6 ways to learn

Keep growing is a piece of advice Joel Osteen offers in his book, “You Can, You Will.” He notes that we have 86,400 seconds each day, and urges us “Redeem the time.”

One way to do that is to create a personal growth plan. You don’t need to attend a conference to learn new skills or sharpen the ones you have, although if you can, it’s a good way to grow professionally and also network and gain a fresh perspective.

Here are six other ways to help you grow and learn:

Start by signing up for free webinars through companies such as Cision or Ragan Communications. I recently watched a great one about PR pitching by Michael Smart. The catch is that you may receive emails from the companies pitching their products. It’s a small price to pay and, sometimes, you’ll discover that you would benefit from the product or service.

TED Talks also are free and you can view them anytime. I’ll often watch a few while on the treadmill or elliptical. Of course, it’s a challenge when I want to take notes! If you are fortunate to live someplace where TED Talks are being offered, I would encourage you to attend. Not only will you learn about interesting topics, you will discover different presentation styles. Two of my favorites (and that of many others are “The Power of Introverts” with Susan Cain and “Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are” with Amy Cuddy.

Another great way to find speakers is through the business calendar of your local newspaper. The one I read publishes such a calendar each Monday. Organizations provide details about their speakers, and, you can usually attend as a guest for a fee.

If you are looking for tutorials, one of my favorite sites is Lynda.com. This site provides web tutorials on hundreds of topics. You can subscribe for a month or a year. I subscribe for a month when I realize I need to learn about a specific topic. I spend a few hours learning through the site.

Another great resource is your local university or community college. Check their online calendars for guest speakers. Often the lectures are open to the public at no cost. I have heard the author of Berkshire Beyond Buffet, a POW, and a Pulitzer-prize winning journalist. (Full disclosure: I work for a university so I receive notifications automatically.)

One last suggestion is to schedule learning interviews. You can do this with a colleague or through an introduction. It’s a great way to learn more about a person’s position and specific responsibilities. I reach out to the person via email and request a meeting. If I don’t know the person, I may ask for a 20-minute coffee meeting. If I know the person, I might suggest lunch or drinks after work. I always explain that I’m interested in learning more about their work and that I have no hidden agenda. I find the conversations insightful and energizing, and I think the other person does, too.

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