Coronavirus & Global Economy: Time for a Global Pivot?

Coronavirus & Global Economy: Time for a Global Pivot?

Coronavirus & Global Economy: Time for a Global Pivot?

The novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak is rapid and the non-unified response is obliterating economies worldwide.  In the past we have had economic crises that spawned emotional reactions, however, this time we had an emotional reaction that has spawned an economic crisis. The lack of clear information and global leadership fueled a panic and even today we lack clarity on the best way to prevail.  With so many countries testing different strategies, perhaps we, as a global society (if such a thing still exists after this), will be better prepared next time.  

I write this today while stranded in Chile where the borders are now closed, a curfew is in effect, schools and restaurants are closed until at least May, social distancing is being advised and largely followed, and full lockdown seems imminent.  My friends in Italy tell me that their crisis is largely spreading within hospitals and hospice centers among patients with other comorbid diseases, and that healthcare workers are largely the carriers spreading it from one patient to another. France is in total lockdown indefinitely, declaring war on the invisible enemy.  And in the world’s two greatest democracies, India--which has a much smaller total number and growth rate of virus cases compared to the USA--has banned its 1.3 billion citizens from leaving their homes for 21 days to contain the spread, while the USA seems to be heading toward lifting restrictions and letting the virus run its natural course through the population. Even if our lives may not be at stake, our livelihoods most certainly are.

At the time of the writing of this article, over 459,000 people worldwide have been infected with the Coronavirus, with at least 20,000 confirmed fatalities according to Worldometers on 03/25/2020.  Nearly all States in the U.S. have now declared a State of Emergency as well (Business Insider). Businesses have had no choice but to cancel or, at a minimum, postpone many of their conferences and conventions, as well as other business travel and ventures. South by Southwest (SXSW), one of the largest conferences in the US with an attendance of over 400,000 last year, announced the cancellation of their March 2020 event (New York Times). Several of my keynote events have been postponed and my flights from Chile have been cancelled, leaving me stranded for an undetermined amount of time due to the closed borders and airline cutbacks (see New York Times). As a result, just about everyone will have to pivot.

Decentralization and democratization of knowledge is the future

I frequently lecture on the future of work, how technology and AI influences the job market, and why and how education must pivot in order to prepare youth for a global tomorrow.  Is such a message still relevant? Do I need to pivot as well?

I believe that technology will play an even larger role in our lives going forward as we are less likely to catch a communicable disease from a robot than from a human.  Today, private music teachers (my former profession) are forced to give lessons to students online and despite their resistance previously, students and teachers are discovering the benefits and shortcomings of this. The same is true with school students and teachers who are desperately trying to navigate best practices and are surely bound to discover them (see below where I have created a Think Tank for educators to share best practices).  Universities under fire for exorbitant tuition that has created an epidemic of outstanding student loans may soon realize that future applicants will opt to learn online at a proportional cost. As I always tell my audiences, decentralization and democratization of knowledge is the future. However, I may have miscalculated on the timing, as it has just become the present, globally.

I am a proponent of globalization as I believe in the modern age we are most resourceful as a global community--culturally, educationally,  economically, and environmentally. But the rapid spread of COVID-19 and worldwide discrepancies on how to manage it may suggest that we are safer and more prosperous within borders and preserving the right to choose within whose borders each of us wants to be in. The world travel that I have enjoyed, benefited from immensely, and still believe is the single greatest form of education may no longer be so accessible going forward.

United Airlines was the first U.S. carrier to cut domestic flight service amid fear the virus would cause ticket sales to dwindle, according to this article from the New York Times.  The latest is that American Airlines plans to cut domestic flights by 30% and global flights by 75% for April, with more cuts expected for May. They are also on a hiring freeze through June.  Since fear over the virus took root, United and American Airlines shares have lost a third of their value, with Delta Airlines also experiencing a tumultuous downward trend.  Italy has a complete ban on travel imposed through April 3rd, 2020 on its 60 million citizens. According to the South China Morning Post, two thirds of domestic China flights have been cancelled, with remaining flights selling for as little as $4.00 USD per ticket. The ripple effect on travel means that hotel bookings and restaurant dining are going to suffer significant losses.

Any possible resurrection will ultimately be driven by demand and not curtailed by restriction (hopefully), but emotions and fear are often harder to overturn than regulations.  As a result of the Coronavirus, airlines have taken the biggest hit seen since the attacks on September 11th, 2001 (New York Times). However, as we saw in the travel rebound since 9/11, time will likely be healing and business will return to normal if the impact of COVID-19 can be quickly contained.

Environmentally, the closure of borders appears to be revealing positive results thanks to the containment of many things economic and viral that impact a nation’s citizens.  We may be falling forward into a previous time--one in which we are more aware of our footprint, opportunity, and responsibility to the planet. With Venice canals hosting fish for the first time in ages (BBC) and smog over China vanishing, it makes one ask if actually humans are the virus and COVID-19 is the vaccine. How ironic would it be if we close borders in the name of nationalism but become more environmentally conscious globally?

Steps We can Take to Help

Educators (which today includes parents in more proactive roles) are at a key place of influence at this time. Through education, preparation and action, educators can have a positive impact.  With many school districts considering partial closures or moving to online delivery, educators need to prepare for alternative education methods. One example of innovation in this area is “PE with Joe”, recently developed and launched by YouTube Fitness Instructor Joe Wicks.  He’s taken it upon himself to create and deliver weekday PE routines for students to do at home. The 9 am daily routine has already attained millions of views from families in the US and UK (CNN).

Taking the classroom online is something educators need to be prepared to do, and something I have tried to facilitate through Ravi Unites Schools.  Our interactive “field trips” show how powerful technology is in creating cultural competence when travel is not always an option. This week I have taken it a step further and created a  Think Tank to help share best practices. All educators and administrators from around the world are not only welcome, but encouraged to join. The world is in this together, and education is the engine that drives us toward a solution...not just for times of COVID-19 quarantine, but for the impact today will have on tomorrow. The more questions all of us ask and more solutions all of us share, more students will benefit.

If you are an educator or administrator, please join TEACHING UNDER COVID-19, A RAVI UNITES SCHOOLS THINK TANK:  LinkedIn Group.

