Entrepreneurship sucks but…

Angelos Georgakis St. Petersburg - Live Diversified

Hi guys,

I know you haven’t heard from me for a while.

The reason is I’ve been working hard on two courses, one on self-publishing and one on the Russian culture.

I’ve also been interviewing experts on various subjects you requested – learning, marketing, writing, self-development and more.

I’ll be publishing videos and new material soon so stay tuned!

I also wanted to share with you a few truths about my journey as an entrepreneur.

More than 3 years have passed since I gave up my investment banking job in London. I was an exciting decision but not an easy one.

When I decided to “work on the Internet”, I didn’t know the trouble I was getting myself into!

Entrepreneurship is tough! It’s high risk and requires lots of time and money investment without any guarantee.

Entrepreneurship is NOT travelling around the world with a laptop, working on the beach, enjoying your mojito and seeing the “passive” cash flow into your account!

Entrepreneurship is f***** tons of work, stress and anxiety.

It’s sleepless nights and high blood pressure!

And more pressure from your partner, pressure from your parents, pressure from your friends!

Pressure from yourself!

Self-doubt!

Everyone thinks you are crazy. You’ll be convinced you are crazy.

“You should always have a stop limit”, they’ll say! “If you don’t see results by the 1st of January xxxx, you should stop and get yourself a job again!”

Ufff…

Entrepreneurship SUCKS big time!

But you know what… entrepreneurship has also some bright sides.

Over the last three years I’ve been getting emails after emails from people like you to say “Hi, Thank you, I loved your video, Your book helped me with my studies, You made me a better person, You made me think, You helped me to take a serious decision in my life!”

A year-9 student from Australia wrote to me: “Our teacher showed us all your video today in the class! We have exams soon. Thank you for this vital source!”.

Over the last three years I’ve been honing my skills in language learning, writing, filming, video editing, marketing, public speaking, sales, web development! I’ve learned a ton things, mastered the Russian language, relocated to a new country. I’ve become a more rounded person. A true Live Diversified person!

I’ve learned to believe in myself, to keep myself accountable, not to give up. I’ve built patience. Patience guys. Patience is made from gold guys. All good things require patience. Entrepreneurship, a friendship, a relationship!

And something else. I now love Mondays! This is possible, seriously! Every day is an equally beautiful day!

Tell me guys, what’s the value of all the above? Price it!

We are all different. I’m not saying that everyone should become an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurship can be lonely (I forgot to mention that earlier) when it comes to doing the work. Yes, even if you have thousands of followers and you get a ton of emails. Some of us may feel more fulfilled in a big organisation with a great vision. That’s a fantastic feeling.

What I want to say is that you should not compromise your calling. You know deep inside what is the direction you should be going. I didn’t say the destination. Just a direction. Few people know exactly what they want to do in this life. It’s OK to be an explorer. But at least choose a path that feels good today. Choose with your heart. That path will lead you to the next path. And to the next path…

Have a great weekend,

Angelos

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Glorified Routines and Productivity (Inspired by Maria Popova)

Routines and Productivity - Maria Popova Brain Pickings

Hi Live Diversified people,

Recently I came across an interview of Maria Popova on the Tim Ferriss Show – Tim Ferriss’ podcast.

When Tim Ferriss asked Maria what she does, she answered: “I read and I write, in that order”.

Maria is the creator of BrainPickings.com, a ridiculously adored website.

Brain Pickings is Maria’s life journey, the books she reads, and mostly her subjective lens on what matters in the world and why.

Glorified Productivity – The Video

I also created a YouTube video for this article. Watch if you don’t fancy reading.

 

Maria Popova on Routine and Productivity

Tim Ferriss asked Maria: “What does your day look like”, “What is your daily routine”?

I was blown away by her answer. She says word by word:

Well, I’ll answer this with a caveat. The one thing I have struggled with or tried to solve for myself in the last few years is this really delicate balance between productivity and presence, especially in a culture that seems to measure our worth, or our merit, or our value through our efficiency, and our earnings, and our ability to perform certain tasks as opposed to just the fulfillment we feel in our lives and the presence that we take in the day to day.

That’s something that’s become more and more apparent to me. So, I’m a little bit reluctant to discuss routine as some holy grail of creative process because it’s just really – it’s a crutch. I mean, routines and rituals help us not feel this overwhelming massive mess of just day to day life would consume us. It’s a control mechanism, but that’s not all there is. And if anything, it should be in the service of something greater which is being present with one’s own life.

What a beautiful answer. A ton of wisdom on how to live your life in a few sentences.

Talking about the same topic on her website, Maria mentions Annie Dillard:

How we spend our days, is of course, how we spend our lives.

