Curiosity

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)?  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.  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?

Fun with Photofeeler.com!

I got some new headshots taken recently and one of the really fun things I like to do when I have new profile photos or headshots is to run them through Photofeeler.com.

I get the opportunity to see if others’ impressions of my photos are what I’m hoping they’ll be- and I can compare results on photos to see which might be the best choice for me to use in various applications.

It’s fascinating how similar photos, with only some slight changes in background, wardrobe, and lighting, can get quite different results.

The service is really cool for getting an impression of how your photos come across.  I didn’t expect the second photo here to be such a clear leader but once I saw the results, I swapped it in to my LinkedIn profile (and added it to the front page of my site here!).  You can test out business photos (as I did- think LinkedIn), social photos (think Facebook) or dating profile photos (Tinder etc).

If you’re planning on changing up your profile photos soon, give it a whirl! You can also vote on others’ photos (and this how you get votes on your own without paying a fee for the votes).  I enjoy doing that because it helps me to see various examples and start to understand what makes a great first impression in a profile photo. It’s amazing how much difference angle, lighting, wardrobe and background can make!

The Instant Credibility Statement

One of the great new things I took away from day 2 of the Institute for Performance and Learning Conference was the concept of an Instant Credibility Statement. This statement is a way of introducing yourself to the public, a group, or colleagues that establishes your credibility and immediately makes them interested in and invested in what you have to say.

I found a few other resources on the topic as well (including the short video above) but nothing quite so well crafted as the framework Christine shared with us. This came out of an excellent session, the last one of the conference for me, called Owning Your Professional Development Today, for Tomorrow. Christine Dagenais from Creative Coaching was the speaker and she was fantastic!  I was really inspired by all she had to share.

The basics behind her framework for the instant credibility statement are that you should share four things:

  • Who you are
  • What you do
  • Why you love it
  • So, what?

We each got the chance to start on one for ourselves, and I think I’ll make a video sample of one in the coming days.  Great idea for getting networking, speaking, and facilitating off on the right foot.

Institute for Performance and Learning conference, day 2!


Good day wrapping up the conference! The keynote this morning was Dr. Mary Donohue, who the attendees enjoyed. I didn’t agree with some of her statements and conclusions, but they seemed to resonate with others.

Four sessions again today, covering microlearning sprints, executive-ready presentations, virtual reality, and taking charge of professional development.

Some great conversations with new and old friends about authoring tools, design, and workplace cultures. I look forward to more in the future!

For now, headed home on the train. More to share tomorrow!

Institute for Performance and Learning Conference, Day 1!

Great day at the Institute for Performance and Learning conference today!

First up this morning was a brilliant talk from Ajay Agrawal: How Machine Learning can Transform the Economy. Some fascinating examples and ways of thinking to help us understand how AI is going to change the way things are done, and how the value of different skills and tasks will change.

Read more on Twitter.

After that, I attended 4 sessions today: The ABCs of xAPI, Scenes from L&D, Confidence Based Assessments, and Grand Theft Marketing.  Check out this Storify from the day!

Taking charge of your professional development

87% of millennials (as much as I hate the term) rate professional development as important to them on the job. I would hazard a guess that most employees would agree with this. Despite this, many organizations are less and less willing to invest in professional development for their staff.

As a insatiably curious person, this can be challenging for me. I constantly want to learn, to network, to share knowledge. Professional development is extremely important to me and has been throughout my career, though I’ve frequently been in the position where development budgets are cut and support is restricted.

Rather than let this discourage me, I’ve taken charge of my own development. If I’m not willing to invest, why would my employer be? Knowing I like to attend events and conferences, I’ve started to seek out low-cost ways to do this. I’m involved with industry organizations and frequently volunteer time in exchange for passes to events. Some industry conferences provide free registration for speakers, so I propose sessions to conferences I’d like to attend. I program PD events in my area and am able to attend these at no monetary cost. I’ve found my companies more willing to give me a PD day here and there than they are to approve budget for tuition or registration feeds. I make use of free resources at the library, read LinkedIn voraciously, join open slack channels, buy books on sale, and constantly seek out new low-cost opportunities to learn.

Even with all this, sometimes I do still want to attend an event or course where I can’t get a discount. To cover these things, I have a personal PD budget. I set up a separate savings account, and auto-deposit 3% of my pay for professional development. I’m able to draw from this fund to cover costs that I can’t cover other ways. It’s a big priority for me, and so I invest in this area. I have found that since I started doing this, I’ve been able to advance significantly in my career. If you’re struggling with getting the development you need and want, give this approach a try!

Jargon, acronyms, and buzzwords- oh my!

Communication challenges are the basis of so many business problems. At the same time, businesses and the people who work in them are incredibly attached to their jargon, acronyms and buzzwords.

The idea behind these things is making communication among those “in the know” more efficient- why would I say “Analysis-Design-Development-Implementation-Evaluation” when I could say “ADDIE”?  But for whatever small efficiency gains among a small group- it causes much bigger challenges for those outside the group.  I do my best to limit my jargon and buzzword usage, but I still struggle with this!

