Welcome to Learning Is The New Working - the podcast about the Future of Workplace Learning and the people helping us get there. Below, you can find our catalog of published conversations, or you can search for Learning Is The New Working and Subscribe to us on your favorite blog platform for your new bi-weekly set of nourishing learning audio goodness.
And we’d like to make two special shout outs - thanks to Season sponsors and Learning Future Group network members Mandel Comunications - and a special final thank you to the great Portland musicians YACHT who provide our intro music, ‘I Thought The Future Would Be Cooler.’ So did we - which is why we want to get you help to make it Cooler, together.
LITNW: Season Three - Here Come The Learning Scientists
‘Learning Is The New Working’ is a new podcast from Chris Pirie, ex-Microsoft Chief Learning Officer and now independent investigator of The Future of Workplace Learning.
In Season Three we will look at what we can learn from adjacent disciplines to help start to build a new model for Adult and Workplace Learning. We’ll talk to computer scientists and engineers, social scientists, neuro- and data-scientists, experts and practitioners who are both doing great work but also trying hard to fall in love with the problem, not the solution. Don’t worry, we’ll still be hearing from frontline CLOs and HR thinkers, but it’s time, we feel, to build a scientific basis for our practice if we are to respond to the challenges Learning is starting to face… and Danish is a great example to start with, as his business model is one completely based on the mix of the human and science.
LITNW: Season Four - Learning 4 Good
Our fourth season will focus on the topic ‘Learning 4 Good’ – How Non-Governmental Organizations, Private Enterprise and Community Organizations use learning to build trust and capacity for social good.
In this season you will learn how aid organizations are not immune to the disruption brought by the fourth industrial revolution, explore the forces at work on the 200 Billion International Aid industry, and discover how a new philosophy of local capacity building, shifts in political climate, and new generation of private philanthropists and changing the aid game in radical ways. You will also hear from the people on the ground who are experimenting to help build skills and capacity in under-served populations and using learning technology and design to build relevant skills for social enterprise and humanitarian leadership.
The season will be co-curated and co-hosted with Lutz Ziob former leader of Microsoft 4 Afrika skills program and global business of learning and thought leader.
We will include thought leaders and practitioners in NGO and private sector who are supporting re-skilling and capacity programs in the global south where learning makes an incredible difference and helps those who work for social good, work better.
4.3 Connecting Young People In East Africa To Big Ideas:’ Informal Education Media Youth Brand Well Told Story’s CEO, Rob Burnet'
In a really stimulating conversation, my colleague Lutz Ziob talks about all kinds of futures with the CEO of Kenyan-based training, media and communications leader Well Told Story, Rob Burnet. Sitting not in his usual office in Nairobi, but in an 'unusually sunny Scotland’ while on a short family trip back to his native country, Rob tells us about how the power of storytelling has helped shaped so much of his life and work, his understanding of what ‘social responsibility and social good’ is, as well as:
- balancing the excitement of building a successful commercial entity that also improves the lives of young Africans
- highlights of an eclectic career: from Big Game hunting to African contemporary art dealer, from philanthropic funding to media, arts and culture to launching a comic book brand to help young people
- the concept of ‘hustling’ in an African context, and what an MBA for such ‘hustlers’ needs to offer
- his ‘Shujaaz’ project
- the importance of measurement in what he does, from SMS sentiment to predictive analytics
- what it looks like when your education system is effectively broken, as only 5% of school-leavers will ever get a conventional job
- the concept of ‘cruel optimism’ and the ‘broken promise of the 20th Century’ and how it links Brexit, MAGA, ISIS and other major social phenomena
- the power of mixing Big 5 leaders and young, young people inside some ‘guide-rails’
- and much more.
Rob’s main platform, including his research, many thought-provoking blogs and articles, is at the main Well Told Story website.
Learn more about the paradox of cruel optimism in Lauren Berlant’s book here.