(if you have any issues with that link, copy and paste this URL in your browser to access the Group: )


Ravi is available for keynote speaking how education must pivot for cultural competence & equity

Ravi Unites Schools Update

We had two Realtime Audio-Video Interactions scheduled with Shanti Bhavan in India: one with Bethel Elementary School in Virginia and another with Londonderry Middle School in New Hampshire.  All of these schools are currently closed due to COVID-19 and these interactions will be rescheduled for later in the year.

If you or your organization would like to learn more about becoming a strategic partner of Ravi Unites Schools, please send an email to  Meanwhile, we will still be setting up interactions as we are able.

Other News and Announcements

Be sure to check out Ravi's daily "Minute to Pivot" video series. You can subscribe to it on his YouTube channel by clicking here, or visit any one of his social media pages @RaviUnites.

Ravi recently gave a keynote to the Virginia ASCD association at their annual conference.  It was very well received and he followed that up with a school convocation at Gloucester Virginia public schools.

A number of school districts have inquired about online convocations.  If you are interested in having Ravi deliver your 2020 or 2021 school convocation keynote, please send us a message through our contact page,

Why Travel is the Best Educational Investment

Why Travel is the Best Educational Investment

Why Travel is the Best Educational Investment

Traveling to other nations is ultimately the best education money can buy.  Whether through internships, a semester abroad, taking a gap year, or class trips, getting out of the classroom is key to learning essential life skills that only exist in the real world.  Travel is the type of learning that comes only by getting up and going because it’s not contained in the pages of textbooks or within the walls of a classroom. It offers skill development and learned competencies in a number of important areas.  

An article by the WYSE Travel Confederation published results from a survey conducted by The Wagner Group entitled, “Travel Improves Educational Attainment and Future Success.”  Four hundred adults who had taken an educational trip between the ages of 12-18 were surveyed, and the results conclude that:

  • 80% of participants said their educational travel experience sparked greater interest in what they were learning in school.
  • Over half of the participants received better grades as a result of their travel experience.
  • Adults who took education trips in their youth earned 12% more than their non-trip-going counterparts.
  • 57% of those who traveled as children went away to college.

The proof that educational travel is beneficial to children and young adults is evident. Therefore, let’s talk about the skills obtained through travel education that make it so vital to setting up our younger generations for success.

5 Key Skills Acquired through Travel Education

Travel education helps people grow, evolve, and mature in a number of areas including:

  • Experiential learning - In this article I explain that learning through experience is vital to equip our children for the real world.  This is something our schools are currently lacking. 
  • Problem-solving skills - Being in a foreign country forces one to be creative and resourceful when in a pinch. There will be new situations forcing one to solve problems and find solutions which helps develop critical life skills. 
  • Cross-cultural competence - The ability to effectively communicate with other cultures without bias, confusion, or fear is a vital skill needed in today’s real world, especially in a melting pot like the United States.  By traveling, we are placed in settings that enable us to broaden our capacity to relate well with people of different backgrounds and experiences. 
  • Empathy - Visiting other nations helps one understand that their way of looking at the world is not the only way, and there is space to include each individual’s perspective on life. 
  • Adapting to change - Overcoming culture shock is a lesson in adapting to an environment. Whether you know the native language, find yourself lost in a strange place, or don’t know a single soul, time spent in another nation teaches a major life lesson one cannot learn in books or school: the capacity to adapt to change. 

Tips and Tales of Education Ventures Abroad

For many US citizens, simply getting into Canada can be a harrowing experience.  I’m not joking, as that is possibly the border that I fear most (other than perhaps coming home to the USA which often feels more like an interrogation).  The intense questioning and scrutiny is an educational experience for sure. An American colleague in Iraq once told me not to worry about getting into Kurdistan. He said it was like walking into Canada.  From my experience, Kurdistan was much easier than Canada, and so was China, India, and even Russia.  Granted, many of these countries require you to get a visa which can be an ordeal, but once through the red tape, the world truly is your oyster.

But taking Kurdistan as an example, if you are a woman tourist where only 10% of the people seen in public are women (and most of them are veiled), it can be a very intimidating experience.  Just by entering this context as an outsider, potentially aggressive or at least uncomfortable situations for a woman could arise.   This is a good example of the importance of doing one’s homework in advance so that one can be culturally competent upon entering.  The situation can be very daunting if you don't understand it, but it can be a greatest experience if you are open to it and aware of the context. The point is to always take common sense precautions and do your research, but not be overly cautious and forego a once-in-a-lifetime cultural learning opportunity.

Mumbai, Moscow, and Tokyo

I recall walking down the streets of Mumbai, Moscow, and Tokyo.  In all of these places, I could barely communicate in the local languages but at least India has the benefit of English being the official language (leftover from the days of British colonization). It is widely spoken until you get off the beaten track, and getting off the beaten track is exactly the point.  In these cities and others, I always leave my hotel without a map, pick a direction, and walk. I not only don’t mind getting lost, but that is actually my objective.  Without fail, someone always notices when I am lost before I have gained the courage to ask for help. A stranger with whom I cannot communicate using words finds another way to express compassion, such as through intonation of the voice, a smile in the eyes, and other elements of humanity that leads me back to my hotel.  It never fails, and each time restores my faith in humanity.

Safety Precautions

One must be aware of risks and the potential to be taken advantage of as a tourist.  Be careful with money and do your research on local customs and known schemes (such as the Turkish woman on the streets of Paris asking if you speak english and wanting you to sign a petition...all while someone else picks your pocket!). This preparation can help you navigate in that context and is a good learning process that can help you evaluate other environments and different contexts, including entering a new employment situation. It just heightens your awareness and evaluation abilities.  In most parts of the world, you are only an Uber ride away from being saved if you do get too far off track.  So, make sure you are connected via mobile device and then forget you have that lifeline unless in danger.

When Traveling Abroad isn’t an Option

Not every family can afford to send their child on the semester abroad program or take an extended family vacation to Europe.  However, a family’s financial status need not stop someone from receiving the benefits and learning opportunities associated with different cultures. That is why I created Ravi Unites Schools --a program I host that enables classrooms around the world to connect to cultivate cultural competence through peer-to-peer learning.  These virtual field trips are viable alternatives to traveling overseas when leaving home simply is not an option.

