Zen Story: Will You Choose to Be My Coach?

A coach saw five of the interns practicing software engineering. When they took a break, the coach asked the interns, “Why do you write code?”

The first intern replied, “Coding is an in-demand, high paying career. I’m glad that I will not have to do the clerical work that some of my school friends are doing in their jobs.”

The coach praised the intern, saying, “You’re a smart engineer. When you will gain more experience, you won’t have to worry about coaching like I do.”

The second intern replied, “I love the constructs, structures and even more important, the business impact that my code would create.”

The coach praised him, “Your senses are active and you see more than many others. Good for your career.”

The third intern replied, “When I write the code, I feel so content that I am creating something useful for the people who would use the app.”

The coach gave praise to the third intern, “Your mind will easily grasp the programming techniques of today and future and make you a competent programmer.”

The fourth intern answered, “As I write the code, I create a systematic something that will make people’s lives better.”

The coach was pleased and said, “You are riding on the golden path which will offer you win-win and favorable situations in your life.”

The fifth intern replied, “I write code to write code.”

The coach went and sat at the feet of the fifth intern and said,  “I am your student. Will you choose to be my coach?”

Learning Techniques Vs. Learning Ownership

Jack puts in a lot of time to learn the techniques.

He’s a technique-biased learner. If you access his Dropbox folder called “To Learn,” you will see notes like this:

  • Top 7 ways to Write an Internal Office Memo That’s Not Boring
  • Top 10 SureFire Techniques to Lose Weight and Gain Muscles
  • What Everyone is Missing When Raising Their First Girl Child (and how not to)
  • Top 50 Tips to Make Money From Pharma Stocks From Day-Trading

Lots of how-tos …

The problem with this approach is that they are good to read but don’t always work as-is.

They need to be contextually modified to suit the specific needs.

Focusing merely on techniques is a great waste because it is not difficult to be good at a subject if we really choose to be.

We can be good at ANY subject if we choose to deal with an uncertain next and failures and frustration and the mess.

The problem is, we don’t want to take ownership to be good at something unless we find out that it is possible to for us to be good at that thing.

We expect others to coach us to be good at something while we do other stuff like updating facebook status, playing mobile games, attending a friend’s sister’s husband’s uncle’s daughter’s neighbour’s birthday party … or doing something else.

We want to be good at something while doing other stuff. Doing other stuff means our attention is divided and we are not 100% committed to be good at something.

What if we create a culture where the focus is on buying and selling ownership.

When we buy ownership, we hold ourselves accountable to produce the results.

When we sell ownership, we have delegated a specific project or a task to a dependable person and that person has owned it.

Such a trade of ownership actually makes people choosing themselves.

A learner who chooses herself is unstoppable.

Sure, it takes some time to get used to the uncomfortable situations that the trade of ownership puts you in but once got, it works as an extremely powerful tool.

Successful cultures practice trading of ownership. Successful individuals too.

What do you want to do?

A Lion in Search of a Circus

When Simba, the Lion, didn’t know that a circus was a possible home for him, his life was different.

He had so much freedom, many opportunities, and so much choice.

He was wired to lead. He was wired to roar. He was wired to kill.

Kill like a Lion.

A Lion in Search of a Circus

Then came circus. And the ringmaster.

Initially, Simba didn’t like the circus but eventually he compromised and surrendered himself.

If he would do exactly as the ringmaster asked him to do, he would get a piece of meat.

If he would refuse to do as the ringmaster asked him to do, he will have to sleep hungry.

If he’d do what the ringmaster wanted even without asking, he would get one more piece of meat.

Following the ringmaster’s orders was a better deal.

So he rewired himself to listen to and follow the ringmaster’s orders.

He was now an integral part of the circus.

His life became easy. Follow the orders and get the food. On some days, he would be allowed to have sex with the lioness who used to stay in a nearby cage.

Simba thought to himself, “Life at circus is not bad at all. I get the food without having to kill anyone and I get to spend some good time with the lioness I developed a crush on.”

As the years passed, Simba thought that the ringmaster was his “true” master and if he would please him, his life would continue to be easy.

Everything worked well for several years, but one day, for some reason, the circus owner decided to close the circus down.

The circus owner was happy with Simba. He thought at this point, rather than selling him to another circus, he would send him back to his real home, into the wild.

And he did it.

That day was difficult for Simba. There was no ringmaster. No shows. No noise of people applauding Simba’s performance. There was no food at his fingertips.

Simba was hungry and he had to arrange for his food on his own.

But he didn’t feel like home. The wild was perhaps too wild for him. He didn’t want to stay there anymore. He needed to be with a circus. Any circus.

He sat under a tree thinking, “It would be great if I find another circus. I want someone to come and take me to the circus again …”

He was the Lion. The King. Yet he needed a place to hold him, a spot where he didn’t have to assume the responsibility.

If he would work with a circus, he’d get food, sex and sense of safety.

Simba was no longer a Lion. His habits were changed. Sure, he looked like a Lion but didn’t remain one. He could roar, but he could not choose.

Why wasn’t he a Lion anymore? Did he forget hunting?


But after living a passive life with the circus and after following orders from the ringmaster, he forgot to choose himself.

Simba hadn’t read James Altucher‘s book – Choose Yourself . Especially the page #4 which goes as below:

“That’s when it clicked. When everything changed. When I realized that nobody else was going to do it for me. If I was going to thrive, to survive, I had to choose myself. In every way.”

~James Altucher, Choose Yourself, pg #4

If you are a Lion, then you hunt. You don’t ridicule yourself by following orders of the ringmasters.

