Last week I wrote about the value of formal learning, but equally important is ongoing, informal learning. Since guest presenting at the UCT Graduate School of Business a few years ago, I decided that every year I try to learn a new skill and by doing so, expose myself to other hungry minds. If it slots into my motto of “write, speak, travel”, even better! I decided it was time to master a new language, having read that it is excellent for overall brain fitness. Conversational Italian would ensure that I could understand the instruction during a future hands-on cooking and gourmet holiday in Tuscany. This time, instead of choosing formal classes I found a friend who was also keen, and through another, discovered an Italian instructor. The classes were stimulating, fun and even hilarious. Practising over cappuccinos and meals in Italian restaurants and planning the holiday provides added inspiration and is good for networking. La dolce vita! TED.com is a global community, a free platform on which knowledge and inspiration are shared in video format. It started as a non-profit organisation in 1984, initially a conference that amalgamated great minds in technology, entertainment and design. It is updated regularly and available in English and other languages. These videos are licensed to be freely shared globally.
Make it a regular practice to consider this 10 point plant for informal learning, or make your own:
- Joining industry bodies and keeping in touch with your competitors – talking, sharing and watching.
- Reading – books, trade journals, internet, blogs.
- Writing – keep a journal.
- Keeping your ear to the ground and asking questions of all those around you.
- Absorbing information from traditional and social media.
- Don’t discount social networks and situations – pubs, clubs and coffee shops.
- Attending workshops and talks, and presenting at them too.
- Allowing time for introspection which is good for learning about yourself.
- Getting a coach (or study to become one).
- Taking risks, making mistakes, inviting critiques and constructive criticism all help us in learning.
I try to do all of the above, and my personal addition (addiction!) is travel. Next year I plan to visit Spain, so will have to learn lingo to be able to open conversations with locals in their own language. Writing about the trips encourages a creative style of writing which ensures that my core business writing gets a lift of effervescence.
Do what suits you, but ensure that you make your learning interactive and ongoing. Only when I stop learning will it be time to stop working.