Everyday is Earth Day

I hope everybody is surviving midterm season! The only thing keeping me going is Thanksgiving break. This week I want to touch on the importance of sustainability.

Sustainability can mean different things for different people. For some, it’s becoming vegan. For others it’s taking shorter showers. To me, the definition of sustainability is simple. It’s about preserving and improving the environment for future generations. Sustainability is also an issue that Haas has been working hard to address, especially with the new Chou Building! Zero Waste by 2020 is an admirable and achievable goal. HBSA also has a new committee on sustainability, led by VP Sylvia Chen which I’m also a part of – the dream team! We are working on projects that involve working with the Haas facilities team, looking at energy reports and brainstorming ways Haas events can go green. It’s an amazing new addition to the Haas student government.

But, it can be hard to stay sustainable. I think it takes a really conscious but important effort. So, I want to highlight some of my unsustainable guilty pleasures, and how I am working to mitigate them. Here is my list.  

Shop Till You Drop

I love shopping. I can shop for hours and hours without eating or using the bathroom. Some people read for fun or watch Netflix, but I go shopping. The first place I visited in San Francisco was Westfield Mall. However, this isn’t the best for the environment or my wallet. Fast fashion has led to devastating environmental impacts from generating tons of plastic and waste to demoralizing factory conditions in Bangladesh.

Sustainable Fix: Window shopping – really good for my wallet! Thrift shopping and donating your old clothes are all ways to mitigate fast fashion effects.  Also, shop at brands that are known to be environmentally conscious like Patagonia, Levi’s and Everlane.

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Starbucks and Coffee Cups

I get a pumpkin spice latte every Wednesday. Also, Starbucks has the best holiday drinks. Peppermint mocha? Gingerbread latte? Chestnut Praline latte? Sign me up for all of them, especially because of the BOGO free deals. But, with all of these drinks comes the cost of coffee cups.

Sustainable Fix: BYOC – Bring your own cup! Even though mobile ordering can save time, it’s better for the environment to get to Starbucks 5 minutes earlier to wait in line with your own cup. It can even save you money because they charge you for the smallest size to fill your cup! Also, Starbucks tumblers are even cuter than its holiday cups.

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Food in my Fridge

Grocery shopping is a must because eating out can get really expensive. I love grocery shopping especially at Trader Joes because it seems to have the best snacks. I always end up over buying and overestimating how much I’m going to eat. So, I end up with wasted food that ends up in the trash. This is quite terrible for the environment because it leads to wasted resources.

Sustainable Fix: Now, I go into grocery stores with a recipe in mind. I try to meal prep and organize my weekly meals a little bit more so I can save food. Not wasting food means not wasting the environment!

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What are you doing to be more sustainable?

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Optimizing Mornings

When was the last time you thought about your morning routine? Whether you realize it or not, you have one. Some people wake up and go straight for the coffee machine, while others go straight for the snooze button. Not everyone is a morning person but having a well-designed plan to optimize your morning can make a positive change in your life.

The Early Bird Gets the Worm

Most successful people have a well-designed plan for their mornings that helps get them both mentally and physically ready for the day. Billionaire John Paul deJoria, co-founder of Patrón Tequila, starts every day with a bit of meditation and reflection. Gary Vaynerchuk, CEO of VaynerMedia, has a 3-hour morning routine that includes catching up on the news, communicating with his followers, and talking with family. Barack Obama wakes up at 6:45 every morning to workout, read the news, and spend time with his family.

I know what you’re thinking, not all successful people have morning routines, and not everyone with a morning routine is rich and famous. Warren Buffett isn’t waking up to at the buttcrack of dawn to drink his detox tea and meditate. Regardless, it’s something worth considering if you’re looking to make the most of every day and actually learn something in those 9AM lectures.

Some Things to Consider

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Avoid:

Hitting the snooze – I know it’s tempting to sleep just 5 more minutes, but trust me on this one, it does more harm than good. You set a goal of waking up at a certain time; follow through with your goal. Dedication is committing when it’s hard, not when it’s convenient. The quality of sleep that you’ll get in those extra 5-10 minutes is not worth it.