If you are a programmer, then you program. You don’t fool yourself by copy/pasting code from stakeoverflow.com and call yourself a Programmer.

Hunt every day. Program every day. Keep your reflexes sharpened. Read Choose Yourself from James Altucher today and be a real Lion who leads the wild, not just Simba. 

Or go in search of a circus.

How to Be Wiser In 3 Minutes or Less With Audvisor

Do you want to be wiser than who you are?

Silly question.

We all want to. We all want to learn. We all want to better our lives. But the problem is, we have a lot more commitments and a lot less time.

We follow thousands of people on Twitter, Facebook and Google+ and our data feeds are filled with so much information that often we fill guilty of not consuming the wealth of wisdom available to us.

What to do?

Enter Audvisor: It’s a mobile app that brings bite sized insights from world’s top experts for us to listen to and get wiser. Anytime. Anywhere. While driving. While walking. While taking lunch or while getting haircut!

be wiser with audvisor

The remarkable thing? The constraint of 3 minutes. We get all these insights from hundreds of handpicked experts – all under 3 minutes.

Audvisor’s app has found its place on my iPhone’s home screen for almost a week now. I’ve been using it almost every day.

I listen to Audvisor’s insight early morning and “think” about the topic during the day whenever I get few free minutes.

Here’s my first-day experience with Audvisor

I spent my first 1.47 seconds on Audvisor listening to Tom Peter‘s advice on The Real Problem.: Here are my notes from it:

Gem 1:

The problem is never the problem. The response to the problem is almost always the problem.

Gem 2:

Perception is all there is, there is no reality. There is only perception. So, the way you deal with the problem, is so much more important than the problem itself.

Simple thought. Profound concept. Just 1.47 minutes of my time. Positive ROI.

Another audvise I listened to was Pamela Slim‘s Communicating with Clarity. She touches upon how we miss practicing general protocols of clear communication in our everyday communication. My notes:

Gem 1: 

What’s the BEST way for the person whom I’m writing to, to respond me back without the need of processing ?

Gem 2:

Stay away from Jargons and Buzzwords. Tell heart touching stories. Don’t be complex. Use words that a 7th standard student can understand.

And there are 100 more experts to learn from. Seth Godin. Guy Kawasaki. Ishita Gupta. Kevin Eikenberry. Dr. Liz Alexander. All renowned experts.

About Audvisor’s UX

Now about the App’s user experience: The app is easy to use, has no learning curve and lives up to the promises made on their marketing website.

App’s interface is clean and offers Tinder like cards view but with a sensible twist. The gestures feel intuitive.

It is certainly developed with a lot of care, attention to detail and love, which Rajesh Setty, co-founder of Audvisor, is known for – Bringing Ideas To Life, With love!

In terms of user experience, Audvisor app is off to a very good start.

What I Would Like to See In Future Updates of Audvisor

I liked the idea so much that I could not stop myself thinking about it for an hour. I could visualize that eventually Audvisor will become even better when it will get some of the features that I would like to see:

#1 Save audio locally: Ability to save the audio so that I can listen to it again when I’m traveling and do not have consistent access to 3G, LTE or WiFi networks.

#2 More learning on the subject: A feature that offers manually curated useful links to related articles, videos, papers or books on the subject. 3 minutes are sufficient to trigger an action, but more info on the subject, if available to me via an optional gesture or a button, would be of great help in leveraging what I have learned.

#3 Save to Pocket  Ability to save the audvise to Pocket or other read it later service. It also opens a possibility to offer the same audvise via web interface to save it on read it later, the audvise needs a permanent place on the web.

#4 Ability to edit Tweet text: When I choose to share an audvise with twitter, I would love to be presented with an auto-populated tweet, which I can customize if I want to. Current implementation posts the tweet automatically for me which is good, but I wanted more control over the tweet text.

#5 Search:  Ability to Search by topics, experts, and keywords – this would be a great feature especially when there are a lot of topics and experts.

#6  Assign an action on a particular Audvise: Ability to assign a set of actions to a particular Audvise. If I want to extend my learning on a particular insight, I would want to create a to-do and set a reminder. An alternate could be an ability to send Audvisor link to tools such as Trello for further actions.

#7 Vidvisor: Maybe an enhancement (or a companion app)  where I can see the Videos of the experts as well if I want to.

#8 Trending audvises: Twitter-like trends for audvises.

#9 Likes: Ability to give thumbs up or down on an audvise. Litmus test for experts. Will make the platform more trusted.

#10 Stories: Audio (and video) stories of people who have listened to the audvise and how they have put it in action – and the results that they have seen because of it.

I also see that Audvisor has a potential to become a gateway between teachers and students for bite-sized learning. Imagine a teacher creating 3 minutes or less audio/video lesson on learning maths, Spanish or history on any other subject.

Mini-sagas, ThinkTweet, and  Audvisor – bite-sized insights cannot get better than this.

Audvisor adds value to the learners. I vouch for it.

Audvisor seems to add value to the experts – as they get more exposure and acts as a gateway creating more value through their services, products, and advice.

Everyone who uses Audvisor, wins. Experts. Learners. Creators of Audvisor.

If you’re using iPhone, check out this push button app for learning today. If you’re using Android, follow this link.

I’m sure you’d want to thank me for this heads up. Feel free to invite me for a coffee. I like espresso shots. I take no sugar and no milk. Just coffee.

I like coffee in its pure form and perhaps that’s why I liked Audvisor. You also might :).