4.2 ‘Speaking To A Million-Strong Global Aid Workplace'
Listen in on over an hour of discussion on the huge changes the $200bn global aid sector is undergoing with someone at the center of the debate - Washington, DC-based Raj Kumar, Founding President and Editor-in-Chief at 130-strong Devex, the media and recruitment platform for the global development community.
In my chat with Raj, we look at his journey from Georgetown via political campaigning to starting a dot com at the urging of his professor at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard - a dot com which now has a database of a million aid professionals round the world, as well as:
- the comparison between a $200bn aid industry, the $200bn global Workplace Learning industry - and how much the world spends on iPhones every year
- the Devex offering - from news to recruitment services, from market and business intelligence/opportunities
- the move from charity and state aid to heavy commercial (Microsoft, Starbucks) to private philanthropy (The Gates Foundation)
- the complexity of his world - from the legacy of Colonialism and humanitarianism to today’s geopolitical economic and security motivations
- the China factor
- the tectonic metric shift: from ‘charity’ to ‘results’ - from ‘projects’ to ‘process’
- the importance and the challenges of capacity building
- and much more.
The core text here has to be Raj’s book, The Business of Changing the World: How Billionaires, Tech Disrupters, and Social Entrepreneurs Are Transforming the Global Aid Industry.
Raj invites us to follow him on Twitter here, and, of course, his main platform remains Devex itself, a great source for news, analysis and opportunity in the aid sector.
Some of the innovative companies and initiatives Raj name-checked in the show include;
3.2 ‘Sea Salt Learning: Workplace Culture - Our Common Consensual Delusion?’
Julian Stodd is Captain and Founder of innovative independent Workplace Learning company Sea Salt Learning. Physically located on the South Coast of the UK, near the seaside town of Bournemouth, Sea Salt is in fact a ‘ship’ of independent thinkers, practitioners and consultants. Based around the world, Sea Salt offers a range of client services, including helping organizations build their own Learning Architectures. In our conversation, we hear why an organisation that ‘learns from people’ is different from one that ‘does learning to people,’ and other topics that include:
- why a place for great mountain biking and kayaking is also the best place to come home to, even after 36 weeks per year on the road
- his personal journey from Archaeology and Material Scientist to researcher into the Neurophysiology of Story-Telling to ‘Pragmatism’
- the key Sea Salt Learning concept of ‘The Social Age’ and ‘socially dynamic organizations’
- why trust is becoming more and more critical
- lessons from the Stonewall Riots & the messages architectural delay in NYC give us
- and that we may not be living in a time where hard answers are even possible.
Julian is a very frequent blogger, and is committed to sharing the progress of his work and thinking ‘aloud’ here on his Learning Blog. He is also the the author of nine books, which you can find details of here.
4.1 ‘How Learning Helps Those Doing, Good Do It Better’
In this special Season overview episode, I shoot the Learning 4 Good breeze - on his birthday! -with my fellow Season collaborator Lutz Ziob. Microsoft’s GM for all things Learning for 11 years, Lutz, who also held senior training and L&D roles at places like CompTIA, WordPerfect and Novell, holds degrees from prestigious British and German Universities and is a recognised authority on Workplace Learning. Lutz is now the CEO of Ziob Consulting, which focuses on the dynamic interaction between technology innovation, skills and job transformation, and the changing approaches to learning and skills development, especially in the context of Africa, building on his years as Dean of Microsoft’s ‘4Afrika Academy.’
In our discussion we outline why we decided now was a good time to hear from Learning experts in the non-profit sector, as well as details about Lutz’s personal mission and career journey, from researcher to software sales to education, as well as:
- why the workforce of the future is African
- the growth in informal employment and why you can genuinely talk about ‘Hustler MBA’ programs
- the importance of building local capacity in the humanitarian aid sector
- teasers for some of our confirmed guests, including Well Told Stories, DevEx, Red Cross/Red Crescent and The Harambe Youth Employment Accelerator
- why 6 out of 10 of the fastest-growing global economies are in Sub-Saharan Africa
- really innovative non-school based tech workforce preparation strategies
- and what you can expect from this podcast season.