Ours is a culture of how to get things done. How to be more efficient. How to master speed-reading. How to learn a language in 7 days.

Hey!! Stop! Take a breath. Be present.

If what you want right now is to go for a walk, or cycle your bicycle, or shoot a few free throws, or sit on the grass doing nothing, do it. Break your routine and do that.

And after you do all what you felt like doing, you realise you’re suddenly more productive.

From my experience as an author and YouTuber, I often struggle coming up with article or video ideas. Of course, if you sit in front of a computer all the time being loyal to your daily routine, how do you expect to be creative?

An author has to live in order to write. Creativity sparks when you do things out of your schedule, when you talk to other people, when you walk and more oxygen reaches your brain cells, when you travel, when you taste new flavours.

My Battle Against Routine

I’m making this video for myself so I don’t get sacrificed on the altar of productivity.

In the past, I used to be a productivity freak and today still I often get eaten by productivity.

One of my mentors, Dr. Teresa Hunt, who is an astrophysicist, writer, composer, musician, a totally Live Diversified lady used to tell me: “You are obsessed with your schedule Angelos, getting up early, doing the same things every day. You shouldn’t be living like that.”

And imagine that was after I quit investment banking to become an entrepreneur.

An Internet entrepreneur is supposed to be have a flexible schedule but I still used to stick to my daily routine as if was something holy I had to protect.

Teresa was right but I couldn’t understand her a few years ago.

Why Do We Love our Routines So Much?

I guess it’s our psychological bias again.

We are reluctant to deviate from the equilibrium point, ie. our daily routine, because we believe that our daily routine is what will lead us to success.

For example, we can’t afford to go to a theatre play because we haven’t crossed all tasks off our to-do list.

Remember what I said earlier though. Life is non-linear. Deciding to answer 10 more emails will definitely contribute to your success “a considerable linear chuck”. At the same time, the solution to one of your problems, or your next big idea may be hidden in that theatre play which you turned down to answer those 10 emails. In other words, the theatre play can potentially contribute a “huge non-linear chuck” to your success. But even if it doesn’t, a wonderful evening in the theatre will at least charge your batteries for the next day that you have to fight against your to-do list.

Yes, life is chaotic, non-linear, unpredictable. What’s wrong with living chaotically then just like life is?

It’s OK to deviate from an equilibrium point. It’s OK to explore without any particular purpose. It’s OK to try something without being certain about the outcome.

And if you are an entrepreneur, this is what entrepreneurship is all about – pushing boundaries, discovering new areas without any guarantee of success.

It’s all about the journey remember. All the experiences, lessons, failures contribute to your success.

Routine Doesn’t Create Memories

One of my favourite contemporary Russian authors, Михаил Веллер, says in his book “Everything about Life” that an indicator of a good life is your memories. How rich are your memories? Routine doesn’t create memories. If every day of your life looks like the previous, you will probably don’t remember much about those days a few years later.

If you ask me to write about my memories during the five years I used to work in banking I can probably write a short book with the title “getting to work and back home”. If you ask me to write about my memories during the last three years as an entrepreneur travelling the world, I can probably write ten books!

To sum up, it’s OK to have a routine, it’s OK to fight procrastination and aim to be more productive. Just always have in mind Maria Popova’s caveat. And remember, how we live our days, is of course, how we live our lives.

 

 

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Awaken the Giant Within by Tony Robbins (Part 1 – Decisions)

Awaken the Giant within - Tony Robbins

I just finished reading Tony Robbins’ book Awaken the Giant Within and I want to share with you some powerful ideas from the book.

1 – The Power of Truly Committed Decisions

To take control of our lives, we need to take control of our consistent actions. I’m not talking about the things that we do once in a while but what we do consistently.

But what precedes all our actions? What is the father of all action? What drives all our actions? The answer to all these questions is one word – decisions.

You take action because you decided to take action. If you don’t take action, it’s again your decision not to take action.

People instead of making decisions complain about their conditions. I came from a dysfunctional family. My parents were really poor. I didn’t get the right education.

No one denies that there are people who are born with advantages. Genetic advantages, family advantages, environmental advantages, relationship advantages. However, for every “privileged” person I can give you an example of a non-privileged person that against all odds smashed all their barriers by making the decisions of what to do with their lives.

But what sort of decisions? Truly committed decisions. The moment you make a decision, it’s a commitment. There is no way back.

We have disempowered the word decision in our lives. We have associated the word decision with something like I should do that one day, I ought to do that one day, it would be nice to do that, wouldn’t it? No. If you decided that you have to do something, you must do it and you have to take action now.

A real decision is measured by the fact that you have taken new action. If there is no new action, sorry you haven’t decided yet.