In order to help facilitate better communication, here’s a list of 15 buzzwords, jargon, and acronyms that come up frequently in my day-to-day:

ADDIE: Analysis-Design-Development-Implementation-Evaluation, a widely used instructional design framework

Agile: Methodologies for (software) development that involve requirements and solutions evolving through collaborative effort and adaptive change

Asynchronous: Learning that combines self-study and asynchronous interactions (discussion boards, etc) to achieve objectives

Buy-in: Approval and support of an idea or action

BYOD: Bring your own device- meaning content may be accessed using any number of different devices or methods

Cloud: a tech term referring to external configurable resources that can be used for software, storage, or other computing needs

Design Studio: A method for early designs that speeds up initial design processes

Gamification: The application of game principles in non-game contexts

Kirkpatrick model: A commonly used “4-level” model for learning evaluation.

Microlearning: Comparatively smaller learning units and activities

RACI: Responsible-Accountable(Approver)-Consulted-Informed, a common method for illustrating responsibility assignment

ROI: Return on investment

SAM: Successive approximation model- a framework for instructional design project management that draws from agile methodologies

SWOT: Strengths-Weaknesses-Opportunities-Threats, A structured planning method that evaluates these four elements of a particular team or venture

Universal Design: designs intended to be accessible to the largest possible population of users

Training Industry has a more instructional/learning related glossary to check out. If there are any plaguing your daily life, add them in the comments!

 

Reading List

It’s likely no surprise that I love reading.  I spend most of my time reading in some capacity or another (though I wish I spent more time reading books and less time reading emails!)  So it follows that I have a long reading list.  I’ve been doing a bit of reading lately and want to share my in-progress list here:

Recently Finished:

Badass: Making Users Awesome – Kathy Sierra

You are a Badass – Jen Sincero (I seem to have had a theme going on)

Parable of the Sower – Octavia Butler

In Progress:

Parable of the Talents – Octavia Butler

The Happiness Project – Gretchen Rubin

Upcoming:

The Cluetrain Manifesto – Levine, Weinberger

The Girl with all the Gifts – M.R. Carey

Lots of interesting things on the go! This is honestly just a sampling- I have a bunch of books waiting in my library. What books are you reading right now?

 

Reflections on: Intersections between L&D and Marketing

It’s interesting- there’s so many professionals who shy away from sales and marketing, but somehow training is seen as totally separate.

Over the past few years, it has become very clear to me that sales and marketing skills form the basis of many things we do in business, but especially L&D.  It’s all sales really!

Marketing promotes products and services- raising awareness, the same way we might raise awareness in a wellness program or other training program. In sales, the key task is convincing someone to do something- buy a product, try a service, upgrade a subscription, etc.

At the core is influencing behaviour- the very same thing we do as learning and development professionals.  It’s the basis of learning, the basis of leadership, and the basis of overall human performance improvement.  Many of my colleagues are well tuned-in to this similarity and have been incorporating tips and tricks from marketing for a long time (and vice versa- many marketing departments are adding more instructional material to their content marketing strategies!)

Even with these clear similarities, L&D seems to rely a bit on “captive audiences”- they way you would with a mandatory compliance course.  If everyone is required to complete training, no need to influence them to do so.  Good luck if you want any of those new skills and behaviours to see the light of day though- your influence ends with that mandatory multiple choice quiz (80% or higher, please!).  This approach undermines the learning culture of entire organizations.

If as and L&D professional, you’re not paying attention to developments in marketing and sales, you’re missing out on huge growth potential.

Just like marketing and sales, learning and continuous improvement require ongoing strategy, analysis and engagement. We can all learn from each other and benefit our customers, organizations, and employees.  Start now- try the Marketing Foundations course on LinkedIn Learning, or check out great resources from the American Marketing Association!

2016: Lots of goals!

Darts- Let's hit the target!The first of the year has brought with it a lot of excitement for me. My mind is swirling with possibilities, and I have a ton of goals I want to achieve.  These can be summed up pretty well with a couple of themes:

Give Back:

I want to give back, and I want to keep track of where my giving is happening so that I can better target my efforts to the things that mean the most to me.  I’ve done a lot of volunteering with arts and education organizations, but I want to start doing more monetary contributions as well, and more personal contributions in the way of acts of kindness. I’m planning to do an act of kindness each day in 2016.  To start off, I’ve donated to an organization local to me that does great work: oneROOF.

Get Better:

As someone who is constantly striving to improve, this is a theme that applies to me across the board. I want to learn, I want to grow, I want to develop. I also want to improve my health and strength.  I’m planning to get 30 minutes of vigorous activity each day, I’m planning to engage in a regular regimen of self-care and I’m planning to learn, advance and achieve in my professional life as well.

Go the Distance:

As an “ideas person” I have a million things I want to do and a ton of projects in my head or on the go at any given time.  This can get overwhelming, and I can get  to the point where I start a lot more things than I finish in the course of a year.  I love action! But I think I can focus better.  So this year, I’m looking to finish more (and reflect more on those things I have finished)!  I’ve set some reading goals for the year so that I can work on finishing all the books I’ve started (I have a long queue and lots of half-done books).

What are your goals and aspirations for the new year?