Negative thoughts – This is a general rule of thumb for living a good life, but especially in the morning. Some people wake up stressed out or anxious because they know they have a full day ahead of them. This stress or anxiety will carry on throughout the day setting you up for failure. Spend some time meditating or being grateful in the morning and it will have a profound effect on your attitude.

Social media – I am a personal advocate for this one. I avoid social media in the morning because I’ll often get trapped into scrolling down my feed or looking at the latest and greatest memes. Before I know it, I’ve wasted 30 minutes of my morning…you’ve all done it too. If you feel the need to be entertained in the morning, try keeping a book next to your bed and reach for that instead.

Must Do:

Eat a healthy breakfast – My go-to breakfast is scrambled eggs, avo toast, and greek yogurt. Its quick, easy and has lots of nutrients to feed my brain and body. I used to skip breakfast when I didn’t have time, or just grab a banana and breakfast bar out the door. This works for some, but it’s not sustainable for long periods and will eventually lead to burnout. Dave Asprey, founder of BulletProof Coffee, is a proponent of intermittent fasting, which consists of a high-fat diet in the morning to enter into ketosis (fat-burning state). It’s something worth looking into for those who don’t have time to make breakfast in the morning (and want to shed some pounds). 

Set goals for the day – I usually set goals for my day the night before. I don’t like the idea of a “to do list” because it puts too much pressure on having to do those things. Planning your day the night before also makes it a lot easier to wake up and just do it.

Exercise/ stretch – Doing something physical in the morning is a good habit. If you have a house pet, you’ll know that cats and dogs always stretch right after waking up. In fact, most of the animal kingdom stretches as part of their morning ritual. Waking up your muscles, raising your heartbeat, and getting your blood flowing increases mental acuity and keeps you sharp throughout the day. If you don’t want to go to the gym, consider biking or walking to wherever you’re going. Julius Caesar would walk 5 miles every morning as soon as he woke up!

My morning routine:

6:30AM: Wake up, take my heartbeat, and immediately make my bed. I use an app called Sleep Cycle, that I learned about from Tim Ferriss, which tracks my sleeping patterns and heartbeat in the morning. I know I’ve had a good night of sleep if my heartbeat is around 55 BPM when I wake up. My dad always taught me to start the day by making my bed because it’s an easy task to complete that makes you feel good.

6:30AM – 7:00AM: Drink a tall glass of room temperature water, review my goals for the day and meditate while I do oil pulling. Some people like to add lemon to their morning water because it boosts metabolism. I have daily goals, monthly goals, and life goals – all of which help frame my choices for the day. Something new I’ve been trying is called ‘oil pulling,’ which is an ancient Ayurvedic technique that promotes healthy teeth and gums. It takes very little effort and is the perfect excuse to just sit down and relax a bit in the morning.

7:00AM – 8:30AM: Go to the gym. I like to work out in the morning because the gym is typically empty and I don’t have to fight for the equipment. It’s also a habit I’ve developed that makes sure I actually go to the gym. My days are always packed, so mornings are the best time to fit in my exercise routine. Exercising reduces stress, increases blood flow, wakes up the body, and boosts confidence.

8:45AM – 8:50AM: Take a cold shower. Cold showers have many health benefits – increased blood circulation, boosted immunity, reduced depression, and much more. It also encourages me to get in and out of the shower as quick as possible without wasting any more time (or water).

9:00AM – 9:30AM: Chef up a big breakfast and be ready for my day no later than 10AM. I’m mentally and physically awake, I’ve worked out and excited to conquer the day!

Disclaimer: It’s traditionally recommended to get at least 7 hours of sleep a night. Not everyone needs 7 hours and there are some interesting new studies that show that 4-5 hours of high-quality sleep is better than 7-8 hours of mediocre sleep. For those night-owls who are up until 2-3AM, you can have a morning routine whenever you wake up. This is just my way of trying to make the most of every day.

