A few weeks ago, I was invited to do a talk on a podcast by Mr. Umes Shrestha, who is a teacher, teacher developer, and learning experience designer.
When I got his message, I was very surprised. I wasn’t sure whether I should do it because I had not done anything like this before. Then, I thought it would be a great experience to have a talk with someone who has a lot of valuable insights on teaching and learning. So I agreed to do it. It was indeed a great learning experience for me.
Our talk was based on the topics of writing, habits, books, learning, teaching, and other stuff.
Here’s the full audio of our talk from his podcast.
About the Talk
We started our conversation with some basic introductions and backgrounds. Although I was a guest in the podcast, I didn’t want it to be just about me. Our motive was to inspire the listeners with our stories, experiences, and learnings.
Umes dai decided to approach me to do this talk after he had read one of my articles, which he liked (thank you, Umes dai). We started the conversation by talking about writing. I had started writing as a hobby during the COVID-19 lockdown. As I continued to write, I started to love it more. A few of my friends started complimenting my articles. At the time, I didn’t really know that I could write.
Umes dai is a teacher in communications and writing. He shared that most of his students have a hard time writing. Writer’s block is one of the common problems for writers. The idea of not knowing how/where to start is the worst of them all. He shared an interesting (and very true) idea that writers need to know who they are writing to. Recently, I had read an article by one of the best writers out there, Tim Denning. He said that whenever you are having writer’s block, think of a friend who is in a problem. Your job, as a writer, is to give him/her the advice that would help solve his/her problem. I have been using this technique whenever I have writer’s block, and it has worked well for me.
The PREP Technique
Umes dai also talks about the PREP technique to handle writer’s block. According to him, PREP stands for Point, Reason, Example, Point. The PREP technique gives the framework to start writing. Firstly, you need to identify the point, which is quite obvious. What is the main point of your writing? Be clear of it. Secondly, what are the reasons that you believe that that is your point? Think about them. Thirdly, what are the examples/evidence/elaborations you can give to support your point? Write a few of them. Lastly, come back to the main point to support it with the reasons and examples.
This is a new technique that I learned from him and I will be experimenting with this whenever I’m having writer’s block.
5 Things that Made Me a Better Learner
Although our talk included a lot of different topics, its major theme was learning. So Umes dai wanted me to share the 5 things that made me a better learner.
1. Desire to Learn
To do anything successfully in life, you have to first have the desire to do it. The same is with learning. If you want to learn something, you need the desire to do it. Ask yourself this – do you really have the desire to learn something or are you learning it just because someone else (like your boss, for example) is asking you to do it?
There is a big difference between the two. If you really want to learn something for yourself, you will learn it better than if you are learning it for others. I have understood this through experience. Whenever my boss at work wanted me to learn something (which I really didn’t want to learn), I had a difficult time learning it. I didn’t enjoy it because I didn’t have the desire to do it. But whenever I learn something that I want to learn for myself, I learn it better and faster. And, I also have fun doing it.
So before you decide to learn something, make sure you have the desire to do it.
Reading is one of my daily habits. I usually read books, articles, journals, online magazines, etc. This habit of reading every day has made me a better learner. It is obvious that the more you read, the more you will learn. Reading has helped me gain insights on different topics like habits, communication, psychology, health, history, finance, productivity, etc.
You have to read a lot if you want to become a better learner. But don’t limit yourself to reading books only. Read whatever gives you value. As we discussed in our conversation, YouTube is also a form of reading/learning. So I’d say you need to “consume valuable content”.
Experiences are the best ways to learn things. For me, there are two different types of experiences – conscious and unconscious.
A conscious experience is something you do for the sake of learning a particular skill. Let’s take the example of swimming. If you want to learn how to swim, you have to get inside the water. You have to consciously make the decision to experience it. Similarly, I recently wanted to learn graphic design. So I sat down, took a course, downloaded the necessary software, and started designing. That’s a conscious experience for learning.
An unconscious experience is an event that happens without any plan or initiation, but you learn from it. For example; let us suppose that I had a bike accident because I had crossed the lane on the opposite side. It was clearly my fault. After this experience, I will learn not to break rules and to ride my bike safely.
