Oasis of Learning

Co-Creating More Purpose and Joy

A Lesson on Rapport Building

During my holidays after class XII exams, I was feeling really bored. Just then I saw an ad in the newspaper that required marketing professionals with no experience.

I thought of exploring that option. I was interviewed by two people on the phone and was told to come the next day. When I reached that office the next day I was surprised when I got to know what exactly I was supposed to do.

There was a set of tiffin boxes (that fit one in another) which I was supposed to sell by going to random houses. I didn’t want to do it and I didn’t know how to say no.

I was paired with another guy and was told that he was my buddy and I was supposed to learn from him.

That guy was something. The moment someone would open the door, he would greet that person as if he was their long lost buddy. He was full of energy and enthusiasm and he had a knack of just establishing instant rapport with people.

Even if someone would say no, he would ask for a glass of water, ask some hook question and set rapport with that person.

Within one and a half hour he had sold all the allotted boxes for the day.

I asked him how did he learn to sell that well. He said, “I just like talking to people and make a connection with them. You should have a spark in you when you meet people. You should just be focused on making a connection. Sales will happen on its own.”

I didn’t continue that job but I continued becoming better at making a connection with others.

That day Rupak taught me one of the most important lessons of my life.  Unfortunately, I have not been able to trace his contact details but he is one of the most remembered persons in my life.


Sometimes we meet random people who teach us important lessons of life. 

A Great Mentor

I wanted to study Psychology for my post-graduation but during those days only Annamalai University used to offer a distance learning course in it. And one was supposed to go there to attend the contact classes and practical sessions. So, I took admission in the distance learning Master’s program at Annamalai University.

Over there, during my contact classes, I met Chitra Ravi who was an accomplished trainer and was studying to become a psychotherapist in Transactional Analysis.

I asked her- “Chitra, how do you conduct your workshops? What kind of activities do you do?”

Her answer was: “Atul, I make people practice what they need to do at their workplace for enhanced performance. I also use some activities that bring the insight easily.”

I remember creating my presentations and sending them for review to Chitra. She would give me feedback on every slide.

I used to call her often and ask many questions pertaining to the training process. I got to learn so much from her that was difficult to learn from books or otherwise.

Chitra introduced me to the wonderful world of Transactional Analysis and NLP. These were game changers for my life.

I remember when I flunked in the practical exams of MA and was about to leave the course, she motivated me and told me that in some time you wont remember all the hardships and you would have a degree to hold on to. And she was so right. Psychology helped in so much in my profession later.

I am greatly thankful to Chitra Ravi for being such a terrific mentor. It has been more than two decades of knowing her and during all these years she has been a beacon of hope, positivity, and support. I pray for her health, well-being, and continuing success.

Chitra conducts the introductory program on Transactional Analysis from time to time. If you are interested in learning this great social psychology toolkit, then do explore this link.



How to Sell Comb(s) to BALD Monks

Three sales professionals applied to work for a huge company. As they were all evenly qualified, the interviewer decided to set a sales challenge and the person who sold the most would be awarded the job.

The challenge was to sell combs to monks of any temple up in the mountains. 

"You have three days, and the person who sells the most will get the job," said the interviewer.

After three days, the three applicants returned and reported their results.

*Candidate 1* said, "I managed to sell one comb. The monks scolded me, saying I was openly mocking them. 
Disappointed, I gave up and left. But on my way back, I saw a junior monk with an itchy scalp; he was constantly scratching his head. I told him the comb would help him with his scratching and he bought one comb."

*Candidate 2* said, "That's good, but I did better. I sold 10 combs." 

Excited, the interviewer asked, "How did you do it?" 

Candidate 2 replied, "I observed that the visitors had very messy hair due to the strong winds they faced while walking to the temple. I convinced the monk to give out combs to the visitors so they could tidy themselves up and show greater respect during their worship."

*Candidate 3* stepped up, "Not so fast, I sold more than both of them."

"How many did you sell," asked the interviewer.

"A Thousand Combs"

"Wow! How did you do it?" the interviewer exclaimed.

"I went to one of the biggest temples there and thanked the Senior Master for serving the people and providing a sacred place of worship for them. He was very gracious and said he would like to thank and appreciate his visitors for their support and devotion. I suggested that the best way would be to offer his visitors a momento and the blessing of Buddha. 
I showed him the wooden combs on which I had engraved words of blessings and told him people would use the combs daily and would serve as a constant reminder to do good deeds. He liked the idea and proceeded to order a thousand combs"

"You got lucky," one of the other candidates said bitterly.