Improving the routine

My morning routine is not perfect, and I’m always trying to make it better. I know when I enter the workforce I’ll have to adjust my morning schedule to get to the office on time. Morning routines are not about perfection; they’re about finding a balance that’s right for you.

If you found this post helpful or if some aspects of my morning routine caught your interest and you want to know more, feel free to reach out to me. I’d love to hear if you have a morning routine and what you do to optimize your mornings!

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Your “Proficiency in Microsoft Excel” is Not Going to Cut it.

“Job Qualifications: Analytical proficiency. Able to process large amounts of quantitative data. Comfortable with statistical analysis and data visualization.”

Sorry, the “Proficient in Microsoft Excel” listed on your resume is just not going to cut it.

Jobs that are geared for business students are increasingly demanding applicants to have strong analytical skills and a data-geared mindset. Many roles that business people play are being simplified, automated, or improved by machine learning and analytical processes.

The Increasingly Data-Driven Business Skillset

Finance positions are becoming more quantitative and even automated with machine learning. Great marketers (and especially analysts) understand how their customers are segmented and how to identify customer needs with data. Data science is even pioneering development of historically qualitative and behavioral fields like human resources. Even as a manager, salesperson, or consultant, it is increasingly important to be able to communicate with the growing number of data analysts, software engineers and “numbers people” that you will encounter.

Although you might not be the one doing the data analyses, it is important to understand what data is needed for business decisions, and lead teams that include data scientists. You need to be able to speak intelligently about what does and does not make sense for specific types of business decisions and analyses.

Haas’s Evolving Curriculum

Haas and Berkeley in general continue to develop the curriculum to prepare students for this ever-changing business environment.

The core Haas analytics course, UGBA104, attempts to ingrain students with an analytical way of thinking and a set of tools to help them make better decisions across multiple business disciplines. This course, over time, has itself been increasingly changing, adding discussion topics and changing teaching methods to accommodate additional material. The problem with only teaching an analytics class like that is applicable across multiple business verticals is that there is too much information to teach in one class.

New courses for undergraduates looking to gain more analytical experience are being added, such as UGBA147: Business Analytics, which is offered next Spring. According to UGBA104 Professor Thomas Lee, there are also plans to offer an undergraduate marketing analytics course, which is currently only taught at the MBA level.

Innovative Courses Outside Haas

Students looking to gain even more experience can look outside of Haas. The Industrial Engineering and Operations Research department, offers many interesting data science and entrepreneurship courses, such as “Machine Learning and Data Analytics,” which I am taking this semester. Although it is a bit tough and not specifically geared for business, I thoroughly enjoy the course. Similar courses can be found in the statistics department. A new Data Science major is also planned to be available within the year as well, for interested students. Introductory courses, such as Data 8 and DS100 are already available.

The problem is that much of the material is not directly related to what the average business student will need to know how to do. Methods learned in these classes have countless applications in business, but require students to make the connection or do tangential readings. Moreover, Haas graduates are not typically going to be the ones building complex models. What is important is that students understand the vocabulary, opportunities, and limitations of what is possible in data.

You can find more business-related courses taught on websites such as Coursera, which offers courses from universities and organizations from around the world. For example, you can take a “Strategic Business Analytics” course, which is offered from Accenture and ESSEC Business School. The website, as well as numerous others on the internet also offers courses that teach specific tools like SQL and Tableau, which are widely used by companies today.

Moving Forward…

Data and business go hand in hand. The purpose of a business is to solve problems. Data is essential in identifying problems, prioritizing among problems, creating solutions, and evaluate decisions. When you can understand data, you can make quicker, and more confident decisions. There will always be an increasing demand for those who can interpret, analyze and communicate data in an effective manner. Do not become obsolete!

On a final note, it is probably best to not restrict the need for understanding data to just business decisions. The future of humanity is a very complex mix of mind and machine, of which we are just starting to explore. An ability to look at different situations through a highly analytical lens is an increasingly important way of thinking. Being students at Berkeley, we are in such an opportune position to gain these skills and get ahead of the curve.

