Q&A w/Mediolana® Creative Director & CSO, Asad Yawar.

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Asad Yawar is the Creative Director & Chief Strategic Officer at Mediolana®. Yawar is a qualified lawyer who took a double-first (won two scholarships) from the University of Cambridge in Social and Political Sciences. Below, he answers a series of questions about Higher Grades Faster!™, a project based on his original concept.

Q1. Why are study skills important?

Higher Grades Faster! – Exponential Productivity

A1. Study skills are the basis of academic performance. It doesn’t matter how clever your child is or how much ability they have – if they don’t have good study skills, then they are not going to fulfil their potential.

Q2. Why is Higher Grades Faster!™ priced at just £409 (c.US$526/€474) when there are study skills courses which cost more than double this?

A2. Good question! It's a genuine mystery. Why would a self-contained study skills, productivity, personal development and organisation guide featuring five international fashion models – which comes direct to your door, is yours to keep forever and refer to in your own time whenever you want – be so much less expensive than a generic, cookie-cutter course which has to be attended in person and whose contents will mostly be forgotten a few days after its completion?

Of course, part of the reason behind charging what is ultimately such a modest sum is that we want to make a world-class product accessible to a few more demographics than would ordinarily have the chance to experience something like this. We really do want to help people in the context of our commercial mission. Additionally, we are in the very first part of the very first phase of the launch cycle, so we are feeling unusually generous [laughs]. But you are right to allude to the fact that the price cannot stay this low for that long. It simply won’t, so please take advantage of this special period and purchase Higher Grades Faster!™ at this wonderful price.

Q3. What makes using Higher Grades Faster!™ a unique experience?

A3. Higher Grades Faster!™ is the only educational product in the world to feature five international fashion models, which by itself would make using it an unparalleled experience; this type of project has simply never been done before. When one thinks of educational instructors, the stereotypical image is of a fusty and distant professor – almost always male, by the way – who stands by a blackboard, or maybe in a more contemporary setting, an electronic whiteboard, and dictates tired, formulaic sentences to anonymous rows of students. One definitely does not think of an iconic Russian-Italian blonde young lady of incredible intelligence and charisma – who also looks effortlessly fashionable – reading a copy of a Hong Kong newspaper in a video module about what you can learn from the world’s print media. And if you didn’t think of her, then you probably (and totally understandably) would not have thought of her four friends – who like her possess glittering academic CVs/résumés and extraordinary aesthetic qualities – as educational instructors.

Higher Grades Faster! – Exponential Productivity

That’s one of the many things that we want to change, because the pre-existing paradigms of educational instruction simply don’t speak to the lived reality of today's students. This is particularly true of higher education, where young women constitute a clear majority of undergraduate admissions in countries from the United States to Finland to Qatar.

If you are a nineteen-year-old girl in San Francisco, Helsinki or Doha who has never known a world without broadband Internet and cheap international travel, then while the perspectives of a fifty-something male may be extremely valuable on one level, they are also going to seem impossibly remote and not at all relatable on another. Of course, it’s a very similar story for, say, a sixteen-year-old boy in London, Singapore or Istanbul.

Q4. What makes the academic, productivity, personal development and organisational guidance proffered in Higher Grades Faster! ™ different to that contained in other educational products?

Firstly – and I’m talking specifically about study skills here – Higher Grades Faster!™ is practically unique in that it has a large [runtime: 131 minutes] video component. If you go to Amazon, Google, Rakuten, eBay, other marketplaces – well, good luck finding anything on improving academic performance which is not a stand-alone book, and a stand-alone book which is about as pleasant to trudge through as a trip to a bad dentist. The chances of your child learning anything truly valuable from most of those titles, let alone be inspired by them, are almost zero, realistically speaking.

About ten years ago, one publishing house did release a book – in fact, it was practically a booklet, because it was only forty-four pages long [the Higher Grades Faster!™ book is 292 pages in length] – on study skills called Study Smarter, Not Harder, which at least came with an accompanying DVD. The DVD was forty-five minutes in duration. It consisted of brief interviews with three high-school students in the United States, asking them what worked for them. It was generic and subjective stuff – you couldn't accuse it of being overly-scientific [laughs] – but the fact that the few new copies of that title still available are retailing today [January 2019] on Amazon.co.uk for £235.98 (US$302.39/€262.32) each shows you how valuable even this level of guidance is perceived to be when it contains a substantial video element. [Editor's note: by mid-March 2019, these new copies of Study Smarter, Not Harder had sold out on Amazon.co.uk; the sole remaining (used) copy was retailing for £879.77 (US$1,161.98/€1,027.77).]

Higher Grades Faster! – Exponential Productivity

Of course, there is always YouTube, but there are multiple issues on that platform. There are some channels offering advice on how to study, but even much of the better content is mind-numbingly derivative, and YouTube being YouTube, there is practically no quality control at all.

