This is an opportunity to focus on what really matters and simplify: More is not always better. With Corona, we are forced back to basics: health, shelter, food and family. When I was young, I remember spending time at grandma’s house and feeling like time flowed slower. There was time to talk, to eat, and look out of the window. With shelter-in-place, we are now forced to live simpler lives and I feel like time has expanded temporarily. No rush to get to places, no traffic, no soccer games to get to.
As a part of my series about the things we can do to remain hopeful and support each other during anxious times, I had the pleasure of interviewing Oznur Aytekin.
Oznur Aytekin is the founder and CEO of Edhabit (www.edhabit.com) Edhabit is a learning discovery platform for finding the best resources like articles, videos, books, online courses, and more. With new content added every day, there is always something new to learn and it is free. Prior to Edhabit, Oznur held executive roles at Microsoft and several startups. She has an MS from Stanford University in Management Science and Engineering and a BS in Industrial Engineering from the University of Wisconsin.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?
Toshare my story, I feel that I must start with a recognition of the challenging times we are all in right now. Though not featured, this story about what brought me here is built on family, friends and people I care about. I hope my story can help inspire, remind or just induce some happiness for the reader and in turn their loved ones in these times.
To continue with transparency, I also want our readers to rest assured that I am not writing this from a beach resort, yacht or even my bathtub! 🙂
After spending half of my life in Silicon Valley, working at some of the best technology companies, my family and I moved back home to Istanbul. At that time the mood in Turkey was bleak due to the recent coup attempt. I was frequently approached by local universities and students to talk about product management and entrepreneurship. As much as I wanted to help, my free time after a long day as Head of Product Management at work was never enough. Trying to make more of the time I had, I noticed that the problem was not a lack of content but discovering the best content. The necessity of finding great content resulted in Edhabit; I personally felt the value of a platform focused on finding the best resources: articles, videos, books, courses, etc.
Today, we all are socially distanced, even isolated. We are no longer having water cooler conversations or lunch meetings. The amount of online content is expanding rapidly making content discovery and quality evaluation a growing challenge. The problem that I discovered in an anxious Turkey is now affecting everyone. Edhabit is in a key position to solve for resource discovery & curation and experiencing rapid growth.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
A Man’s Search For Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl. It is a great book that tells us in the harshest living conditions, where we cannot change our external circumstances, we can still choose our own attitude. The external world does not define us! My life has had its share of hard knockdowns, this book showed me that I could get up a bit more elegantly each time.
Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. From your perspective can you help our readers to see the “Light at the End of the Tunnel”? Can you share your “5 Reasons To Be Hopeful During this Corona Crisis”? If you can, please share a story or example for each.
Every time I hit rock bottom, I always say “the great thing about that is that I can only go up from here.” 🙂
When we accept (maybe even find humor) and start taking action to create a better future, there are plenty of opportunities to be hopeful.
Here are my five reasons:
- This is an opportunity to focus on what really matters and simplify: More is not always better. With Corona, we are forced back to basics: health, shelter, food and family. When I was young, I remember spending time at grandma’s house and feeling like time flowed slower. There was time to talk, to eat, and look out of the window. With shelter-in-place, we are now forced to live simpler lives and I feel like time has expanded temporarily. No rush to get to places, no traffic, no soccer games to get to. In Walden, Henry David Thoreau’s book written in 1846, he idolizes a minimalist lifestyle. This period might be as close as we get to Walden Pond for our era. While I normally cannot seem to find time to cook, yesterday I made garlic fries. Learning to create heart-warming, delicious food with a limited set of ingredients — appreciating the simpler things in life — has been a gift.
- This is an opportunity to be grateful for the things that we normally take for granted. Before Coronavirus, I might have gotten upset over little things: things I wish I had, things I wish I did not have. For example, about a week ago, my family was about to run out of toilet paper when we spotted it at a grocery store and snagged it! My husband put it on social media saying “Success! The very last one in the store.” Someone even commented saying “Use it wisely!”. TP finally earns the likes it always deserved. 🙂
- This is an opportunity to recognize the importance of our personal networks and how privileged we are. Personal networks are the natural habitat of learning. Water cooler conversations and lunches with colleagues build our knowledge. We’ve all been pushed out of our natural habit for learning by the coronavirus. This means we need to adapt and support each other all the more. I personally am proud of the knowledge sharing and learning adaptation being supported through the Edhabit community. It has grown significantly and is focusing efforts to help teachers, parents, students and professionals to adapt with the best learning resources. Please join us to share your newfound resources and help others adapting to new habitats.
- This is an opportunity to unite and build systems, economies and companies that have everyone’s interests at heart. We are now keenly aware how one person’s choices can have a huge impact on the world community and economy. Not caring about our neighbors, our communities and our world’s problems is no longer an option. “We are in it together” can be a life choice and a corporate choice.
- This is an opportunity to dream big. Disruptions are opportunities to create change. If somebody had told you, “Overnight we are going to go to online teaching and not just for higher education but for PreK, and all K-12”, you likely would have said “Impossible!”. Yet, millions of teachers and parents, all over the world stepped up and made it happen. They are now thinking about not just academics but also social-emotional learning. This is an opportunity to utilize our technology to re-imagine what could be for ourselves, for our kids, for our schools.
From your experience or research what are five steps that each of us can take to effectively offer support to those around us who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?
Oprah says one of her life defining moments was when a man on her show said, “forgiveness is giving up the hope that the past could be any different.”
Finding forgiveness for our loved ones, ourselves and the world around us may help support them in seeing the opportunities to:
- Be grateful
- Cherish our networks and create new social networks
- Unite to create a better collective future for us all
- Dare to dream
What are the best resources you would suggest to a person who is feeling anxious?
Invest in yourself, in your health, in your education and in your future. However, “best” is uniquely defined for each of us. Answering this question is exactly why we are building Edhabit, we all want the best resources for the opportunities and problems that surround us. Just because you asked though, for anxiousness, CDC’s Guide to Managing Anxiety and Stress is a great resource https://www.edhabit.com/content/detail/coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19,5jq4jyrk88c0ezd
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
“The fire you want to ignite in others must first burn within you” — Augustine of Hippo
I have always had a keen awareness of those around me who create change for good and I in turn always tried to discover their path. The more I have found my way to success, to failure, and to constant change, the more I want to make my path visible to others. I spoke about this above, how it really clarified on my return to Istanbul, but my recent work is a direct attempt to feed my flame and share that spark.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I am actually living this right now and I feel very lucky. I quit my job, put all my time and savings into creating Edhabit with an amazing team. Edhabit is my mission to increase knowledge sharing across the world for anyone, anywhere. We want to provide people with the best knowledge to solve their problems, their communities’ problems and their countries’ problems. Coronavirus has highlighted how we are all connected and how we all have to unite to do our parts.
I deeply believe that our knowledge, our connections and our contributions are what make our world better. I hope Edhabit can play a part in a movement that helps each of us share what we have so we all have more in the end. More connections, more contributions to our community and more knowledge. If you want to contribute, we absolutely welcome everyone, with their passions and expertise. Many of us have the privilege of deep personal networks but it’s time we make learning and pursuing passions accessible to all. I will also sleep better at night knowing that we did our part building rich, valuable knowledge networks for everyone.
What is the best way our readers can follow you online?
I share what I learn on Edhabit. It’s as easy as inserting a link. By sharing learning content on Edhabit, anyone can build their Edhabit resumes and contributions. Interestingly enough, every time I share, I learn more. As they say, the best way to learn is to teach.
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!