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Haas School of Business & Track and Field

On the lineup for Haas’ Homecoming Weekend Schedule of Events was Professor Stephen Etter’s lecture. His talk in Anderson Auditorium was titled, “Students or Athletes, Can You Be Both.”

As a Student-Athlete studying at Haas and a Heptathlete on the women’s track and field team, I found this talk particularly interesting. Around the same time as Homecoming weekend, my track and field coach, Nick Newman, MS, published an article called  “Developing the Multi-Event Athlete.” My thoughts about Professor Etter’s talk coupled with my opinions on this article, helped me develop this post.

I think it is particularly relevant in a number of ways: Firstly, it reinforces the point that Professor Etter made as part of his talk- that it is possible to be a Student-Athlete at Haas. Secondly, it gives you, the reader, a unique glance into the world of Track and Field from a psychological standpoint. Thirdly, I believe it is valuable in the sense that it will encourage you to look more deeply into the purposes of your extracurricular activities. We all have passions that help inform and contribute to our business education. My hope is that by reading a bit about mine in this article, you will consider the places in your life that help inform and guide your business school education.

So before I begin, I’ll start with a bit of background. The multi events in track and field include the decathlon, heptathlon, and pentathlon. Each of these events include some combination of sprinting, hurdling, jumping, and throwing (along with a few others). As with any athletic endeavor, there is an entire science dedicated to the psychology behind the sport. But, the nature of the multi-events requires a unique approach to training. As such, my coach Nick Newman, MS recently published an article that includes a fascinating section titled, “Recommendations for Psychological Preparation.”As I was reading it, my mind immediately drew parallels between the psychological preparation for a multi-event and my studies at Haas.

Here is the link to that article for your reference: Developing the Multi-Event Athlete

Coach Newman’s first assertion was that, “Psychological adaptability- the ability to re-evaluate, re-focus, and re-energize almost instantaneously- is an essential attribute of a multi-event athlete”

During open event competitions, often coaches will intentionally enter athletes in closely scheduled events to test and develop this quality of re-focusing. During my sophomore year season, I ran the 100 meter hurdles almost immediately before throwing the javelin. The finish line of this event was directly next to the throwing runway. As soon as I cleared the last hurdle and crossed the finish line, I kept a jogging pace, checked into javelin, changed spikes, and threw my first attempt in less than 90 seconds. This ability to shift mindset and focus at a high level is not dissimilar to the way in which entrepreneurs  must re-focus attention when attempting to raise initial capital. In NPR’s edition of “How I Built This” featuring Sara Blakely, the creator of Spanx, this skill of re-focusing direction is highlighted. When Blakely was pitching her idea to the buying offices of Neiman Marcus, she recognized that her chances were waning. After that realization and in an instant, she refocused her attention and adapted to her audience. She asked Neiman Marcus’ female representative to accompany her to the bathroom so that she could physically show her how Spanx worked. This immediate and vital refocusing of energy at a high level paid off. She convinced her audience and was allowed to initially introduce her products in seven stores.

“Intentionally frustrating sessions can be useful.”

Coach Newman will often set up hurdle practice to include random hurdle heights and spacing. He will train us using suboptimal sessions and purposely provide limited coaching feedback. This method forces athletes to adapt and not merely rely on physical ability.

Recently, during one of my hurdle practices, Coach Newman intentionally set the hurdles at a sub-optimal length and spacing. Without much consideration I attempted to run this set of hurdles as I had done all the others. My rhythm and timing was drastically off. I dodged the hurdle and did not successfully complete the set. Being in the frame of mind that I was, I looked at my coach with frustration. No athlete wants to dodge a hurdle, especially in hurdle practice. He looked back and said simply, “It’s okay, I wanted to see what you would do.”

