Profile cover photo
Profile photo
Sat Shaan

Post has attachment
Add a comment...

Post has attachment
How many of us are caged in a career path we chose when we were only 18?

Maybe some of us waited, at best, until 22. I don’t know about you, but when I look back at that time of my life, I don’t think of myself as worldly or experienced or knowledgeable to be making decisions that should still affect me.

But what are we supposed to do, when pressured to figure out such life choices. Who do we have to guide us?

How many of us sat across a desk from a Career Councilor and be given boiler plate advice? Or perhaps you got no advice at all?

The whole idea of a Career Advisor has forever been undermined. I’m sure we all have a similar picture. Some overworked, undertrained shlub drowning under a mountain of paperwork, handing out painfully misguided cookie-cutter advice to impressionable students. And doesn’t it seem like whoever gets these jobs only ended up there because they couldn’t figure out what they wanted to do with their own life?

Now, schools are even disregarding this position in favour for an online test - can an algorithm really tell you how to conduct the rest of your life?

Can any specific thing tell you how to conduct the rest of your working life?

There is no shortcut – the pressure from schools and society to short change ourselves and make decisions before we’re really ready ultimately leads to a less fulfilment  and an endless waste of talent.

Yet, we could still use a guide. Someone who helps us tap into the resource of ourselves. Someone to steer us onto a path of introspection, while giving us the confidence and reassurance that with time and the right execution we will find what we are best suited for and be able to give back and live more meaningfully.

Without this guidance, students are more likely to follow occupations most obviously available to them. For many of us, a functioning careers advisor could help provide a path to a whole new life.

Isn’t it time schools asked the tough questions:

What is the purpose of a careers advisor?
What outcome are they seeking?
How would the world be if careers advisors were efficient and accurate with their suggestions?

The truth is that nobody can give you a shortcut to knowing what you should do with your life. But there are tools to understand ourselves to help us navigate the kind of work we will contribute to this world.

For me, there are three fundamentals:

Know What You Want
Have a clear vision of where you want to go, without this, the execution won’t pay off.

Track Your Progress
Be alert and keep your senses open - what’s working and what’s not?

Adjust and Adapt
Develop the ability to be flexible and keep changing until you get what you want.

I believe we are all here to contribute to the world in a meaningful way, our life’s journey is discovering what that is – a path littered with the accumulation of experiences, ideas and thoughts.
Add a comment...

Post has attachment
Think of someone you love - a family member, a friend, a significant other...

Go ahead and picture them in your head. See their face. And let this person smile at you.

They are happy to see you. Happy you are here. They want you to do well. They wish the best for you.

They want to celebrate you success and commiserate over your failures.

It’s good to picture this person.

It’s easy.

And this is how we often picture people. We imagine the best version of the person we love. It’s very nice of us. It’s flattering even.


the trouble comes when we expect to see the idea of someone, but we actually interact with the reality. We see people on off days and distracted days and downright awful days.

So we spend all this time trying to change a person, hoping to mold them into the version we have in our head.

Maybe instead of changing the person, we need to adjust our idealised version.

Imagine your person again. And this time, put them in the room with you. Find a chair to sit in. Or place to stand.

Give them something to do - maybe checking their phone, reading a book or rearranging your stuff.

And this time imagine not just all their charming attributes but also their faults.

Your job is to love these faults too.

Affection for an idealised image is easy, caring for the actual person is real love.


And now that you’ve taken the time to shift your perspective, maybe you should give that person a call or an email or any other thing to show them you care.
Add a comment...

Post has attachment
London has it’s negatives, but at the heart I love my city and am happy to play host and tour guide when someone comes to town. Sometimes it goes better than others.

Julian came for a visit, not only to hang out with me, but to introduce his new fiancé. Theirs was a wild romance - only six months together before the engagement. It was clear they loved each other, but their relationship still had that new car smell.

When touring people around my city, I want to show them a good time and with a city this diverse, there are choices to cater for everyone...

Most people come to town with their own must-sees, be it the Tower of London, the National Gallery, or the Sex Pistols haunts. But a few, like Julian and Julie, seem happy to be lead around wherever - each suggestion is met with a shrug and a “sure that sounds great."

