My great teachers who I never met face to face – by Alok Das

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Alok Das

Henry B Adams said, ‘A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.’ The opinion of William Butler Yates was, ‘Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.’ In the old era we would meet our teachers in a classroom or any other type of face to face scenarios. However, in this modern era we do not just meet them in these scenarios. We can learn from anyone and through reading a book they have written, or a speech they have given somewhere (later made available online or printed somewhere).

Today I am going to talk about some of my greatest teachers who I have learned so much from, albeit I have never met them face to face.

Randy Pausch

The late Randolph Frederick Pausch, popularly known as Randy Pausch, was an American educator, a professor of computer science, human–computer interaction, and design at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. A truly intellectual giant, Pausch has influenced millions of learners, both inside and outside academia.

While I do not work in the area where he taught and conducted his research on, I have learned very important life lessons from him, especially through his lecture on time management and also the famous speech, ‘The Last Lecture’. His early demise at a relatively young age is a huge loss for humanity. My deepest respect to this great master of mine.

The key pieces of learning that I have received from him:

  • The arts and science of time management.
  • It is very important to have fun while learning and working.
  • The importance of avoiding clutter and how to do it.

Ahmed Fahour

Ahmed Fahour is a legend in the Australian business world. Currently the CEO of Latitude Financial Services, Fahour has also served as the CEO of National Australia Bank and Australia Post. His rise to leadership is a key proof that in Australia, if you have talent and if you work hard, no matter what your background (race, religion, colour, gender) is, you can reach the top.

When I was a struggling university student in my early days in Australia and working in a very low paid job in hospitality to make both ends meet, with no idea of what I could do after finishing university, I read a brilliant piece of advice from him on a newspaper left by someone in a train compartment. This was one of the best pieces of advice I have received ever (and will pass to my children) and would one day change my life:

  • Start with any work you get. It is actually better to start at the bottom, because then you would learn the business well.

Sir Ralph Norris

In the business world of Australia and New Zealand, Sir Ralph Norris needs no introduction. As the CEO, he transformed two unique organisations: Air New Zealand and the Commonwealth Bank in Australia, in New Zealand and in Australia respectively.

 Key lessons learnt from Sir Norris:

  • Customers should be at the heart of anything that a business does.
  • In this era of disruptive technologies, it is always important to be innovative.

Jordan Peterson

Professor Jordan Peterson is arguably the world’s most famous clinical psychologist and one of the most famous Canadians globally. He is admired by millions of people globally who have found his teachings (mainly online) and books life changing. He is equally hated by woke people and SJWs. His work is very important in an age where a small group of lefties want to throttle everyone’s right to free speech. I have read some of his work and find the ‘Twelve Rules for Life’ specifically helpful. Out of this book, I have found these lessons very helpful:

  • Treat yourself like someone you are responsible for helping.
  • Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who someone else is today.
  • Be precise in your speech.

Tim Harcourt

Tim Harcourt has taught me a valued lesson: Economics is not just boring theories and mines of data, it is primarily about humans. J.W. Nevile Fellow in economics at the UNSW Business School, and an advisor to the Government of South Australia on international engagement, Harcourt is the author of some books and many scholarly articles. Some years ago, on a coffee break from work, I discovered his famous book, ‘The Airport Economist’, in a small bookshop that used to sell used books on Mount Street in North Sydney. Unfortunately, the shop doesn’t exist anymore, but the book – I realised later on – is one of the best treasures I’ve discovered in my life. As he travels the globe in the chase of Australian business success, he narrates the economic lives of the many countries he visits. Reading his book is like watching a documentary and a movie at the same time. Harcourt never travels alone, he makes you and I – his readers – a part of his journey, without fail.

The key lesson I have learnt from Tim:

  • The spillover effect is not true for economics only, it is true for many other things, even for enhancing one’s own learning.

Jeremy Brotton

A British academic, Brotton is Professor of Renaissance Studies at Queen Mary University of London, a television and radio presenter and a curator. Out of his voluminous works, I have read only one, ‘The Sultan and the Queen: The Untold Story of Elizabeth and Islam’. The mastery with which he employs interdisciplinary approaches, looking at art, politics, history, travel writing and literature is mesmerising. The book is an awesome work and educates the reader in so many ways about so many things. I have read it with sheer delight and at times have got the feeling of time travelling. As a student of English literature, it has benefited me immensely; especially in understanding the Elizabethan era about which I had many questions since my university days.