It was not until after I read his article that I understood that he was testing me, not only physically but mentally and strategically. We readjusted the hurdles. I readjusted my approach pattern and successfully completed the next set. As I write this article, my mind is filled with examples from my Haas education that directly relate to this experience. Consider Krystal Thomas’ UGBA 100 class. During the first “memo” assignment, we were given a set of instructions. We turned in the assignment. Even if we followed the instructions to a tee, we received feedback that included markdowns. As class rep for this class, I noticed a large part of the feedback was rooted in student frustration. Because we weren’t given enough instruction, we couldn’t get the ideal grades. Professor Thomas explained her reasoning. In the real world, we aren’t given step by step instructions. Just like the sub-optimal hurdle spacing, our professors are intentionally challenging and frustrating us. They want us to help craft our own instructions and re-adjust our thought-patterns.

Athletes should be ready to implement proven, personal coping strategies. Creating a culture of self-reflection … helps manifest this.”

After returning from a semester abroad, Coach Newman and I had a meeting. We discussed my “why”- that is, the reasoning behind why I wanted to pursue training for the heptathlon. He provided me with honest feedback and we set a path to move forward. I believe that this process of self reflection should be implemented regularly. Whether you are considering applying to Haas, beginning a job, taking a class, or planning your next career step, it is vital to self reflect and define your personal “why.”   

While Coach Newman’s article included a number of other fascinating points, these three connected most strongly with my studies at Haas. I would encourage you to consider the ways in which your extracurriculars help inform and improve your work as a business student.

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Participation is Worth 10% of Your Grade

We are over halfway through the semester already! This week I want to touch on the importance of participation.

Nametags are a familiar sight at Haas. Professors actually want to learn your name, and you get the opportunity to build a relationship with him or her. But, I’m going to be honest. I was surprised by how much Haas classes emphasize participation. Going from my pre-req classes where there were about 300-500 students per class, where there was no room to participate, to about 60 students per class in Haas is something I’m still adjusting to.

Participating can be nerve-wracking, especially for people like me who want to be right every single time or for people who are introverted and have a tough time speaking up. There’s always a feeling of self-consciousness – the feeling that if I say the wrong answer people are silently judging me. But that its definitely not true. People are more encouraging than you think. Everybody has been wrong at some point in their lives, so we can all relate! Recruiting season is also a busy one (insert in all my friends who are doing i-banking and consulting). In between casing, interviews, networking, and coffee chats, it can be hard keeping up with assigned readings. Sometimes students naturally fall behind, and the fear of getting cold-called when you haven’t done the reading is too real.

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But having participation be worth 10% of your grade, keeps me motivated. The readings assigned are topics that I actually want to talk about. For example, the case study in UGBA 106 on Kate Spade is something I could speak for centuries on. I love Kate Spade and for anybody who is in that class, I definitely identify with the Kate Spade New York girl! It’s a great feeling knowing that Haas professors care about my opinions on a certain topic or video we discuss in class. It’s also refreshing being able to hear other people’s thoughts, especially if they differ from mine. So, don’t worry. It’s okay if you don’t like Kate Spade, because then we can have a great discussion on why you should like it (just kidding)!

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At the end of the day, being able to participate is a useful skill that can translate into the real world. It’s important that we practice participating and speaking up now, so that in the future we can learn how to connect with our colleagues in the workplace.

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A Haasie Abroad

Hello readers! I hope everyone is settling into Fall nicely and gearing up for Patagucci season; I know I am. Today, I’d like to share my experience with studying abroad in Australia.

I have been particularly fascinated with Australia since I was a wee lad. I don’t know if it was Steve Irwin’s radical videos of Aussie wildlife or the fact that it’s the world’s largest island; I just can’t get enough. When the opportunity to study abroad through UCEAP (UC Education Abroad Program) arrived, I knew exactly where I wanted to go – the land down under!

“Are you silly? I’m still going to send it!”