So I carefully planned some spots that felt like winners, taking them to get a pre-dinner drink at this upbeat bar with a live band, alive with people and offering craft cocktails for cheap. At first it seems like everything is going well... but I could feel it - it wasn't hitting the spot, and their slight smiles were just to humor me.

If I had sensed they would have liked a mellower scene, there is this charming jazz club downtown…

But we were onto our dinner reservation, a seafood place that has one of the best raw bars I’ve ever been in, and I remembered Julian having a thing for oysters… although it turned out that Julie didn’t really like fish, but neither of them mentioned that until after we ordered. They didn’t want to cause a fuss. So they didn’t speak up.

It felt like the whole purpose of the trip, the chance for us to get to know each other, was vein undermined. Being easy going has it's place when you don’t have many options, it means you can make the best of what you’re given. But when there an array of possibilities and you are given the opportunity to develop a relationship, it's time to speak up and reveal who you are.

This couple had good intentions, they were polite and they didn’t want to feel like they were intruding, but instead made our lives more difficult and the whole episode unmemorable.

Relationships are built on communication. If you want to develop, speak up, express your ideas, say who you are, communicate. This is what being well-mannered is about.
Add a comment...

Post has attachment
I had a professor, that from the first moment of the first class, I wanted to emulate. He was fiercely, even brutally intelligent. At that point in my young life he was, by far, the cleverest person I'd ever met. He was someone, clearly, who understood how the world worked.

He approached the lessons as if the material was plainly obvious. His aloofness and above-it-all attitude felt like an approximation of earned coolness.

I doubled down in my studies, to earn his respect and avoid the chiding that came to those who misunderstood.

But as the semester wore on, his act began to wear thin. What had appeared as wit, now felt gilded by meanness. I began to think that when, I become as clever as him (and I swore I would) I would show a little more charity.

There was a girl in class (three seats away from me) who received high marks in other classes, but struggled here. One stormy day she came in late, clearly caught in the weather - I remember her standing in the doorway looking like a drowned mouse, holding her books that had spilled out of her torn book bag.

Before she could take a seat, the professor chose that moment to quiz her on last nights homework. Clearly flustered and embarrassed, she couldn't answer any of questions. Before he let he go he said something I distinctly remember: "Don't worry about ruining them, they weren't doing you any good reading them."

She held back tears, before she left that class and never came back. The professor had this expression on his face, that read "Good Riddance."

And I thought. I don't want to be like him at all.

We've all been instilled with the feeling that coolness and cleverness is essential. There is certainly a value in intelligence, even in wit, but if you asked me what I believe in...

I believe in rapport, in kindness, in an emotional connection over any amount of smarts.

Really, intelligence is easy. Kindness is the challenge. And shouldn’t we challenge ourselves to practice a dangerous unselfishness?

For me, being kind is about showing compassion. From sympathising with people, to understanding their world view and beliefs, and taking actions that are considerate to them.

When I reflect on the past, I recall situations where only a slight change in perspective would have lead me to benefit the people around me many times over.

And with that shift in our thinking, we can all, effortlessly improve the lives of others.

Start by looking at your role models - who is the kindest person in your life?

In what ways do they show their kindness? What do they do to improve the lives of the people around them? How can you emulate them to help the people you see and talk to everyday?
Add a comment...

Post has attachment
London can be a vast and mean city, with continually acts of mundane cruelty.

Last month, I saw a woman with two suitcases struggling up the staircase from the tube. People streamed by, not one offering to help, a few even bumping her as they hustled past.

I offered her a hand getting to the top of the stairs. Her momentary bemusement and suspicion quickly faded. She seemed so relieved and looked at me with this big, honest smile.

And I felt this smile of my own spread across my face.

After I helped her up the stairs and into a taxi, the image of that smile stayed with me. So much so, that whole day I found myself beaming to co-workers, to people on the street, to people in the elevator - they didn’t see it coming. It’s as is if, for a moment we were reminded that everyone around us is human.

Research pushes the drastic benefits of smiling to our health, that connection of a smile can break the impact of loneliness.

