How to Train Human Mind for Best Result

Human Brain is perhaps the most complex machinery in this universe and no one till now has been able to comprehend all its wonders!!

Nobel award winner Daniel Kahneman, renowned Professor of Psychology and Emeritus Professor, calls our conscious braina machine for jumping conclusion” while the unconscious braina lazy controller”.

Now, in a training session, the trainer is continually aligning the conscious and the unconscious brain of the audience. This requires being adept at communicating, anticipating and processing thoughts real time. The complexity doubles multifold when you are doing so to a bunch of trillion thoughts running in the mind of all the learners gathered in a single room. And well, if a person is successful in bringing it in line for this bunch of people, then you can only put her on a pedestal!!

Anu Binny comes with more than 15+ years of experience in Research, Training, and Transformation Projects and has extensive experience working with global clients in Asia and Middle East. She is known as ‘Change Agent’ as she lives determinedly to bring ideas into realization and building people.

She has completed her Post Graduation in Engineering (Mumbai) and additionally attended Certifications programs from IIM and others in Strategic Management, Instructional Design, OD Analyst, Psychometric Testing, HR Analytics and Metrics etc. She has travelled across countries and handled multi cultural, multi audience Training projects with resounding success. She has also worked as a Consultant for an international Knowledge Management Project for the Capital Market Authority of Saudi Arabia which was widely appreciated by her client. As the Head of Training, she has been instrumental in helping and setting up training centers in all the organizations she has worked.

An inspiring speaker, she believes that every individual carries a seed of greatness within and so no training is complete without an attitude change. All her leadership programs inspire participants to unlock themselves and are highly action oriented. She has also mentored many aspirants who are today successful trainers in the international arena.

She is an ardent researcher and has been invited to speak at various conferences. In her precious free time she is either blogging, cooking or going out for a movie or concert with family & friends.

We talked about different aspects of Training and Development with her. Our objective was to find answers for existing and future trainers, employees and working women….

Review Board: The most complex machine in this universe is the human brain. And to train a human brain, one needs to understand it first. How do you set the pace of your training program so that participants allow you the access to their brain?

Anu Binny: 
Every training is unique in its own ways. The situations that a trainer comes across may vary. The first and the most important element in any successful training is the pre-prep of the trainer and her ability to adapt the delivery to ensure learning in the participants. I feel accountable for the knowledge and also the transfer of learning. I prepare for Knowledge correctness and conviction. Before I enter my training room, I ensure that I fall in love with the topic in hand and believe that it makes a difference to my participants. If I don’t believe in what I am training, I know the participants are not going to believe in it either. So I get back to basics again and research more till it gets me up and stirred.

To adapt the training delivery you must know the receiver i.e. your audience, their names, their experience etc. It stands in good stead during my short chats and to personally connect to them. Moreover, if they ask me a question during the session, knowing their context helps me to respond with the better fit answer or solution. I often send out a questionnaire prior to session so that I know their learning style. Do I change the curriculum, NO but yes I change my approach to the delivery to one that will facilitate learning. Trying to get all of them interested is not easy but there are some tried and tested methods.

In case there are more activists I keep a list of role play, activities (aligned to my training objectives) so that I can make use of the de brief session and pace up the learning if required. For the reflectors I keep a few interesting facts and figures ready. A few videos, case studies are a must to get the theorist to scratch his brains and few practical sessions from the pragmatics.

For any training program, the trainer’s passion and the acceptance of the delegates are the key success factors. I believe the trainer’s passion about the subject, her understanding of the audience and her ability to address the ‘What is in it for me” for the delegates is what helps her in steering the pace of a training program.

Review Board: Our socio-economic environment, education and experience train our minds the most. While learning new things which are necessary to carry out the work, we also need to unlearn a few things which we have learnt. How do you help your participants unlearn what is not needed or required?

Anu Binny
: Life is all about change and hence unlearning is a very important skill. It’s not that the old knowledge is obsolete. I usually set an empathetic chord with them because I understand that they owe their professional existence to that knowledge and may get a bit emotional and threatened with a feeling that they are getting obsolete. It’s in fact an opportunity for the trainer to boost their esteem and help them discover their potential.

Recently when I was working on a Lift and shift model I faced a similar challenge. But we designed and delivered the whole training in such a way that they were ready to jump onto the bandwagon and saw it as an opportunity to prove themselves. It is a win-win for all and was widely appreciated by the participants. The customers saw the output and it was a resounding success.

Understanding the challenges, breaking those barriers or resistance and bringing in a positive perspective of the participant is the key to successful session.

