This month, I finished a 10-month-long leadership development program offered by Communitech called Strong Leaders. As a learning and development professional who works on leadership development programs, it was awesome to be a participant in the program.
There was a built-in coaching component which I found super valuable, and it was a great way to build connections with other leaders in the community.
The pacing was incredibly useful as well- the every-three-weeks cadence of the face-to-face sessions made it easy to take the time to process and recall each new concept or approach we learned.
Overall I found it really valuable and use things I learned from it every day!
Next in my development- I’m starting a masters program in the fall! Super excited about that.
2018 was a big year for me. I’m going to do a quick-hits bullet point list of my accomplishments in 2018, so I can reflect.
- Worked with 5 wonderful high-achieving mentees to help them achieve their goals
- Worked with a great mentor and a fantastic coach
- Spoke at my first overseas conference
- Analyzed, designed, developed and delivered several training programs,
courses and curricula elearning
- Took over as chair of the WWA Chapter of the Institute for Performance and Learning
- We had 10 networking breakfasts
- 4 pub nights
- 1 full-day PD event
- 1 half-day PD event
- Got a promotion to team lead
- Planned and ran 2 concurrent pre-conference training tracks for another conference
- Hired three team members and contributed to the hiring process for several more
- Progressed into a new manager-level role
- Increased my income and doubled my freelance income
- Increased my savings and retirement savings
- Joined the Grand Philharmonic choir again and sang 7 concerts
2019 is shaping up to be a big year as well! I’m looking forward to it.
What an unprecedented couple of months it has been!
I missed out on a recap of February, so I’m going to go ahead and lump February and March together here in one big list of bullet points.
- Caught up with some friends, had some great lunch dates!
- Had minor surgery to remove a mass (which wasn’t cancer, hooray)
- Designed and piloted a new customer training program at work
- Designed another training program on top of that (pilot to come)
- TravelledÂ to Holland to give a talk at LXDCon (which went fantastic)
- Successfully completed the Escape from Casa Loma King/Queen of the Bootleggers escape room with 15 fab friends for a dear friend’s birthday
- Delivered new training program to the first cohort of customers (~40 in all)
- Worked with I4PL chapter executive to add a new member and plan upcoming events
- Worked with a few fantastic professionals as a mentor
- Worked on a new safety training program for a client
Now in April, and there’s a lot more to come! I hope your 2018 has been going well too!
So much has already gone on in 2018, I feel like I need to write it all down so I don’t forget.
- Presented my team strategy at work to the CEO and got approval
- Attended and presented at work Sales Kick-Off event
- Team won 2nd place in the Dragon’s Den contest at said event
- Took on a new mentoring project which has been going really well
- Started a new courseware development project
- Completed several Daily UI challenges
- Got a talk accepted to a conference in the Netherlands
- Transitioning into new role as Chair of the Waterloo, Wellington and Area chapter of the Institute for Performance and Learning
- Started designing and developing the first of 4 key facilitated sessions that will become a key piece of my company’s new training program
- Did a singing video for fun because someone asked and it was well received
- Donated to the Humane Society
- Joined YW Kitchener-Waterloo
- Walked over 163k steps (so far, looking to increase this number in February!
And it’s not even fully over yet.
Mentoring is an extremely valuable way to speed up learning. Getting the opportunity to get feedback and glean knowledge from more experienced people who have been through what you’re going through is an incredible opportunity.
I think that sometimes we over-formalize it, though. I’ve experienced many of what I call “mentoring moments”– short, casual interactions where someone helped me learn something new or gainÂ perspective.Â Likewise, I’ve been on the mentor side of these experiences as well, sharing knowledge and perspective with others who could immediately benefit.
I don’t think we pay enough attention to these great opportunities. I remember about 15 years ago, when I first learned about all the different selection tools in Photoshop.Â I wanted to make someone a new userpic for their LiveJournal (shut up, it was 2002) and I was painstakingly erasing a background, zoomed in, pixel by pixel. A designer I knew jumped in and said “Oh geeeez, you can do that so much faster, let me help you.” and he showed me how to easily select and delete just what I wanted.
