Explore your surroundings

When I was going to university in England, I lived on a long straight street full of typical English row houses. Down the street was a Tesco supermarket and an entire avenue full of small shops. For months I didn’t bother walking up the street because it looked like there was nothing there. One day, for whatever reason, I did just that and discovered a small corner shop much closer to my house. Granted I usually ended up going to Tesco anyways, but I learnt something important: always explore.

If you start using a new program, go through all the settings and push all the buttons. When you move to a new neighborhood, take a few hours to walk around and be mindful of what you see. Take a different route on your commute, switch to a different bus or a train. And of course, see the world and travel as much as you can.

One lesson and two skills I learned in business school

Collectively, I studied over four years in business schools and here are three important things that I learned:

  1. This guy (I’m sure he had a more official title at the time) was doing a speech/presentation in front of the class. I can’t remember what his exact topic was, but he put emphasis on taking up the opportunity of learning languages. I couldn’t agree more. There are tons of different classes you can take up, but few will benefit you through life as much as being able to pick up a conversation with someone from another country in their native language.
  2. When I was studying at the Metropolia Business School, almost every module involved doing a presentation in front of the class. I was a nervous wreck during the first year, but I noticed, the more presentations I did, the less scarier it got. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no Steve Jobs but I no longer dread getting in front of a crowd of people to talk. I actually kind of enjoy it.
  3. Quantity of practice trumps quality of practice. The sheer number of reports, business plans and other documents I had to write (often in a rush to meet the deadline), made me very good at creating text in a short period of time. I noticed that when learning a new skill, it’s much more important to just concentrate on the number of repetitions than the quality of repetitions. The quality will improve with time, but it’s critical to get started.

To sum up: learn languages, overcome your fears and practice repetitions (don’t worry about quality).