The key lesson I have learned from Jeremy Brotton:

  • It is very important to master the art of storytelling, doesn’t matter whatever field you work in.
  • While writing history, it is very important for the writer to have an unbiased mind.

Jeetendr Sehdev

While on a lazy stroll in the Sydney city on a sunny day through a narrow alley that has numerous shops on both sides, I discovered this awesome book with a very interesting title (‘The Kim Kardashian Principle’) by an author I have never heard of before, Jeetender Sehdev. Reading this book was many things for me: a journey, a discovery and a phase of enlightenment. Interestingly, this book is less about Kim Kardashian’s personal life and more about marketing strategies that anyone – individuals and businesses – can follow to achieve certain goals in today’s world. And why Kim Kardashian? It will raise too many eyebrows, and sceptics will say: nah, you can’t be serious. But Shedev has the justification: ‘Because Kim Kardashian has indisputably shaped our culture and the way it unfolds; she is a grand-scale indicator of how to behave if you want to achieve certain goals.’ In fact, Kardashian represents, ‘… a seismic shift in the way ideas catch on and how people, products, and services can capitalize on this new change to build stronger, more intimate connections with consumers.’

Born to Indian parents in the UK, Shedev himself has a very interesting career trajectory: a not so successful doctor (his own admission) with the NHS, then studying history at Oxford leading to nowhere, and finally studying MBA at Harvard and ending up in the glitzy world of advertising and celebrity branding Sehdev is described as, ‘ … the world’s leading celebrity expert. A trailblazer in pop culture, he has become one of the most prominent figures in celebrity news and a sought-after adviser to top international companies. Jeetendr’s research on the power of YouTube stars continues to make global headlines and has gained him influencer status and over a million subscribers on social media.’

The key lesson I have learnt from Sehdev:

  • ‘Know that you no longer get taken seriously by savvy audiences by fitting into a neat box and following conventional wisdom. If you really want to break through, you have got to find your own freedom. If that makes you uncomfortable, don’t worry.’

Jaggi Vasudev aka Sadguru

In the last few years, Sadguru has become quite a sensation, but for all the right reasons. In his own explanation, Sadguru means an ‘uneducated guru’ who clearly – contrary to the popular perception of a guru in the Indian context – doesn’t teach about religion. Sadguru is famous for teaching yoga and many essential life skills, and for his initiatives in reviving many healthy aspects of rural life in southern parts of India. He has become a global figure and been invited to give talks on many international forums and revered by celebrities including the likes of Will Smith. He has made the concept of inner engineering very popular. I strongly recommend anyone willing to explore yoga, meditation and spiritually to research him on the Internet.

The key lesson I have learnt from Sadguru:

  • Karma is not what happens to you, it is rather how you react to what happens to you; you cannot control the former, but you can control the latter.

Donald J Trump

This name will create varied strong emotions amongst the readers of this article: some will appreciate it, and some will abuse me for being an admirer of Donald Trump. And that explains two things: Trump is a very polarising figure and the so called liberal lunatic leftists do not believe in freedom of speech. If you ask 10 of them why they hate Trump, nine of them won’t have a clue why (remember AOC’s disastrous interview where she couldn’t provide a single reason why Trump should be impeached?) and the tenth one will want to punch you.

Before becoming President, he was a role model of success for many people, he donated so much in charities and to so many people (irrespective of colour, gender, and social status); he was the first one to sue a club (if I remember correctly, in Florida) which won’t allow black people and Jewish people to enter their premises; even Obama in his student life referred to Trump in a Harvard paper as an example of American success. As POTUS, he was one of the best presidents that the USA ever had. His economic records are enviable, during his tenure the African Americans and the Hispanics had the best economic records, he was the first US president to have a media team full of women (let me qualify my statement: they were all very highly capable professionals); he was the first POTUS in many years not to wage a war on any country (compare that to how many lives Obama took by drone strikes on Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen, or Obama Hillary duo’s epic failure in protecting American lives in Benghazi), he brokered peace deals between Israel and many Arab countries.

Biden has records of sexually harassing women, Bill Clinton raped many women in the eighties, but the left wing mainstream media never made it an issue, they rather suppressed those.

One of the best books to know Donald Trump the person and which has been a big inspiration to many is ‘Think Big’, authored by Bill Zanker based on his interviews with Donald Trump.

The key lessons from Donald Trump:

  • Do what feels good.
  • Learn from your mistakes.
  • Never give up.
  • Get out of your comfort zone.
  • When you reach the top, give back.

I will stop here today. There are others who have influenced me, and I will write about them separately. Hope you have enjoyed this journey with me.



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