The 7 biggest trends in learning and talent development

Inside this Sunday:

  • I’m reading about mental health in the workplace.
  • I’m working on The Learning Culture course.
  • I’m thinking about talent as a multiplier.

I’m writing to you from the plane heading home from LA. I spent the week there at the Degreed LENS conference, by far the best corporate learning event around. It’s primarily run for clients of Degreed, of which there are many, but open to the public. I’ve been to the last four of them now because without fail I leave with a head full of ideas and a longer list of friends in learning.

This week in Tinseltown was no different.

Today I want to share a quick summary of the biggest trends in learning and talent development I came away with from the conference:

  1. Focus on skills (applied learning) over learning – the bias for action accelerates skill development for the individual and gives employers something tangible to measure.
  2. Data intelligence and reporting to tell stories – platforms like Degreed can surface eye-popping amounts of data based on learner actions. Visualizing this data for decision-making is key.
  3. Treat your people as internal customers (drop the “resources”) – see the “I’m Reading” section for more on why this is so important. People leaders will become Human Officers.
  4. Cohort-based learning inside companies – this one makes me very happy as it’s obviously one of the keystones of our Learning Flywheel methodology.
  5. Curiosity can kill you unless it’s intentional – when information was scarce, curiosity got you ahead. Now that information is abundant, curiosity will kill you unless you have an intentional plan for following it.
  6. Inclusivity grows in importance – not everyone has the same discretion with how they spend their time or what they can do. Everyone will benefit by being more aware of this.
  7. Centralized employee experiences – it’s 2021 and organizations are still struggling with scattered and siloed knowledge. Centralizing the discovery and accessing of knowledge is imperative for many now.

I had a blast, and can’t wait for the next round of conferences, starting in April with the ASU+GSV Summit.

See you in two weeks,


Perhaps unsurprisingly, the most popular link clicked the last edition was the mini-movie-propaganda-pitch the company formerly known as Facebook put out.

Mental Health At Work

27% of Millennials who recently resigned from their jobs say they did so because their job was not good for their mental health.

That’s according to a survey by YPulse, which I found in this article in Inc, Why Your Company Still Isn’t Prepared for the Future of Work.

It goes on to predict an increase in young people leaving their jobs and opines on what these transient workers may be looking for:

  • nontraditional workplaces where they have a say and their voices are heard
  • places where they feel they can make a difference in the world
  • smaller organizations (between 11 and 200 people)
  • hybrid work structures

What are you seeing in your workplace? Was the Great Resignation real or just a media meme as far as you could see?

Read the full article

The Learning Culture

My Disco course has a name!

The Learning Culture.

Thanks again to my wife, Jill, for coming up with this one. She’s named all my courses now, with the exception of C3.

We’ve also secured three incredibly talented learning leaders as part of the founding council:

  • Phylicia Jones (PagerDuty)
  • Kristen Hartley (Pinterest)
  • Dr. Marsha Parker (Ford)

They’ll be providing expert practitioner experience, delivering exclusive guest presentations, and be available for questions from course attendees. We’re looking for three more to join them, so I’ll be updating you on that soon.

How Did You Learn That?

In ep 52, I got weird and wonderful with recording artist and hyper-productive one-man record label Akira the Don. Akira is making ancient wisdom from the likes of Marcus Aurelius, Jordan Peterson, Alan Watts, and David Foster Wallace accessible through music. Check out his Spotify to see what I mean.

More on episode 52

In ep 53, I sat down for a cup of tea with tea expert, Nicole Wilson. She has been exploring the world of tea and writing about what she learned since 2008. Did you know that peppermint, chamomile and rooibos are not actually tea?

More on episode 53

I definitely see this in my own company. We’re up to 10 full-time people at Curious Lion and it’s outstanding what we’re able to achieve now in short spaces of time. We’re a work in progress, but none of it would be possible without the talented humans on the team.


This email newsletter was originally shared with subscribers on November 14th, 2021. To receive the latest newsletters twice a month, sign up below!

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