25 reasons I love L&D (in alphabetical order)

Alphabet Cubes

Art. Michael Jordan’s blank canvas was the basketball court. Picasso’s was, well, a blank canvas. I see the training room as my blank canvas, and the learners’ experience is my masterpiece.

Bank. As in: I’m paid to do this! Seriously, I get paid to play with markers and facilitate games and come up with some crazy ideas. That’s pretty darn cool.

Creativity. Who in their right mind wants to plan a lecture or develop a click-through elearning module when there are so many other options are out there? One of the most fun elements of my job is figuring out new and unique ways to engage learners and get results. I get the feeling the learners like this, too.

Disrupt. I hate that word, “disrupt”. It was the buzzword of 2014. But, in truth, disruptive is the best way to describe effective learning experiences.

Everywhere. It’s where inspiration can be drawn to do my job better every day – whether it’s observing how my 2-year-old could possibly turn a 10-minute walk into a 45-minute walk or perhaps it’s hiking over a lava field in Hawaii, it can all come back to learning and development for me.

Flipchart. I prefer it over PowerPoint (when you advance a slide, it’s gone… when you post a flipchart on the wall, it’s there for the entire training session). Preparing flipcharts prior to a workshop makes my job feel a little like I get paid to do arts and crafts. And it’s even my Twitter handle (@flipchartguy… feel free to connect with me!).

Games. I’ve never played World of Warcraft or Settlers of Catan, but I’ve connected with people who do. I’m fascinated by the game design lessons that can be brought over to the L&D space.

How I See It. It’s my go-to move these days in the training room. Want to know what it is? Read this.

Improv. Classroom training is a bit like live theater, and depending on the learners’ needs there will be times when you need to go off-script.

J… hmmmm… maybe this list is a bit like the streets of Washington, DC: no “J”. At least I can’t come up with a reason that I love my job and that starts with the letter “J”. Can you? Add it in the comment section.

Knowles. There’s something to be said for a guy who can synthesize and put forth a coherent theory that shifts the paradigm of how adults could learn more effectively.

Laughter. I like to laugh. I love when my learners laugh during a workshop. Learning should be hard work… and it should also be a pleasant experience.

Mr. Sketch. Best. Markers. Known. To. Man. I even wrote a poem about these markers!

Naan. In my frequent travels to India I’ve sampled some mighty fine butter garlic naan (along with many other fine foods, like camel).

Opportunity. Being in a learning and development role allows me to show hundreds or thousands of learners each year what’s possible – to do something new, or differently or better. I can’t imagine a better opportunity than that.

PollEverywhere. One less excuse for speakers standing before large groups to not include their audience during their presentation.

Qantas Airlines. I’ve never flown it, but my job has taken me to some amazing locations in this country and around the world. With all the frequent flier miles I’ve logged, perhaps a trip to Australia on Qantas is in my future… Of course, if any of my readers in Australia happen to invite me to speak or deliver a workshop, a little trip to Australia could happen sooner rather than later (hint, hint!).

Reading. Books. Articles. Blogs. Research. With every word, a new world seems to open up, contradicting things I thought I knew. Learning styles are a myth. Reviewing highlighted notes doesn’t help with retention. I’m kind of curious what else really isn’t true.

Storyline. Articulate’s rapid authoring tool has reduced the amount of money I need to spend on a custom elearning project from $60,000 (in 2007) to a $1,500 (today). Plus, I’m more in control of the end result.

Twitter. Connecting with other L&D professionals around the world has never been easier. Debating whether or not you want to go down the Twitter rabbit hole? Read Mel Milloway’s post on why you should.

Up. As in: “level up”. It’s a term I once heard game designer Jane McGonigal use to explain, in part, why gamers will spend hours honing their skills in front of the computer. The opportunity to open new doors or earn different tools or explore more difficult challenges. Leveling up. It’s a concept L&D professionals could use a lot more.

Voting dots. So little, yet so powerful. I’ve seen these little stickers handed out as people walk into a large conference session in order to engage learners from the very beginning. I’ve seen them used as a tool to wrap up a workshop. I’ve seen them used everywhere in between. What’s not to like about voting dots?

Washburn, David. He’s my dad. A retired science teacher. I blame him for my innate pickiness around learning objectives and lesson plans. But it’s led to a pretty successful career for me so far, so I guess he can be forgiven. We should all have a mentor that’s so helpful and responsive.

Xfer. As in transfer of learning. For some reason, people, especially in the healthcare field, can throw an “x” at the beginning of any word in order to abbreviate it. And it’s ok to do that. Learning things like this on a daily basis keeps me going. Oh, and when learners can transfer their learning to the job, that’s pretty cool, too.

Yes, and… The way in which we respond to our learners’ thoughts, ideas and comments is crucial to the success (or lack thereof) in a workshop. Responding with “Yes, and…” sure beats “yeah, but…” or “no…” any day of the week. A “Yes, and…” attitude allows conversation to continue and dialogue to be constructive.

Zest time. When I was on the cheerleading team in college, our coach insisted that there would still be practice as usual on Valentine’s Day, even if people were planning to skip out on other things (like classes) in order to share “zest time” with their significant others. Sometimes, I think a phenomenal day in the training room, with ah-ha moments and energy buzzing among learners can be even better than “zest time”.

What do you think? Have something that begins with “J” (or want to add to any other letter)? Drop a note in the comment section!

8 thoughts on “25 reasons I love L&D (in alphabetical order)

  1. How about “Joy” of seeing the learners get whatever is intended etc? That’s what reminds me why I love what I do.

    • JULI! Yes, joy. That’s an excellent one. Not only the joy of seeing the learners in their “ah ha” moments, but also the joy of changing people’s world – when they can do something new or differently or better, their whole world changes! Hopefully for the better. And that’s the essence of joy.

  2. Great article, Brian! Joy came to mind at first also, but I might throw Jungian out there as well. Little bit of Carl Jung can work its way in there. 🙂

    • Jungian! That, Mary, is one I *never* would have come up with. What I like about it is the idea of going beyond the typical L&D literature and expanding to other fields to find inspiration and a foundation for how to design effective learning experiences. Thanks for playing, Mary!!

  3. Juggle. As in, the many hats we wear. The many plates we spin. The many stakeholders that have to be kept happy. This is what keeps the job challenging and interesting all at the same time. (Glad you added the qualifier in “Disruptive” 😉

    • Shannon – ugh. “Disrupt”! I don’t think Inc. magazine (or even Fast Company) published a single article in 2014 without the word “disrupt” someplace in there!

      Juggle is a fantastic word – in both the big picture sense (stakeholders, project management, etc) as well as the in-the-moment sense (in front of a group, balancing what you *should* be covering with what the learners *really* need, plus trying to figure out what to do about your upcoming break since you’re already running 20 minutes behind schedule plus trying to answer a participant question that really should go in the parking lot plus trying to remember where you put your handouts… they were just here a minute ago).

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