A truly committed decision has to be unshakable no matter what happens. The stock market collapses, your girlfriend dumps you, your “friends” think you went crazy.

Your decisions need to stay there strong and powerful. Because your decisions reflect your values, your purpose, what you came to this world for. You decisions need to stay consistent with the quality of your spirit, your inner calling.

Make decisions often. The more decisions you make, the better you’re gonna get. Muscles get stronger with use and so do our decision muscles. Feel the excitement that comes from taking the committed decisions that shift your life towards the direction you wanna go.

Learn from your decisions. There are gonna be times when you screw up. Don’t focus on the short term setbacks but focus on the lessons that will save you time, money and pain in the future.

Build flexibility. Once you decide who you want to become, what is you wanna get, be flexible in your approach. Try different ways, learn throughout the process, experiment, don’t become rigid in your approach.

Enjoy making decisions. One moment, the moment that you make a true decision can change your entire life. The moment you decide to quit smoking, to buy a gym membership, to quit your job.

A truly committed decision is the force that can change your life.

Angelos

PS: For those who are asking about camera and lighting gear have a look:
funny-awaken-2

funny-awaken-pic-1

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Should we Focus on Strengths or Weaknesses?

strenghts-weaknesses

Hey LiveDivers,

Have you read the title of this post? Well, I don’t know the answer. I want you to answer this question for me.

This is what Gary Vaynerchuk says: “You need to bet on your strengths and not give a fuck about what you suck at.” Watch here.

In another video he says the same.”Legacy is better than currency”. Watch here.

Now, Peter Ducker in a popular Harvard Business Review Classics (Managing Oneself) says the same: The reason people don’t succeed is that they don’t know their strengths. He suggests that we can only find out what our strengths are by looking at our past successes and failures (he calls that feedback analysis). Then, we should only invest in those strengths every single day. Also, we shouldn’t try to change everything at once. The key is in getting rid of the bad habits and continuously investing in our strong areas.

Here is an excellent summary of the book Managing Oneself written by the successful entrepreneur Tai Lopez.

On the flip side now I have to say the following:

  1.  What if you have built your strength to such an extent that any marginal improvement towards your strength is not that important as opposed to an improvement in an area that you have always neglected.
  2. What if your strength is not as enjoyable anymore as it was before? OK, you most probably enjoy things that you’re good at but what if you don’t find something as sexy as before anymore?
  3. What if you have multiple passions and want to live a diversified life? What if you are a mathematician in your 30’s and a degree in history is now more interesting than a PhD in mathematics?

My dad used to be a teacher in primary school. He was a really good teacher. All the kids loved him. I’ve probably got some of his talent and done lots of teaching myself too. I’ve taught mathematics, languages, music and the feedback I’ve been getting all these years is really exceptional. However, I haven’t always enjoyed the process of teaching. Why? Because teaching sucks all your energy. 3-4 hours of real teaching can leave you dead. Does the fact that I can be a good teacher means I should become one? Not sure.

Two years ago I wrote a book about how we can become better learners and memorise better what we learn. I spent six months reading tons of research in cognitive psychology. There is no evidence that we should learn according to our preferred learning style (visual, acoustic, verbal, kinaesthetic) if we want to learn more effectively. On the contrary, there are studies that have shown the opposite. For example, visual learners learn better if they start reading or listening.

In another recent Harvard Business Review podcast, Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, professor at University College London and Columbia University says there is no scientific evidence that focusing on your strengths guarantees success.

The problem he says is that we usually compare our own strengths between them instead of comparing our strengths against the same strengths in our peers. Well, I don’t fully agree with that either. Let’s say that more than half of the population is better at something we like and are best at. Giving that something up and looking at something we’re not good at doesn’t sound like a good strategy either.

Professor Chamorro-Premuzic says also that overdeveloping a strong area can become a liability rather than an asset. For example, a really ambitious person can become greedy or someone with good social skills can become a manipulator. But that’s again something you can’t control. Here we’re talking about people who want to get better and achieve the most of life like you and me. I don’t find convincing the reasoning here. Read for yourself. Tell me what you think.

My gut feeling as I’m writing this article is that we should do what feels right and not what we think is right. We live in a “KPI and ROI” society where productivity and optimisation are everything. We put our mind first and our heart second.

I think you shouldn’t follow anyone’s advice. Do what feels right to you. Do you want to explore something new? Do it. Do you find challenge in improving a skill that you thought you were not good at? Do it! You may find out that you’re good at it in the end.

 

Can you leave a comment below? I want to know your opinion.

-Angelos

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The Minimalistic Entrepreneur

minimalistic-entrepreneur-small

Being an entrepreneur is tough. Gary Vaynerchuk says that entrepreneurship sucks! Watch this video.