The Best Education Money Can Buy

Traditional education does not have the full capacity to teach our younger generations the five paramount life skills needed to succeed in the real world: Experiential learning, problem-solving, cross-cultural competence, empathy, and adaptation to change.  But travel does. These skills are learned in-depth through experiences of travel education. If you want to give your child (or yourself) the gift that keeps on giving, get them enrolled in a semester abroad program and start planning your family’s next summer vacation to a foreign land.  

Ravi is available for keynote speaking how education must pivot for cultural competence & equity

Ravi Unites Schools Update

We have had an overwhelming number of new members join the Ravi Unites Schools network the past quarter.  It has come to the point where the model needs to pivot in order to best serve all members and enable more students worldwide to interact.  So, we are now looking into corporate sponsorships to help us elevate the platform to become self sufficient with a support team that can manage it.

If you or your organization would like to learn more about becoming a strategic partner of Ravi Unites Schools, please send an email to  Meanwhile, we will still be setting up interactions in the capacity in which we are able.

Other News and Announcements

Be sure to check out Ravi's daily "Minute to Pivot" video series. You can subscribe to it on his YouTube channel by clicking here, or visit any one of his social media pages @RaviUnites.

Ravi recently gave a keynote to the Virginia ASCD association at their annual conference.  It was very well received and he followed that up with a school convocation at Gloucester Virginia public schools. Next month he will be giving the opening keynote for the North Carolina Association of School Administrators annual conference,

A large number of school districts have inquired about convocations.  If you are interested in having Ravi deliver your 2020 or 2021 school convocation keynote, please send us a message through our contact page,


Find Your Pivot Point & Change Becomes Exciting

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Find Your Pivot Point & Change Becomes Exciting

It is now 2020 and the start of the year is a great time to make changes that you or your organization desires to make.  Some will be small and clear-cut (changing to healthy eating patterns, for instance) while larger changes can be daunting and hard to implement.  

Change is frightening and unsettling for most, but it doesn’t have to be.  If you pivot instead, your confidence, willingness, and potential for success increase exponentially.

What does it mean to pivot?

To pivot means to change fundamental aspects of what you’re doing but maintaining a common thread between where you are and where you are going.  In business, it means changing your product, target audience, or style of execution as explained in this article from Entrepreneur.  It highlights five companies who went from relatively unknown and on the brink of failure to household names and massive success by pivoting.

One example is YouTube.  It began as a dating site where singles could upload short videos of themselves and search for potential mates. As the popularity of video-streaming escalated, YouTube’s founders saw profit potential by pivoting into the video-streaming empire it is today. 

pivot by youtube

In education, to pivot may mean making significant shifts in how we educate.  I’ve written about the need for education to go from cultivating specialists to cultivating “jacks-of-all-trades.”  It will take purposeful change to make this happen and “pivots” can be a great way of framing and defining the axis point from which a positive shift can flourish.

How do you know when to pivot?

In an article from Forbes, 14 Famous Business Pivots, contributor Jason Nazar states, “The most critical decision for an entrepreneur is to know when to stay the course vs. change direction.”  For the founders of YouTube, the rising popularity of video-streaming led them to pivot from their dating site roots and position themselves to become the multi-billion-dollar empire eventually acquired by Google.

As a pilot, I compare pivoting to charting a plane’s course to its destination and constantly making adjustments in the air as needed.  When the environment changes, you change course and may need to land at an alternate airport. The same can be said for pivoting. As information, technology, and trends change, and as our wealth of experiences continue to grow, our plan of action must also change which may lead us to an alternate destination. Where would the music industry be had they not (eventually!) embraced digital downloads and online streaming?  Those who did not pivot or waited too long lost market share while new companies that adjusted grew and succeeded.

Recently, I did an interview for John Tesh’s iHeart Media podcast, Intelligence for Your Life.  I typically do mainstream radio interviews so a podcast was a bit of a departure.  However, this more relaxed and extended opportunity to explore ideas in a conversational manner was very liberating for me.  

The theme is, of course, PIVOT.  However, we drilled it down in so many directions that it organically produced something that I haven’t thought much about in the past: the importance of finding your “Pivot Point”—the common thread or primary strength and experiences that one has that can be redirected in the most unpredictable of ways.  My pivot point has always been my passion, experience and skills in music. I implement them in different ways by combining it with a business mindset and social skills. This “pivot point” has united every project and industry in which I have worked even though to others they may appear very disconnected.

In this interview, I discuss the two scenarios when one should pivot: out of necessity and out of opportunity. You can listen to it here

How to find your Pivot Point(s)?

It is important to go further to help you pivot.  The success of finding one’s pivot point can and must be implemented regardless of whether you are an individual, brand, or industry.  

For example: 

  • Individual: Richard Branson has long been one of my role models as we share passion for music, aviation, and philanthropy.  His sense of adventure and willingness to take risks is his pivot point which allows for a broad range of opportunities. Even his brand name, “Virgin,” expresses his quest to always be the first to do something.
  • Brand: Apple’s pivot point is being cool and trendsetting. From a brand recognition perspective, their usage of the lower-case “i”, for example, is also a pivot point that unites products even though they are sometimes independent of other products (though more often they can “talk” to each other).  For example, the iPod, iPhone, iWatch, iTunes, etc.
  • Industry: The music industry pivoted from selling durable goods (records, CD’s, cassette tapes, etc.) to consumable goods (streaming, subscription services).  The pivot point is the distribution of audio and video content (not necessarily the creation of it, as we see so much independent music now being distributed).  It is also not pivoting (or circling) back to physical product such as vinyl records for a more “premium” experience and nostalgic market.

As you brainstorm and plan your 2020 strategy, whether as an individual, brand, or industry, don’t try to change.  Instead, find your pivot point and PIVOT. 

Please feel free to share your thoughts below and together we will find solutions.

Ravi can help you and your organization pivot and reach the next level

Ravi Unites Schools Update

We have had an overwhelming number of new members join the Ravi Unites Schools network the past quarter.  It has come to the point where the model needs to pivot in order to best serve all members and enable more students worldwide to interact.  So, we are now looking into corporate sponsorships to help us elevate the platform to become self sufficient with a support team that can manage it.

If you or your organization would like to learn more about becoming a strategic partner of Ravi Unites Schools, please send an email to  Meanwhile, we will still be setting up interactions in the capacity in which we are able.