Review Board: Counselling, mentoring or a personal coach, all guide and give direction to a professional’s life and it can’t be achieved without touching the person’s life. Share your experience how and in what way you touched the life of participants of your training programs?

Anu Binny
: I guess I have this knack of understanding the potential of a person. The domain and functional knowledge can be learnt and even tested with set benchmarks. But to be an influential leader there is a need to understand your intrinsic qualities.

I have had the opportunity to work with different kinds if audience and so am able to understand the reason behind a behaviour pattern. I try to map it to facts and evidences during my interaction. Every individual is born with the right intrinsic qualities to sustain and be successful in his life. All that is required for him or her is to discover it. I am surprised when people come back and tell me that they have never been appreciated or they had never known that they had a particular competency.

We as trainers just show people the mirror and help them see their beauty. I feel satisfied when my training makes the participant feel empowered. He leaves the training room a much better and competent person. I have helped people build their career, helped them understand their weakness and identify their potentials and sometimes even helped them heal their inner self. An influential learning and development leader is one who inspires and builds his team to move towards excellence.

I have most of time worked for listed organizations but have got the opportunity of setting up their training team just like one of a start-up. It has given me an opportunity to work with young people who have really helped me to build an entire training centre. In the process they have become assets themselves and are today doing extremely well for themselves. So it’s not only in the classroom, but every person of your team needs to be one up. Building people and empowering them to play their roles and contribute significantly is a lifestyle for me.

Review Board: The likes of Bill Gates and Satya Nadella strongly feel that Artificial Intelligence is going to change the nature of workforce and work environment and to cope with and stay relevant, re-skilling of manpower for the new environment is very much necessary. What advice would you like to give out to people about re-skilling; why it is necessary, what will it achieve for them and how should they approach it? You hold your job for the contribution you bring to the organization.

Anu Binny
: We are all aware that traditional skills are becoming less relevant with each passing day as newer process or technology gets evolved. Artificial Intelligence is going to change the nature of workforce and work environment soon but then so did the advent of computer a couple of years back.

Re-skilling is required in this “survival of the fittest” game. Organizational researchers argue that the shelf-life of a learned skill in today’s world is around five years. The most in-demand skills today are also very different. Career progression and a secure job lies in one’s ability to adapt and learn in sync with the demands of the job market.

My advice, look for internal job postings and enrol for an internal re-skilling program. In case the company you are working is not coming up with offers suitable to your competencies, start looking outside. Please don't continue in job where you are not contributing. It will hit your self-esteem and the off side comments will make you feel humiliated, unworthy and dependent on your senior’s favour. I tell you that it is not a comfortable space to be in. Trust me it can break your self-confidence beyond repair. It might be wiser to invest in re-skilling through an external training. Do your research and ensure that the skill you choose has more stability and longevity among the multiple options available. Don’t feel demeaned in case you are not fitting in, remember Talent is contextual. Truly speaking today, job security lies in your ability to learn a new skill on a regular basis throughout your career. Invest in yourself it will help you live beyond just breathing.

Review Board: The training industry still faces the challenge where the decision makers themselves are the biggest hurdle or bottleneck. To convince them of their and their organizations needs for training or re-skilling is an uphill task. Your take on your experiences with decision makers in your career.

Anu Binny: Yes, sometimes it is difficult to change the mind-set of a decision maker who is too traditional, not open-minded and rigid in his approach. But looking from another perspective is to look at this way. They are running the businesses one must go back and think - why are they not convinced? What am I missing here? If you believe that it’s a must to have, then you need to go with the numbers, statistics and a benefit statement. Present it to them.

You can brainstorm it with a couple of people before approaching them. Their inputs will be valuable in putting across your points in the way they understand. Take the help of a senior member who believes in it and can help you get the management buy in. In case it still doesn't work out then, DON’T delete it. Instead create a backup, save it. Boy you are going to use it someday for sure! Trust me your time and chance will come. It has always happened with me!!

My advice....never give up without trying!! I remember in one of the organization I worked, I knew that there was a need to digitize learning and work on the training content to build a robust training centre. For the digital learning, I did my thorough research found a cost effective solution. To back up, I was ready with a comparative statement too. I used a trial version and created a small knowledge byte. My MD liked it and he Okayed it immediately. It was a great success. The word spread and today it is the default animation software used by many departments in the organization.

But a few months later, under a new leadership the goals changed and digital learning took a back seat. It hurts at a personal level to realize the efforts did not get to the finishing line but you have to take that with a pinch of salt. Also in case the management is not convinced and you know it is a need, you can set it as a small internal miles stone and make it happen. I did it for the content development. I was ready with a new set of training materials for all my trainings. I was able to pace up the scope of my training delivery, number of trainings for each trainer and improving their productivity double fold.