You quit your 9 to 5 job to build an online business to become your own boss, to work from home, to travel more. You are looking for more freedom and you end up in your own prison!

I guarantee entrepreneurship can get f***** overwhelming. I now work harder and longer than I used to work in investment banking.

Minimalism is not just the key to becoming a successful entrepreneur. It’s the only way to go as an entrepreneur. Here are my best tips and lessons I’ve learned going through a ton of bad days as Gary says.

Prioritise. Before you start doing any work in the morning ask yourself what the 2 -3 most important tasks are.

I don’t think that changing the theme on your wordpress site is your number 1 priority of the day (I changed my theme recently but I resisted doing it for a whole month as I had other priorities).

Look at your to-do list. Do the stuff that adds the most important value. Be damn strict with this!

Remember the 80/20 rule. 20% of the things you do are responsible for the 80% of your success. Focus on that 20%. Most of the time you know what is important but still you don’t do it. You fool yourself. Stop that! Reconsider your day-to-day priorities. I’m repeating myself, I know but it’s so important.  

Don’t check your inbox every five minutes. Set multiple alarm clocks at 11am and 4am every day to check your email. Check your email only twice a day. It wastes your time and it kills your focus and quality of your work. I’ll tell you more about this shortly.

Stop multitasking. Our brains are designed to focus on one thing at a time. MIT neuroscientist Earl Miller says that when people think that they multitask, in essence they switch from one task to another very rapidly. Read this article.

When we complete a tiny task (answering an email, sending a text message, posting a post on Facebook), we are hit with a dollop of dopamine, our reward hormone. Our brains are addicted to dopamine and we switch tasks quickly because that gives us lots of instant doses of gratification.

These instant gratifications make us feel that we accomplish a lot whereas in reality we don’t.

Multitasking reduces the quality and efficiency of our work. Organising thoughts and filtering out irrelevant information becomes more difficult.

A study at the University Of London also showed that people who multitask while performing cognitive tasks experience IQ drops. In fact, the IQ drops were similar to what you see in individuals who smoke cannabis or didn’t sleep the night before.

Multitasking has also been found to increase cortisol, the stress hormone. The rapid fire-ups of the brain leave us mentally exhausted very quickly even when the working day has barely started!

The biggest instigator of multitasking? Our inboxes. Some studies have shown that even when you have the possibility to multitask when you know for example that you have unread emails in your inbox can reduce your IQ by 10 points! For men, IQ drops can be even worse up to 15 points.

The constant thrill of having new bolded emails in our inbox keeps us distracted. A McKinsey Global Institute Study found that employees spend 28% of their time checking their inboxes.

Studies have also shown that the damage of multitasking in the long run can be permanent. MRI scans showed that people who multitask consistently show less brain density in the anterior cingulate. That’s the area responsible for empathy and emotional control.

So, stop multitasking now, check your email twice a day, put your phone in a silent mode and focus on the task at hand.

Don’t skip breaks. It’s tempting to skip breaks (and even lunch) when you have lots of work to do. However, research again has shown that those who take regular breaks are actually more productive than those who don’t. Sounds trivial again? It does. But we skip breaks (including myself of course) and we feel we’re working like a supernatural machines. Total illusion.

A great app to use is Pomodoro One. Pomodoro One has an alarm that goes off after a set interval. Then, it sounds an alarm and gives you a break from work. When the break’s over, it automatically starts timing your work again. You can use it on both Desktop and phone.

You don’t need business cards. It’s a waste of paper. I get angry when I see so many business cards on the streets. If someone wants to keep in touch with you, give them your telephone number, or your email. If they are really interested in you, they will contact you. I’m sure that the chances are higher that someone loses your contact when getting your business card rather than saving your number in their phone.

Unsubscribe. How many emails do you get that you don’t even read or open. When you first decide to declutter your inbox you may get overwhelmed. So, unsubscribe as new emails come in. Don’t try to do it all at once. You’ll drive yourself mad.

Delete the Facebook App from your iPhone. It’s unbelievable how much time we spend on Facebook. The best thing I’ve done in my life is deleting the Facebook App from my phone. Not only did I find inner peace staying away from the Facebook “blink-blink”, but I also solved the common problem of the iPhone battery! The Facebook app is probably the #1 energy monster app. OK, to be fair it’s not the app itself; it’s our addiction of checking Facebook on our phones.

Don’t check your sales every 5 minutes. As an entrepreneur you strive for every sale. You want to see your income increase. It’s your dream. You don’t want to go back to office job. You want your financial freedom like nothing else.