It’s no surprise that people who categorise themselves as lonely have a shorter life span. The shocker is that these people aren’t necessarily alone - well over half were married, indicating the benefits of investing in the nature of our interactions.

A smile is just that outward sign of happiness. And happiness has its dividends - less colds, less heart disease, less chance of a stroke, less chance of diabetes, and on and on and on...

Although too often we are so busy chasing the big deal that we forget the intricacies of life, the things that makes us feel loved, the things that makes us feel human.

What can you do? How can you shock some good into society?

"Wear a smile and have friends; wear a scowl and have wrinkles."
- George Eliot
Add a comment...

Post has attachment
Maybe it’s a crazy uncle, maybe it’s that one friend who you manage to see between her trips, or maybe it’s that person you only met once at a party – we’ve all encountered people who tell thrilling stories of their life.

My goal in life is to leave behind good stories – rather than material success – my approach to each day is dictated by this and as they pass, I feel greater fulfilment.

If I’ve learnt anything from the people that have lived before us, they rarely regret the things they did – but the the things they didn’t.

We know that living an adventurous life equips us with the ammunition to tell great stories. But do we know how to live an adventurous life?

What if it’s the other way around?

What if telling great stories leads to treating life like an adventure?

I had been discussing this idea with my  friend Tom, who is both a writer and an instructor. A few days after our conversation, Tom called me up.

"I realised that a lot of the lessons to create a good story aren’t that different from lessons on how to create a good life."

He was more than happy to walk through his syllabus and we talked about what might be applicable. This is what we came up with:

Take Action

Characters who take action are more interesting than those who are passive.

Tom talked about how beginning writers fall into the trap of modeling characters off themselves. Often the problem is that most people view their life as things that happen to them. In a very telling exercise, Tom has his students create a main character do something they would never do.

The take home is, if you want to be the center of your own story, you have to be willing to be bold – don’t wait for a good project, an interesting conversation, or a curious adventure, make it happen. It’s not the goal that matters, it’s the pursuit.

Focus on the effort, rather than the outcome

Often failures are more interesting than the successes. In stories, we like to see people striving and trying to do the right thing, whether they succeed is often just a bonus. A story about someone who is always right and easily gets their own way would be boring. And often the moment of the lowest low is followed

We all have moments where everything goes wrong. If we can concentrate on our own valiant attempt, rather than outside successes, we will always have a good story. This is no storytelling tropes, I’ve found my breakthroughs have often comes after periods of duress. The feeling of frustration is usually a sign I am close.

Act, Learn and Re-try

Characters evolve. Watching a character change from the first page to the last is often the heart of a story. In screenwriting there is a term: the First Attempt. This is when the character has started on the adventure and they take a stab at what they want.

Often this First Attempt fails, or only partly succeeds, or succeeds at something the main character doesn't truly want. Not only is this a sign that the character should try a new tactic, but often means the character needs to dig deeper, try harder and risk more.

Learn from each attempt you make. How are you not risking enough? What new action can you take to get what you want? How have your adventures changed you? How can you create an adventure to make the change in your life that you need?

Embrace Cause and Effect, Serendipity, Coincidence and the Unwanted Surprise.

Stories are often highly efficient. To paraphrase the playwright Anton Chekov – If you introduce a gun in Act 1, it should go off in Act 2. One event triggers the next like a series of dominos. And by the end all the different elements come crashing into each other.

Whatever you feel about fate, embrace those moments where things seem to magically come together.

The people who live their life like a story probably don’t even do any of this stuff consciously, because they’ve been doing it for so long. But we can learn a lot from them, by purposely putting these story tactics in our life.
Add a comment...

Post has attachment
Can you touch your toes?

Wasn’t that always one of the markers of health we were taught as kids?

Do they still teach kids to touch their toes? I hope so, but more than for the obvious reasons.

Recently, I’ve had to work at flexibility.

I was struggling in yoga class. Only being able to tough my right toe with my right hand but not my left.

Nobody else had this issue and I started to wonder if it just wasn’t possible.

Maybe I wasn’t built to be a person who had flexibility.

