True freedom is when we get to choose our teachers
– Shikshantar Andolan, Udaipur
This is a long post. Longer than a buffalo’s tail but shorter than a fire hose. You’ll eventually get the idea. If you don’t have at least fifteen minutes to spare, come back when you’re free. All those folks whose career is not going well will benefit from using the resources and ideas that I have jotted down. If your career is in a condition which is way worse than a frog’s intellect, then the following 3200 words are for specially meant for you to read. Good luck.
The way to Nirvana passes through pain. Somebody said that I forgot who. It might as well be me but that’s not the point. The point is that in order to attain peace, you first need to know what war is. There is no Batman without Joker. White doesn’t exist when you have no idea what black is. Nothing is dark when you have seen no light. What do you call sweet if your taste buds haven’t witnessed anything salty? How do you grow up when you have never been a child. Until you have been failed by the formal system of education, what value do you give to self-directed learning? Read the last few lines once again until they start to echo so loud enough in your head that you willingly shut down your inner monologue for the next few minutes. Take a deep breath.
Two years ago, I read a book. After finishing that book I could hardly see any logic in listening to lectures and passing exams just because everyone was doing so because I had no other option. That book gave me a lot of options. From there I started my journey of learning what I wanted to learn without seeking anyone’s permission to do so. This blog was created when an organisation pissed me off by asking me to justify one of my writings by using academic lingo and facts. That rejected article became my first blog and there has been no looking back since then. My only regret is that I did not have a mentor who could constantly and regularly guide me through this hassle. I got a lot of good advice from the people I met at various events and those who I began to follow online. It all started with just a book, The Education of Millionaires. You never know where a book might take you, it took me all around in India.
The main purpose of a book is to shorten the learning time and increase the learning speed for you. Another reason why you should read books is that it makes you smarter. But that only happens when you specifically apply the knowledge in your areas of interest and expertise. Reading every other book on the Earth will only make you a pompous jerk who blasts conspiracy theories and debates on unreal agendas rather than do something worthwhile with his time. Read, but do so with caution because you are what you consume whether via mouth or via head.
Letters From a Self-Made Merchant to His Son
If you think your parents missed out on some things while bringing you up, this book will take care of that. The name is what the book is all about. Letters full of wisdom going from a father to his son. About a hundred year ago this book came into print and not many people have even heard the name of it. You’ll find it online and it would be best to re-read it after every one year to see what all the lessons you have imbibed and where you need more support from your imaginary father.
One of the best books to read if you’re trying to get excellent in any particular field whether it be arts, science, eco-feminism or urban naxalism. Robert Greene guides you through the all the steps that are needed to go from an amateur to a professional. One take away from Mastery is that it takes a lot of time to be a master and that time is approximately 10,000 hours. The closer you get to this number, more power you acquire over your skills.
So Good They Can’t Ignore You
This book talks about what motivation speakers and life coaches have completely forgotten to explain. And that is passion. Cal Newport decodes what it takes to be successful in your career and it definitely is not passion but skills. To build those skills and use them in the best possible way, go ahead and read this underrated masterpiece. You’ll finish the book with the idea of “Skills outcompete Passion” firmly planted in your head.
Rolf Potts shares his journey as a traveller and describes how you can live a minimalist life. The book is full of practical and immediately usable advice and resources that you can use to go on your first solo trip. I used some advice from this book to find a lot of inexpensive and free volunteering opportunities and travelled for about six months to various places. A bible for those who breathe #wanderlust and piss #throwback.
50 Alternatives to College
Whenever I am talking about learning, this man and this book come to my mind. Always. Not really a book, this one is a short pdf report in which James Altucher lists 50 alternatives to college. A good starting point for those have been fed up with school and don’t want to pursue formal education any further. Not only the alternatives are listed, the book will convince you that going to college is indeed a bad decision unless you want to be a lawyer or engineer or someone who necessarily needs to go to college.
The Education of Millionaires
The last book was for those who were apprehensive about going to college. This one is for those who went that way and are presently under financial stress, the pressure to work and burdened by the responsibilities of adulthood. All those things that college could not teach you, Michael Ellsberg teaches very well by sharing the lessons that successful dropouts learned once they said no to the system. This is one book after reading which a lot of routes opened for me to dive into reimagining the way we have been brainwashed to learn the formal way.
4 Hour Work Week
Talk about Tim Ferriss and you know I will be talking about productivity, hacks and alternative ideas to apply in life. This book is about making career choices and finding freedom. The concept of digital nomadism and freelance living was more or less initiated after this book became a go-to resource guide for those who were fed up with the regular job. If you’re an entrepreneur, pick this book up and begin reading.