We will share specific links for each guest’s story, but a great place to start with all this would probably be The Business of Changing the World: How Billionaires, Tech Disrupters, and Social Entrepreneurs Are Transforming the Global Aid Industry by our first guest, Raj Kumar, President & Editor-In-Chief of DevEx.
Lutz also recommended Felwine’s Starr’s very intriguing Afrotopia.
3.1 ‘The Algorithms That Can Help Us Conquer Our Fears’
We dialog with young edtech entrepreneur Danish Dhamani, whose Philly-based company, Orai (‘Oral’ + ‘AI’), offers a speech coach on your cell. Dhamani, a graduate in Mechanical Engineering from Drexel University, tells us about how he built a business out of his own fear of public speaking including, what it’s like to have done a TED talk that’s had over a million views, the benefits of tech incubators, and other topics that include:
- his personal journey from Pakistan to Philadelphia via Tanzania - from Mechanical Engineer to speech coach
- why speaking well in public is very far from being a ‘soft’ skill
- why developers sit in different kinds of office spaces now
- how saying ‘um’ can lose you a life (as it were!)
- more on that biggie, the problem of bias in AI
- and the precise percentage of smile-degree you need to optimize for.
Danish has got a lot of value out of his exposure to the values of this organization:
And finally, get the full transcript of his famous TED talk here.
2.6 How Visa is Turning Learning Into A Strategic Lever
Today, we sat down to talk with Gordon Trujilo, Head of Learning Enablement at global financial payment platform Visa, where he is also a VP of the Visa University. In our conversation, we drill down pretty deeply into what it’s like to work at that unique place, wich has consciously determined that Learning needs to become a strategic lever that not just staff but also partners and customers need to pull, too. We also enjoyed a free range dialog over such issues as:
- why he’s based in the stimulating physical but also work and cultural environment of Colorado
- what it’s like to be an ‘intrapeneur’ in an environment with 1.8 billion account holders
- why edtech just has to stop being seen as ‘the shiny object in the room’
- what social broadcasting is and might soon mean for us all as lifelong Learners
- why ‘reputation as the new certification’ is becoming a reality
and why technology will soon be able to tell you why your meetings aren’t working; people are multi-tasking - and we can show you what they’re doing!
He also recommends checking out an interesting edtech firm called Giide that has chosen to use a different medium for content - audio.
2.5 ‘Training Also Has To Be For The 3-Shift Grocery Store Clerk’
A big welcome for this episode to influencer JD Dillon, Chief Learning Architect at Microlearning leader Axonify and, of course, a well-known L&D community commentator over at LearnGeek. JD’s a super-committed and super-enthusiastic thinker about some key issues in our world, from what fuzzy leadership training really counts for, to what Microlearning should mean for the front-line worker, and in an intense 50 minutes we cover topics that include:
- why he lives a mile behind Disney in Florida
- why we’re still in ‘chase’ mode in L&D (and why that may not be so bad)
- why we need to start focusing on not just the frontline worker, but also the frontline worker manager
- what his motivation really is: to make sure someone goes home safe today because they read the guidance on how to work that machine right
- a primer on all things Microlearning,
- and what it means to go to the Dark Side and work as a vendor, and much more.
JD recommends we check out his work and community activity here
2.4 ‘At LinkedIn, We Believe In Drinking Our Own Champagne’
This week ‘Learning Is The New Working’ meets former Oracle and Tesla Sales Talent Development ninja Ben Putterman, who is now tasked with helping colleagues at LinkedIn understand all about the way we want to work with sales people now. Our very stimulating review of his personal Workplace Learning journey includes great milestones such as:
- why Oakland rocks!
- why there’s no such thing as a typical day at LinkedIn - and why that’s good
- how seriously LinkedIn takes personal branding
- the co-creation mission; why modern Sales isn’t about proving how great your technology is
- are we spending too much time and money reassuring CEOs they’re not jerks?
- what the heck are we doing about training up the solopreneur and the Uber driver, why social selling matters, how to Rock your Profile, and much more.