Definitely a mentoring moment!Â Coming away from that, I knew to always check for an easier way if I found myself hip-deep in something detailed and tedious in Photoshop. And I watch for those opportunities now, much more closely.
I’ve also participated in formalized mentoring programs. While I get huge benefits from these (shoutout to my mentor Heather from 4 years ago!) I think they’re just part of how people can really strap their advancement to a jetpack.
Over the next couple weeks, keep an eye out for these mentoring moments. Can you show someone how to set the speed on the treadmill faster? Did someone help you get your WebEx session set up properly on the first try?Â All these go into making you and others smarter, more capable, and more awesome.
Learning something new can be incredibly frustrating. There’s a period at the beginning of learning a new skill where you just suck and it can be really hard to get past that. Indeed, it’s a really easy place to decide you don’t want to learn that new thing after all.
But if you can structure your learning in such a way that you’re picking up enough useful bits to progress early on, suddenly you can make it over that initial hump and start to really become proficient, even highly skilled.
While it feels like it can take forever to get past that initial barrier, it’s not really that much time that you have to invest to get there.Â In fact, some research suggests it takes only about 20 hours.
Reassuring!Â Here’s a TED talk video to get you thinking about this:
I often say I came into the learning and development field backwards. Many instructional designers were trainers or facilitators or subject matter experts first, then started creating training. I was a web developer first then started specializing in learning content/assets.
I think this background has been a huge benefit to me in terms of keeping on top of technology, and it’s something I frequently see others struggle with- they want to develop more customized digital assets, but they find themselves artificially limited by authoring tools and LMSs.
People are always trying to squeeze more productivity out of an increasingly fragmented day.Â I find for me one of the best tools for this is Rescue Time. It’s an application that tracks how you spend time on your computer, and based on information you provide it, can give you ongoing productivity scores.Â I find it really helpful for keeping me on task.Â You can restrict the information it has access to (so for example, I would have it record that I was using Outlook, but not the title of my Outlook windows).
It’s great for discovering just how much time is really spent on communication and scheduling.Â As demands on one’s time increase, managing those becomes yet another demand on time. Timeboxing email and scheduling has really helped me to reduce some of that timesink.
I also found it really interesting in that I always thought my most productive time was the morning, but I fairly reliably am actually more productive in the afternoons.Â I’ve been able to adjust when I book things and take better advantage of time when I’m at my best.
Give it a try if you’re interested in better tracking and managing your time!
I‘m relentlessly, hopelessly curious. I can’t help myself. When presented with interesting questions or situations, I can’t help but dig in and figure out more. Why can’t we do it that way? What is the barrier here? What might cause a rash like that? How frequently does it actually rain in Portland? Why does the staple box say 2000 on it when there’s definitely more staples than that in there (I checked)?Â What cool things will this software do for me? How could I make this process less painful? I’m always faced with interesting paths to take and things to learn.
The internet is a limitless playground (and time-sink) for people like me. I’ve often wound up down the wiki-hole, realizing at 2am I’ve been reading about maritime disasters for an hour because I looked up Shirley Temple 5 hours ago.
This leads to me picking up and remembering all kinds of information and skill that I might not otherwise.Â It turns out the staples often fall off the ends during the packing process and 2000 leaves a bit of a margin to allow for that. Sometimes the answer to “we can’t do it that way” is “decades-old politics” and not a physical or economical reason. Solar activity made once made tv satellites fail such that people had to have their dishes pointed differently. This is the kind of ridiculous stuff that I will always have in my head.
All this random information often helps when presented with really weird problems, though. Knowing how things work makes it easier to figure out how to fix broken things. Reading about weird happenings makes it easier to jump in and try something crazy when it just might work.
There’s some research that shows that curiosity can predict problem-solving ability as well. It’s becoming a key skill in the workplace. I’ve learned to embrace it rather than limit it- if finding out Wilford Brimley is still alive means that I discover (through a series of about 7 hops) that there’s a cool Entrepreneur’s Guild in the UK, and one of their members is Jenny Garrett who has great things to share, then that’s awesome and probably a resource for me in the future!
Where has your curiosity led you?