In the beginning, I was addicted to checking the sales every minute. How many more sales? I used to check sales on multiple sites every hour. I used to get up in the morning and check the sales in my computer with my eyes half-closed. All this checking takes so much time and as email checking kills your quality of work. All this checking adds zero value to your business. Dedicate every minute on how you can make your product better. Spend your time on that and only that. Check your sales once a week, or once in two weeks.

It’s the same with running a race. If you constantly look around you while you run to check on others, you lose focus. For those who run 100m even a thought can cost you the race.  

Launch it. then make it better. Have you heard of the concept of the Minimum Value Product (MVP)? Don’t wait to launch your product until it’s perfect! It will never be perfect. There will always be something more to do before you launch it. Create a product that adds value to the people. Gauge interest. Listen to the feedback. Your customers will tell you how you can make it better. Again I recommend some further reading here. What else? The Lean Startup by Eric Ries.

Outsource. I’ve said this again before. You can’t do everything on your own when you run a business. I know you can do this task very well yourself. And that task. And that task. I know it will take you just an hour. But it will be an hour that you could devote to something else that could add more value.

This is how Muller explains it: “Take the time to eliminate the pointless, the superfluous, the questionable. Then decide what you can hire out or delegate. Then focus on the work that only you can do, that you can do best, and that you can do for the most impact on your business.“

That’s all for now. This post is about the Minimalistic Entrepreneur. It shouldn’t get too long.

If this post gave you some good tips, can you share it now please? It will take you 5 sec.

Kindness and smiles,

Angelos

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Do you follow these blogging marketing strategies?

blog-pic-live-diversified

Joe Pulizzi in the book Epic Content Marketing explains the secrets of creating a successful blog (Click here to for book info).

1) Encourage conversations.

2) Hang out on other blogs.

3) Loosen up. Express a personal opinion. Be authentic.

It’s essential to define well your audience.

4) Who will be your reader?

5) What are your reader’s needs?

6) What keywords is your reader searching for? Follow these using Google Alerts.

7) Do you contribute to the conversation on the places your readers hang out? Do you leave comments there?

8) You should have consistency. Can you commit yourself to publish an article twice a week? The worst thing you can do is to start and stop later.

9) Use killer titles. Controversial titles are also good. Make titles based on what people search on Google (Use Google Keyword Planner for this).

10) Don’t use too much bluff in your posts. Less is more. Remember: Edit Edit Edit before posting.

11) Each post should have a call to action. What do you want reader to do after they read your post? A call to action can be to download an ebook, to sign up to your newsletter, to follow your social media page, etc.

12) The blog post should be written in such a way so the content can be repackaged later to an ebook, a course, something more substantial. Plan ahead for that.

13) Guest post on other similar blogs. Choose the top 15 in your niche. Never turn down an opportunity to do a guest post.

14) Measure with Google Analytics. What are the most popular posts? Do people sign up? On what page?

15) Outsource. Most successful blogs outsource content. You can’t do everything on your own.

16) Refer people to good quality content that’s not yours. Always focus on adding value to your people.

What other strategies do you think are successful?

Leave a comment below!

Kindness and smiles,

Angelos

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Epic Content Marketing by Joe Pulizzi

epic-content-marketing

Hi Divers,

I just finished reading Joe Pulizzi’s book Epic Content Marketing.

Do you want to increase traffic to your blog?

Do you want to increase sales of your product or service?

Do you want to build awareness of your brand?

Then this book is for you. 

Key Lessons

Customers don’t care about you. They care about themselves and their problems.

It’s not about you and your awesome product. It’s about them.

Stop selling to them.

Focus on their needs. Add value to them. Serve them.

Inform them, engage them, amuse them.

Make them more intelligent.

This is the only way to build trust. Once you build trust, selling becomes effortless.

Provide content that makes people stop and read what you have to say before you even think to sell anything to them.

Epic content is helpful, relevant, compelling, educational.

It’s not about finding customers, it’s about finding fanatic customers that will trust you 1000%.

Use storytelling. Storytelling shows why the brand exists. And that’s beyond any products or services.

You need to emotionally engage people. They have to see themselves in you.

The Six Principles of Epic Content Marketing

  1. Epic content needs to fill a need: Your content should answer some unmet need. It should solve a problem that people have. It should add value. Sometimes, it meets just an emotional need. Have a look at Coca-Cola’s or Red-bull’s storytelling. Another example now. Have you ever seen any of Gary Vaynerchuk’s videos? Their purpose is to make take action. To awake the giant inside you. The target straight to your emotional world.
  2. It communicates consistently: When you subscribe to a magazine, you expect your magazine to arrive to your door on time and as expected. The same holds with your content. Deliver consistently giving the best value as expected.
  3. It requires you to find your unique human voice: Be human. Be you. Don’t be a reporter. When people build a brand, they become a brand. They speak like a brand. People want to connect with you. Show emotions. Send your newsletter as if you were sending a text message to your friend.
  4. It expresses a point of view: Take a side on a matter. Don’t be afraid to have opinions. People will identify themselves with you because of your ideas and opinions. You can’t please everybody. What matters is not customers after all. It’s fanatic customers that will follow you no matter what.
  5. It is less about sales: “The more you talk about yourself, the less people will share and spread your story.”
  6. It is the best content in its niche out there: The ultimate goal is to provide content that people can’t find anywhere else. Though this sounds impossible in the beginning, the ultimate goal for you is to provide the best content out there that will position you at the top.

