4 mins

Last Edited: Jul 14, 2023

Key Insights from Harish's Talk on Self-Growth and Productivity

Harish musings on the journey of self-discovery and creating a strong desire to work towards one's calling for self-growth and productivity.


BlockTheory recently hosted a meetup with Harish Narayanan, a marketer who has created world-class teams that have broken records and grown businesses exponentially. With a remarkable career spanning over a decade, Harish has held executive roles at P&G, Google, Myntra, and UpStock. During the talk, he shared his insights on self-growth and productivity.

Harish first drew our attention to the value of time and the limited opportunities to make a meaningful impact in this world. He puts it into perspective:

Imagine you are 40 years old. From this point onward, you have approximately 2,000 weeks left before age 80. Within these weeks lies the potential for you to make a significant difference in the world, provided that you are productive.

He emphasized the importance of creating a burning desire within each of us and shared his journey of self-exploration on how to get better.  He emphasized the importance of creating a burning desire within each of us and shared his journey of self-exploration on how to get better.

Starting from uncertainty to finding clarity about who he is, what he wants to do, and where he wants to go. He explained how his journey perfectly aligned with his career, team management, and leadership success. And encouraged us to embark on our journey of self-discovery, where we can truly understand ourselves and work towards our calling.

📈 Now, let's dive into the 3 steps of Self-growth that Harish highlighted:

🪄 1. Be- Recognize the Miracles Within Us

He wants us to see our self-worth and not get caught up in everyday complaints and urges, "Don't settle for mediocrity." He underlines the importance of flipping the script and recognizing that we are all amazing miracles on this planet. Furthermore, he shares profound spiritual and philosophical reflections, pointing out the interconnectedness between rare elements in the universe and within the human body. These deeply spiritual encounters serve as a means for him to recognize that we all possess unique and special qualities, and each of us is a miracle.

💬 2. Think - Even if you come across a seemingly negative person, take the good from them and become unbeatable.

It's about absorbing the positive qualities of others, even in challenging times. We can become unstoppable if we take the good we see in people. He quotes a beautiful example drawing inspired by the remarkable tale of Bali in Ramayana, who derived strength from whomever he encountered. We can interpret this as "even if we meet an average person or a new person and try to take whatever is good of them into ourselves, then we become unbeatable."

💁🏻 3 . Do - Your life is shaped by what you pay attention to.

Harish firmly believes that our life is a series of moments we choose. And he gave us practical tips to apply in our daily lives:

🎧 Focus on your priorities in the first four hours of your day -Don't avoid uncertainty or procrastinate. Tackle the most challenging tasks, as they are often the most important. The more resistance you feel, the more you must prioritize those tasks.

📵 Ensure that you don't let responsiveness hinder your progress-Focus in accomplishing the main tasks, such as crafting compelling brand stories or launching large campaigns. By avoiding constant back-and-forth messages and notifications, we can experience a noticeable boost in productivity.

🗓️ Goal Management- This is a game changer in terms of successful planning. We should begin planning yearly, quarterly, monthly, weekly, and daily. Whereas a week is an adequate period to accomplish anything. —it's a manageable yet predictable scope for goal planning. Apply color-coding methods to effectively organize tasks by categorizing them into personal and work-related priorities.

💡 Calendar is your best friend - He says, "Calendar is our best friend, and the to-do list is our enemy." To-do is a list that demands our time, whereas Calendar is used for allocating specific time slots for different goals/activities. He highlights that our mind is a beautiful machine that should be used only for ideas, so don't use it to remember anything." The toughest part is to predict how much time a certain task will take, but eventually, we get better at it; once we make this a practice of putting down our day-to-day tasks on the calendars. Harish highlighted the importance of using calendars to externalize tasks, freeing up mental space for generating ideas and concepts.

In nutshell, Harish really wants us to recognize the miracles within ourselves. Even if we meet negative people, we can still take the good from them and become unstoppable, just like Bali in the Ramayana.

He gives us practical tips to follow in our daily lives, like focusing on priorities in the first four hours of the day and avoiding distractions that hinder our progress. Harish drew attention to goal management and planning on different time scales, from yearly to daily. He also highlights the importance of using calendars instead of to-do lists to allocate specific task time slots. By doing this, we free up our minds for creative thinking.

He further touched upon the Level 4 Thinking Framework - inspired by a beautiful blog, "Wait, But Why, "- wherein he further explains it -

  1. Level 1: Imagine a scenario where John approaches the cashier to make a payment. After handing over the required amount, the cashier throws the change while returning it. Surprised by this unexpected incident, John exclaims, "How dare the cashier behave like this!" At this moment, John's ego takes control, and his focus is solely on himself. He fails to see beyond his perspective and the obstacle before him.

  2. Level 2: As John steps forward, the human part of his brain kicks in. Empathy plays a bigger role, and he becomes more aware of the cashier's perspective and emotions. Instead of solely focusing on himself, he takes a moment to consider that the cashier could be having a bad day. John's reaction shifts from anger to curiosity and understanding.

  3. Level 3: John realizes that he and the cashier share a connection. He understands that everyone is prone to making mistakes and that finding a solution requires working together. Instead of dwelling on the incident, he approaches the cashier with empathy and calmly asks if everything is alright. They work together to resolve the situation, knowing their interaction goes beyond a simple transaction.

  4. Level 4: After practicing Level 3 for years, John achieves a higher level of consciousness. He seeks the ultimate truth with humility, even in difficult situations. He maintains peace and open-mindedness in this state, enabling him to navigate challenges with grace and wisdom. Destruction of Ego is such a powerful concept at that moment where you don't matter anymore. It's about the entirety of the environment and people around you. Many people yell at you, or something bad is happening, but instead, you are seeking knowledge."

To wrap it up, Harish finally shared the secret to all his habits and learnings—Reading. He believes it's the fundamental habit that creates all other habits. He encouraged us to "fall in love with reading, devour any material that interests us, and dedicate time in our calendars for reading. It truly has the power to transform our minds."

Remember, productivity isn't the ultimate goal—it's a means to free up time to embark on our self-growth journey from level one to level four.

Watch the full talk

🔑  Key Takeaway

Harish's talk on self-growth and productivity points out the importance of recognizing our own miracles and using practical tips that include focusing on priorities, avoiding distractions, goal management. He also highlights the Level 4 Thinking Framework for achieving a higher level of consciousness and the fundamental habit of reading to transform our minds.