Learning is magical, it multiplies

I love learning.

Like I mean, I’m obsessed with it. I sign up for more online courses than I have time to consume and my “to-read” list is longer than my quarantine hair. I’m not trying to brag either. In fact, I’m confessing to an addiction here. But I’m not alone.

We’re in a golden era of self-directed learning. Millennials and Gen Z have the ability to learn at every opportunity.

You used to have to pay to learn something. Now YouTube eats the low-end of the market for knowledge gain. Want to learn how to code in Python? Repair cellphones? Build websites? There are hundreds of options. 3Blue1Brown has nearly 3M subscribers and some of the best maths videos on the internet.

On the higher end, in August 2018, Teachable course creators earned over $15 million in online course sales – that’s in one month! Before Covid!

What stands out about this to you?

For me it’s the fact that none of this is mandated content consumption.

And on the high end, it’s paid for by individuals (not companies) driven to learn a new skill.

I’ve had a lot of conversations with learning leaders at great companies recently. It’s become uncanny how often I hear the same thinghow do we create a culture of continuous learning?

The trouble many companies face is a culture that rewards cranking out work: more hours worked, more calls made, more products shipped.

Managers in these environments set the tone for the rest of the organization: don’t waste time learning when you could be doing.

And herein, my friend, lies the key. For doing is learning, and learning is doing.

Every interesting work challenge is a learning opportunity and every learning opportunity is a chance to create something. This is the idea at the heart of the Learning Flywheel I introduced in May. Thanks to feedback from readers (? Ken, Stephanie, Dan, and of course, my client partner, PJ), the flywheel has evolved, through 3 cycles, to this:

I know what you’re thinking, there’s a lot going on here! And there is. The basic idea though, is that if the outside circle represents the organization, what you want is for each employee to:

  1. interact with their peers in meaningful ways
  2. become internal experts in their domain
  3. take on leadership roles to guide other employees.

A culture of continuous learning facilitates this. Imagine if everyone in your organization had the self-awareness to identify an area that they can improve, had a pathway to acquire the right skills from experts and could improve through feedback from peers. Do you think that would produce more or less leaders?

Cultural change of this magnitude though, is one of those simple to understand but incredibly hard things to do.

But what if you could start with a single training program?

What if you could lean into a smaller flywheel, the energy from which could get the bigger flywheel moving?

That’s the idea we’re exploring here. The idea that everyone plays a role, and the compounding effect of micro-actions can have macro-effects. Effects that lead to a culture of personal growth on purpose, throughout the organization. A culture that attracts and retains younger generations, that drives dollars to the business through efficiency savings or revenue from new innovations, all developed internally.

We’re in the early stages here, and you’re along for the ride. That means I would love to hear from you to help inform this vision, because as Seth Godin said:

“Learning is magical. If I know something, and I give you that knowledge, I still have it. It’s magical because it multiplies.”

Till next time, stay safe.


P.S. My mind is blown. ? Since I last emailed you, we’ve grown from 466 to 513 subscribers. Welcome to our new friends! The goal of 1,000 subscribers by the end of Sep is in sight ?. A massive thank you to everyone who shared. Please keep it up if you enjoy this content – there is no better motivation to do this twice a month.?

For all new subscribers, this is not your average company newsletter. In fact, it’s not really a company newsletter. It’s a personal newsletter with a focus on what I’m most curious about:

I hope you enjoy and reply often. I respond to every email I get.


The most clicked link two weeks ago was my article exploring where we are now and where we could go with the 4-day workweek.


?‍?‍?‍?Father’s Day Inspiration For Your Family

Last Sunday I enjoyed my first Father’s Day. I came across these quotes aimed at fathers, but they’re inspiration for anyone with a family or expecting one.

“A father is a man who expects his son to be as good a man as he meant to be.” – Frank A. Clark

“The greatest gift you can bestow upon your children is your time and undivided attention.” — Jim Brozina

“One of the things I tell new parents is something that was told to me when my daughter still had that new-baby smell: “Prepare for long days but short years.” — Jonah Goldberg

“You want your kids to become independent of you, but it’s also in a way a parent’s worst nightmare: for them to not need you. So, how do you reconcile those two very strong emotions? You don’t. You live with that problem.” — Jonathan Safran Foer

?Idea Generation

Coming up with new ideas is one of the hardest things you can do.

Luckily, Sam Altman wrote recently about how you can create the right environment in your life to generate good ideas.

“You want to be around people who have a good feel for the future, will entertain improbable plans, are optimistic, are smart in a creative way, and have a very high idea flux. These sorts of people tend to think without the constraints most people have, not have a lot of filters, and not care too much what other people think. Perhaps most of all, you want to be around people who don’t make you feel stupid for mentioning a bad idea.”

? The End of Professional Licensing?

Many professions require licenses to practice. Plumbers, carpenters, accountants, lawyers. Licenses often signify a certain level of education and training. Since the 1950’s the US has shifted significantly away from unions towards licenses as a means for organizing professions. The trouble is, many of these license requirements are stringent, making the supply of those that can offer the service scarce. I came across two articles questioning the future of professional licenses, from two different angles.

The first was a study by Harvard researchers of how consumers make professional service purchase decisions. They found that “consumers know very little about occupational licensing requirements for the services they need.” Now that provider reputation is so widely available online and offline through reviews and word of mouth, licensing isn’t as important to consumers. In fact, they found it might actually hurt consumers. “If consumers live in a state with stringent regulation, they do not end up more satisfied with their professionals, and instead have fewer providers to choose from at higher prices.”

The second was an analysis of marketplace startups on the Andreessen Horowitz blog, which shed a light on more reasons why professional licensing may be less important these days. In addition to reviews, they explain how digital platforms establish trust through managed models, guarantees, and platform requirements.

Now, I wouldn’t choose my doctor based on online reviews without also confirming their required level of “certified” education. But this brings into question the more stringent licensing requirements for professions that carry less risk. Can we trust a plumber with informal training and the most excellent track record of reviews? If so, that would open a lot of professions up to a lot more people.


We published two guest posts this week on L&D topics:

  1. How to Avoid These Common Mistakes in Your Training Content Development
  2. 8 Ways to Quickly Reduce Your Online Training Expenses in the Event of a Budget Cut


When discussing school closures due to Covid-19, referring to a three digit year like 909 as a year of note in your history is a power move.


This email newsletter was originally shared with subscribers on June 28th, 2020. To receive the latest newsletters twice a month, sign up below!

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