Today I want to celebrate International Women’s Day 2021 by celebrating these four amazing women, members of Deskover. Four women who invested in lifelong learning. The debate around #genderequality has become more and more “popular”. Data are showing that the gap is still big and it’ll take a long time to fill. Women around the world are protesting, asking for rights that, as the name itself suggests, should be a given. But how are things going? Since you’ll be bombarded with global data today, I decided to skip that part. What I want to share is what I noticed in the few months of running my own company, in the field of #lifelonglearning. **Little context** The main target audience of my company consists of “lifelong learners”: professionals who decide to engage in learning, by studying for a professional qualification, a language, an online class.. Whatever that is, if you are among these people and you also got a job, you’ll surely need to study, do homeworks or listen to online classes after work and on weekends . And that’s what we do in my company: we provide these people with a place where to go during these times. In exchange of a fee, of course. **End of Little Context” Here’s what my little data tell me: More women than men are engaged in our social media channels. Meaning that they like the content, the images and the motivational quotes we share. BUT. WAIT FOR IT. My customers, the paying ones…. are by far MORE MEN THAN WOMEN . What I noticed is that fewer women are willing to invest money in their personal development (let’s not confuse this with “personal development” in terms of “self-help”, this is common among women. Here I am talking about education , formal education, personal growth, skills development, investment towards a better or different career). In this case, women are less than men. According to my data, which again. Are small but still quite surprising. And if you’re thinking now “Well that’s not true, I AM investing in that!!”, of course, I believe you. I am not saying that NO woman does that. I am just saying that we’re less. And those few, like these four women, are “bombs”. They are REALLY into growing in that sense. And you know they’ll go far. But do we have to be “bombs” to understand that investing in lifelong learning is THAT important? Being a woman myself, you can’t imagine how sad this makes me. And I wonder: why is it still like this? Is it because we make less money than men? Well yeah, that could be. But in the place where I live, #Luxembourg, we’re quite financially independent. So why still these differences? Why is there still such a difference in the topics of our conversations? For example: Why are more men than women meeting to talk about the stock market? I guess that many things still have to evolve in our society in order for us, women, to think that probably saving up some money from shopping, or make-up, or nails sessions and investing that money into our educational development, would make a huge difference in our lives . And it would probably give us more access in the future to shopping or whatever we’ll want to do with the money we’ll make. Because an investment will give you a return, having a closet full of clothes that you wear barely 30 times, will not. This article is a provocation, from a woman to women. From me to myself. We’ve done so much to arrive at where we are, let’s continue. This article is not saying that gender inequality is our fault! FAR
IT. I want this to be 200% clear. What I am saying is that unfortunately the culture we DID NOT create but that grew around us in all these years has still an influence on our behaviour. But we DO HAVE THE POWER to CHANGE THAT. So let’s do it. Let’s invest in ourselves. Let’s do like these four women did. The return on investment will be huge. Not only for ourselves. But for # society as a whole.
Written in collaboration with Deskover Our 2021 Resolutions Countdown starts today, 26th of December, with our first new year's resolution tip!
How many times did you tell yourself: "I really really wanna learn Spanish, or Italian, or Russian!" or even "I want to improve my English so that I can advance in my career"
Well, a new year is ahead of you and you have the power to decide for yourself, to invest in yourself!!
Learning a new language is challenging, but incredibly fun. It gives a lot of satisfaction: can you imagine that one day you'll start thinking in that language? I know, now it seems impossible, but we promise you: IT HAPPENS. You will start thinking in that language, sometimes even dreaming.
Another amazing thing about learning another language is the fact that you will realize that certain words are not translatable into your mother tongue, this means that those words represent concepts that we would not know how to express in our own language. How cool is that?
Here some benefits: Learning a new language means your brain has to cope with complexity: it will develop key learning skills such as cognitive thinking and problem-solving. Highly developed critical thinking skills are a significant benefit both personally and professionally. Use it or lose it. We're talking about memory . When you learn a new language, you're definitely using it It increases Networking Skills : opening up to a culture allows you to be more flexible and appreciative of other people’s opinions and actions. As a result, if you are multilingual, you have the advantage of seeing the world from different viewpoints, enhancing your ability to communicate in today’s globally connected world. Better career : multilingual employees add value to the workforce and 88% stated that recruiting team members with language skills is important to their organization. A multilingual ability is definitely a competitive edge in today’s world.