Do they above six points sound obvious? Yes, but who applies them to their marketing strategy?

It’s all about the brand. How cool we are. Why we are the best. What our product can for you. 

NO!!! 

Listen first. Then see how you can help and add value. Maybe sell later. They will buy from you. Why? Because they trust you.

Finally, Pulizzi says that epic content usually has some additional characteristics. It’s real time, fact-driven, efficient, visual and curated. Read here for more.

Really disruptive book. I learned a lot from it. Read it.

Kindness and smiles,

Angelos

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Учим греческий – Полезные слова

Μάλιστα. – Понятно, хорошо.

Τα λέμε. – До скорой встречи. (бук. обсудим их)

Εντάξει. – Хорошо, ок.

Φύγαμε. – Пошли!

Πάμε! – Пойдём!

‘Αντε, πάμε! – Давай пойдём! – Ну что, пойдём!

Ευχαριστώ – Спасибо.

Ευχαριστώ πολύ! – Спасибо большое!

Παρακαλώ. – Пожалуйста.

Με συγχωρείτε… – Извините, простите, …

Τι κάνεις; – Как дела?

Όλα καλά. – Все хорошо.

Μια χαρά. – Отлично. (Бук. одна радость – одно счатсье)

Κατάλαβα. – Понятно. Понимаю. Понял. (Бук. Прошедшее время – Понял)

Καταλαβαίνω. – Понимаю.

Συγγνώμη. – Извиняюсь.

Καλή όρεξη. – Приятного апетита.

Πόσο κάνει αυτό; – Сколько это стоит?

Που είναι η τουαλέτα; – Где туалет?

Πάω για ύπνο. – Ложусь спать.

Γειά μας! – на здоровье!

Σε αγαπώ. – Я тебя люблю.

Σ’ αγαπώ. – Я тебя люблю.

Μου λείπεις. – Скучаю по тебе.

Δεν ξέρω. – Не знаю.

Σε παρακαλώ πολύ. – Очень тебя прошу.

Ϊσως. – Наверно.

Δεν ξέρω, ίσως. –  Не знаю, наверно.

Τώρα. – сейчас

Σήμερα. – Сегодня.

Αύριο. – Завтра.

Μετά.  – Потом.

Νωρίς. – Рано.

Αργά. – Поздно.

Είναι νωρίς. – Еще рано.

Είναι αργά. – Уже поздно.

Έλα! – Давай! (Бук. Приходи!)

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The characteristics of effective learning

Encoding

To learn effectively we should spend enough time to let new information soak into our memory before we move on. Every cognitive process requires time and effort if we want to remember something for the long run. We need to give a meaning to new information based on our current knowledge. How does this new thing connect with what we already know? How does this new thing build upon our current knowledge structure? Why is it important? Is it valid according to existing knowledge? Does it change anything in our current structure?

To encode new information make associations, find examples/counterexamples, use your imagination to think of an analogy or a pattern.

Are you learning a foreign language? Form examples with the new vocabulary. Think of words that sound or look similar to new words. Can you remember any synonyms? Any antonyms? Close your eyes and visualise yourself using new words in a real life scenario with a native speaker.

Have you just learned a new mathematical formula? Solve a couple of problems with this formula. Are there any exceptions? Can you derive the formula on your own on a blank piece of paper? Can you explain to your parents what’s the purpose of this formula? Why do we need it? Explain this formula to someone that doesn’t know anything about mathematics. Why is this formula consistent with other formulas that you already know?

Let’s say that you are reading about the European Union. The moment I am writing this article the number of EU states is 28 whereas the number of Eurozone states is 19. How can you remember these two numbers? Look at them for 5 seconds. Can you relate these two numbers somehow? I am sure you have already come up with an idea. For example, 1 + 1 = 2 and 9 – 1 = 8. Or just focus on 19 and add the last digit to 19 to make 28. This simple quick observation costs 5 seconds but it can lock these two numbers in your memory making it hard to forget. Oh, and before I move on, I just wanted to let you know that Alexander Fleming discovered the penicillin in 19 28.