Other News and Announcements

Ravi recently gave a keynote to the Virginia ASCD association at their annual conference.  It was very well received, with a large number of school districts inquiring about convocations.  Since Ravi is a Virginia resident and he has both a vested interest and smaller travel costs in-state, he is offering steep discounts to Virginia schools.  Of course, he will also do what he can for those outside of the state as well because education matters and we must put students first.  If you are interested in having Ravi deliver your 2020 school convocation keynote, please send us a message through our contact page,


To learn where Ravi will be speaking next or to view current special offers, please visit the lower portion of the website home page here.

Back to School: The Value of Experiential Learning

Back to School: The Value of Experiential Learning

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Experiential Learning

For centuries, formal education has been administered through a classroom format. Even today by the time children enter university or even high school, they have already been “sentenced” to hours upon hours of classroom content with little exposure to actual practice. 

Last week I was on BizTalkRadio’s Frankie Boyer Show ( and Frankie asked me why higher education is veering away from experiential learning when it used to be more commonplace. Could it be because higher ed in the USA has become such a business that there is possibly a conscious effort to keep students in academia for longer? More college graduates seem to feel unprepared to enter the real world which causes them to enroll in further, or dare I say “perpetual” education (often deepening their student debt). 

A shift is needed from lecture-based methods to experiential learning in order to prepare students for the world in which we live.  Now it’s “back to school,” and it’s an appropriate time to look at increasing experiential learning in our education system.

Recent studies (probably by career academics!) strongly support the notion that learning through experience should be a vital part of the learning experience.  Due to the greater demands of today’s world and the increased speed of change, experiential learning is essential to the success of students today and we must prepare them for the world by engaging with it now.

Ancient Chinese proverb: I hear, and I forget. I see, and I remember. I do, and I understand.” 

As a musician and speaker, I’m not so sure I like the “I hear and I forget” part, but I do agree that multisensory interaction (with a person, place, or concept) creates a stronger connection.

A not-so-ancient “Ravi-ism” goes like this: “Someone taught me trigonometry in school but I learned it in the cockpit of an airplane…and didn’t even know it was trigonometry.” And, I often tell my audiences that being the guitarist of Hanson was attending the “Harvard Business School of Rock and Roll.”

Learning by Doing: ELT

The creator of Experiential Learning Theory (ELT), David Kolb, defined the “process whereby knowledge is created through the transformation of experience." Kolb further pointed out that an effective learner is a person who thinks, feels, perceives, and then behaves.  Real experiences expose students to the potential for exercising all their senses in a far greater measure than a typical classroom experience.

Today, many university graduates complete their degrees with very limited direct contact with the practices they have studied (to Frankie’s point above). Moreover, millions of students head back for post-graduate work without having had any real-life experience in their field of study and knowing that they are ill-prepared, yet they go back to the same methods that failed them.

Academic Study Results Support Experiential Learning

One study reported in the April-June 2019 edition of the Science Direct Journal of Innovation & Knowledge reviews a recent project conducted at a Spanish Business School. The program was designed to draw a link between students’ experienced-based learnings and their ultimate academic outcomes. The students involved in the project were working on their Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration.

Some experienced actual hands-on activities with active immersion and involvement plus managerial simulations designed to sharpen their competencies. Students in the Management Skills class worked with middle and top management professionals to assess competencies, gain deeper insights, and reach a better understanding of the skills required in a managerial profession. These individuals obtained essential knowledge by direct observation and conducting interviews with their manager-partner. The results suggest that those participating in experiential learning scored significantly higher in their final class projects and examinations than those only receiving in-class lectures.

Why is Experiential Learning Important to the Future of Learning?

One important reason why hands-on experience and outside exposure to real-life operations are important is that new-hires can “hit the ground running.” Orientation and transition time to adapt to “real life” circumstances are reduced--a significant benefit to any company.  While this should also help employee retention, it will surely facilitate the process of recruiting.

Other benefits, as noted by eLearning Industry, include:

  • Student learning accelerates
  • Real-life simulations provide a “safe” learning experience. Learners can make mistakes without repercussions.
  • Bridges the gap between lectures and actual practice
  • Creates mindset changes
  • Increases engagement
  • Delivers a more potent return on the student’s investment in education
  • Assessment results are both more accurate and less subjective
  • Learning is more personalized when it is hands-on rather than as a crowd-directed lecture.

Real-life working experiences as a student also develops “soft skills” by learning to manage stress and resolve conflict, making a more efficient and desirable employee.  I discussed this in my post on cultural competence in the workplace

What Next?

Integrating experiential learning into the education process even at the primary school level can be a tremendous benefit to the educational process, as it develops the skill of life-long learning.  Parents should also take a more active role in their children’s education (such as doing daily homework with them), because they can then discuss and encourage the implementation of more experiential learning opportunities with educators.  Family engagement is key.


To learn where Ravi will be speaking next or to view current special offers, please visit the lower portion of the website home page here.

Bring Ravi To Your Next Event!

Ravi Unites Schools Update

Chile & India: On August 29th, Ravi Unites Schools will host an interaction between high school students of The Mackay School in Valparaiso, Chile and a school in the United State which will be selected today.  I will host that alongside the students from Chile, where I am now. Then, on September 4th, I will host another between high school students at Shanti Bhavan in Tamil Nadu, India and Aurora High School in Aurora Ohio USA.  We are currently setting up more interactions, and perhaps very soon, as I will be in India and hope to host one live from there.

Latest News & Updates

New iHeart Media, SiriusXM Radio Shows...and a few awesome podcasts:

Check out the latest shows and podcasts at  In addition to some great mainstream radio interviews, I’ve been interviewed by some very good podcasts that will be available soon including “Fortunes from Speaking with Chris Widener,” Mari Ryan’s “Workplace Well-being Expert Interview Series,” and “Intelligence for Your Life” by the legendary John Tesh.

"Songwriting Safari" in Chile

Do not miss this opportunity!  A “Songwriting Safari” in Chile
February 21-March 1, 2020.

This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to collaborate with songwriters from multiple cultures and backgrounds under the guidance of Ravi Hutheesing, former member of three-time Grammy Award nominee, Hanson.  You will write at least three songs with hands-on instruction from Ravi and his award-winning songwriting teaching method, 1-2-3 Songwriting, as well as learn from carefully selected well-known guest instructors.  By participating in this unique ten-day workshop, you will create timeless songs, build global friendships and memorable artistic collaborations, and discover how you can use your talents to change the world.

