Under the tagline #CreativityWithoutConstraints, the National Showcasing Team presented the 4th episode of AIESEC Podcast Season 3. Our guest speaker brought out a few mind-boggling insights on the topic “Think Out of the Box”. He is the Chief Operations Officer at International Medical Campus – IMC, a teacher at Markaz Al Haadi, a senior lecturer at Cambridge College of Business and Management, joint Founder at As-Sunnah Trust-Sri Lanka, an external Faculty member at the University of Moratuwa, Sri Lanka a visiting Lecturer at the University of Colombo and a former Lecturer at Sri Lanka Institute of Marketing (SLIM). He is none other than Mr. Inthikab Zufer.

WhatsApp: The Digital Drug 

Our host, Kavishka Perera, started the session by asking our guest speaker a simple question about the three apps Mr. Zufer would have on his phone if he were to delete all the other apps. Mr. Zufar’s first choice was WhatsApp which he called “the digital drug”. This led to a conversation about how WhatsApp has taken over all the other communication platforms. In fact, he stated people nowadays rarely use regular messaging services. Finally, he chose an editing app called “CapCut” and the Zoom or MS Teams Platform as his other choices.

A Career that Runs in His DNA

Kavishka’s second question about Mr. Zufer’s career choice led to another exciting and jaw-dropping discovery. He started by claiming that lecturing was a part of his DNA because his parents were teachers. But that was not all. We found out that half of his lineage were teachers. He also stated that he used to explore this side of teaching while studying with his friends by explaining complicated stories more straightforwardly.

Mr. Zufer started his career during his undergraduate years when he did a presentation on Nike, and his spellbinding presentation skills impressed his lecturers who immediately offered him a lecturing position. What started as a classroom presentation opened many opportunities for him in Sri Lanka and universities overseas. Mr. Zufer also added that this career brings him tremendous self-satisfaction because he moulds students and shares his experiences with them. Mr.Zufer said, “If I don’t teach, if I don’t lecture and if I don’t have an audience to talk to, I feel very bored sometimes”.

Benchmarking by Thinking Out of the Box

After the initial questions, Kavishka entered the main topic in question, “Thinking out of the box.” Kavishka shared his opinions to cultivate a conversation. He posed how important it is to move out of the mainstream framework of creativity and how creativity is limited to mainstream industries. Mr. Zufer provided a remarkable answer by highlighting the importance of benchmarking by thinking out of the box. To explain this, he shared with us how DHL appeared to be the world’s largest courier and delivery company by thinking out of the box. At first, they assumed they were in the courier industry and competed with companies such as FedEx, UPS or Aramex. A different perspective led them to realize their biggest competitor was in the delivery industry; Pizza Hut. He also used the simpler example of a computer mouse and posed the question: “If this was not a mouse, what would it be?”.

Mr. Zufer further shared his thoughts on this question by bringing in a “share of wallet” theory. He said, “Imagine you have 100 rupees in your wallet and you want to buy a coke, but you decide to buy a cream cracker biscuit, coca cola’s competitor becomes the cream cracker, not Pepsi or elephant house”. 

Kavishka then asked Mr. Zufer what his favourite advertisement was. Our speaker shared that his favourite advertisement was an advertisement by Toyota. This particular advertisement depicted butterflies resting on a car and how the starting of the engine does not scare them away. He shared another creative advertisement for Virgin Atlantic. Kavishka added that minute details are what incur creativity.

The Education System and Creativity

The next question our host asked was about the Sri Lankan education system. “When you think of the phrase ‘Think out of the box, do you think our education system allows opportunities for students to grow in a creative mindset?” he asked. To answer this question, Mr. Zufer asked the audience to type “University makes me…” on Google and check the dropdown recommendations. Most of the results appeared to be negative. He also used Amir Khan’s movie, “3 idiots”, to emphazise this monotonous education system. He further emphasized Elon Musk’s statement against universities. “If you are not set with a proper guru or an expert to give you proper direction, you will end up experiencing that formal education is putting you inside the box,” he said. Mr. Zufer also showed how he taught his students to think for themselves by only teaching them the basics without spoon-feeding everything. 

Do You Have the Audacity to Think Outside the Box?

Kavishka then moved on to another field  Mr.Zufer is involved in Content creation. Mr. Zufer defined content-based marketing and platforms as of today’s most outspoken field. He also highlighted the importance of creativity related to content creation. He spoke about Mr.Beast, who recorded himself counting from one to a million and obtained views after uploading that on YouTube and other personalities who did peculiar things to get people to watch them. “Who comes out with content like this? People who dare to think out of the box. People who want to make a difference. I think content is unlimited”, he concluded his answer.

The next question was about social media influencers. Kavishka asked for a piece of advice from Mr. Zufar about what an individual who wants to enter the influencer community can reach an audience. Mr. Zufer pointed out how most influencers are focused on the quantity of their followers rather than their quality. “If you can find anything you can be consistent with, that is enough”, he commented. He brought in the example of Khaby Lame and how he is consistent with his content.

One Last Piece of Advice 

The final question was about strategies people should follow which would be helpful for their careers.  Mr. Zufer answered this by saying that “creativity is an art which can come within you or you can learn through exposure”. He further stated that everyone needs to be creative and come out of their boxes irrespective of their field. He ended the answer by repetitively saying, “keep on trying”. Kavishka reflected the importance of gaining experience through exposure and networking with people. He shared his own experience as a public speaker on how they were asked to travel around the country to get the blended ideas of different people. Both the speaker and the host exchanged their thoughts on how interacting with other people, communities and nations are essential to think out of the box. 

The session was wrapped up with the hot seat questions, which revealed the personal side of Mr. Zufer. At the end, he shared a motto for every youngster, entrepreneur or anyone that aspires to be creative: “Unlearn things to Relearn”. He further shared a controversial statement made by Einstein. “The more I learn, the more I realize how much I don’t know.” and added his thoughts, “break stereotypes, break perceptions and then you will see the horizon much more clearer than it was.”

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