I have three pieces of advice for those of you who are considering studying abroad:

  1. Do the application on time
  2. Choose your classes wisely
  3. Make time for travel and take lots of pics

Warning: The UCEAP application process is not nearly as hard as UC Berkeley applications, but don’t underestimate it. Despite all the research and planning I did, I missed the deadline by two weeks. When I told my dad, he tried to comfort me with a ‘maybe next semester.’ I told him, “Are you silly? I’m still going to send it!” Needless to say, I negotiated my late application into the pile waiting to be sent off for approval.

After my application was approved and I chose my host city of Melbourne, I had to decide what classes to take. My two favorite classes are Management Consulting and Managing Entrepreneurship. Yes, I am interested in consulting. And yes, I can handle the business side. Management Consulting requires 5 hours/week of fieldwork with a client solving an actual business problem. I love all my classes but unfortunately, they take up a lot of my free time. My advice to those thinking about studying abroad – take one or two hard, interesting classes and then sprinkle in a wine tasting class with a street art module.

Taking less time-demanding classes allows for more travel time. Making time for travel is essential to a well-rounded experience abroad, especially if you are planning on going to Europe or South America where taking a train is so easy and affordable! Australia, on the other hand, is less train friendly and can be a bit more expensive. But, that doesn’t mean I haven’t gotten around and taken lots of pictures to prove it! Here are some of my favorites so far:

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Australian Business Culture

It goes without saying that there are many cultural differences between Australia and the United States.

One of the more striking differences is that 99.8% of Australian businesses are SMEs (Small to Medium Enterprises; <200 employees). It’s not that they don’t like big corporations, it’s just that they appreciate entrepreneurs and small business owners. For example, Melburnians LOVE their coffee and yet there is only one Starbucks in the whole city. There are, however, loads of independent, family-owned cafés that successfully capture market share in the growing industry.

Aussies have a unique sense of humor, and it reflects in their advertisements. I’ve seen some hilarious ads (a lot of them too inappropriate to share in America). Here’s one that is more subtle but still gives a sense of what I mean:

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Another impressive statistic is that Australia has experienced consistent economic growth for the past 26 years, and is set to keep on growing. It’s quite a hot topic and the discussion is very polarized. Some think that the housing bubble is bound to pop, while others see Chinese investment as a never-ending stream of money.

There are lots of reasons to love Australia, in fact, Melbourne was just listed as the world’s most livable city for the seventh year in a row!

Future Plans

I’m still considering moving to Melbourne and working here for a couple years after graduation, but I miss America. And the ozone! I almost forgot to mention that Australia literally has a hole in the ozone above it. They don’t even sell sunscreen below SPF50 because it’s that serious.

Travelling gives valuable perspective on life back home. It’s a challenging but rewarding experience, and I encourage everyone to step out of their comfort zone and see the world. There is something about immersing yourself in another culture, another way of life, a new way of thinking, new friends and new languages; something that you can’t get from watching TV or reading about it online.

“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page” – Saint Augustine
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How You Have Time to Finish More Books

Hello readers, my name is Matt Clagett. I am a senior here at Haas and one of the new undergraduate bloggers. I plan to share some perspectives and insights on topics that I have grown to love as a student here, ranging from innovation, data science, sustainability and travel.

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As the semester progresses, it is increasingly difficult to keep up with readings. Not just assigned cases and textbooks for classes, but pleasure reads – you know, that pile of books sitting in the corner of your room that you will get to once you have time.  Yes, reading to learn the material for a class is one thing, but if we neglect the books that we really find a strong personal or professional growth-value, we are getting robbed of awesome material.

What if I told you that I have finished five such books already this semester. Well you would probably think that means I have just neglected reading my textbooks and readers, which is partially true, but that has only been true because of recruiting. I finished these books not by reading, but by listening to the audiobook versions of them.

The trick is to choose times to listen to them during low-focus parts of your day, such as commuting to and from school. Maybe you want to lay on Memorial Glade and rest your eyes and listen. Doing laundry? Buying groceries? Eating those groceries? Use that time to be a Student Always. It is likely you have at least an hour a day that you can optimize by listening to books. This translates to 365 hours, or roughly 40 books in one year. That’s a lot of knowledge.

