Monday, January 7, 2013

I Never Learned THAT in School

...I ran across a comment by an NFL lineman one day that went like this, "they asked us a bunch of stuff that we never learned in school."

I realized in the moment that I heard it that most of us relate to knowledge as something we've acquired in a classroom.  Do I know "skill X?" Well, not really, I never took a class about that.

All through the '90s I saw people flock to classes about HTML, about Perl, about Dreamweaver and Photoshop and every other thing they thought would make them into an "Internet Consultant."

All through the last decade we saw people flock into webinars and download white papers in the hope of becoming "SEO experts," "social media consultants," and "web marketing gurus."

Today if you want to make a bundle quickly, just open an "academy" that promises to make people into "mobile app developers" or "cloud computing consultants" in just 72 hours.

But please don't do that.  There's something more powerful that you can do -- and it will transform your career as well as empower your business for the modern marketplace.

Simply consider the possibility that YOU can learn and master any skill you want. You don't need permission, you don't need an "academy" or an O'Reilly book (although either of those may help you), and you don't need night school, a degree, or a certification.

What you need is the desire to learn a skill, the realization that is IS already within your grasp, and the commitment that will have you put in the time needed to master it to the level you desire.

This Forbes article about a data analyst who learned enough programming to supercharge his job provides a perspective that you may find useful for yourself.  We don't need a degree in computer science to become programmers. We need a development environment, and some time to learn the basic practices of a programmer.  (The CS degree program provides that implicitly, but you have the tools at hand today if you wish to use them.)

If you want to learn Python programming, or HTML 5, or the Fundamentals of Economics, there is no reason you can't start right this very minute. (I mean, finish this article first, but right after that...)

Most of us say things like, "I'm not REALLY a programmer," or "I'm not really a web developer," or "I'm not really a teacher."  Let me tell you though ... you can do those things, even if you don't think you can BE them.

And most importantly this: You really ARE a teacher! You've been doing it (maybe without knowing) all of your life.

So claim your laurels here.  You have been teaching people around you all of your life, and you can be the teacher you need to master a new skill to the extent you need it for your work.  Did you want to learn Java programming, statistical analysis, or the fundamentals of corporate finance?  Don't let anyone tell you that it's beyond your reach.  You just have to decide you want it, and then take the steps to get it.  You can begin today!

Friday, January 4, 2013

Why You Should Be Reading Facebook at Work (Pt 4)

We began this series by looking at what Facebook and Twitter can offer you in your quest to be in touch with the marketplace and your business environment.  We'll wrap up now by considering what Google+ can add to the equation for you.

Before going too far with that, let's acknowledge that there are many other vital elements of the Social Media fabric that may be useful to you.  If your primary market or constituency is between the ages of 19-32, you should probably be asking some questions about Tumblr.  If your area of concern is with homemakers and family managers (ie. Moms and bloggers) then you should be paying close attention to Pinterest.  And if you are out to capture the attention of upscale and affluent consumers, you may want to think about what's offered by Yelp! and Foursquare.Indeed, one could spend an entire work week setting up and exploiting the platforms that yield either information or connections related to business.