I'm a Social Media Entrepreneur, Professor of Digital Marketing, Author of 5 books, Podcaster and an Organic Farmer.

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Kiruba Shankar

Life Lessons from Ariana Huffington

I finished listened to a podcast where Tim Ferriss interviewed Ariana Huffington, the founder of The Huffington Post. She sold it to AOL for US$315 Million and personally pocketed a cool US$21 Million. Today, I read that she raised US$30 Million in funding for her new wellness company, ThriveGlobal at a valuation of US$120 Million.

These are reasons enough to listen to the podcast a second time and glean important life lessons from it. That’s exactly what I did.

Sleep 8 hours: If you haven’t watched her TED talk on sleeping your way to success, you must. She insists that our body needs 8 hours of sleep for higher productivity. I can vouch for this totally from my own experience. The only thing that I didn’t like was that Ariana does not have a fixed sleeping schedule. She says that her sleeping time varies but he’s her 8 hours sleep. I would rather respect our body clock.

Meditate: Ariana spends time every morning meditating that clears up her mind to take on the day.

Connecting People: She is a master networker and the trick, she says, is to find out what is it that people want to achieve. She then finds ways to connect people who will help achieve those goals.

Learning to Communicate Well: One of the first things that stuck me hard was the strong accent she had. She is from Greece and it clearly shows. Growing up, she’s learned French which was the official foreign language in Greece. But she consciously worked on learning and improving her English. She eventually went on to be the President of the Cambridge Debating Society which is a big deal because she was the only female foreigner to hold that post in all of Cambridge long history.

Book of Dreams: This is something that I loved and immediately put into practice. She would write down her bucketlists, goals and dreams in notebooks so as to capture them. It important to document them lest we lose to them.


Work Productivity Workshop

Conducted a collaborative & interactive workshop on Work Productivity. The participants were heads of all departments at NotionPress, the book publishing company. 
I love the unconference methodology because the team gets to open up on problem areas, growth opportunities and the best part is that they put their heads together to suggest solutions and strategies for implementing them. The team committing to ideas and solutions on their own is far more powerful than an external person telling them what they need to do.
I peppered the event with fun activities as a way to infuse in energy. We ended the event with everyone committing to areas of improvement for their team as well as themselves. We recorded these on audio as a reminder for the team and will be useful to gauge them when we reconvene next week for the second half of the workshop. Eagerly look forward.


Jeff Bezos’ Two Pizza Rule for Team Size

Heard the Two Pizza Rule at #Techspectations event which I hosted in Kochi. The two pizza rule is by Amazon CEO, Jeff Bezos, to limit team meetings to  8 people or less.

The goal of the two pizza rule is to increase productivity and prevent HiPPO phenomena that often occur in large groups which tend to discourage creative thinking. HiPPO, which is an acronym for the “highest paid person’s opinion,” describes the tendency for lower-paid employees to defer to higher-paid employees. 


Making Habits Stick Using LoopHabit App

I have just started to use the LoopHabit app and I’m already beginning to love it.  While we all have right intentions of following good habits and discarding bad ones, its a lot more difficult to put them into action.  The trick is to do the habits long enough for them to become habitual.  That’s where the LoopHabit app comes in . It helps keep track on how you are following up on each of the habits you have set to imbibe in your life.  I’m already seeing it make an impact. This blog post you are reading is because of it because I have set to blog everyday.  And I can’t sleep peacefully if I don’t tick that off the list. 🙂  You can download the Android app from the Google Play Store where it is rated quite highly.


Forest App: Improving Your Focus & Productivity Using Trees

During our ‘Deep Work’ Workshop, one of the participants mentioned that she found the FOREST app useful.  I made a note of it. I was looking for an app that combines both the ‘Pomodoro Technique’ and also logging in my hourly focus pattern.  Today, I downloaded the app and immediately started to like it.

Its best purpose is to let you stay away from your phone.  This is a problem that plagues me. The solution? A simple visual trick.  Everytime you commit to working for a certain time (say 20 minutes), a seed is planted when you start the clock.  The seed will germinate and a sapling will emerge and will continue to grow as long as your phone is not touched.   If you open up any other app, like your email or Facebook, the tree will die.

As a farmer, I hate to see a sapling or tree die. So, this works perfectly for me to continue to remain focused and to get away from my addiction of constantly peeking into my phone.