“This year’s going to be different.”
You said that on January 2nd, didn’ you? When you made that new year resolution list “official” in your head, on a piece of paper, or printed out and posted on your bathroom mirror. “This year, I’m going to do it. ” you said.
It’s January and by now, almost every “resolution” that you set out for yourself you are likely to have already broken. Diet. “Dry” January. Getting to the gym three days a week. 365 Day Photo Challenge. We all do it. We set out to accomplish some personal ambitions that really take habitual behavior changes. I’ve been there. All of those listed above has been me at some point in the last few years. But just because you didn’t stick with a particular resolution doesn’t mean you still can’t grow, achieve goals, or learn something new. All it means is that you get to reset and focus on something from your list, just not the entire list.
Never Stop Learning
As I sit and watch my two children grow during the school year it is important to me that I also demonstrate that I’m growing too. Therefore I try to make a point to my kids (as does my wife) that we are constantly learning new things. We are diving into technology to help us do our jobs better. We read books on topics that we have interests in. We watch YouTube videos that aren’t someone else playing a video game. I’m constantly consuming content to help me in a variety of areas of my life from my job to my hobbies to my general interests.
That doesn’t mean we don’t do our fair share of Netflix/Amazon binging as well. We do, but I’d say it is far less than it used to be.
Sources of Personal Growth
I’ve been using Audible for about a year now. Nothing against real books, but I find that audio books fit my lifestyle more. There are certainly pros and cons to audio books from real books. If you are a highlighter / margin writer, clearly audio books aren’t going to fit the bill. I commute up to 3 hours a day between train, walking, and driving. So for me to just pop in my headphones and start listening, it works. Additionally, I recently discovered the speed setting, so now I listen to books at 1.25x to 1.5x speed, allowing me to cruise through books faster. The biggest downside for me is focus. I really can’t do two things at once when I listen to audio books. As soon as I open an email or even scroll through social media while listening to an audio book, I lose my place and concentration. I also take a break between business / career focused books and personal pleasure books. So I have a staple of Star Wars books in my library.
Udemy & Coursera
Udemy and Coursera are two sites that take slightly different approaches to education. Udemy is a site with tons of courses from anyone who can put a program together that gets approved. There are quality courses ranging from how to program to building augmented reality apps, to how to use Microsoft Word. Tons fo courses and tons of options.
Coursera on the other hand is the opposite spectrum in that these are university/higher education level courses offered through the online tool. I consider this online learning for those who want to get high quality content. Universities endorse these programs and your certificate of completions go towards specializations or even some online degrees from universities such as University of Pennsylvania, University of Illinois, Northwestern University and more.
I’ve personally done both and feel both have their place in your learning arsenal. If you are just looking to get into a topic, I’d start with Udemy to get your feet wet. If it is something you really want to dive into and having licensed professors is required, then jump to Coursera.
This is the newest addition to my self learning arsenal. I asked for the unlimited subscription for Christmas and I’m not regretting it. I did make sure there was at least two courses I wanted to take before asking, and the topics are pretty narrow right now. However, between learning more about wine to guitar to filmmaking to comedy, I have a number of courses in my library at the moment. Right now I’m learning poker from Daniel Negreanu, photography from Jimmy Chin and Annie Leibowitz, comedy from Steve Martin, guitar from Tom Morello, and wine appreciation from James Suckling. I do like the big names that add gravitas to this subscription versus some of the others. Each has their own purpose. I doubt you’d ever see a Rand Fishkin doing an entrepreneur or SEO class on Masterclass. You are likely going to see him in other outlets.
LinkedIn Learning (formerly Lynda.com)
Paid with Premium LinkedIn membership or through corporate accounts.
Formerly Lynda.com, LinkedIn Learning (LNL) is their online continued education offering. Similar to a lot of other sites that offer courses, LNL has a variety of topics related to business, design, and productivity. I’ve had a Premium LinkedIn account for a while and have taken several courses to work towards a competency. The value of the topics range, but I do find that if I need to brush up on a business topic this solution suffices. My employer now offers this as part of their employee benefits, which is a nice offering.
Easy access if you are a Facebook user, private or public groups are a great way to not only
While learning from some of the greats like Tom Morello or Carlos Santana from Masterclass is fantastic, they are not really diving into learning guitar. They cover a lot of other aspects, including their style, emotion, gear, etc. However, if really want to learn how to play guitar/bass/ukulele, then Fender Play is the way to go. I like this subscription because they cover a wide variety of skills from practice skills to riffs to full on songs in a variety of genres. Pick your path and go. Also you can do it from your computer or mobile phone. There are plenty of popular songs to work from and the instructors break down each song in a logical way showing chords and strumming from different angles as well as clear explanations.
2018 seemed to be the resurgence of podcasts. From new ones starting to others really taking off, podcasts have picked up steam and I see no letting up in 2019. As we become a more mobile world, podcasts are giving authors a new way to communicate that is beyond their blog. The audio medium allows for passive content consumption. Like Audible, podcasts have no shortage of content from comedy to celebrities to influencers to the mom or dad down the street with a unique point of view they want to share.
The nice thing about podcasts is that depending on the source, you can also get them as part of your daily routines through Amazon Echo and Google Home.
Some of my favorite podcasts include:
- B2B Growth & B2B Revenue Leadership
- HBR Ideacast
- Grammar Girl
- The Garyvee Audio Experience
My last source of continuous learning is through several news aggregators for websites and blogs I try to read. I currently use Feedly and Flipboard as my two go-to apps for content. Each offer streams of content based on topics and sources I subscribe to. Feedly really just a content hose from the sources I designated. Flipboard, however, is more of a learning machine based on topics of interest and it helps surface new sources of content based on my behaviors.
Clearly I’m not consuming content from all these sources in one given day. I go through my ebbs and flows of which tool I fall into. Some are part of my routine, while others are sporadic depending on my mood and what I’m digging into. My constants are probably Audible/podcasts for my commute (when I’m not listening to Spotify for music), then Flipboard/Feedly for day-to-day news. I don’t sit down with a Masterclass or Fender Play unless it is the weekend and I have some extended time to spare.
Where do you go to for your continuous education? Do you formally enroll in programs or do your own pacing of learning? Share your thoughts in the comments below.