Audiobooks are Better

Have I still not convinced you? On top of their inherent portability and ease of use, audiobooks have many great advantages over traditional books.

Text can be limiting. Often, messages are not clearly articulate, so key ideas are unintentionally brushed over. You have probably encountered this when trying to text message somebody using sarcasm, then having to follow it up with “lol jk” or an emoji.  When an author or reader reads an audiobook, they often vocally emphasize key ideas and points, and add footnotes to elaborate. Not only do you hear the words, but you can hear the author’s emotional tone, making it easier to empathize with the message being expressed.

Just as your favorite song can make you excited, when you hear the intended emotion behind the author’s words, you can more similarly emulate their perspective. This is a powerful concept, as you can use it to set the mood and mindset. Listening first thing in the morning, when your mind is clear, has the power to set the tone of your day. If you listen to a book on productivity, you start your day thinking like a productive person. Listen to books related to your courses, and you will have stronger perspective from which to understand the course material.

Audiobooks make exercise better and exercise makes audiobooks better. Time flies when you are lost in a book. An audiobook during light endurance exercise might make you forget you are even on a treadmill. This will also get your blood flowing and extra oxygen delivered to your brain, giving you the power to digest even more of the book. I suggest walking though, as famous philosophers including Neitzche and Aristotle would often do in order to think. Too strenuous of activity requires too much focus, so you are probably better off listening to Taylor Swift or whatever pumps you up.

Just as you can learn to read at a higher level, as you start listening to audiobooks more often, you will better be able to understand the material. As you listen to learn, you learn to listen.

How I Got Started

I first downloaded the Audible back in community college, when my life was not what I wanted it to be and I needed some extra guidance to help reach my goals. I knew what I needed to work on – my time management, motivation, and productivity. I found some great reviewed books on each topic, and feeling as though I did not have the time to read them, I decided to use my 30-60 minutes of commute time to listen to the audiobooks. Bike rides turned into libraries. My free time was always spent learning from people that I admired. Instead of taking time out of my day, listening to audiobooks made me more focused and gave me knowledge that enabled me to positively change my life’s trajectory.

How to Start, and What to Start With

  1. Download a listening app, I suggest Audible.
  2. Search for that book you always wanted to read. Seek out something you want to improve on, or something that you know will prove valuable to your life.
    • Stressed? Download a guided meditation book!
    • Looking to contribute more in your Marketing class discussion? There are plenty of highly rated marketing experts waiting to share with you.
    • Want to know about the life of Steve Jobs? Don’t watch a movie. Get a biography.
  3. Find a time and place where you will not get too distracted, and start listening.

A Few Great Audiobooks That I Have Recently Finished

  • Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future
    • Biography of the legend.
    • Time taken: Two weeks of commuting on BART.
  • Data and Goliath
    • Nonfiction about big data usage, policy, and ethics.
    • Time taken: A drive to LA and back.
  • On Power
    • Abridged biographies on NYC urban planner Robert Moses and President Lyndon Johnson that illustrates sociopolitical power in the US.
    • Time taken: A five mile Sunday hike.

My On-Deck for Listening

  • Back Channel to Cuba
    • Cuba and US relations history,  I am studying abroad in Cuba this winter.
  • Algorithms to Live By: The Computer Science of the Human Brain
    • Structured / logical thinking strategies for life.
  • The Autobiography of Gucci Mane
    • BURR.

No Substitute for Books

Another option would be to listen to podcasts, which I often do as well. It is all personal preference on what you want to learn. I prefer books because you can dive deep into the story or subject, and cross them off your reading list at the same time.

As much as I love audiobooks, there is nothing like the focus when reading a physical book (I can not stand PDFs). Although audiobooks are convenient and can communicate on a more emotional level, they fall short for quantitative and visual topics. This is why I would not suggest finding audios to replace a textbook. As students, we have obligatory readings that should come before exploratory or pleasure reading. Adding audiobooks, we do not have to make that choice. We can learn our coursework and any supplementary topics simultaneously, having more control over the direction of our education.

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