Friday, September 23, 2016

The need for ambitious self-teaching

internet economy, Bright Sparks blog, Sandeep Manudhane, PT education, PT's IAS Academy, ecommerceIn today's competitive age, millions of young Indians are trying to achieve their life-goals, either through the job market or by pursuing an entrepreneurial dream. More than 10 million new faces join the race each year! Indeed, that makes it a very tough race, and old methods that worked in an age gone by, can neither ensure victory nor any solid destination. And we keep coming across depressing news items in media regarding our degree-holders being unemployable. Many of our colleges and universities, assuming outdated and obsolete methods of imparting education and skills as relevant to the present day tsunamis, are delivering something that has little practical value. No one in particular is responsible, yet everyone actually is! We hear passionate cries promising system-repair, but little turns up on the ground. The youth understands that she/he needs to do something, but is usually clueless regarding the nitty-gritty.

A common refrain is - there are no opportunities, and the markets have little to offer educated people.

All this is having a telling effect on our social and political situation as well. Tensions keep mounting, and immediate solutions elude us. The choice before most of us is clear - either we give us and stop dreaming, or decide to go after it and find a solution. If you are young by age or attitude, then the latter option is always preferable! The good news is that in these difficult and changing times, there are many resources available that can easily impart skills which will not only develop your self-esteem and confidence, but even your market value. Let us try and understand how using simple and easy tools, we can learn something of value each day. These could mean the difference between success and failure. Seen as a whole, these can help our Indian society remain much more optimistic and positive.

First and foremost, we need to understand that the very internet that has revolutionsed most sectors, and has created huge problems for conventional methods, has simultaneously created a wonderful opportunity as well - it has brought the best teachers and learning resources right on your computer screen, available on a click. Many of them will do it free for you (on, say, Youtube), and the rest will do it at a price (on personal teaching sites). Try getting the gist of this argument. If you really want to crack it, then you have an option of getting help from the most skilled professionals in the world on a one-to-one basis, and this can help you deliver more in your job and race forward. Not only this, you can become an internet entrepreneur yourself, without any major investment. Excited? Let's see some milestones you're likely to face in this exciting journey.

First milestone - Make three things a part of your daily life. (a) Read the blogs and articles by experts of your chosen field (on the internet), (b) Keep digging deep into the multiple aspects of emerging technologies (on relevant technology websites and forums), and (c) Keep saving relevant and useful content in a notebook (or a webtool like Evernote). Just keep at this for six months at least, and realise how the techniques of learning and skilling have truly transformed. As an example - many engineering related courses are available for free. Immense resources are available related to technologies being used on the internet to create various tools. Multiple marketplaces abount (like Envato), where skilled graphic and web designers can sell their wares, without even stepping out of their homes. And if you have the teacher-talent in you, then why not start your own course academy to teach others (using platforms like Ruzuku, Kajabi, Udemy etc.), and earn in dollars!

Second milestone - When you will start spending your time (and datapack) on these skill-focussed areas rather than mostly useless chatting and video-watching, then you'll surely face three questions. Whom to follow daily (Google to the rescue, followed by Alexa ranking like tools), which paid programmes are really useful (check out various review and comparison sites), and how to really turn your entrepreneurial dreams into reality (check out teaching, blogging and hosting sites). You'll surely face problems with English. So you'll begin searching the right language teachers. The plethora of options will make your mind spin! I strongly feel that the millions of educated ladies who often utilise their talents only in cooking food for their families - they can (with some effort) become a micro-entrepreneur leveraging the internet and empower themselves and their families. If the family elders happen to be hyper-conservative, they can be told that this would not necessarily entail action outside the home.

Third milestone - To prepare oneself, one's organisation, and the nation too, for the coming decades. It surely is not an exaggeration to say that the internet-enabled storm of easily available yet powerful technologies has totally transformed most sectors. We witness the changes in many areas like taxi services, shopping platforms, medical diagnosis and freelancing. Sadly, the Indian brands are not at the forefront of this unique race (surprising, given the dominance Indians display in services and in running some of these very global leader brands!). I have often spoken of this issue, calling it 'Digital Sovereignty' or 'Digital Independence'. Why has this happened? A simple answer is - we have spent our energies in cramming stuff, and acing exams. We lost the art of learning. The three key skills duly adapted to a new world - ability to read & comprehend fast, expressing ourselves through the written word beautifully, and basic arithmetic - were not developed. Net result? The easy methods by which one can try to cater to a global market despite being a micro-entrepreneur are not in our radar.

The choice is ours - keep cursing the system, and wait for a messiah who will transform the entire scenario. Or begin the journey of our individual success today, and start creating innovative products and services using modern technologies. We may not succeed always, but when we do, it may be spectacular.

My Hindi editorial article on this theme was published recently. Can check here!

Internet economy, Indian education, technologies, e-commerce, Sandeep Manudhane Hindi articles