— Listening to learn & learning to listen.

“When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new.” — Dalai Lama


I was an avid reader in my early teens, but the habit withered away because of textbook education. Studying for performing well in tests/exams seemed more alluring than reading for pleasure or for new learnings.

And then the Internet happened in my life, bringing its pal social media. I was subconsciously training my mind to consume more information rapidly with zero obligation to understand and/or retain. Over the years I was suffering from information overload and lack of focus, which I only realized an year ago.

Chapter 1 — The realization

Last year I joined a new company and my time to commute increased from 10min a day to ~120–150min a day. I was looking for ways to utilize this time effectively than idle in a Uber/Ola ride. I decided to re-cultivate my reading habits and went onto Goodreads for suggestions. I noted for the first time my “To read” was way longer than the “Read” and my reading pace got slow as a snail.

Chapter 2 — The recourse

From the many attempts I made to read the following did not work for me:

  • Books: Reading one was very difficult because of the noisy traffic and wobbly rides because of the roads. Plus carrying another item in the bag added to the bulk
  • Kindle & iPad: Seriously I don’t have time to charge another device and untangle the cords that knot mysteriously
  • Social media (blogs, tweets, facebook etc.) or emails: Devouring on information at the start of the day reduced my focus levels and alleviated anxiety. Plus reading from incoherent sources caused ad-hoc mental models which were very volatile in nature. Obligations to contribute or act-upon created a decision fatigue e.g. retweet, like, subscribe, comment, reply to emails…

I decided to switch reading with listening for an engaging learning experience and reduce stress on the eyes

  • Podcasts/music/youtube-offline/Ted talks: I enjoyed listening over reading, most certainly. However, given that these were short in duration searching and sifting personalized content did not seem sustainable. It’s hard already having to choose what to wear, what to eat…so I did not need an overhead.

Chapter 3 — The solution

I decided to try Audible, and I couldn’t have been happier with my choice. It solved some fundamental problems for me and a lot of customer delight:

  • Seamlessness: I signed up on the website, downloaded the mobile app and got everything set-up in 5min. I was able to download once and play anytime anywhere without worrying about strength of cellular data. Major concern for “stream-on-the-go content”.
  • Hassle-free: Since I carried the mobile with me, I was assured I wouldn’t be stranded for content, or worse among content. Major win over books or tablets.
  • Pricing & Membership: I got a 30 day free trial and 1 credit = 1 free book. Converting from trial to quarterly/bi-annual/annual membership is extremely easy and the costs are nominal. Plus every month I would get 1 credit = 1 free book.

Pro tip: Buy, download and return the book to get the credit back….sshhhh

  • Engaging: Listening has definitely been more engaging for me personally and demands less concentration. Some books leave an everlasting impact because of excellent narration. One can hone the listening and retention skills with different narration speeds (vary between 0.5x — 2x).
  • Selection: The audible store has a wide variety of books from broad categories. I sometimes do a point search if I know what I am looking for or resort to recommendations for the system to surprise me.

Chapter 4 — The end

So far I have had only positive things to say about Audible. Honestly, I have not tried any other audio apps, guess we kind of stop searching when we find what we want.

I feel very accomplished & happy for having ticked-off quiet a few books from my “To read” list. The real game-changer for me was Audible made my transition from fiction to non-fiction a lot of fun. I just feel like I have a friend in my pocket who taught me to be a better listener and never lets me feel bored!!!

Written by

Product manager interested in #fintech #lending #creditrisk #neoBanking. Ex-Tala, PayU, Atlassian, Cybrilla. Yoga enthusiast, gardener and recipe tinkerer

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