There are two questions I love to ask people to get a sense for how they learn.

1. Where do you get your learning?

2. What is your favorite TED video?

These two questions help me understand their brand as a learner.  It helps me see how the trends in information flow and the tools that have emerged to create communities around topics have been absorbed into their lives.  For example, if I hear the standard – I am a reader, then I know they prepared for the interview, but question if they are prepared to help my business hit our 2020 goals.   If I hear the talk about a website I have never heard of, discuss what they learned on LinkedIn last week, or try to convince me to drop Business Week in favor of Inc or Wired, then I know I have someone that is hungry and resourceful.

So why TED? Over the past 12 months I have been blessed to be part of a program called Shifting Gears in Michigan, and it has exposed me to individuals in transition that have 15-20+ years of work experience.  When I ask the question, who watches TED videos, <25% of hands go up.  TED is free, it is thought provoking, and it is mostly normal people sharing amazing passion/knowledge for a topic.   It is also not new, and if you are not familiar with it or not plugged into it I will venture a guess that you are not a real active, self-driven learner.  It makes me smile to think of the Shifting Gears participants who begin to own their learning.  Your learning Brand is not about age, it is about attitude and energy.

Elliott Masie, a learning futurist, is having his annual conference this fall and will be talking about how learners want things customized just for them.  He is right (by the way – the answer is called Google or LinkedIn Groups and it is not in the future).  The good news for small businesses is that if you have Google and spend time with your people talking about what they need to learn or what they have learned and used at their job (fyi – development plan) – then customized learning can be mostly free.

Ask the questions.  Listen well to the answers.  For job seekers, work to make your answers compelling and authentic.  Help me get excited about your learning Brand.

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