Also, as anyone who knows anything about YouTube’s financial model will tell you, most content creators are struggling to break even. They simply cannot afford to invest time and money in creating anything other than sensationalist videos that push certain emotional buttons in the usually vain hope that their content can be monetised on a meaningful scale.

So in terms of iconic video with professional production values, there is literally nothing else out there that compares to Higher Grades Faster!™

Secondly – and moving from the medium and aesthetics to the guidance itself – the content in Higher Grades Faster!™ is different from everything else on the market in that it speaks to people in the 14-21 age category using their cultural reference points.

The generations coming through now define themselves via international, electronically-mediated ‘languages’ which Higher Grades Faster!™ speaks fluently: technology, soccer, fashion, wellness, spirituality, art and music. Their attachment to largely historical methods of perceiving and organising the world – the nation state, established churches, political parties, trade unions – is relatively weak; these are hierarchical, slow-moving bureaucracies which generally have very little to say on the issues which are salient to teenagers or people in their twenties or even thirties. Truth be told, these institutions are themselves struggling to make sense of the contemporary world, so perhaps it’s unfair to expect them to be able to take any kind of leading role.

With the greatest of respect to other offerings in the domains of productivity, personal development, organisation and especially academic success, in most cases they have not even begun to understand – on a deep level – the audiences whom they purport to be speaking to. You can go to any flagship bookstore and see this for yourself by having a good, comprehensive browse (in precisely the way that Amazon previews do not permit!) of titles in these sectors, virtually none of which will have any video content, which itself speaks volumes about their relevance to today’s generations.

Finally, I can happily aver that if your child follows the advice contained in Higher Grades Faster!™, it really will put them in a class of their own when it comes to being a productive, organised and successful person of serious depth. Just implementing the Ultimate Organisation System!™ alone can give them a superior organisational structure for tasks and projects than many a CEO [possesses], which makes the Secret Launch™ price point of £409 (US$526/€474) an absolute steal.

Q5. What made you decide to use international fashion models as educational guides?

Higher Grades Faster! – Exponential Productivity

A5. For far, far too long – particularly in parts of the West – the discourse surrounding education has seen it portrayed almost as a necessary evil; it certainly hasn’t been perceived as something exciting. This is not merely a genuine shame, but it’s essentially incredibly inaccurate. The heart of education – the core process of learning and applying new knowledge or a new skill – is something that can open up entire new worlds and opportunities in ways that almost nothing else can. This is perhaps most obvious in the employment market: possessing the right qualifications means that your basic choices about where and what you study, which country to live in and what you do in life are enormously expanded.

But education is about much more than even this. The ability to pick up and read a complex text – Anna Karenina, let’s say – from cover to cover and absorb profound, eternal lessons about society and human nature is something that is truly priceless. It’s beyond exciting. It can move you to the point where your soul itself becomes more developed. Therefore, we wanted Higher Grades Faster!™ to reflect the reality about education: that it is something truly magical. And something this magical deserves a correspondingly mesmerising presentational dimension, hence the international fashion models.

However, it should be noted that even by the standards of international fashion models, the models who play the Infinity Girls™© in Higher Grades Faster!™ are remarkably special. Not only have they modelled in the advertising/promotional and/or editorial/programming material for some of the world’s most prestigious brands – the likes of Adidas®, Coca-Cola®, Nickelodeon® and Turkish Airlines® to name but a few – but they are all exceptionally intelligent and personable. Their alma matres include Sorbonne Université, Universidad Complutense de Madrid and University College London; they are sophisticated, elegant and approachable; in short, they are a privilege to collaborate with and be around. These qualities come across quite remarkably on camera.

Q6. Will the Higher Grades Faster!™ DVD play in Asia or North America?

A6. Yes. In fact, the product DVD has been coded for playback in all eight [DVD] regions, and should play on pretty much any device – even your in-flight DVD player. It looks incredibly beautiful; it was mastered at the highest bit rate possible while still being universally playable.

Q7. Where can we order Higher Grades Faster!™?

A7. Higher Grades Faster!™ is exclusively distributed worldwide via highergradesfaster.com.

Q8. Do you accept payments in Bitcoin?

A8. We are planning to offer a cryptocurrency payments option at some point in H2/2020. At present, we happily accept payments made via Visa, Mastercard and PayPal, as well as maestro, Apple Pay, G Pay, American Express and Shopify Payments.

Q9. The Infinity Girls™© look like the coolest thing since forever. Can we purchase other Infinity Girls™© merchandise?

Higher Grades Faster! – Exponential Productivity

A9. We already have several projects in mind, and we are presently searching for collaborators who have the same uncompromising commitment to quality and innovation that we do. Please check back here from time to time or, if you prefer, drop us a line (creative@mediolana.com) and we will be delighted to keep you updated.

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