TFS 002 - Robert Pragai



Learn the 21st century skills
with Robert Pragai,
a creative expert in problem-solving.

1. Draw Your 4 steps-Road Map

2. Prepare your Elevator Pitch

Make The Problem Visible.  Robert Pragai interviewed by Sylvie Gendreau for the podcast of The New School of Creativity,  They Make Me Smarter .

Make The Problem Visible. Robert Pragai interviewed by Sylvie Gendreau for the podcast of The New School of Creativity, They Make Me Smarter.

If you haven't listened to the first episode, you should do so before listening to this second one. Robert is a great storyteller. It's fascinating to discover his way of hacking problems. You will get inspired by his life story! Also, get your free gift, download the cool tool associated to TFS-001, My personal pathwayIn this second episode, we learn what competencies we should acquire for the 21st century.

Great tips to be learned!

Get ready to take advantage of the advice of Robert, take notes and download your tool: My 4 steps-Road Map.


Here are the main lessons Robert shares with us in episode-2:


Time is over to take plenty of time defining the features of a new product. Robert recommends forgetting all the steps before that removes our flexibility and creativity. What is important is to define the outcomes. What will the user do? What will the user feel? 

In the future, executives will be paid not to deliver a product on time but on how many early adopters the product or service has.
— Robert Pragai

Robert gives a great example to illustrate what is an outcome. If you're supposed to travel with your family and one of your children feels sick the night before, what are the outcomes?  Is it important to keep going to where was planned together? Or, in fact, is the most important thing to build memories together?



Each person has a different perception. We have to let everyone write down what is the problem for them. Only when everyone says the same thing, with the same words, we will be able to find a better solution faster. Making the problem visible is the very first step before starting to look for a solution. You put it up there, you agree upon it and you solve it.


If you are a parent, a teacher, a professor or a team leader, you want to help your children, students or team members to learn better and faster. How can you do that? 

Challenge them with the problem and let them find their own ways. If they have the defeat, their motivation will come from failure. When you keep working on a problem, failure is the greatest way to learn something new!

The good question to ask ourselves when we teach: How to challenge them that they fail, but they’re not defeated, they want to do it again.
— Robert Pragai


Everyone should take the time to prepare a good elevator pitch. No one has 10 or 15 minutes to loose listening to you explaining your project.

A) See how people understand the problem.
B) Explain your solution: the outcomes (not the features).
C) Test your pitch before the validation.

The most experimented speakers take approximately 70 hours to prepare a 20-minute talk.

Q: How much time do you invest in preparing your elevator pitch?

A: We designed a tool to help you to prepare a 2-minute pitch.

Once done, do not forget to learn it by heart to be always ready to use it when needed!

How does Robert learn?

The best way for Robert to learn something new is to have a problem to solve. With a math problem for example, if he knows the answer, he will go backwards to understand what to do to get to that solution. As a visual person, he looks first for a graph or symbols in order to get the big picture before reading the material.

In her best-seller, A Mind for Numbers and her popular Coursera MOOC, Learning How To Learn, Barbara Oakley explained how important it is to first look at the material, in general, to see the context before digging in. It helps our brain to create a conceptual chunk (mental leaps that unite scattered bits of information through meaning). She compares a chunk to a symphony of neurons in our brain or an octopus, helping us to make connections between the elements to get the big picture and find what we already know about the topic: "Chunks are pieces of information, neuroscientifically speaking, through bound together through meanings of use". In other words, "A chunk means a  network of neurons that are used to firing together so you can think a thought or perform an action smoothly and effectively." We need to form a chunk in order to master the material we are studying, explained Barbara Oakley.

This is what Robert is doing when looking to graphs before getting started when fixing a problem. His mind needs to see broadly before going specifically into the content and the explanation. Robert finds that out naturally because words are more difficult for him than numbers. As Barbara Oakley explained, connecting the information together is figuring out the main idea to understand the problem. It's an efficient way of learning.

After a focused attention to get the big picture and connect with what we already know and an understanding, once we have figured out the main idea, the third step is to practice. When Robert says that he needs to fix the problem to learn, it's perfectly logical. We have learned something new only when we can do it ourselves. If you study piano, you have succeeded only once you're able to play the piano, not before.

"The best chunks are the ones that are so well ingrained that you don't even have to consciously think about connecting the neural pattern together."(2) You don't have to think about it anymore, you just do it naturally.

For Robert:
Learning starts with Drawing

TIP: When you read a book and you want to remember or come back to some pages, you can do as Robert did, drawing symbols in the marginalia and copying them at the bottom of the page. Afterwards, you can scan the bottom of the page to revise what you learned. It's a nice way to add repetition between reading sessions which are also a fundamental aspect of learning and remembering.

Robert needs visual aids to learn faster as you can see in one of his tweets. Drawings and visual aids help to minimise the blah blah. 


Download your free tool  My 4 steps-Road Map to start your next project on the good track!

RULE 2: Always go for the big idea.

The Creative Mind Trick of the Day

Don't miss the next and last episode with Robert Pragai, What happens when you fail?

Sylvie's Best Books:

Oakley Barbara, A Mind for Numbers, Penguin Random House, USA, 2014.
To purchase in:
U.S. and U.K.:

Oakley Barbara, Learning How To Learn, MOOC, Coursera.  

Lois, George, Damn Good Advice (for talented people), Phaidon, New York, 2012
To purchase in:
U.S. and U.K.:

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