4. Good with Technology and Research
I was always fascinated by technology. I got my first computer when I was 11 years old. Back then, I used to be on my computer all day, every day. Ever since the internet started becoming easily accessible, things changed quickly. Learning became easier. Nowadays, people learn more from YouTube (for free) than from paid courses or schools. Being intrigued by technology from such a young age, I would say that I am good with searching for the things I want to learn. I even try to find sneaky ways to download paid content for free (*wink wink*). So this has given me the advantage of becoming a better learner.
“You can learn anything you want for free.” — Elon Musk
5. Having Fun Learning
One of the things I learned in the year 2020 is that you have to do more things that make you feel good. When you have fun doing things, you will be good at doing them. The same goes for learning. If you have fun learning, you will be good at it. For example, I used to play the guitar a lot. I enjoyed it. I had fun doing it. So it naturally made a good guitarist. I did not have a difficult time learning how to play it because I enjoyed the process of learning it. Whenever I try to learn something, I try to make it as much fun as possible because I know it will help me become good at it.
The next part of the podcast was about some of my favorite things.
#1: My Favorite Book
I don’t have just one favorite book because there are many of them. But if I had to say one (like I did on the podcast), I would say it is Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. It was the first book I had ever read (besides the academic textbooks of course). When I read it the first time, I didn’t really grasp everything in the book. I wasn’t a book-reader at the time and I had a hard time understanding most of the things that were written in the book.
I have read this book four times now. Having read it multiple times, I have understood that this book is not just about getting rich (even though the title says so). It is about achieving anything you want in life, not just money. This book teaches you how you can live the life of your dreams.
I recently had a thought in mind and I had posted it on LinkedIn. It was this:
“Our main goal in life is to achieve all the goals we have in life.” —Biliz Maharjan (That’s me!)
Think and Grow Rich teaches you how to achieve any goal in life and it gives you systematic steps to do so. I understood this after reading the book multiple times. This book is a must-read if you haven’t read it yet.
#2: My Favorite Habit
Like I said on the podcast, I believe that a habit should not be called a “favorite” because then, it becomes a hobby. So I chose my favorite habit based on its effectiveness. My most “effective” habit is waking up early in the morning. I enjoy the morning time because it is quiet and productive. Waking up early has changed my life in terms of health, productivity, and work.
#3: My Favorite Quote
I am actually not good with remembering quotes. When I hear a good quote, I am like “wow”. But, I forget it quickly. I remembered this quote specifically because I had heard it recently and I had written it down to remember it. So my favorite quote is by Tony Robbins. He said:
“The only thing that is keeping you from getting what you want is the story you keep telling yourself.”
Positive self-talk is very important in becoming a better person and achieving your goals. For instance, if you think your goals are too big, you won’t be able to achieve them because deep inside, you don’t really believe in them. What you say to yourself is more important than what others say to you. So practice positive self-talk as much as possible.
My Experience Doing This Podcast
The podcast was a fun experience for me. As I said, it was something I had never done before. I got the opportunity to share a lot of ideas and experiences. I also got to learn a lot of things from Umes dai about learning, teaching, reading, writing, and communication.
To be honest, it was a little weird listening to myself talk. I bet all the listeners noticed that I used the words “like” and “haina” so many times. If only someone gave me a dollar for every time I said these words, I would have become rich by the end of the talk. Haha! It was my first time so don’t judge me, people. But, I take this as a learning experience. If I get a chance to do something like this again, I will definitely be more careful with my words.
I had agreed to do this podcast mainly for two reasons. Number one, I thought it was a great platform to help the listeners (especially, the students) in any way possible. As Umes dai said, most of his students have a hard time figuring out what/how to write for their assignments. I think we gave them a good insight on how to overcome writer’s block. Also, listening to the “five things that made me a better learner” might have inspired some listeners. They could apply these things to become better learners themselves. I hope that happens.
Reason number two, I wanted to do more things outside of my comfort zone in 2021, and what better way to start the year than this? I was nervous at the beginning of the conversation. But thanks to Umes dai, he made me feel friendly and comfortable while we were having the conversation.
Overall, it was a great experience. I would love to do more things like these where I could learn and share at the same time.
Thanks to Umes dai once again for giving me this opportunity. And, thanks to all the listeners of the podcast and readers of my blog.