5 Things I’ve learnt from Ali Abdaal

An internet personality whose popularity has been consistently growing for the past few years, Ali Abdaal has become a social media influencer known for providing tips and tricks surrounding productivity. Having started as a medical student at the University of Cambridge, Ali came across the notion of multiple sources of income and has been testing it’s worth for a few years to a point where he generates income by sharing what he has learnt.

With his own online education business designed for medical students thriving, he has explored the field of productivity hacks by studying the likes of Derek Sivers, Tim Ferriss and Austin Kleon to name a few. He implements his ideas in his own life before sharing them which is very clear in his content through his ability to combat imposter syndrome which has paved the way for his ever-increasing confidence.

Having followed his social media journey for the past few years, we have come up with 5 main takeaways from Ali’s productivity content that helps break the mental barriers we have created, yes we are the problem, not external factors, which leads us nicely into the first point.

People don’t care about you 🙄

It is human nature to care about what people think and that is okay. It does however become problematic when our actions are influenced by other people’s perception which underpins the concept of imposter syndrome.

Have you ever thought ‘I want to ask this question but it’s so stupid’ or ‘My drawings look awful in front of hers’ Chances are, you have? The reality is you are the only person thinking about your work and it limits you from asking that question. As a result, we don’t release our full potential for the fear of what other people might think. Ali Abdaal quotes Olin Miller in combatting imposter syndrome:

“You probably wouldn’t worry about what people think of you if you could know how seldom they do”

Olin Miller

When you realise people are not fixated on you, it liberates you to make the decisions you want without fear of judgement. So next time, please ask that question and own your work!

There is no such thing as a new idea 🧨

On social media, at architecture school or even at work please know that nobody really has new ideas. Even that one person who appears to have the most creativity probably pinched it off of some serious Pinterest scrolling. It’s the same at university as we search for key precedents that help inform our design decisions whether that be from Vitruvius, Corbusier, or even Norman Foster.

Previously executed ideas are upcycled for different audiences and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. If anything, it helps the industry in innovation! Coming to terms with this reality removes any self-imposed pressure of creating something original. Most of Ali’s productivity tips are sourced from Tim Ferriss or Derek Sivers, this doesn’t mean he is doing them a disservice rather it means he is sharing what he has learned and offering the authors their well-deserved credit.

Your website is your online home 💻

Building a personal website in this day and age is paramount. It is a little home you have on the internet where you can express your views, show your personality and even convert into revenue – should you wish to. The beauty of the internet is not knowing who you will connect with and where that interaction will take you.

It can land you your next job or client or even a different direction. Therefore, a website is also an ongoing record of how much work you have produced over the years and is a testament to your growth as a designer. The more presence we have on the internet, the greater the chances to achieve those goals through pure serendipity.

Multiple Incomes 💸

Adults commonly complain about the same thing – not having enough money, wanting a raise and more about money. That is largely because people prefer staying in their comfort zone by working a stable yet not always financially rewarding 9-5 job that cannot fund their desired lifestyle.

Ali emphasises that everyone can reach their financial goals by having more than one income to rely on. We have seen in the past year how precarious employment can be. Countless people were furloughed during the pandemic, businesses went bust and some industries remain closed even after half the country has been vaccinated!

To avoid this from ever happening again, Ali Abdaal suggests securing multiple passive incomes that allows you to do your full-time job because you want to and not because you have to. By extension, employee productivity will be enhanced! Sounds like a win-win situation. He refers religiously to author Tim Ferriss’ book titled The Four Hour Work Week which we think is definitely worth a read or just watch Ali’s review in the video below.

Nobody needs permission 🧊

After all of the above, there will be some people reading this thinking ‘…but who will want to listen to me? I don’t have a standing’ Well you’re right, you probably don’t but that doesn’t mean you can’t. I mean nobody gave us a certificate at :scale to start writing a blog, we just did and you as a reader have found this interesting enough to still be here so that is enough validation for us.

Ali repeats you don’t need permission to start your own business, a YouTube channel, a business Instagram account or even a website to meet your goals. Just get started and be consistent.

So this wraps up our five key lessons from Ali Abdaal, we hope you enjoyed it and can implement some techniques into your own life. Let us know what you think in the comments below and be sure to share!

Bonus Lesson!

It’s not about the destination, just enjoy the journey 😎 – Ali Abdaal

This article was written by Tazeen Raza


How to Expand your Social Media Skills

It’s no secret that we’re the generation who are supposed to be knowledgeable and in-sync with the quirks and requirements of social media. But as aspiring architects how can we use it to our advantage? Social media is much more than just posting pics of your dog (no matter how cute) and using it as a dump box for architectural images and models that don’t really mean anything.

Social media could mean Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn even TikTok 🤮. There isn’t any obligation to be on these platforms if you don’t wish to do so. An alternative could be a portfolio website that showcases your projects and style if you wish to do so.

person holding black samsung android smartphone

Your Instagram or LinkedIn pages could serve to become a portfolio of sorts for yourself if you see it as a personal brand. As architects we tend to overthink elements or disregard social media because we’re too shy to put up our work. Let me tell you the top 3 mistakes architecture students make with their social media pages.

  1. Not posting! The first step of mastering social media and creating a beautiful, elegant and professional social profile is to actually post content. But I don’t just mean every sketch or every failed model. It has to be a carefully curated collection of images (and sometimes text) that represents who you are an an individual as well as a creative. Sometimes we hae a fear of getting negative comments but what many students don’t realise is that the archi-community is a really positive and powerful space. Personally, I’ve never received or even seen negativity because we’re all on the same journey more or less. We all know what it’s like going through critiques every week and putting in long hours for our creations. No one is here to judge you, so be bold and show off your work!
  2. Being detatched from your social profile. If you are going to jump on the bandwagon and put in the effort to create a social profile, make sure you’re not being a robot about it. There’s one thing about firms being professional and posting clean, minimal images because they have other media and clients to rely on – their Instagram’s probably aren’t their number one source. I’ve seen far too many students try and be all fancy and post one image a month with the simplest of all captions. The whole point of being on social media is to be social. Challenge others around you by asking questions related to your projects and images. Although we do love to see a intricate, detailed drawing – we want to know more about it! This could inspire someone down the line so try and explain yourself as best you can in the comments and be real about it – we don’t want to see a mundane, boring explanation.
  3. Not engaging enough. There are several ways you can get your name out there and turn some heads. But for those of you starting out it can be tough. So make sure you’re engaging with content creators, communities, collectives and inspiring individuals to learn from them and support them. The more you do this, you will not only be exposed to similar content, you will also be inspired and the more people you follow the better chance of them following you back right? Other ways of engaging is to be really active in the community, interact with firms or blogs 😉 and don’t be afraid to have real conversations. It really isn’t good enough to post and then forget that Instagram exists, it makes your page effectively dead and defeats the purpose of being on their in the first place.

There are many other ways you can make your content stand out. Apart from having high quality images, experiment with the layout of your feed, the colour palette or even adding your own flair and style. You could turn your social profile into a brand and make it look pretty professional. One great way I saw of experimenting with your feed is by Esmae Abigail on LinkedIn. She essentially added captions within the images and separated each post into it’s own little section, making it a visual CV on Instagram!

At the end of the day, you want to make it work for you 🤍. If you’re not comfortable with having your name out there, post under an alias. Or, if you’re super keen on building a personal brand make sure to be consistent and authentic!