If you haven’t read it yet, drop what you’re doing and check out Liz Wiseman’s seminal book on how great leaders make everyone smarter, Multipliers.
2.3 Yeah, All This 'AI' In Your Ed-tech Product... What's It REALLY Do?
In a wide-ranging conversation, ‘Learning Is The New Working’ sits down with Dr Stella Lee, a Vancouver-based Digital Learning Strategist, Educator, Writer, Public Speaker, Networker and Canadian ed-tech startup advisor. If you wanted to design a curriculum vitae to produce an expert in Workplace Learning tech and social trends, I honestly don’t see how you’d do better than Stella has - and so it was a great privilege to work with her through key Workplace Learning issues, including:
- what her career Venn Diagram looks like - and what’s at the ‘sweet spot’ in that busy middle intersection
- what the specific geography, demographic and cultural factors north of the US border in that big old lovely country up there mean for skills
- what five generations in the Workplace might soon be looking like
- what Canadians are doing about it - and what we might do well to keep track of (‘Brave New Work,’ anyone?)
- the central role in serious AI of ethics and diversity - and why we should be a tad reserved about all the wild claims we hear from ‘AI-Powered’ Learning systems
- Why we might not really want smart fitness devices, do we really need Big Data in L&D, why we get so stressed about the LMS-LXP debate but everyone in the Third World just uses WhatsApp - and much more.
Stella is a prolific columnist and writer, so look out for her in places like Chief Learning Officer - but we think the easiest place to connect with her is via the website of her consulting firm, Paradox Learning
2.2 Degreed: 'Your Marathon Time 10 Years Back is Not a Fitness Metric For Today'
Today, please give a warm welcome to Kelly Palmer, edtech leader Degreed’s official Workplace Futurist, L&D trend thought leader. Kelly, the former Chief Learning Officer at LinkedIn and who is also, of course, co-author of 2018’s widely read Workplace Learning think-piece The Expertise Economy: How the smartest companies use learning to engage, compete, and succeed, is a great interview, taking us on a tour of the Learning horizon that includes:
- her personal road from studying Literature to Educational Technology to Product Development roles at Sun Microsystems
- how come she ended up living two blocks from Grace Cathedral
- why you can’t prove your aerobic fitness with your decade old Marathon PB - so it’s probably time to jailbreak the degree
- Silicon Valley’s new career realism: they won’t stay for ever - but let’s really try to be so great they’ll one day come back
- HOW many jobs will go? Really?
- Talent analytics, the future of the Learning & Development team, why CEOs are getting real interested in what you do - and much more.
Kelly's book (co-written with her colleague, the Co-founder and Executive Chairman of Degreed, David Blake):
2.1 ‘The Accountability Is The Learning:’ Kate Shaw (Part 2 of 2)
We continue to work through the problem of Change in both society and Workplace Learning with the second part of our special Season 2 opener, our two-part debate with Kate Shaw, Director of Learning at Airbnb. We go pretty deep here with Philosophy and Emotion, so be warned! Our topics include:
- Why it’s kind of b.s. to tell employees we ‘want them to learn’ - when we actually want them to run really smart experiments, and their accountability off them is what they Learned
- Why even really smart people can be pretty poor at predicting outcomes
- A useful tool (the Cynefin problem taxonomy) - problems can be simple, complicated, complex or chaotic
- Conceptual analysis time - what is ‘belonging’? How can we really unpack it? Better - how do we teach it to Airbnb employees so they can create it for us customers?
- Why you need to be ‘seen’ at work, and why that includes being encouraged to contribute
- Why D&I thinking is so important - but isn’t a fully developed approach yet
- Why it’s sometimes OK to get some theoretical ‘wet paint’ on the CEO
- Nudge economics, moving from noise to behavior change, why Workplace Learning leadership is more about curation and contextualizing than content delivery, a very noisy motorbike, and much more.