So, it is time for you to go for that goal. Write this resolution down in your list.
Here's some tools we loved using while learning languages:
@Duolingo : it is a very user friendly language learning mobile app, accessible without charge. Duolingo mimics the structure of video games in several ways in order to engage you. So yeah, it is FUN! 7/10 ==> good to start with. Too basic if you want to start speaking
@Babbe l: subscription-based language learning app and e-learning platform, available in various languages. The app teaches through real-life dialogue. Our vote: 8/10 ==> good structure, real feel of advancement. Also fun. Notifications keep you on track.
@Languagepod101 this is by now our favorite. There's nothing better than getting your ear used to another language. And what if you can do this with podcasts? This platform gives you access to a whole bunch of language podcasts: frenchpod101.com, greekpod101.com and so on. The podcast also comes with extra material: a pdf with transcripts and a pdf with grammar rules you can review. You got a long car drive to work? Listen to some podcast, in one year from now you'll be able to speak another language. Quite cool, we think. Our vote: 8/10.
On top of that, there's the typical method: TAKE classes .
Having classmates and a teacher is a 9/10 in our opinion. You commit to something and you put it in your agenda every week. You gotta do homeworks.
In Luxembourg you can find
- @INL : Institut National des Langues , it offers classes for adults in eight languages: French – Luxembourgish – English – German – Spanish – Italian – Portuguese – Chinese.
- Athenée de luxembourg
- Prolingua - First Language Centre in Luxembourg since 1983, but also Berlitz and Caplangue .
Another fun method: Languages Coffee Shop: learn a language in a friendly way!
In Luxembourg: Café des langues Vote: 6/10 ==> good to improve.
Use social media properly: it is full of instagram channels that can help you learn new languages. Among some that we use:
- French: @acupoffrench
- Spanish: @marielainspanish
- English: @papateachme
Vote: 5/10 ==> it is a nice plus, but it will take you more than that to learn.
Best method ever 10/10: surround yourself with native speakers and speak, speak, speak. Make tons of mistakes and learn from them. Learning a new language makes you humble, cause no matter how smart you (think you) are, when you start speaking another language, you will feel stupid. There's no escape from that. But one day you'll stop feeling that stupid, and we ensure you: it will feel great!! A personal tip directly from me: "if you want to learn a language, you have to sleep with it" ;)
Spoiler: this is not a blog. If you read this, you should know I don’t want to make philosophy, motivational bullshit or any teaching.
These are just thoughts and you are free to agree, not agree, ignore, print it and hang it on your wall or print it and put it on fire. Your choice.
I want to make this clear cause we live in a moment in which it seems that everybody wants to teach others “how to do things”. Literally: “how to wake up feeling less tired”, “how to be a better person at work”, “how to be successful”. I cannot stand it anymore. I give my answers here below respectively: 1. Sleep 2. If you’re an asshole you’ll continue being an asshole 3. Stop thinking about it and just live life normally, as your grandma used to do. She was not thinking about success that much, yet seemed pretty happy.
As a consequence, we are basically at the mercy of other people’s thoughts. We think that ‘cause a Ted Talk said that. We think that cause this other guy said that. Oh my God, can’t we just start thinking back again by ourselves?
So yes, this whole preamble to say that tonight I felt like writing and I decided to do so. With no purpose whatsoever if not that of stimulating other thoughts in other thinking people. I also decided to share this, which I barely do, almost afraid of what people could think. But you know what? lately there are so many, really so many stupid things circulating out there that I thought: “it can’t be that bad if I share some of my thoughts as well”. I suppose I won’t embarrass myself. And if I do, well I won’t die.
So yes, I’ll write.
