Inspired by the 50.7 million students expected to attend public elementary and secondary schools this year and the 19.9 million students expected to attend American colleges and universities this fall, Ignite 360 is digging into how we as professionals continue our own educations.
At every level of an organization, people often wonder how their careers, and the projects they work on, would benefit from a return to the classroom. And today, continuing education has evolved into a highly diverse learning system with numerous options and paths.
We looked to several Ignite 360 thought leaders, to learn about the tools they use to stay sharp. Going beyond staying relevant professionally – to keeping far ahead of the learning curve.
Nate Depies, Vice President
How I Keep Perspective: Re-visiting Leaders In Empathy
A book that I recently re-read was “How To Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie (pictured above). Initially, I was hesitant to pick it up again. The title alone sounded too manipulative for my taste. Plus, I read it years ago, when I was in junior high school. However, I decided to read it again because I realized that when I first read it, I did not have the perspective I have today. Additionally, I was persuaded by Warren Buffett, who took the course "How to Win Friends and Influence People" over 60 years ago, and he still considers it beneficial to this day.
I was surprised to learn that the book is centered around empathy. The main point Carnegie communicates is actually a paraphrase of a Henry Ford quote: “If there is any one secret of success, it lies in the ability to get the other person’s point of view and see things from that person’s angle, as well as from your own.”
To facilitate this, Carnegie stresses some key empathy-building skills, which should be developed. These include:
Be a good listener.
Try honestly to see things from the other person’s point of view.
Be sympathetic with the other person’s ideas and desires.
Treat others the way that you want to be treated.
Empathy is a key component to Ignite 360’s DNA. Empathy skills are crucial for better problem solving, decision making, and for understanding consumers and colleagues. Not only does Ignite 360 incorporate empathy into everything we do, but we also offer Empathy Camp™. Empathy Camp is presented in a small 'classroom' setting which allows for practical skill development and how to apply it on the job.
Robin Algaze, Creative Director
How I Stay Sharp: The Global Classroom
Keeping up with design and development industry needs and insights requires almost continuous maintenance. Luckily – it has never been a better time in the history of education to learn. Increasing your subject knowledge or acquiring a new skill is truly at your fingertips with the plethora of online courses, workshops, webinars, powerful talks and podcasts available to anyone with an internet connection.
However, navigating the internet hallways can be so much more than just logging on and taking a class. Online classroom learning is made richer and delivers more, when you join the conversation. I subscribe to newsletters, participate in discussions online and set up Google alerts for industry keywords so I can monitor brands, read the latest news and technical changes on the horizon.
One of my favorite ways to stay sharp is Skillshare.
There are several video-based learning platforms you can choose from, however, Skillshare’s ever-expanding class catalogue of both free and subscription-based offerings, https://www.skillshare.com/ instructor diversity and a truly global community elevate it to top of the class. Bonus: Looking to recruit new talent for a project – as I mentioned… GLOBAL COMMUNITY! One to try? Powerful Storytelling Today: Strategies for Crafting Great Content
Another resource to check out: edX.
Founded by Harvard University and MIT in 2012, edX is an online learning destination that offers high-quality courses from the world’s best universities and institutions to learners everywhere. Many are FREE. One to try? CitiesX: The Past, Present and Future of Urban Life.
Stephanie Spencer, Storyologist
How I Remain Passionate: Take a Class with One of Your Heroes
I first met Malcolm Gladwell (pictured above) in what appeared to be a sort of groovy, exposed-brick coffee shop with books and a chessboard. He was seated at the bar and was talking directly to the camera. The lighting and cinematography were beautiful, like an episode of Chef’s Table. So, before he’d even opened his mouth, I felt super excited and ready to learn. Then he started to talk. And BOOM, his enthusiasm for writing was infectious. So articulate and curious and funny. Tolstoy wrote that good Art should feel like an infection. Malcolm gave me the fever and the auge.
Although I’d already read all of Gladwell’s books prior to taking his Masterclass, it’s like seeing your favorite band live. It’s just different. And although an online course, it was oddly personal. By the end, I felt like I was on a first name basis with him, like, “Hey Malcolm, what are your thoughts on tone?”
He covers everything non-fiction. There are 24 online videos with homework and a community-forum for Q&A:
On Character Development: “At some point you have to bring your subject to life, not just what they say, but some sort of physical description…when we finally meet her, I want you to love her.” Next time I get to profile a consumer, I don’t just want the reader to understand the consumer, I want them to love her.
On How to Read: “The way to keep your reader in mind as a writer is first and foremost to be a reader. And when I say that, I don’t just mean someone who reads but I mean someone who takes the task of reading seriously.” Next chance I have to read a consumer transcript or report, I’m excited to read it with the same seriousness I’d give to Harry Potter.
Next time you have the chance, take a class with one of your heroes, it will infect you. I promise.
Rob Volpe, CEO, Chief Catalyst
How I Stay Inspired: Check Out a New Perspective
I’ll be honest. Insights and big ideas typically come to me in the shower. Or while washing dishes, doing laundry or going for a swim. In my head during all of those moments, I’m turning over and over the project learning, thinking about the story from different angles, tumbling thoughts in my head until the ‘eureka’ forms.
People have to be reminded to turn something around and look at it from a different perspective. That includes me too. We get into our routines and seeing life from our vantage point that we can forget to look around and see it in a different way.
To keep myself seeing the world from a different perspective, I love to explore art exhibits to see how different artists and photographers view the world. I recently viewed the Magritte exhibit at SF MOMA. Best known to me for his Bowler Men series, and only because it was prominently featured in The Thomas Crown Affair remake, I was intrigued to see what other work he created. The exhibit focused on his later work, which included several pieces that involved viewing the artists canvas and seeing the scene behind it, completed on the canvas, as though the canvas were a window. Or the painting with the broken window and a sunset behind it. Except the broken pieces of glass that have fallen inside the house still have the sunset on it.
Magritte distorted our perception and mixed the animated with the inanimate. Viewing the exhibit, I was inspired by the vision of a mind that could see something like that. I draw inspiration from the artists to take a different perspective or try something new myself.