Check out Dave Snowden’s work on making sense of complexity at his Cynefin site, here
*Whose Kelly Palmer is also the subject of the next Learning Is The New Working, available on your favored podcast platform 3 July
2.1 To Airbnb Via The Soviet Union & Star Wars: Kate Shaw (Part 1 of 2)
Let’s work through the problem of Change in both society and Workplace Learning with the first part of a two-part debate with Kate Shaw, Director of Learning at Airbnb. A very high-profile Workplace Learning practitioner with a peerless CV that includes working at both Lucasfilm and Apple - but which started out with Kate studying Russian History at college and which gave her a defining experience visiting with people who were at once so different from us but who also had their own perspective “as valid as my own” - Kate and I go on a journey that hits stops like:
• Why you can think you’re a depressed nihilist - but how you get betrayed by a love of great food into being a happy Epicurean!
• How a trip to live among the 'Cursed Enemy' can change you up
• How having a Mom who struggled to get the kudos for her work shapes your whole view on life, work, and a Changing workplace
• Why a VC was so unimpressed with the original elevator pitch for Airbnb that he asked, ‘I hope you guys have other ideas than this?’… about a platform that has now hosted half a billion nights and is at a higher valuation than its 100-year old biggest competitor
• Why you sometimes need to stop working with Silverbacks
• The link between Design and Technology, why College just isn’t ever going to enough any more, why the good stuff happens when you make things collide - and much more.
Kate and I talked a lot about the idea of ‘Blitzscaling,’ as defined by LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman and Chris Yeh in the book of the same name published last year: go here for the book’s website, and here for it on Amazon.
Remember this is the first of a 2-part episode, so we will have more Notes for the second and final part in 2 weeks’ time.
LITNW: Season One
‘Learning Is The New Working’ The following episode comprise Season One where we investigate the current state of work, workplace learning and meet some innovators and veterans of Workplace Learning. Thanks to Season One Sponsor Intrepid by Vital Source.
1:5 How Come We Think It's OK For Sales People To Miss 70% Of Quota?
Listen, to learn from, Sanchita Sur, Founder and CEO of Emplay, the company behind Sales GPS, the only AI-based turn-by-turn Sales Enablement coaching system, on:
• Why so many of even the greatest sales people are just not delivering
• How data-enabled Learning may change that picture
• The 70-20-10 matrix - and how to use it to better track Workplace achievement
• Ways to help better support your Sales team - and why that really DOESN’T mean replace them with machines
• How conversation automation may soon be your new best friend
• and a really useful AI/ML terminology unpack!
Resources to help us all learn together:
Sanchita’s bio reflects her significant contribution to the modern Sales Enablement discussion: a significant contributor to the creation of Jenny Dearborn’s landmark Data Driven: How Performance Analytics Delivers Extraordinary Sales Results, she has over 13 years of experience in enterprise-performance management, process consulting and direct sales.
Prior to founding Emplay, Sanchita worked at KPMG, Cable and Wireless, iGATE, BTS and BlueShield of California in management consulting and account management roles, after training in her native India in Electronics Engineering and Industrial Management.
1:4 WHY I LOVE THE PEOPLE WHO DON’T FINISH OUR PROGRAM
Listen, to learn together, to ex-Microsoft bootcamp business model disruptor Ludo Fourrage, Founder and Chief Product & Learning Officer of Nucamp, on:
- Let’s make it as expensive and difficult as possible to try and get into the IT industry. Actually, you know something? Let’s not
In 2016, there were 1.25m software developer jobs going vacant. That’s a lot of H1Bs, guys
- ‘Second-tier cities’? We love them
- How a business mission became a social mission
- A community coding approach. What’s one of them?
- Why the Marine metaphor for the bootcamp experience may have to be dropped now
- Why I charge 90% less than the other guys - and am still growing like Gangbusters
Resources to help us all learn together:
Ludo asks anyone interested in what he’s doing to check out Nucamp here - but be clear… he doesn’t mean the RV company of the somewhat similar name. Just so’s you know.
