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EP #1 Seeam Shahid — Harvard, Constant Learning and Public Speaking

Seeam Shahid Noor goes to Harvard University, where he’s pursuing an undergraduate degree in Applied Mathematics. During admissions, he was accepted to Harvard, Princeton and IBA, DU. Seeam went to high school at a military school aka Mirzapur Cadet College, which was formative years for him. He is an online educator involved with 10 minute school, enjoys public speaking and stand-up comedy.

How does one improve fast at public speaking? (or any skill)

Practice + Instant Feedback

What is working, what is not working. Find what you can instantly tweak and get better the next time. And keep doing that.

(Paraphrasing)

“Imagine participating in public speaking competitions for 6 years and getting instant feedback every time you walk off stage — among other things, you learn how to engage your audience.”

On Sleep

I’ve found that a large part of how productive my day goes depends on whether I slept well. (How long do you sleep?) I typically sleep for 7–8 hours.

On Never Eating Alone

“I (almost) always have my dinner with someone. At the start of the week, I reach out to friends, booking time to catch up. I try to set up a meeting for each dinner.”

“I realized if you don’t reach out to a lot of people, you’ll end up never reaching out. I don’t wait for the other person to take the initiative, I do it myself.”

On Reading New Books

(Paraphrasing) Every time I’m curious about a topic, I note it down. I google for the best books around that topic and add those to my reading list. Then, whenever I’m free I pick one from that reading list and read!

What does your Morning Routine look like?

I usually wake up early (7–8 am) at the start of the semester, and that gets a little pushed back towards the end of the semester when deadlines beckon and late nights are called for.

I divide my day into parts.

One part is for homework, assignments, etc.

I reserve a block of time as “My Time”, usually earlier in the day, when I work out, have breakfast if I’m feeling like it, and read a book or write an article.

Later in the day, I block some time to check my emails and other communications channels.

I learn something and write articles or other posts to consolidate my learning.

“I constantly have to be learning something…it makes me happier.”

How does one get into Harvard?

Have a powerful purpose. What motivates you, won’t be the same for me.

(Paraphrasing) My purpose was I wanted to complete the entire process so that I could describe it to others. There was no precedent in our circles, someone had to do it…I decided I would.

“During admissions season, with medical school, IBA and US university applications on my plate, I worked 16 hours a day for 6 months.

People now think it’s crazy, but it didn’t seem crazy to me then because I had set this goal and after that, I had to do it.”

What books have greatly influenced you

  1. The Power of Moments by Chip Heath and Dan Heath. The authors analyzed a lot of moments in different peoples lives and tried to uncover what makes a moment special. Once you know what makes a moment special, you can try and have more of those in your life or for those around you. I tried this with my friends and loved ones, and they often said “oh, this is one of the most special moments of my life” and I’m like “Yeah, it works!”
  2. Give and Take, by Adam Grant. It’s about how the act of giving can help you grow as a person and also help grow your organization. It’s a nice feeling to give and know what the effects might be long term.
  3. Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor

How do you “Network” or reach out to people in meaningful ways?

  1. Have a genuine purpose. Be clear why you’re reaching out.
  2. Don’t be outcome oriented. Let go of the mindset that just because you’ve reached out to someone you need to drive it to an outcome.
  3. Give people an avenue to help you. Make it clear how they can help you.
  4. Find commonalities. Interests, backgrounds, etc.
  5. Be considerate. Be open to whatever they can give or if they don’t get back at all.

QUOTES

“I’m an introvert, but I’m not shy.”

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Ahmed Fahad

Ahmed Fahad

Founding team / VP of Product @ Pathao (pathao.com); Global Shaper @ World Economic Forum. (ahmedfahad.com)