are so many patterns and different progressions

3) More complex compositions and more sophisticated instrumentation: All patterns and progressions follow complex composition and sophisticated instrumentation.

4) Superior vocals: Dual lead harmonies and soaring vocal.

5) More complex conceptual ideas: Ideas are complex but conceptual. You will always find meaning.

Surprisingly the characteristics of Progressive Metal are instrumental for being excellent in life, inevitable to do remarkable things and obvious to put marks in everything you do.

So, how is progressive metal related to our life? Why is the title of this blog post ‘Life as Progressive Metal’? Here you go….

1. Life is not too short. Life is too long: Yes, life is fundamentally too long as like as Progressive Metal. All of us have 525,949 minutes in every year. On an average, if we live for 50 years, we will approximately have 26,298,000 minutes in our lifetime.

Now consider every single minute as an exciting moment of accomplishing impossible, challenging status quo and doing remarkable things. You will surely have a life with great memories, great contribution and having brought so many changes for you as well as for the society.

Steve Jobs lived for 56 years. Albert Einstein lived for 76 years. It was not their age that made them extraordinary. It was not even only their intelligence. It was actually their attitude to make every moment stirring with hard work, dedication, honesty and with extreme hunger of accomplishing outstanding things.

So life is too long with approximately 26, 298, 000 moments (I hope we will live at least for 50 years). Make these moments very special with love, hard work and passion.

2. Life has odds: Probably our lives face most oddest things in this world. It has so many odd timings as like as Progressive Metal. Life never goes smooth. Life always changes patterns. In one side of life, you meet new people, do new thing and make new connections. In the other side of life, you face new challenges, get new complexities and facade more troubles. These are all odd timings of life. No one can hope to have  a smooth life. You have to face odds and become stronger for the next big odd.

If you are a rock star in your comfort zone, probably your position is very fragile. You have to work out side of your comfort zone and have to make sure that you are doing well.

So, face all odds, solve all odds and embrace all odds. It’s time to play with odds.

3. Life is complex and competitive: As you know, where there is an opportunity, there is a competition; where there is a chance, there is a challenge, where there is a success, there is a failure.

Things have already changed a lot. Yes! If you set you career like a simple equation (2+2=4), you will have to suffer. If your business run by some rules written by New York Times best selling author, you will be undone. These are all open and available resources which are accessible to all but market is dynamic, challenging, competitive and continuously changing. Now, you have to have more complex career plans, sophisticated business strategy and have to come up with different compositions of ways as like as Progressive Metal.

So, keep playing with odds. Never embrace the easy and smooth ways. Always try different hard ways so that you can make some vague room and people can’t trace your odd timing strategy.

4. Make you heard: Whoever you are, whatever you do and wherever you belong, you have to create noise that can be heard by hundreds of people. On top of that your noise have to be an outlier. As there are so many great options in front of us, you have to take your own responsibility to make attractive and different noise. Let us pick you up in the midst of so many choices.

So, soar your voice and don’t forget to add art, creativity and your own core competency on that voice.

5. Life is creating meaning: Life is creating meaning. Life is making meaningful career. Life is constructing meaningful brand.  Whatever you do, ask yourself why am I doing this? Why do I matter? Is it the thing I have born to do? Is it the meaning I want to create? Explain yourself in a sentence. Who are you? What is your identity? Why do you survive?

Develop a concept for yourself. Make a meaning for yourself. Describe everything you do in a sentence.

Punch Lines: I have started this blog post with a lyric of Opeth (One of the best Progressive Metal Band). This is a sad lyric and it is a sad song. If you just take the lessons from Progressive Metal and change your life, one day you will compose an amazing life song based on your great memories of a remarkable journey in this mother earth and that lyrics will probably be like this:

“I can happily see the meaning of this life I’m leading

I have forgotten you (pain, failures and all odds) as you forgot me (Thank You!)

This time there is nothing left for you (pain, failures and all odds) to take

This is goodbye (for you)

This time there is everything for me to take and to enjoy

This is not goodbye (for me)!

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Doing the things that no one cares

It was in 2012. I had a meeting with the director of a manufacturing company. S/he has been leading a company that is a market leader in consumer goods industry. But our discussion was different. We discussed about a social project that he was about to launch. I am using that discussion as a case here in below:

Case:

The director of a manufacturing company always feels liable to the society and s/he wants to contribute in the society greatly. As a part of her/his social initiatives, s/he is going to start a project to contribute in education. There are several social causes that inspire her/him to start this project. Some of the social causes are: Most of the people of that country live under poverty line, only some people have access to quality education, most of the students can’t buy and collect text books at the right time and they suffer a lot. Hence, s/he wants to transform all primary school and high school text book into eBooks and distribute those books to poor students for free. And s/he wants all students to have free access to text book at the right time so that they can study and attend classes perfectly.

In a nutshell, this is a project of transforming all text books (primary and high school levels) into eBooks so that poor students can get those eBooks for free.

On that day, I appreciated her/his ideas and wished her/him good luck for this project though I had ended up having following questions:

1. Is it an innovative project?
- Yes it is indeed (based on that cultural and context)

Note: Innovation depends on culture and context. The nature of innovation in Silicon Valley and the nature of innovation in Dhaka or Kolkata or Islamabad will be different.

2. Is it an effective project?
- No. It’s is not.

Note: This project is designed to help the students those who don’t have money to buy text book. As those students don’t have money to buy text books, so how can we expect them to buy a Laptop or Smartphone or even a Personal Computer to get access to those eBooks? Who will teach them to learn how to operate those technologies? How will they get internet connection? And who will pay their internet bills in every month?