Learn more here: Songwriting Safari in Chile 2020

It’s Time to Pivot! How Small Shifts in Education can Change the World

It's Time to Pivot! How Small Shifts in Education can Change the World

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education pivot

There is a belief today that more time in school will improve education. However, the learning process of young minds involves much more than time spent in classrooms, and quality of education should be measured by more than test results. As noted in my post, "The US Education System is Broken, or is it?" school's primary purpose is not educating children, but preparing them to be educated by the world as lifelong learners.

The purpose of school needs to be providing necessary tools and experiences to be successful in an increasingly complex, inter-connected, and globalized world. The tools and skills that students learn must help them interact with and navigate diverse socio-economic environments in which they will find themselves. A truly educated person is able to engage the communities of which they will one day become leaders, and not simply able to score well on classroom tests.

Small, intentional “pivots” within our education system will more successfully prepare students for life.  Moreover, we need to teach students how to pivot as they will live longer lives with the need for multiple adaptations in response to global changes.  My own pivot process includes using previously accumulated skills and contacts to change course as needed or when greater opportunities present themselves (or can be created). 

Shifts that make a difference

Funding for Equity

The US education system is producing average students according to PISA (Programme for International Students Assessment). However, these statistics change drastically among schools with less than 25% of students on Free and Reduced Lunch. These schools demonstrate that non-impoverished young Americans are performing at the top of the global spectrum. 

Students in low-income areas attend schools that are often congested, understaffed, and lack the full-range of tools needed for learning in those socioeconomic environments. Generally, students attending low-income public schools receive lower quality education, not necessarily because the educators lack skills but because of the larger needs and disbursement of resources beyond the classroom (psychological counseling, food, etc.).  

Current public school funding is based on enrollment numbers. However, public schools in affluent communities are better able to direct funds toward programs that build “cultural capital.” Efforts toward creating equity suggest that such allocations should be reappropriated on a need basis. Low-income areas need more funding for counsellors, psychologists, transportation, and after school programs for struggling students.

Title 1 Funding

Similar to the above, we need not only to increase funding but shift and expand funding to combat poverty which ultimately burdens US schools in comparison to other industrialized nations. In a recent radio interview I did with WVON "Talk of Chicago" we discussed former Vice President Joe Biden's current plan for education.  It is a "pivot" from where he was as recently as 2015, with a call today for massive increases in funding for low-income schools and significant expansion of resources for families, including extended pre-k and dedicated counselors and psychologists in public schools (something that has been cut over the years and now falls on already overburdened teachers who are not and shouldn’t need to be experts in mental illness or psychology).

Regardless of whether we agree with Biden or Democrats in general, we can hopefully agree that teachers need to be equipped and supported to better address factors that impact students outside the classroom and provide more holistic resources.  

Cultural Competence

Parents have the right to exercise school choice. However, this leads to segregation, whereby black American and Hispanic students often end up in low-income area public schools. Parents’ financial status often plays a determining role in which school students attend. Low-income families cannot afford transportation costs to far away schools, nor can they afford school lunch in schools not providing it for free. 

However, even high income families pay a price for self-selected segregation. Cultural capital does not equal cultural competence, and in an age of Artificial Intelligence where according to Price Waterhouse Coopers, 38% of jobs will be automated in a decade from now, “college and career-ready” may become less relevant than being “community-ready.”  The opportunity in cross-socioeconomic and cross-cultural collaboration will be what moves a nation forward.

Education systems need to pivot and focus on uniting students from diverse cultures and backgrounds. Unifying different groups will lead to better interactions between different people in the future.  We must teach cultural competence through instruction and experience so that youth have the skills to interact in a diverse world.  This would enable them to develop core values that seek to unite and provide collaborative decisions versus a mindset that alienates and divides.

Shorter school days

More time in the classroom will not produce a better educated or more prepared life-long learner who is capable of absorbing the lessons of the world.  Instead, students need more time to apply their education while receiving it; they need more time to interact with friends, neighbors, community, and family in order to truly learn life skills. Moreover, a little boredom enables the discovery of passion and hobbies, the development of creativity, and the opportunity for internships and co-curricular activities that provide real-world learning benefits for life. 

A good education system has four key players: society and global community, teachers, parents,  and students themselves. A system that primarily focuses on classroom instruction instead of engaging all players is flawed. Tools such as homework only reach their full potential when parents are encouraged to do it alongside their children to create family engagement--a child doing homework in solitude fosters resentment for education, and the classroom itself is where students should be collaborating (not through homework).  Well-rounded students will be developed from plans, funding, and intentional environments that foster learning through interactions within all arenas. 

With such pivots, I believe we can provide a truly “world-class” education and prepare students who will change the world.  Please email me and let me know your thoughts.


To learn where Ravi will be speaking next or to view current special offers, please visit the lower portion of the website home page here.

Bring Ravi To Your Next Event

Ravi Unites Schools Update

Keep an eye on your inbox as we will soon be announcing two global opportunities in August/September for your students to connect with peers in Chile and India.  If the age range is a match for you and you are a Ravi Unites Schools member, you will receive an email with a link on how to apply for these opportunities (each opportunity will come in a separate email and with a separate application).  There will be a deadline to apply, so be sure to open the email as soon as you receive it.

Latest News & Updates

"Songwriting Safari" in Chile

Do not miss this opportunity!  A “Songwriting Safari” in Chile
February 21-March 1, 2020.

This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to collaborate with songwriters from multiple cultures and backgrounds under the guidance of Ravi Hutheesing, former member of three-time Grammy Award nominee, Hanson.  You will write at least three songs with hands-on instruction from Ravi and his award-winning songwriting teaching method, 1-2-3 Songwriting, as well as learn from carefully selected well-known guest instructors.  By participating in this unique ten-day workshop, you will create timeless songs, build global friendships and memorable artistic collaborations, and discover how you can use your talents to change the world.