Self-testing

Now who starts a learning session with a blank piece of paper? Almost no one. Most of us open our books or notes and start reading. And after we read, we reread and reread and reread. Big mistake. What will help you to learn effectively is not rereading but self-testing. What can you remember from the last time? Recall first! Rack your brains! Look up in the ceiling until you bring something to the surface! Do you think this is a waste of time? No, it’s not. It’s the only way to build strong memories. The more you struggle to remember something the stronger roots it will grow in your memory. If you didn’t manage to recall it, encode it better. How can you secure it better in your memory? Recall it again after a couple of days. Target it again!

Flashcards is a great way to practice recall. Use traditional flash cards or electronic ones. Anki is a great software to make electronic flash cards. Use flash cards for anything you are trying to learn: language vocabulary, historical events, medicine, anything.

When you take notes, use the Cornell notetaking system. Divide the sheet into two columns. Take notes on the right column and use the left column for the corresponding questions. When you review your notes cover the right column with your hand and try to answer the questions on the left column. Confirm. Did you get it correct? Leave space in your notes so you can use it while you practice recall. If you didn’t get something correct add comments, encode it better, add supporting information, draw an “attention” sign. Always start reviewing your notes with self-testing. Make it hard as you are being tested every time you review your notes.

 

Spacing

Tell me now how many courses and books are out there that promise they can teach you a language or anything in 7 days? Infinite. Correct. Is it possible? Have you learned a language in 7 days? Do you know anyone that has? If you do, please let me know because I want to meet that person.

Research has shown that to learn effectively we need to space our study sessions. We need to allow a little bit of forgetting to happen. Recall information that starts getting rusty in our memory. Do you struggle? Does it take time to bring to the surface? That should be your goal. It’s only then When you glue it to your long-term memory.

When you mass your studying into one single session you feel you are making great progress. But that progress is only short-term! Space your learning out in time and when you go back to carry on, always start with self-testing.

Stop going to those “ultimate hands-on crash-courses”. This only suits the course organisers who teach you “everything” over a single weekend and walk away with all your money at once. It doesn’t suit you.

Imagine your long-term memory as a garden with plants. Each plant is  a bit of information in your memory. You need to go back often enough to water your plants. How can you water your plants? With self-testing. We explained that earlier. Water your plants with recall practice if you don’t want to see them die. Bear in mind that you can’t water your plants only once even if you throw a ton of water on them. You need to space the watering process. Do the same with your learning.

Have you realised what I’ve just done with the previous paragraph? I used an analogy to connect self-testing and spacing with the process of watering plants in a garden. Do you remember encoding? I just wanted to remind you. I went back to it. I spaced it out.

 

Varied Instruction

And then it comes to the learning styles… Today we all believe we are a certain type of learner (visual, auditory, kinaesthetic etc.) However, there is no scientific evidence that we should learn according to our “preferred learning style” if we want to achieve maximum learning results! Instead, science says we should learn in different modes and work with our weak sides. It’s only then when learning becomes effective. Don’t stay within your comfort learning zone. Stretch yourself. Explore new material from different sides.

Do you prefer pictures? Start reading.

Are you reading about the events of the Second World War? Close your book and watch a documentary on YouTube covering the same events.

Are you studying English by reading a passage in silence? Stop for a minute. Read it out loud and record it with Google Translate. Did Google Translate pick the words up correctly? If so great. You just practiced pronunciation. Press the record button now and listen. Focus on the words that you don’t pronounce correctly. There you go. Reading, speaking, listening. At zero cost.

 

Always remember this. If you want to make your learning easy, you will have to pay a price for it later. The price of forgetting. Effective learning (long-term learning) should be effortful and hard. Hence, avoid practices like cramming, rereading and speedreading. These practices make you feel you are learning fast. However, the results are only temporary.

I know some of the above may sound controversial. But this is not my personal opinion. It is what science says about how we should learn. I only managed to dig this truth out after diving into research papers and changing totally the way I learn. Because the way I used to learn was far far away from the optimal. I wish I knew all this when I was a student. But no academic institution dedicates a separate module to how we should learn. Educators believe that we know how to learn. Unfortunately, we don’t. Because the characteristics of effective learning are counterintuitive. We are poor judges of future performance based on current performance. Just because you feel you remember everything now, doesn’t mean you will remember it in the future.

What you should do is to nurture curiosity, motivation and love for what you are learning. Find genuine interest in it. Effective learning happens when you are in a sort of meditation state. Fully absorbed, trapped in a book, film, documentary, interview, talk etc. It’s then when the magic happens.

PS: Special thanks to Maggy for making the below beautiful illustration for me. You can find her at xdmaggy@gmail.com.

