’52 Red Pills’ a hyper-learning journey

Vishnu Makhijani-


Author, podcaster and blogger Fred Ferriss has famously said: “Forget New Year’s Resolutions and Conduct a Past Year Review instead.” Inspired by this, Eika Banerjee, a top honcho in the leadership development space, and her husband Siddharth, who operates in the marketing and IT sectors, while sitting amidst the “lush greens of a tiger reserve” on the New Year’s Eve of 2018, decided to take the bull by the horns as it were.

The outcome? “52 Red Pills – A New Age Playbook To Become Healthy, Wealthy and Wise” (Pan/pp 326/Rs 350). The authors have been together since reading for their MBAs at FMS-Delhi and are Chevening Scholars at Oxford University.

“When faced with a situation, both of us would always seek to enquire, learn, distill and then act (wisely or unwisely so), rather than wait to get answers from somewhere or to follow an existing paradigm,” the authors write.

So, how did they take their journey of self-learning “into the next orbit”?

By embarking on a “52 Weeks Learning Challenge”, ambitiously penning down a long list of 63 actions or subjects they would cover across the 52 weeks of 2018, encompassing a vast gamut of ideas and themes, from the art of making fine coffee to mind maps, from how billionaires think or how pro-marathoners train, from mindfulness to ‘muay thai’ (kickboxing) and from ancient medicine practices to cutting-edge technology.

To make all this possible in a disciplined manner, they had to ruthlessly prioritize their time, given their demanding corporate roles and the need to spend leisure time with their two daughters as well as family and friends.

“Hence, we drew up a ‘Sacrifice List’ that basically axed certain activities to make time for this weekly discipline of self-learning. Binge-watching shows and movies on Netflix was now a thing of the past. We even cut down on attending corporate parties to once a week. And so on,” the authors explain.

They then pose five questions for you to define your learning journey:

* What do you love most about yourself as an individual/couple/team/family?

* What do you enjoy doing (alone/together) the most?

* What are the themes (cuisines, travel, dancing, wines, movies literature and sports are a few examples) you want to explore (alone/together)?

* How do want to explore yourself/your togetherness/your themes? For instance, would you like cook experimental meals, learn new dances, play sports, watch and analyse movies, explore newer workouts and so on?

* What is your longlist of seventy things you want to do, learn about, practice and/or create?

Thereafter, draw up a table to map out your resources and assign responsibilities. This is how it should look: S. No/Category/Expert/Resources/Responsibility.

Choose a day that suits you and then, at the end of every week of the coming year, do the following exercise:

* Tick off the item/topic you covered from your list.

* Create your own log and record of what you did, how you did it, what you learnt and what you would like to do again.

* Maintain it also in the form of photographs, written experiences in your journal or diary, videos, on your social media feeds and/or at the end of every topic.

Towards the end of the year, “you will have your own 52 RedPills journey compilation, filled with shared experiences and wonderful memories to keep you company as you evolve yourself”.

“Through the year, you will have learned, laughed, fallen, recovered, shared, created, danced, evolved and oh so much more.

“You will have explored.

“You will have lived,” the authors write.

How did the title come about?

“We drew inspiration from Morpheous in the movie ‘Matrix’, who offers Neo the choice of taking the blue pill or the red pill. The latter denotes an adventure across uncharted paths, and so, we have named our hyper-learning journey across 52 weeks of 2018 as ’52RedPills’, the authors write.

This is a book you ignore at your own peril. Happy 2020!