Isn’t that the way it goes? We let these barriers build up in our mind and convince ourselves there are just some things we can’t do.

Well, eventually I started to wonder: What exactly was my barrier? How far could I reach? I measured it specifically. 

If step one is deciding on a goal, step two is finding a way to measure your limits.

How high can you jump? How far can you run? How long you can go without checking your email? Put it into time, put it into distance, put in a scale of 1 to 10 difficulty.

Once I find my measurable limit, the next time, instead of worrying about the end goal. I just tried to push past my own boundary - break my own record.

When I hear someone talking about something they aren’t able to do. This has become the analogy I use. Because at this point, not only can I touch my toe, I can wrap my hand around my foot.

When I keep pushing my boundaries, focus on beating my last record, I often surprise myself with what I can do.
Add a comment...

Post has attachment
Watching the Winter Olympics I’ve been awed at athletes competing in sports with a ice skate-thin margin for error.

Just two or three shots at the gold and if they are a millimetre off they are face down in the ice, dreams dashed.

Failure. It happens…

Success comes from how we respond.

It’s easy to respond ignorantly and hard to look at failure with an unbiased eye.

We succumb to ignoring problems or, even worse, blaming other people, the weather, the alignment of the stars, anything but ourselves.

No matter how things turned out, or how much of an influence we think we’ve had, we can always recognise the actions we took, no matter how minuscule.

I cannot empathise this enough: Take the time to self-reflect.

Why do these athletes get better and better? 

They are continually using every tool at their disposal to track their performance: from slow motion video technology to aerodynamic contouring.

These aren’t wild guesses, they reflect and react to well honed data from years of practice.

So next time things go wrong or right for that matter, take a moment to figure out how else you could have shaped the situation.

Seriously, write a list. Write two.

1. What went wrong? (And how did it go wrong?) 

Be brutally honest with yourself - what did you do to cause it?

By brutal I don’t mean be hard or unfair, I’m saying respect yourself enough to tell yourself the real deal.

Not a story or an excuse but the honest scenario.

What did you do or not do?

2. What could you have tried differently? 

Brainstorm anything, from a simple shift in attitude to a complete change in approach with a different set of actions.

You'll find these ideas easily translate into strategies for the future.

If we just act, we become vulnerable to repeating the same mistakes and reaping the same results.

Take the time to reflect and then react and you'll find yourself weaving a new path - one that's more likely to end in success.
Add a comment...

Post has attachment
I was gleefully doing what they tell you not to do.

Last weekend, I began work on a side project. With friends. They wanted to keep everything on the up and up, like we all do.

One of the first things they mentioned, was trading legal documents, meaning, of course, CONTRACTS -


I had a natural aversion. And I told them so.

When you start obsessing over something as complex as a contract, it takes time. It takes effort. It’s a drain of your energy.

A drain of the energy that could be going towards the actual project. And the almighty Contract becomes the focus.

Tossing contracts back and forth, trying to protect yourself from any possible scenario, creates distrust and can kill the relationship before it starts.

If you’re going climbing, you make sure your rope is secure and you trust the person holding it for your safety. But ultimately you accept there’s a chance of finishing with a knock or scuff here and there.

Even with the most binding contract - there is always a risk.

We have a choice: we can spend all our time trying to eliminate any possibility of getting hurt or we can climb the bloody mountain.

If experience has taught me anything, it’s this: Contracts have loopholes. The more time we spend looking and sweating over contracts, the more loopholes become apparent.

So here’s how I deal with Contracts:

The Quick Contract

Can a contract be a document to aid communication, rather than a binding piece of personal legislation?

I've found a way to make contracts in a helpful way in the beginning of creative process.

I've started using this online tool.

It asks for a minimal amount of information and can help you knock out a contract in ten minutes.

This is my ultimate point. I'll say it with cap locks for emphasis:


A contract can do a few things remarkably well. It clarifies communication. It pushes a collaboration forward.

Since it's impossible to make a contract insurance against everything bad that could possibly happen I've ended up with a motto:

Less Contracts, More Collaboration
Add a comment...
Wait while more posts are being loaded