Learn more here: Songwriting Safari in Chile 2020

With 38% of U.S. Jobs at Risk Due to Automation, We Need a Plan of Action

With 38% of U.S. Jobs at Risk Due to Automation, We Need a Plan of Action

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Jobs at Risk Due to Automation

An in-depth report detailed in the Los Angeles Times warns that U.S. employers could automate nearly four out of 10 American jobs before 2035. Workers in the United States face a higher risk of unemployment than those in other countries such as Japan, Britain and Germany. Another prediction was slightly more conservative but still forecasted up to 36 million layoffs. There is a significant shift occurring in many industries and our education systems must pivot to empower the next generation of leaders and workers to be ready. To prepare our youth for the future, we don’t need to completely reform education but we do need to make changes to historical patterns of educating youth and young adults.  I’ve been talking a lot lately on iHeart Media and SiriusXM about the balance of liberal arts and vocational education (listen here), and preparing for my keynote next week for the 100th anniversary of the California Agricultural Teachers Association has pushed my thinking even deeper.

Specific Industries Impacted

Both reports noted above point to several vulnerable sectors. Students might lose their jobs to robots if they plan careers in hospitality, finance, manufacturing, data entry or insurance. Self-driving vehicles could put truck and taxi drivers out of work as well. On the other hand, automaton probably won't replace composers, athletes, artists, supervisors, dental hygienists or nurses, at least not yet... Fortune magazine highlighted education itself as the sector "least susceptible to automation," but I believe that to ensure that, teachers must pivot from being deliverers of knowledge to becoming facilitators of lifelong learning.

What Students Need

Most robots perform routine work in controlled environments. This has also been historically the type of work for which our technical trade courses (vocational, career technical education/CTE, etc.) prepared students.  We must make changes now to help young people learn to accomplish tasks that machines simply do not and may never understand. Students need to develop more sophisticated technical skills as well as the ability to think critically at a high level. A liberal arts education offers valuable benefits in the critical thinking realm but doesn't provide the specialized technical expertise that many careers demand. The jobs of the future will require a different but critical balance of liberal arts with technical instruction.

Learning to Pivot

In the not-so-distant past, things like driverless cars only appeared in science-fiction films. No one could predict if or when they would really exist, but they are emerging right now. Why does this matter? We don't know how far robotics and artificial intelligence will advance in the coming decades, but it will continue at a fast pace. Consequently, students must be prepared to adapt as technology swiftly develops.

Pew Research Center and Elon’s Imagining the Internet Center conducted a survey in 2016.  A key finding was that among the future worker capabilities with the highest value was the “ability to adapt, or ‘pivot,”’( Students must now be equipped with the mindset and skills to learn new skills regularly. Creating a culture of lifelong learning must be the primary goal of every education system.

The Need for Entrepreneurial Mindset

Young people can prepare for automation by becoming innovators. Robots still lack creativity and discerning judgement, so they have little ability to invent anything new. An entrepreneurial mindset promotes innovation, even if you work for a well-established employer. It demands creativity and benefits from a desire to help people. We must change priorities and goals before we can truly encourage all students to think like entrepreneurs.

What to Prioritize

Young people become closed-minded and overly fearful of failure when teachers focus on memorization and penalize students who make errors while testing unconventional ideas. Instead, we ought to reward students for thinking about new possibilities and taking risks. In order to develop vision, one must be willing to take risks and learn from failure--as I have heard educators say, FAIL is just the First Attempt In Learning. Students benefit when they feel comfortable talking about ideas or alternative ways to accomplish a task. One must keep an open mind as often there is more than one “right” decision or "right” answer in achieving something.

The Need for Cultural Competence

We can also prepare young people for the future by helping them better understand themselves and others. They should know how to efficiently communicate and cooperate with those whom are culturally different, and this requires presentation and social skills. Globalization and immigration have bolstered the importance of this. Teachers can promote cultural competence by educating students to first become aware and understand their own implicit biases (handwriting is a great exercise for this because it forces one to slow down their thinking enough to become aware of one’s thoughts) as well as about foreign traditions, beliefs and habits. For instance, one could explain why Chinese people don't like to receive clocks or watches as gifts.

No Substitute for Human Relationships

Cultural competence and standard social skills help individuals develop positive, friendly relationships. This ability holds the key to career success for many people. It's hard to replace a caring, likable person with a robot. Bartenders, insurance agents, financial advisors, doctors and salespeople have something in common. Although employers can automate some aspects, the public doesn't just want a product. Customers also desire to do business with a kind, genuine person who willingly befriends them and earns their trust.

The education system in the U.S. needs to pivot to prepare students to pivot throughout their lives.  Automation is coming and jobs will change. The job opportunities of the future will require new skills that demand a mix of what we now often separate into liberal arts versus technical skills.  Specialized technical learning currently prepares young people to find their first jobs. Liberal arts with an emphasis on critical thinking, along with an entrepreneurial mindset, cultural competence and developed social skills will enable the young people of tomorrow to adapt as the economy undergoes rapid change and be highly employable in the future job market.

What shifts can you make today to better prepare students for tomorrow?  Please email me and let me know.

To learn where Ravi will be speaking next or to view current special offers, please visit the lower portion of the website home page here.


Ravi Unites Schools Update

We are planning our first three-way interaction when schools are back in session in August, and it will span three continents, three cultures, and three languages!  

Stay tuned for more information in next month’s newsletter.

Latest News & Updates

"Songwriting Safari" in Chile

Join Ravi in Chile for a “Songwriting Safari” – February 21-March 1, 2020.

Click below for full details


In this ten-day songwriting workshop, participants will stimulate the creation of music working with each other, the teacher, and well known guest artists which results in a creative and unique body work. Each participant should expect to participate in the creating of three original songs over the duration of the workshop. In addition, there will be discussion on using music as a form of cultural diplomacy, artist-entrepreneurship, and more.

By participating in this unique opportunity, you will be creating timeless songs, building global friendships and memorable artistic collaborations, and using your talents to bring humanity closer to world peace.  Tell your friends and students about this unique opportunity!

Harnessing Your Position for Good



Harnessing Your Position for Good

Last month we looked at how cross-cultural competence impacts workplace effectiveness.  The topic of cross-cultural competence is featured in most of my keynotes, and while my primary points are consistent, I tailor my keynotes to each audience and incorporate current events.

One of these trending topics is “privilege.” Privilege has always been a delicate topic. Whenever you mention the word, it can evoke strong reactions depending upon the context. The word carries connotations of power and often is discussed from racial equity, level of education, or family dynasty perspectives.