A small handbook for unschooling yourself of the crap that has been force-fed into your brains for over a decade when you were in school and college. The author has a lot to say though he only shares 55 ways in this book. Rest you can create and find on your own.
Hacking Your Education
Dale Stephens wrote such a wonderful book which covers a majority of the problems that you face when you decide to get into self-directed learning. The best part was the one where he tells about the tools you can use to unlearn and re-educate yourself and at the same time find supportive mentors to guide you along the way. If you are thinking of doing something on your own but have doubts about your abilities, read this book and I ensure that you’ll get some clarity and perspective on your plans and goals.
The Personal MBA
I honestly haven’t read this book because it is really big. In fact, it is way bigger than Trump’s ego and pre-teenage ambitions. After following Josh Kaufman’s blog and interviews I knew this guy is way smarter than MBA holding jobless folks. I’ll find time to read this book and also you recommend that you do the same.
Recession Proof Graduate
A small report on how Charlie Hoehn build his career by doing free work for people he cared about. Best book you’ll ever read at any point in your life. Though it will be more beneficial if you’re trying to showcase your skills and trying to connect to people who value what you have to offer. If you want to make a career using the informal job market, this book will be a great help. I emailed Charlie after I used his pitching strategy to find a freelance writing opportunity and he told me to keep up with the work!
The Charisma Myth
I came across this jewel when I had my old Nokia Lumia 520 mobile and used to read books in pdf format. The phone now lies in dead in my cupboard but the lessons I learned from this book, I still use them. For anyone who is looking to improve their social skills, become persuasive, lead smartly and leave a long lasting impression among people, this book is not just a worthy read, but almost a necessity.
Mating Intelligence Unleashed
Scott Barry Kaufman uses the principles of evolutionary psychology and human mating behaviour to describe what we look for in a mate. A lot of times you do what you do without knowing the unconscious motivations behind your actions. This book is about that. Also, you’ll learn what all traits besides wealth indicate your mating value to a potential partner. Read this book if you want to make your relationships more meaningful develop better psychological awareness.
To say that this book is a masterpiece will simply be an understatement. Chris Guillebeau highlights the importance of having more than one source of income and shows exact steps that you can use to do so. Side hustle borders on entrepreneurship but basically is a technical version of selling your skills and expertise. With real-life stories to make your mental pores open, this book is designed to get you swinging into action once you’re done reading it.
The Art of Self-Directed Learning
I downloaded the audiobook last week but have not yet listened to it. My bad. Besides that, I have been following the author Blake Boles to know more about his mindset of self-directed learning. In one of the article links below, you’ll learn more about him. You can check out one of his free online books here where he teaches young adults how to travel cheap and fund your vacation. A very simplified version of Vagabonding for those who only have half an hour to spare.
Dreams From The Bunker Hill
The less I talk about John Fante, the better it is because once I start praising this man for his utmost honesty and outright stupidity, I just can’t stop. He uses his alter-ego Arturo Bandini as his novel’s character to depict the life of a struggling writer who is dirt poor, failing with women and self-depreciating as hell. To understand what it takes to come in terms with rejection and how to embrace failure, this book is worth your time and investment. The saga of Bandini continues in a few other books and I am telling you, if you read this one, you’ll read all of them.
Steal Like an Artist
One of the most creative people I follow besides Neil Strauss and myself. Austin Kleon shares his strategies on being a better artist and uses his doodles and illustrations to visually outline his thoughts. A book written this way is good enough to convince you that the writer is indeed a superb artist. After reading this, you can read another book by Austin which is called
The Art of Self-discovery
Self-esteem is something that needs to be seriously worked upon because it is the foundation of a healthy and sound psychological human mind. I paraphrased Nathaniel Branden in the last line. This book is for you if you want to know about yourself and build self-compassion and self-assertiveness from the bottoms up. The sentence completion exercises in the book will take at least six months to finish but will serve your mental well being for years.
Do you have a mentor?
There is a concept about the learning curve that you must know before proceeding ahead. What learning curve means in simple terms is the rate at which you make progress at a skill. The figure below will help you understand more.
Books can surely help you in developing skills but the following some strategies will be helpful when you reach a plateau that just can’t be overcome by filling your head with words. Use the following strategy to make progress once you reach a plateau:-
- A mentor in need is a mentor is indeed. Find someone who is better than you in what you want to improve in and get help.