"Not really," the interviewer countered. "He had a plan, which was why he had the comb engraved prior to his visit. Even if that temple did not want it, another one surely would."

"There is more," the third candidate smiled. "I went back to the temple yesterday to check on the Master. He said, many visitors told their friends and family about the comb with the Buddha's blessing. 

Now even more people are visiting every day. Everyone is asking for the comb and giving generous donations too! 

The temple is more popular than ever, and the Master says he will run out of the combs in a month... and will need to order more!"

Competencies of a Trainer

As a trainer there are few competencies which you need to have. Some of them are as follows:

  1. To be able to conduct Needs Identification
  2. Prepare TNA Report
  3. Write Terminal and Enabling Learning Objectives
  4. Do Action Mapping
  5. Research content as per the Action Map
  6. Training Design Preparation- High Level
  7. Training Design Preparation- Low Level
  8. Using Appropriate Active Learning Methodologies
  9. Developing Training Material as per the Training Design
  10. Conducting Training Evaluation

If you are not sure confident about conducting any of the above tasks, then attending Training Design Workshop would help you.

It is a 5-hour workshop, followed by a 30-day mentorship period where you need to submit two training designs and instructional material as per the designs.

You get my complete support so that you shall be able to conduct all the above tasks in a confident manner.

Do explore this link if you would like to know more about the workshop.

Happy Learning.


ROI of Learning

I was just setting up my laptop for facilitating a workshop (2019) and I asked a participant who had attended the previous training about his experience.

He replied: Yes, Sir. Bahut acha raha. Poora ROI vasool kar liye hain. (It was very nice. I have got the complete ROI)

I love such participants who actively put the learning into action and get the full ROI on their courses.

Around 250 trainers have attended my ‘Training Design’ workshop. I offer a 30-day mentorship where participants need to submit two training designs.

Only 30-40% of the participants submit the post work. Rest of the participants are happy with a certificate of participation.

As a trainer I feel a new high when I see participants putting their learning into action.

What kind of a learner are you?

In case you are looking for a passionate trainer to help you with learning and implementing training design, then do attend my workshop this weekend.

You shall practice conducting needs analysis, setting learning objectives, reviewing training methodologies, and preparing a training design.

Explore this link for more details.


Ways to Explore Reach for Psychologists

If you are Psychologist, you might benefit from this.

Recently, I conducted a poll that asked why Psychologists don’t charge what they deserve.

I will not discuss the reason for the present situation here but here are some ways for you to explore:

  1. Believe that you deserve it: You need to know your worth and go for it. A huge part of what we think we deserve is related to our self-esteem and deservability.


  1. Learn basics of digital marketing: Our digital footprint determines our reach. I would suggest you pick up a basic course in DM and practice what you learn.


  1. Leverage LinkedIn: Optimize your profile and learn to leverage LinkedIn. Here’s a session of mine to get you going:


  1. Create a Free website: Create a free website if you can’t afford a paid one initially. Even a paid one will only cost you 2-3 K per year. Ping me if you need help in this matter. I am not an expert, but I can guide you for the basics.


  1. Learn from Seniors: There are some seniors who have started conducting courses on how to establish your practice. Invest and learn from their courses.


  1. Volunteer: Volunteer for seminars and workshops in schools and institutions. Let others get to know you and your services.


  1. Connect with Corporates: Most of the corporates do not have a dedicated psychologist. Tie-up with the HRs and offer your services.


  1. Create Courses: The only way to beat quacks is to create and market a range of courses by qualified Psychologists. Create a free or paid course at Udemy or Coursera and let the world know about you.


  1. Conduct Online Sessions: Conduct sessions for 1 or 1.5 hours on various topics that can help others. Most of the people need help in stress and time management. Offer free or low-priced sessions initially.


  1. Ask for Help: You do not have to learn and do everything on your own. Ask for help. Believe me, there are people who will help you. Reach out to others. What worst can happen? They will say no! Fine… move on.