The hard work may go unnoticed but not the quality it brings to your work. Also celebrate it with your teams, be happy you are building assets for the company. It gives a tremendous amount of job satisfaction when you realize the training centre is moving fast paced toward excellence. Things really go really adversely only if you have a poor Boss. But you still have a choice. I guess in matters of management you can chose to change but in matters of principles stand like a rock.

Review Board: What specific skill of yours has helped you achieve the position you have in your profession? Any specific advice you would like to share with aspiring Trainer.

Anu Binny
: I have a collection of personal letters written by participants describing the impact the session has made on them. Most of them define it as a life changing moment!! My ability to connect to the audience is definitely my USP. I am an avid reader and I love reading biographies as I believe that to be a Learning and development specialist you should have a desire to make a positive difference to peoples life. A biography gives a sneak preview to a real journey of struggle, victory and helps you understand human psychology better.

From the delivery perspective I am very detail oriented and quick learner. I am able to process complex concept, logically break and explain it in simple words. This probably comes from my pursuit of continuous learning. I believe a trainer should be passionate and display a calm demeanour. It is an unmistakable trait that leaves an impression on her participants. Training is the best way to touch lives and bring meaning to your own.

Review Board: Dr. Indra Nooyi, Chairperson of PepsiCo, when asked, “What’s your opinion about whether woman can have it all?” had said “I don't think women can have it all. I just don't think so. We pretend we have it all. We pretend we can have it all."  Quite a few people agreed to the response but surprisingly there were quite a few who disagreed. What is your personal take on the same?

Anu Binny
: Love and compassion are very relative concepts and not scientific principles. They do not have perfect definitions. Every individual perceives it and defines it differently. I gave up a career in research to be able to give time to my kids. Is it a sacrifice or my duty? Opinions may vary.

I did my full time Master’s degree from Sardar Patel College of Engineering because that had become a mandate for teaching in college. I would take lectures in Vivekananda Engineering College where I held a job which is located at Chembur and after finishing my whole day of work, travel all the way to Andheri to attend my lectures. And of course I would be late to reach home.

How did I manage? I had found a great support system. I had a very good baby sitter who was always there for kids. Do my kids ever complain – No! But I am sure I must have missed out on many special occasions in their lives. Do I gloat in guilt? No. Instead, I try and recreate special occasions, celebrations, cook a special dish, go on a short drive etc. I know I chose what was best for the family. Life is a roller coaster ride, let’s not complicate it, give your best and enjoy the ride. All is required is a good ecosystem of love and care to pass on the timeless truth of life and hope to the next generation!!

Review Board: You are a mother to teenage kids; an age which challenges a parent in all possible ways, from multiple sources of distraction to new found confidence and individuality. How has the experience helped you in man managing your professionals or vice-a-versa?

Anu Binny
: They say a mother is born...the day a child is born. I am blessed with a daughter and a son. The first time you hold a baby in your hands, you realise the fragility of life and that the child has not come down with a user manual. You are on your own, but you pick up real fast. As you wade through months, you are able to exactly interpret the different messages the baby communicates through just one single loud wail. With every single wail, you become adept in looking around for clues and reaching out to keep the baby calm. Is that finding solutions to unstructured problems? Possibly yes!! My time spent with my kids has taught me to be sensitive to them. One can easily use words to make or break them!!

Being a mother to two teenagers has exposed me to the possibility of two exactly opposite perspectives for the same situation. Each sees a different world. They are adorable in their own way. They know the exact lines to say that will melt your heart or the cutest smile to display before you fall into the trap of saying a "YES". Initially you end up pulling your hair but soon one starts to get a feel of it and you start enjoying it.

Now they are grown up - teenagers. They are made up of the same number of bones but distinctly different in their need and expectation. This is the age where they are trying to find their own identity, steal a limelight and trying to carve out a new identity in this swarming world. They exhibit sporadic spurts of aspiration, confidence, a streak of independence, childishness, maturity, confidence all at the same time. Life is a roller coaster ride of emotions. They are emotionally on a high, full of energy & life at one time and within seconds fall into despair, anger, frustrations and leave us with no chance to enter into their little world with the announcement of the final verdict' You won’t understand".

Handling my kids has given me a deep insight to human behaviour and has made me realise that each individual is unique. Interaction with them at different slices of their life have helped me understand human needs and behaviour. This experience is very unique and helps in building up a response pattern to an audience across different age categories.

In fact it has helped me immensely in managing people and has taught me to think on my feet!!

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