- To find that someone, use google advanced search and make sure you’re searching in your city because it is better to meet them offline.
- If you find such a person, go through their social media profile, videos, writings and everything you can find so that you know them better.
- Now find places where they are likely to be found. Like office, startup meets, conference and go there to find them.
- If you find them, awesome. Talk to them post-event, discuss your problem(s) and tell them how would you be able to add value to their work in exchange for some learning. Since you know already know about their work this shouldn’t be an issue.
- In case you don’t get to talk to them, email them about your experience at the place where you witnessed them and apply the above strategy. Since you have already researched about them, figuring out their email shouldn’t be an issue.
- If you don’t find such a person in your city, repeat the steps for other cities. Cut back on meeting them personally unless the person happens to be in your city. Go the email route straight away.
Doing the above in a right way will help you find a mentor. It might take some time and a few tweaks, but you’ll find them.
The best thing about podcasts is that they give you the necessary information on various topics in limited time. Let’s say that you’re interested in knowing something about growth hacking, monkey mating behaviour or making cupcakes at home. There will be a channel dedicated to such pursuits and some expert must have talked about such a thing. YouTube is another platform using which you can gain the same amount of knowledge as you would by listening to podcasts. The only difference is that you can listen to the latter while you’re travelling or walking or washing dirty utensils in the kitchen. Podcasts don’t require any video along with them like YouTube does. From a number of free as well as paid apps available, you can choose the ones which suit you best. I use Podcast Addict which allows me to search a number of podcasts by referring to channels and episodes by using keywords. Another good thing about this app is that it lets you save the downloaded episodes on your SD card in case you are like me and love adding more and more podcasts to your huge ass 22 GB collection. I have not described the podcasts because of the restrictions I might put on you to learn a new concept or two. Find them, listen to them and see what you prefer.
The Tim Ferriss Show
The James Altucher Show
School of Greatness
The Side Hustle Show
Art of Manliness
The Best Debate In The Universe
Stuff Mom Never Told You
James Swanwick Show
I’ll tell you about this thing called the sponge effect. It happens in our brain. You can only take in information when you have abundant outlets. Think of a sponge. If it has clogged pores, it won’t absorb anything. To make your sponge absorb more water, don’t keep it dipped. Instead, clean the pores so that it can efficiently absorb water. Once you’re done with that, dip your sponge in the fluid you want it to absorb. If you dip it in milk and expect it to drain out water when you clench it with your fits, that won’t happen. The articles that I have listed down are to open up your mind for whatever information you’ll absorb in future. So do go through each one of them.
For those who are trying to find employment without looking at the pre-requisites for being a valuable employee. Will be useful even if you’re trying to sell your ideas on email and not really looking for a job.
Michael Ellsberg describes the path to building a career in about a year by doing work that gets you more work. The guidelines in this article are exactly what your entrepreneurship cell teachers could not put their finger on.
A marvellous piece on how you can be interested in the other person to actually be seen as an interesting person yourself. This guy tells you about getting better at cold pitching those people with or for whom you would love to work.
Simple stuff for beginners to understand about the myths that we have been forced to believe by our elders.
I can’t write about this one. Go read it and save yourself from years of misery. This article will be a good place to start off before you begin your search for books.
Many people are of the view and think that school is all about being the best student, striving for excellence, winning tournaments and developing as a human being. The writer surely doesn’t think and talk about formal education in that way.
When Tucker Max writes, you’ve to read till the end. This article of his is really long and caters to young people who are having trouble in their careers because of the unreal expectations they have about “passion”.
In praise of the dropouts who have made it big without being Mark Zuckerberg or Steve Jobs. They’re too cliched.
Do you know why shouldn’t be watching TED talks? Read this amazing article and I bet it will convince you to unsubscribe the TED channel on YouTube if you’re a regular follower.
The writer has raised an important question of who do we consider educated? The dude who is from Harvard and employed in the corporate sector or the one who has been doing freelance music gigs ever since he left school?
Ramit Sethi teaches you the exact steps to follow and develop another source of income by doing something as a side hustle. To identify what skills you might be able to sell, you can check out his free resources.
You can also email the authors of the above articles if you think they would be impressed enough by you to actually reply you back. I emailed Charlie Hoehn last year after using his ideas from the Recession-Proof Graduate. This is what he said:-
There are a lot of things that could be talked about. But at some point, you gotta cut the umbilical cord and grow up alone. See you growing sometime later. Bubbye.