1:3 From Wild west scholar to northwest edtech entrepeneur
Listen, to learn from Sam Herring, CEO & Co-Founder of Seattle-based ed tech leader Intrepid by VitalSource on:
- How researching the individual stories of Wild West characters shaped a vision for educational tech achievement
- There really won’t be a Dr Evil with a pinkie in his mouth controlling the Learning software market
- Where the $40 billion that got invested in ed tech these past 20 years really went
- Why not a lot of the ‘thousand ed tech’ flower start-ups will ever probably bloom
- Why setting up a content library really isn’t all you gotta do to become a good CLO
- Why small-bore thinking sucks and finally
- Platform/services, LMS/LXP… is that still the right question if we drop a recession on it all?
Resources to help us all learn together:
Sam would love anyone interested to connect with him and his outfit at its main website here:
Full disclosure: we are honored to remind you that Intrepid is the sponsor of the first season of ‘Learning Is The New Working’ episodes - thanks again!
1:2 The Human Superpower the Robots will never have
Listen, to learn, from Dani Johnson, Co-Founder and Principal Analyst of RedThread Research:
- Why living on a mountain in Utah is kinda great for getting to either Coast
- Why her motto is, ‘I’m better today than I was yesterday, but I’m going to be better tomorrow’
- Why it’s dumb to skip to the ‘answer at the end’ of research; it’s the journey that’s of the real value to you
- The legacy of THAT Bersin By Deloitte report
- You’ve heard it before, but yeah - we really have to give up on the 1960s Industrial Design mindset, people
- The imminent Big Ed Tech convergence, and why it matters to the buyer
- How L&D really is everyone’s job now and finally
- And how measuring conformity isn’t really doing anything but hit YOUR ‘efficiency’ numbers.
Resources to help us all learn together:
Dani suggests we all go to her company’s main website here to find out more: RedThread Research
She is also a regular contributor to publications in our field including CLO, HR and Employment Relations Today.
1:1 You Now Live on Planet VUCA. Live With it!
Listen, to learn, from well-known author and commentator on Workplace Learning issues Lisa Kay Solomon on:
- How a part of The Philly Diaspora ended up in Menlo Park
- Why you can be scared or fascinated by the future - but you can’t ignore it
- What ‘Outside-In Thinking’ about change would look like - and how it could help your organisation
- Why CEOs need to drop the PowerPoint and start a meeting with a bit of Bold Wonderment… but not in a Kumbaya Way
- What a journey from Transactional to Mission Learning is all about
- Why our minds are coded to remember, not empathise - and how you can exploit that
- and finally
- The interesting - and surprising - self-test to find out if you’re a Designer, too.
Resources to help us all learn together: Lisa recommends we look at her main website www.lisakaysolomon.com, but also ‘Just Google me’ - as she has a wealth of content and interviews out there to research. Her books are available from Amazon here:
- Moments of Impact: How to Design Strategic Conversations That Accelerate Change
- Design a Better Business: New Tools, Skills, and Mindset for Strategy and Innovation
Find out more about the d.school - more formally, The Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford University - here, and find out how to take a class or join one of its regular executive workshops here
1:0 A Sense Of Crisis: Why Workplace Learning Is In Big Trouble, And What We Can Do About It
In our launch season trailer, listen, to learn, from former Microsoft CLO and now independent Workplace Learning consultant Chris Pirie, CEO & Founder of The Learning Futures Group:
- Why anyone interested in learning science, the future of workplace learning, the latest smarts for great sales enablement, the impact of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the future of workplace learning and The Rise of The Robots should listen to this new podcast
- What kind of a brain you have after 108 straight quarters hitting your numbers in Corporate America
- Why Chief Learning Officers need to start looking at what adjacent disciplines - neuroscience and psychology especially - can offer them if they’re serious about addressing the growing backlash against traditional ways of delivering company staff development
- How the software we throw at our brains might have changed a lot these past 20 years - but the underlying hardware hasn’t (= can’t)
- What Microsoft’s Satya Nadella can teach us all
- Why the NGOs don’t need our ‘help’ on this - in fact, we need theirs
- and finally
- How to develop a growth mindset.
Resources to help us all learn together:
Chris Pirie on LinkedIn
Chris’s new company: www.LearningFuturesGroup.com