Characteristics-of-Effective-Learning

 

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Most common Russian Words with Anki

Are you ready for some Russian vocabulary? I hope so because I have created Anki electronic flashcards with the 10000 most common Russian words. At the back of every card in addition to the word definition in English, you will also get audio pronunciation and links to Google Translate, Yandex Translate, noun declension/verb conjugation rules, and examples. And if that “10000” sounds a little overwhelming, I have also made smaller decks of cards with the 1K, 1.5K, 2K, 3K, 4K and 5K most common Russian words. All I need from you is some motivation.

Anki is a flash card software which uses a spaced repetition system. That means that a card shows up at spaced time intervals. The length of each interval depends on how well you remember a card every time you review it.

The desktop version of Anki is completely free and available for all platforms (Windows, Mac, Linux). You can download it here.

The first time you open Anki you should be able to see a Window like this:

 

Your new profile obviously has no cards at the moment. Now download one of my decks (Anki file) with the most common Russian words. Click here to download the decks. 

After you download a deck, click on Import file on the above window. Select the file — Anki Deck — that you have just downloaded. Then click on the title of the Deck to start studying the words. Press Study Now on the following window. (Note: If the name reads “10000 most frequent Russian words” irrespective of the deck you downloaded, you haven’t made a mistake. Just rename the file. The reason is I used the big deck to create the smaller decks 🙂

The first card you will get is the following ( И – the most common Russian word!)

After you guess, click on Show Answer to confirm. You will instantly hear how the word is pronounced and reveal the back of the card with the following:

  1. Google Translate link
  2. Yandex Translate link
  3. Wiktionary link (with rules on noun declension, verb conjugation and other useful information)
  4. Yandex Examples (Examples with the current word on Yandex)
  5. Frequency Index of the current word (1: Most Frequent).

For example, this is what you get after you press Show Answer on the card И.

Now you can use the links to find more about the word. After you explore the word and find examples, you can press Edit and make any changes at the back of the card. These changes will be saved and become available the next time you see this card. For example, you can add a couple of examples directly on the back of the card for quick reference.

Before you move to the next card:

  1. If you managed to get it correct very easily press Easy. This means that you will be given this card again in 4 days as indicated above the button.
  2. If you managed to get it correct but it wasn’t something really obvious press Good. This means that you will be given this card again in 10 min for revision.
  3. If you managed to get it incorrect press Again. This means that you will be given this card again in less than a minute.

You can also use the following useful shortcuts:

  1. Again: Press 1.
  2. Good: Press 2.
  3. Easy: Press 3.
  4. Replay the audio: Press R.
  5. Show Answer: Press Spacebar.

From my experience, I have found a convenient setup to work with Anki and a browser needed for the hyperlinks. I divide my screen into two parts: 1) Anki on the left-half and 2) Google Chrome on the right-half as shown below. Every time you click on a link in Anki, a new tab will open on the right without having to switch windows to see it. Obviously every now and then, you will have to close a few tabs in Chrome. A useful shortcut to quickly close tabs is Ctrl + W in Chrome. Also, if you pay attention below, as the targeted word here is a verb (сказать), the Wiktionary link title refers to the conjugation rules of the verb. If the targeted word is a noun, you will see there a link called “Wiktionary – Declension”. If the word is neither a noun, nor a verb, you just see a “Wiktionary” link.

Optimal-Setup-Anki---Chrome-Browser---Most-common-Russian-Words

I know that some of you are not absolute beginners and you would like to start from a more advanced word than И. In that case you can do the following:

  1. Click on Browse on any of the cards.
  2. Select your Deck on the window that pops up like below:Anki-Most-Common-Russian-Words---Browse-words
  3. Click on due to sort the cards by that column (frequency order).
  4. Click on any card on the Grid (the card up to which you are more or less familiar).
  5. Press fn + left arrow to select all the previous cards (the familiar words).
  6. Click Delete on the top right of the window.

After doing all the above you can start reviewing words with a frequency index greater than the one you wish. That’s all! You can now get cracking!

Last but not least, I want to bring to your attention the following points:

  1. The above method should never be your principal method of learning vocabulary. It should be a complementary method which helps you catch important-frequent words that just slip through your day-to-day vocabulary net. If you want to explore effective language techniques for the Russian language, you can read the relevant section of my blog here. I have also written a book on how to learn Russian with all the necessary methods and material you need to learn Russian effectively without a teacher.
  2. The default word definitions come from Yandex Translate website. They are not always the best because you can never get the best translation with any tool. Always, consult the links provided to find examples and more information about every word before you move to the next.
  3. The list of the words has been compiled using this reliable resource here.

If you liked this post, don’t forget to share and leave a comment below to let me know about your progress and ideas! Enjoy!

 

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