I'm Salim Virani. I used to design peer learning programs, and these days I'm having fun building stuff.

I am Jack's wasted opportunity
Dec 27, 2012

South East Asia is going through exciting and tremendous changes at the moment, even in Laos, one of its poorest countries.

There, one of the best ways to rise out of poverty is to learn English, Russian, Korean or Japanese to become a tour guide. While some farming families try to get by on $500 per year, you can earn $40 per day as a tour guide in the high season.
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So there’s a common story. Lau comes from a rice-farming family, and was lucky enough to be educated while his siblings farmed rice or carried logs on their backs over mountain ranges. This means Lau sends money home every month. He feeds his whole family.

I wanted to learn how I could help so I asked a lot of naive questions. I realised a handicap we share with Lau, but in our case it’s self-imposed.

We have the luxury of getting it wrong, and we waste it.

We have the luxury of fast-moving markets and channels, so we can get feedback quickly.

We have the luxury of speaking the same language as our customers, so we can understand them easily.

We have the disposable income and time to try new things and afford the loss if it doesn’t work out.

Sure, we have families and people who depend on us too, but the pressure is lower, the opportunities are more frequent and we are far more enabled to act.

With economic crises and the rise of developing economies, I don’t think this disparity will last long. But in the meantime, we have an opportunity to get things wrong.

So what’s stopping you?

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What am I up to these days?

I’m working on a communication tool for loose community groups and unconference-style interactions. It focuses on individual autonomy rather than top-down coordination.

I recently became a Kernel fellow, where I was exploring models for self-directing communities of care, the history of economic cultural norms, and the connection between mimicry, memes and our sense of belonging.

I did a few advisory gigs too - for Polygon, Limechain and Bankless on education and support programs.

In the past, I designed peer learning programs for Oxford, UCL, Techstars, Microsoft Ventures and The Royal Academy Of Engineering. I also played a role in creating the Lean Startup methodology, and the European startup ecosystem. You can read about this here.

Projects

  • Cuppa - decentralised collaboration protocol (WIP)
  • Nonfungo - completely on-chain NFT sale notification bot for Discord. (Look ma! No Opensea API!)
  • Powerplays - real-time token launches

Books

  • Peer Learning Is - a broad look at peer learning around the world, and how to design peer learning to outperform traditional education
  • Mentor Impact - researched the practices used by the startup mentors that really make a difference

Collected practices

  • Source Institute - skunkworks I founded with open peer learning formats and ops guides, and our internal guide on decentralised teams
  • DAOistry - practices and mindsets that work in blockchain communities
  • Decision Hacks - early-stage startup decisions distilled