3. Is this project solving the problems that it supposes to solve?
- No. It isn’t.

Note: This project is not solving any problem. Even it is bringing more problems. And making life complicated and challenging.

Punch Lines: We shouldn’t actually do things only for doing. There should be inherent meaning and measurable results behind every project. Being innovator is not always important. Being problem solver is always important.

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In Search of Soul Mate

Dj Patil, Data Scientist in Residence at Greylock, recently cited,

‘As much as possible, surround yourself with talented people that set a high standard — best way to continue to challenge yourself.’

Yes! If you want to conquer a kingdom or reach to a destination, you have to surround yourself with talented people those who believe in you and care about your ideas, you have to make your home ground an exciting place that welcomes innovation and that will keep motivating you to do all impressive things you are born to do, you have to invite all smart critics those who will give you logical and effective feedback and you will keep furnishing and improving your ideas and works, you have to stop listening to chatters (Over Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and …) and start listening to your heart and soul. Ask yourself – what do you want to do in your life time? what are the set of standards you are going to mark? and what are the remarkable things you want to leave behind?

Yes! You have to work too hard with blood, sweat and tears continually and sustainably. You have to have a team, yes a fascinating team, that will also be working too hard with blood, sweat and tears.

On top of that and most importantly, you have to find your soul mate/s who will come up with ideas, energy and love to push your work and innovation to grow exponentially.

See how things have changed when Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Larry Page have found their Soul Mate:

Steve Jobs found Steve Wozniak:

In 1971, 16 years old Steve Jobs was lucky enough to find his soul mate 21 years Steve Wozniak who single handedly invented Apple 1 Computer. In 1976, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne founded Apple Computer in the garage of Steve Jobs’s parents in order to sell Apple 1 Computer. Now in 2013, Apple Inc. is a $379.05 Billion Dollars Company.

Bill Gates found Paul Allen:

In 1968, 12 years old Bill Gates was lucky enough to find his soul mate 14 years old Paul Allen. In 1975, Bill Gates and Paul Allen, both college dropouts, founded Microsoft.  Now in 2013, Microsoft Corporation is a $220.66 Billion Dollars Company.

Larry Page found Sergey Brin:

In 1995, 22 years old Larry Page was lucky enough to find his soul mate 21 years old Sergey Brin. In 1996, they have founded Google as a research project when they were PhD Student at Stanford University. Now in 2013, Google Inc. is a $223.16 Billion Dollars Company.

Puch Lines: Whoever you are, whatever you do and wherever you belong, you badly need to find your soul mate/s. If you are alone, you are weak. You genuinely need someone who has similar vision, energy, ideas, skill set (could be different) like you and who is so hungry to make great things happen.

Start you Mission I-M-POSSIBLE to find your soul mate/s right now. This is only the best time. It may take a while to find your soul mate/s. Trust me! Things will radically be changed whenever you will find your soul mate/s. Give a tight hug to him/her. Start working on your ideas and change the world to make it a bit more special… yes! make it a better place to live in.

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Building an economy that works

I want to change my life. She wants to change her family. They want to change their society. And now there are millions of people those who want to change the world for making it a better place to live.

Now, if I try my level best, I can definitely change my family. If she tries her level best, she can definitely change her family. If they try their level best, they can definitely change their society.

But then?

We are not talking about changing only a person or a family or a society. We are talking about macro changes. It is really so tough to bring revolutionary macro changes working on individual level. But we need to bring revolutionary changes for making our beloved mother earth a better place. For bringing revolutionary macro changes, we need to fix our macro structure that will pave the way for individuals to work from their own area.

To fix our macro structure, first of all, we have to have an economy that works. We need an economy that welcomes innovation, gives courage to challenges status quo, brings standard of living, provides economic freedom to most people and that helps to fix other macro problems. So all leaders from their respective fields have to work to fix the economy first.

Have you ever asked yourself, why does your country produce only agricultural products or textile products? Ask yourself, you will probably get the answers.

If you don’t find answers, you should know, a country can produce those goods and services only it can produce. Producing goods and services associated with having a set of knowledge. So if your country produces only agricultural products, it means, it has only the set of knowledge that allows it to produce agricultural products. And sadly it can’t produce other products. And sadly it gets lacked behind to get optimum advantage.

Why does USA is a great place of innovation? It is because they have generated gigantic amount of product knowledge and absorbed those knowledge from heart and soul. It’s because, they have created a system that works. That’s why Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon are USA company. That’s why USA has all great brands. That’s why USA is the best place to do all amazing things.

Yes! USA itself has so many problems. Every country does. But it has an economy that works and most country don’t.

If you want your economy to work, to embrace the blessing of technological innovation and to survive sustainably, you should consider the following points:

1. Education system should not SUCK and make Philosopher with huge unactionable knowledge. It should create actionable product knowledge that works and help student to find the way of making things happen. Professors should stop reading only text books. They should learn all new concepts and research for the sake of knowledge.  University should pay them enough money so that they forget about investing in share market!

2. Government and private industry should invest on actionable research.

3. Building as many profitable organizations as possible. And staying away from building NGO’s.

4. Forgetting about poverty and poverty removal activities. They will never be able to remove poverty! They sucks for big time.

5. I want you write and share your ideas to build an economy that works. Please share your ideas, knowledge and experience for making an economy that works.

[If you don't get comment box] Click on the title of this blog post. And then go down. You will find the comment box. Thank You!

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