Amir Nathoo is both the CEO and the co-founder of Outschool. For those who are curious, this is an education program that provides interested individuals with a wide range of small-group classes through the Internet. Initially, Outschool was aimed at homeschooled students. However, it has since seen a huge expansion in its scope, with the result that there are now plenty of conventional students making use of it as well.
1. His Father Was His Hero
Nathoo has stated that his father Manusurali Hassanali Nathoo was his hero. Background-wise, the elder Nathoo was a Kenyan Indian who went to the United Kingdom for his PhD in physics, with the result that he went on to become a businessman and then a science teacher. Personality-wise, Nathoo has stated that his father was gentle and soft-spoken but nonetheless someone who had strong convictions. Unfortunately, the elder Nathoo passed away from Parkinson's disease in 2015.
2. He Believes His Personality Is More Like His Mother's
Amusingly, Nathoo has also stated that he is more like his mother when it comes to his personality. She was also an ex-pat who had studied physics. However, it is interesting to note that Nathoo's mother had come from Czechoslovakia, which wouldn't undergo a peaceful separation into the Czech Republic and Slovakia until January 1 of 1993.
3. Learned a Lot of Lessons From His Father
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Nathoo learned a lot of lessons from his father. To name an example, Nathoo's father believed that it was possible for people to choose their preferences, which seems to have come up while he was trying to convince Nathoo to eat his vegetables. Similarly, Nathoo's father believed that it was possible for people to decide whether they were happy or not. Apparently, he himself was capable of being happy with just a book plus a good cup of tea.
4. Learned Not to Judge Based on Appearances From His Father
Speaking of which, Nathoo learned not to judge based on appearances from his father. Like a lot of the other lessons, this one came with an anecdote. In short, the elder Nathoo had apparently once been robbed by men wearing suits, which isn't exactly the kind of apparel that people associate with robbers either in the past or in the present. After all, suits are associated with business people as well as other individuals who are if not necessarily well-off, then at least well enough not to engage in such actions. Something that is somewhat amusing when one learns that the dominance of suits was brought about by the Great Male Renunciation of the late modern period that rejected clothing that signaled elite status in preference for clothing that was both functional and utilitarian.
5. Learned a Couple of Good Tips about Risk From His Father
Business-wise, Nathoo learned a couple of good tips about risk from his father. First, he learned that risk is inherent to business. Second he learned that just because something had a low chance of happening, that didn't mean that he shouldn't shield himself from it anyways in case he proved to be unlucky. These tips are just scratching the surface when it comes to risk management. However, simple tips are often worth remembering.
6. Studied to Be an Engineer
Nathoo went to St. John's College, Cambridge. There, he studied math for a time before switching over to engineering, with the result that he graduated with a master's degree in engineering. Having said that, Nathoo hasn't made as much use of those skills as he might have. This is because he went into software at IBM, where he was most reliant on his self-taught programming skills.
7. Believes that the Education System of the Future Will Have to Deliver "Mass Customization"
Moving on, it is interesting to note that Nathoo believes that the education system of the future will have to deliver "mass customization." In part, this is because most schools can't provide their students with the chance to explore every single one of their interests, which makes sense because most such institutions have to make do with limited resources. However, Nathoo also believes that there has been a shift of emphasis to creativity, differentiation, and observable skills, all of which can be encouraged through a more customizable education. He doesn't believe that Outschool will replace conventional schools. Instead, he believes that it and other online options will serve as supplements that will combine with conventional schools to create a more beneficial whole.
8. Has a Fair Amount of Personal Experience with Seeking Out Independent Learning
Nathoo has mentioned that he has a fair amount of personal experience with seeking out independent learning. As mentioned earlier, he didn't learn his programming skills in school. Instead, he picked them up when he was still a child, which was a time when the overwhelming majority of schools didn't have either coding courses or computer science classes. In this, he was helped out by his parents, who found a retired economics professor who had started teaching a bit of computer science on the side.
9. Named Awareness As His Company's Biggest Challenge
Regarding Outschool, Nathoo has stated that awareness is the company's single biggest challenge. It is a critical resource because increased awareness means an increased ability to draw in both teachers and students. However, a startup means that it can't use a preexisting brand to open those doors but instead has to build up its brand bit by bit.
10. Suggests that Would-Be Entrepreneurs Keep Their Personal Expenses Low
Nathoo has offered suggestions to would-be entrepreneurs. Much of it has been stated again and again by different individuals. For example, the importance of being original. Similarly, the need to network with other people. However, one of Nathoo's most interesting suggestions is that would-be entrepreneurs should keep their personal expenses low. Essentially, he says that a lot of people choose to take high-paying jobs while thinking that they will start their own businesses at some point in the future. Unfortunately, they become accustomed to spend more because of their higher earnings, with the result that they eventually become too comfortable to ever set out on their own. This makes sense because most entrepreneurs can expect lean times for quite some time, meaning that the ability to make do with less is definitely an asset for them.
Written by Allen Lee
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