P.S: Oasis of Learning in association with Mind First India brings you a Free Workshop on

‘Exploring Training as a Parallel Career for Psychologists’

On December 14th, 2022 (Wednesday), 7 – 9 pm

If you are an aspiring psychologist or working as a psychologist right now and interested in attending this workshop, then please fill up the form here.

and mention PSY in the message.



Performance Improvement Variables

I was recently approached by a Trainer with 10 years of experience for a TNI (Training Needs Identification) template.

When I probed further, I got to know that the person has never conducted a TNI in their life.

This is a classic case where trainers only focus on facilitating and do not learn other aspects of training.

But, I never got a chance to conduct TNI- was their rebuttal.

In an organization there could be many constraints, but if you want to learn and practice nothing can stop you.

I remember when I joined an organization as a Trainer, I conducted a needs identification with all the trainers to know their existing knowledge and skills about Instructional Design. My manager appreciated my proactiveness.

If you look at the Performance Improvement Model (Rummler), there are lot of variables that can influence performance:

  • Knowledge, Skills, Awareness
  • Physical Attributes
  • Psychological Attributes
  • Intellectual Attributes
  • Personal Values
  • Data and Information
  • Material and Supplies
  • Tools and Equipment
  • Facilities
  • Budget and Headcount
  • Culture and Consequences

Starting from TNI might result is assuming that we need to fix the issue with training whereas the concern could to a result of some other variable.

If you would like to learn how to do needs analysis, set learning objectives, and prepare a training design then attend a workshop I shall be facilitating in December.

Happy Learning.

A Networking Lesson

I was working as an Assistant Manager Training and had a virtual team and a boss who used to work from another location. I used to mind my own business and only used to interact with others regarding work.

After some months, I was joined by another colleague.

We had a training coming up and she told me- Atul, Let’s go and invite two senior people in our training.

I was confused and didn’t understand her objective but accompanied her.

She spoke to two senior members from the operations team and told them the objectives of the session. She asked them to share some anecdote from their life and motivate the participants to do their assignments after the training.

One of the leaders was invited towards the beginning of the session and the other was called towards the end. On the training day both the operations leaders came on time and shared their views.

The participants felt charged hearing their stories, the participation was amazing, we felt great delivering the session and got amazing feedback also. The best part was that for the first time we got timely post-work from the participants without much follow-up.

It was the first time someone made me realize the importance of networking in a practical manner.

I shall always be grateful to Smitha Negi for this wonderful life lesson.


Do not shy from connecting with people. Specially people who are influential. You never know how it might help you build more credibility.

Recipe for Tea

Do you know how to prepare tea?

I ask this question in my training sessions and almost everyone knows how to prepare tea.

Here’s a sample of what a participant wrote when I asked everyone to write the recipe:

1. Take a clean tea pan
2. Take water as per the requirement and place it on the gas
3. Turn on the gas
4. Once the water starts boiling add tea powder and sugar to it
5. Use milk if you want to prepare milk tea
6. Bring it to boil
7. Filter and serve it

Looks good. Isn’t it?

If you read carefully, you will understand that the recipe is not accurate.

How many cups of tea are we making? How much water, tea leaves, sugar, and milk to add?
When do you know that the tea is ready?

This activity helps the participants realize the importance of accuracy and completeness of communication.

If you want to discover a range of activities that can help you add more energy, engagement and effectiveness in your training sessions then do explore my e-book: 101 Activities for Virtual Training Sessions

Most of the activities are versatile and can be used in Offline sessions too.

An Activity for VILT Sessions

Ask the participants to make a paper plane in 60 seconds.

They also need to write their full name in capitals on the plane.

They need to begin when you will say START and stop as you say STOP.

Application: Time Management, Task Management, Communication Skills, Implicit Vs. Explicit Needs, Customer Service, Selling Skills


  1. Ask the participants to fly the planes one by one and see how many of them actually fly.
  2. Ask them to rate how did the planes fly on a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being low and 10 being high- Key Performance Indicator).
  3. Ask them how many of them wrote their name in capitals. (Task Attentiveness)
  4. Focus on the importance of clear Key Result Areas (KRAs) and Key Performance  Indicators (KPIs)
  5. Talk about Implicit Vs. Explicit Needs in customer service and selling skills.


Join me for a 3-hour hands-on Workshop on 'Activities for Virtual Training' and learn how to use activities, exercises, games and jolts to increase participation. 

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