As a professional, it’s important to upgrade your skills on the regular. If you don’t spend time to improve your knowledge your skills you and your business will fall behind. Today’s ramble is about how to keep current in our fast paced world.
There are a ton of ways to learn new things, so today’s article are my top five methods that I like to learn.
- Online learning
- Instructor Led Courses
- Peer Groups
I’ve been an audiobook fan for years and years. I love audiobooks because it allows you to do something else while absorbing information. Back when I used to work in an office they were invaluable for my commutes.
That said, there’s something to be said for fully listening to an audiobook and focusing on the content. Active listening, where I take notes and really try to absorb the material is great for retention of the information.
I do find myself listening to audiobooks more than once, especially if I really like them and find value. The second (or third) listen can yield greater insight.
Online, Self-Paced Learning
The second method I lean into is self paced training. I used to take Microsoft Certification tests all the time back when I was a tech, and nearly all of my studying was done on my own using a mix of computer based, self paced learning.
There are many options to choose from. Services like Pax8 Academy On-Demand, Masterclass, LinkedIn Learning, CBT Nuggets, and Udemy can be fantastic places to learn things. The key is to make time to take these courses and focus on them fully.
Heck, take a course on something not even relevant to your job. Go learn something, anything, new. The practice of learning anything is good because you’re learning a new skill but it’s also good for your mental health.
Instructor Led Courses
This one is near and dear to my heart. I’ve developed a few courses in my time at Pax8 and I love creating courses and teaching. The key here is that you have someone teaching you that you can lean on with questions and to provide greater context. This is one thing that is often not present in the Self-Paced learning courses.
Having a specific time to attend class with a live instructor can be a great accountability partner to actually attend the class. If you have the opportunity to take a class with a live instructor whether it’s through a college, certification program, or through a program like the one I’m involved with at my day job at Pax8 I’d highly recommend it. Also, if those classes offer office hours, take advantage of them. Having that extra time to learn and spend time with the subject can really accelerate your learning.
I love going to conferences. Not only do I get a chance to say hello to folks I don’t get to see that often I almost always pull a few good nuggets of information to put into practice. The key with conferences is to have a plan before going for what you’re looking to learn and setup your day accordingly for what breakouts and keynotes you will be attending.
Then, as you wrap up your day(s) at the conference, decompress and make some notes about what you’re going to take back to your company and implement. Here’s the catch; DO NOT try to implement every single thing you thought about when you get back from the conference. Pick ONE and put everything else on a back-burner list. Your team already has a day job, and as I mentioned in an earlier ramble, you should not be overloading your team with all sorts of extra initiatives on-top of their day jobs.
With my day job consisting of about 90% of my time spent in Peer Groups I probably have too much to say about peer groups. That said, Peer Groups can be huge for your growth as a professional. Whether you attend an Owner/Principal group or a more role specific group (in the MSP space I’m talking about Service Managers, Project Managers, Dispatchers, Sales People, and those sorts of role based groups) you will learn a lot from your peers, and you will also learn by teaching and sharing your experiences.
It’s worth pointing out that there are more than just industry specific groups for specific industries like mine, Managed Services (MSP) where you meet with other Managed Service Providers around the country/world. There are also groups for CEOs like Vistage where CEOs from different industries compare notes and collaborate together. The different lenses can help in different ways. We have many folks in our Pax8 Peer Groups that are also members of other peer groups, and they put time and attention in each of the different groups because it helps their business that much.
As I mentioned in my earlier Peer Group post, you MUST be present at your group meetings. You will hear me say often that “you must be present to win” when talking about Peer Groups.
The key to all of this is that with the New Year starting, it’s a great time to focus on learning and improving your skills and career. Go out there and learn something new!