I woke up this morning at 10, quite late compared to my habit lately. I immediately think “ahi, I lost at least 1 hour of my life now”. Yeah I’m a time optimization freak…I have this kind of obsession about how I use my time, so I try to put every piece of an imaginary puzzle of things to do together. I know…boring. But love it, what can I do. I guess this is normal when you grow up having 12048104 different things to do and your parents constantly telling you “chi fa da sé fa per tre”, meaning basically “get your shit together by yourself”. Actually quite grateful for that.
But ok back to my day: I make coffee, eat my banana and start reading my book (this also being a piece of that puzzle, of course).
I spend the day between one thing and another and I also give myself always a little time to just think. I used to do this much more often when I was an adolescent. I would spend 30 minutes or one hour staring at the ceiling, thinking, visualizing possible futures and getting to conclusions that of course were never real conclusions. I wonder if adolescents of today do that. The very existence of TikTok makes me doubt that. Today’s thought, among others of course that I save you from (there are seriously too many) was about rapidity of thought . And how this is killing (always in my humble opinion) our brains.
There’s this tale about Thales, which also sounds nice (“tale about Thales ahah”), that basically goes like this: Thales (an ancient philosopher) was so busy looking at the sky and wondering, that he ended up falling in a well”. This, for those who don’t understand analogies, wants to indicate how the philosopher was too busy interrogating himself about things “up in the sky” that he didn’t even see what was in between his feet, the well, where he ended up falling.
Well now, let’s make an analogy to this analogy. The Tale of Thales, in today’s time: instead of all of us being philosophers, we are all just regular 21stcentury human beings. Instead of looking at the sky, we are strolling around always looking into our phones. Instead of falling in a well, we fall intellectually. And unfortunately, sometimes we also fall physically: those who fall off huge cliffs and lose their life because of a selfie. Those who are hit by a car as they cross the street without paying attention. What a shame, to die like this. Even worse, those who take lives of others because they cannot keep their hands off their phones while driving. So yes, we miserably fall as well.
What I’m trying to say here is that, like Thales back then was getting detached from reality due to his observation of the far stars, WE are getting more and more detached from reality due to our virtual parallel world. And at least Thales was looking at the sky. We are scrolling and scrolling through useless and intellectually poor content (mostly!).
Ok so this was a first point (and not so much of an epiphany actually, we all knew this in some way). But I still like my analogy of the analogy :D I am writing this as it comes to my mind, kind of James Joyce but with commas. Ok I just compared myself to Joyce, I take it back but you understood what I meant, I hope.
The second point is about the fact that you can be detached from reality, but still capable to think. Look at the philosopher, still using his brain quite a bit. Should have differentiated a little and “look down” once in a while as well, but ok he had a good excuse. What happens today though is different: our intellectual capacities are reduced to a minimum. How? Content is just vomited upon us. I use a strong word because that is how I feel. With all these things on my feed, I get confused just by the process of choosing what I want to elaborate a bit on. Not doing a Master’s thesis, just doing a little freaking elaboration!! but it’s just too much, and as I said in the beginning, way too much of “how to” bullshit.
Moreover, for many people now scrolling through the feed has become a kind of relaxation mode. • Is there an article to read? Fuck, it’s way too long, let me read the title and get my conclusions out of it. • Is there some content that requires a little bit more of an effort? No, not now…I mean, I have been working all day, I deserve a good dose of amoeba’s scrolling. • Can I learn something new today? Nah…let’s do tomorrow. • Is there a picture of a cute dog? Ohhh let me put me a like. Is there a picture of a nice lady? Let me put a like. Is that an interesting topic I could elab…. Oh look another cute dog! Let me put a like. Of course there are plenty of interesting stuff as well on social media, i know that and internet is AMAZING in that sense, but let’s be honest, what are the topics that are really trending? Taken from the web, among the most used hashtags in 2019 are #fashion , #beautiful , #happy , #cute . Not the highest intellectual ones.
It seems to me that we are going towards the beginning of the era of fast stupidity. We want everything to be fast, we need everything to be fast. Our thoughts as well. And if a thought is fast, most likely it’ll be not thought through, hence it will be stupid. This scares me a little. Really.
There is no conclusion of this. I told you. This is not a blog, it’s my thoughts. And now I feel like chocolate.