I have first hand experience with this as I am part of a prominent Indian family dynasty; I am the first American born member of the family that created the world's largest democracy and governed it for over 40 years.  I have often reflected upon how this has impacted me and what I do with this position.

A question I am often asked is: Can privilege ever be a good thing? And a related question that I believe is important: Is it possible to harness our position for good?

I believe that, yes, those who have privilege have a golden opportunity to use that position to combat social injustices and make the world a better place.

Positioning for Good

There are four steps involved in harnessing position for the greater good:

• Understand the meaning of privilege

If you are to make good use of your privilege, you must begin by learning what privilege means.

Put simply, privilege is an unearned advantage, access, or power reserved for an individual or a group of people. The University of Michigan, College of Literature, Science, and the Arts defines it as a “society-granted” advantage accorded to some people and not others. It is not chosen and is independent of attitudes or belief systems.

More important, we cannot run away from privilege once we have it. The only choice we have is what to do with it.

• Own your privilege

Once you have understood what privilege means, it is time to own whatever advantages you enjoy.  Moreover, these advantages are valuable tools in your toolbox that can be used to change the world for the better.  Do not dismiss or negate your privilege. Make the choice to use it for the good of society.

There are many factors that put us in a position of privilege: sex, gender, race, religion, nationality, sexuality, disability, class, body type, level of education, and so on. What privilege(s) do you have? You need to reflect on and understand your privilege.  Accept that it gives you a unique opportunity and you must embrace it and use it for greater good.

• Open up to feedback

This simply means opening up to the opinions and experiences of those who may not possess your privilege. What do they have to say? For instance, if you are wealthy, listen to what those living in poverty have to say. Some say they possess a different kind of wealth or happiness and are not interested in material riches. What do they think about the rich and wealth in general?

Opening up to feedback is often the most difficult part of engaging with our privileges. However, it is equally important because it is what will give you the strength and motivation to get up and do something with the advantages you enjoy.

• Harness your privilege for the benefit of all

The last step is to leverage your societal advantages to positively impact yourself and those around you. Use the privilege to grow as a person and reach across the divide to offer support and opportunity to those on the other side.

• Harness Leadership through Ravi Unites Schools

As a cultural catalyst who has helped bridge hostile cultural and religious divides in India, Indonesia, Iraq, and Lebanon, I started the Ravi Unites Schools program to help future leaders harness their leadership positions for the benefit of all.

By connecting schools from different countries, cultures, and time zones, and allowing them to interact, we are able to expand their minds, open their worldview, and grow in cross-cultural competence.  These students then gain the cultural capital required to make them successful leaders of the future. However, unless we engage and help them open up to new ways of thinking and seeing the world, they might never fully utilize these unique powers. At Ravi Unites, we draw from personal and professional experiences to equip young students with the tools needed to transition their cultural capital into cultural competency.

What are your thoughts on this?  

Are you interested in hearing more and having me speak to your audience on this or one of my keynote topics?  

Let’s talk!

Teaching the Value of Failure Today



Teaching the Value of Failure Today

No one starts out wanting to fail. In fact, owing to the achievement-oriented nature of our society, the prospect of failure is one most people cannot stand and definitely try to avoid at nearly all costs. Many will even trade potential big long-term successes for immediate gains just to evade short-term failures.

I would like to challenge this notion and pose the questions:

Is this the right approach? Is failure bad? Should we be putting forth every conceivable effort to avoid failure?

I firmly believe the answer is no. Having an “always learning, entrepreneurial mindset,” which includes appreciating and teaching the value of failure, are central elements of my work as a cultural catalyst and global keynote speaker for educators and young leaders. I have reinvented myself and my profession at least three times. When failures present themselves as they inevitably do, I play it SAFE: State the problem, Assess the options, Fix the problem, and Evaluate the result (part of my flight training, and from my most popular breakout topic, The Pilot Mindset). Treating failure as an option can be beneficial in many ways, as you’ll see below.

While failing can be painful, it turns out that failure is actually good for the mind and our overall well-being. Whether for an entrepreneur striving to grow a business, an athlete aiming to win an upcoming tournament, or a student trying out a new extracurricular, failing can not only strengthen your character but is, in most cases, a tremendously valuable way to learn what it takes to be successful.

Thomas Edison is one of the most celebrated innovators of the 18th century. Edison had to try over 1,000 times before finally coming up with a working prototype of the light bulb. But, according to Edison himself, he would not have been successful without the 1,000 failures, which were really just steps along the way to success. He noted that every failure opened his eyes to something new; something he didn’t know initially, and thus was valuable for the learnings it offered. This way, when he finally succeeded, the light bulb was far superior to the ones he had been trying to make early on.

In the educational environment, the importance of teaching the positives of failure can be very important in the overall development of students so that they can best interact and impact our world in a positive way tomorrow. Treating failure as an option can also be beneficial in these additional ways:

Students learn not to quit or settle when a failure occurs

After a few failures, and the realization that the world didn’t end, there is just no giving up going forward. Students will learn to push on, adapt, and move forward no matter what. By teaching students to learn from setbacks, we give them life skills that will serve them well.

Students refine character traits

A major failure can help refine the ego. And, once egos are more properly balanced with strength and also sensitivity, students have a greater potential for future successes and for positive contributions to society.  The young person who is shielded from failure is unprepared for a world of change, upheaval, and significant competition.

Students begin to appreciate a sense of community

It’s easy to get lost in success. As well, surviving failures on your own, again and again, is nearly impossible. It is often in failure where we learn a sense of community as others reach out to us and support us. It is in failing that we receiving support and open ourselves to a community, enabling us to then offer support and community to others in their moments of failure.

Failure forces students to plan and improve

Very often, students give little thought or planning to their journeys.  For those who do give some thought to their goals, the majority of those tend to do it casually. Failures take us back to the starting line, forcing us to have moments where there can be self-reflection, evaluation, and the opportunity to look ahead with a plan that improves upon and is impacted by the lessons learned in the failure. Getting a trophy for showing up--as the millennials did--needs to be rebalanced by instituting an acceptance and appetite for failure.

Failure helps students appreciate time

The most successful people on earth are those who understand the value of time and invest their time wisely. Failing is one of the experiences that force persons to re-evaluate their use of time. As well, how it relates to how it contributed to a failure.  Students can learn the value of working ahead, preparing for exams, and putting in the needed effort ahead to ensure they are prepared at the time needed.

Failure helps students redefine their priorities

When a student fails, something unique happens. Students begin to redefine what matters most. There is a deeper reflection that can occur.  They have an opportunity to pause and think about areas of importance such as family, studying, education, and teamwork. Failure helps them discover these values and priorities. Unsurprisingly, once priorities are redefined, the path to future successes becomes more much clear.

Final Thoughts

As educators, instead of sheltering our students from failures, we have to expose them to failures. As a result, help them to learn to focus on how these experiences can benefit their future. Whenever someone stumbles, rather than letting their spirits be crushed by the occasion, let us help them understand how energies can be channeled through disappointments. If we can begin to see failure as a valuable and necessary learning tool, we will empower a new generation to rise to the highest heights of their potential.

Learn more about my keynotes and topics here.

The Future Requires an Entrepreneurial Mindset



The Future Requires an Entrepreneurial Mindset

People with an entrepreneurial mindset are driven to innovate and create new opportunities regardless of whether or not they are entrepreneurs or employees. With this mindset, one can also make a positive impact in the world at the same time. The focus on innovation and the possibilities of “what could be” drives entrepreneurs in business and life.

Many lack the entrepreneurial mindset, which at the core requires a growth mindset, the acceptance of failure as a learning process, and the intrinsic value of helping others.  It is my belief that an entrepreneurial mindset is the hope for our future and will create a better world, and today’s education system needs to be infused with these collective ideas.

A Focus On Innovation And Building A Better Future

A simple definition of innovation is that it is a new method, idea, or product. Innovation is the driving force through much of humankind’s accomplishments. This includes every area of knowledge including the sciences, mathematics, healthcare, technology, arts, and more.

Fear of failure prevents many innovations, both large and small, from occurring. No great innovator in human history did so without a few missteps, do-overs, and outright failures. If great innovators gave up after their first failure, they would not have changed the world. The ability to see failure as a chance to learn and do better drives further accomplishments which lay the groundwork for a better tomorrow.  So, how do we help students grasp this in the classrooms of today?

This mindset needs to be taught in our education systems. Millennial leaders will inspire the goal of helping the world become a better place through innovation and entrepreneurship, but education must support this by focusing not just on achievement, but also encouraging and embracing failure (i.e. taking calculated risks). I believe that with adjustments in our educational philosophy to encourage this mindset, a new generation can be unleashed to lead with a goal of creating new businesses, organizations, and systems that help the world.

The Consideration Of Possibilities

The entrepreneurial mindset focuses on possibilities. It considers “what could be.” The current notion of "this is how education is" does not foster a better future; it perpetuates stagnation.

A society that never considers how it can change is one that never does. By considering the possibilities and striving to create positive change, we take the first step toward making change possible.   


Recognizing the unique talents and insights of each student is an essential part of building a better future.

Paying it forward and sharing your own good fortune drives further innovation. The entrepreneurial mindset not only fosters the ideas of inclusiveness, it also helps build a future where such ideas are further implemented.

It is this kind of thinking that I seek to help educators discover through my keynotes on the subject.  We need to disrupt education significantly, and I welcome the opportunity to discuss my ideas more with you with the hope to add value to your next conference or event.

Learn more about my keynote speeches. Contact me to set up a first step phone call today!

The Challenge of Future Entrepreneurship: Making Peace Profitable

The Challenge of Future Entrepreneurship: Making Peace Profitable

The Challenge of Future Entrepreneurship: Making Peace Profitable

The business of war is profitable. In 2011, for example, the top 100 war-supporting companies made in excess of $410 billion in arms and military services. According to a report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), the top 10 of those companies made grossed $208 billion in that period.

While war is profitable, our aim should be world peace.  The question then becomes, can peace be as profitable if we have companies and organizations supporting peace initiatives and turning profits?

According to many experts, this is possible but just not fully operational at this time. In fact, some studies show that peace can be more profitable than war. According to findings from the Australian Institute for Economics and Peace released in 2011, reducing violence by as little as 25%—an attainable goal for most countries—would reap the world at least $2 trillion in peace savings yearly.

So, how do we build profitable, peace-focused enterprises?

This is easier said than done given that war already dominates the economy with governments spending up to 20%+ of their budgets on military projects.  However, it is possible.

The United States Institute of Peace Special Report on How Business Can Foster Peace provides a sneak peek of what is needed. According to the report, a peace-promoting business should be founded on five key principles;

  • Promoting economic activity

    Studies by both the World Bank and the United Nations show that poverty begets violence. Thus, by providing jobs and diversifying economic opportunity, entrepreneurs can alleviate a region’s poverty. A good example is when Cisco invested $10 million in Palestinian programmers and included both Palestinians and Israelis on the same programming teams. Such little efforts can go a long way in reconnecting conflicting groups.

  • Respect for the rule of law

    Instead of exploiting asymmetrical power relationships, entrepreneurs can contribute to peace by respecting the rule of law and abiding by international labor and environmental standards. As corruption can trigger instability and violent conflict, companies with zero-tolerance policies and strong ethical principles move the needle toward peace and stability.

  • Support for truck-two diplomacy

    Truck-two diplomacy is all about businesses and entrepreneurs standing up for the rest of the society when the going gets tough. To this end, if they are to profit from a peace economy, future businesses and entrepreneurs must be ready to broker peace in the face of conflict and defend the rights of the common man.

  • Implementing corporate citizenship

    Businesses can also promote peace and later benefit from it by encouraging corporate citizenship. Corporate citizenship essentially means making the citizenship feel that they are part of the corporation. Coca-Cola has done that well in Vietnam where it provides pushcarts to disadvantaged female entrepreneurs—a practice that benefits both parties. Corporate citizenship enhances social, environmental, and economic well-being of societies.

  • Leveraging unique practices and risk assessment

    For businesses that work in war-prone zones, practices and risk assessments unique to the specific environment may be needed to prevent conflict. These practices usually include paying careful attention to the needs of suppliers, customers, employees, and other stakeholders immediately involved in the conflict-sensitive environment.

With peace comes increased business profitability

If the future entrepreneur can embrace these five principles, then we are certainly on the way to greater peace—peace that would go a long way in improving the business environment, leading to faster economic growth. Even better, increasing peace would help lower the $14.3 trillion that businesses lose to violence yearly, all while boosting business profits.