Sharpen Your Blade

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We’re in unprecedented times, but they shouldn’t be interpreted as all completely terrible times. This is also an unprecedented time in terms of learning opportunities, with more and more previously costly courses coming online for free, there’s never been a better time to sharpen your blade and increase your professional competencies and learn new skills that you can bring to your current or future employers. While for some, this is a time to kick back on the couch for a lazy six-months, if your mentality is where it should be, you’d know that this is a unique opportunity to proactively chase your personal and professional development goals, and capitalise on some of the free offerings from tertiary and business education institutions that are adapting with the recent pandemic to move a significant amount of their learning materials online, free of charge.

In terms of modern business history, that’s unprecedented, too.

We reported just this morning on TAFE NSW’s announcement that 21 courses are now available for free if you meet certain criteria, which is a sign of what I believe is a burgeoning trend from institutions to offer some of their courses for free. It’s great PR for them, and it keeps certain operations that would have otherwise been barren from the absence of physical students moving along so the organisation can continue to move ahead.

In a more international context, there’s been reports of online institutions like Coursera launching a global effort to assist universities and colleges with up to 3,800 courses and 400 specializations on offer. These include courses from Yale, the University of London, Johns Hopkins University and even tech companies like Google and Intel. Do some research and see what’s currently available, as I mentioned earlier, Universities and tertiary institutions have been shaken up just as much as any other industry, and they’ll continue to offer some extremely valuable courses as lockdown conditions stick around for a predicted six-months.

Regardless of your position in a team, you’re effectively in a sales role, at a time that you absolutely need to be converting those sales. This is a time that you must be doing all you can to sharpen your blade and become an all-in-one weapon for the benefit of your current or future employer, and of course, yourself. Webinars from top figures in the business world are one of your best options to learn from their first-hand experiences, and depending on the size of that webinar, you’ll be able to get any of your burning questions answered. Keep an eye out for live webinars that I run over on our Youtube channel where I do exactly that.

In addition to adding every possible weapon to your professional arsenal, there’s also a raft of psychological benefits in store for you if you continue to work productively with any idle time, rather than enter a vegetative state for a few months. If you’re working from home, this might be more of a balancing act, but your brain’s grey matter will thank you in the long run for continuing to push with your cognitive functions. This doesn’t mean you can’t take a break, in fact, it’s essential to take a break, it’s just when you extend this break to a period of months and months that you’re risking losing your brain’s edge. It’s important to keep presenting your cognitive functions with challenges, because the process of sorting through challenges and the subsequent rush of endorphins to the brain is what keeps our mind stable, active and assures more longevity of cognitive function.

There’s a mind-bogglingly large amount of content out there online available completely free on platforms like Youtube, blogs and podcasts- you just need to know where to look, and from whom to take advice, because some are definitely more legitimate than others. It’s also very much a choice of personal taste. For example, Grant Cardone is a business hero of mine, but I’m aware that his style can be too abrasive for some, so you could pivot your attention to Neil Patel, Simon Sinek, or the Andreeson Horowitz youtube channel for a lesser-known pot of gold. Andrew Chen’s blog is a great resource for first-hand experience in high-stakes business experiences, while the Freakonomics podcast is a great way to learn without feeling like you’re learning.

As an employer, I’m often encouraging my staff members to partake in a brief course, signing them up to webinars or always welcoming any suggestion that they bring forward to further their professional development. While some employers can be reluctant to adopt this attitude, with recent time and events, they’re likely to see more value in it than ever before. I truly believe it’s one of the biggest distinguishing factors between a good employer, and a great one. As Richard Branson once said, train your staff so they can leave, but treat them so they stay,” which ties into the age-old adage in business: “what if I train my staff and they leave,” to which the reply is “what if you don’t train them, and they stay!”

Thanks again for your time, and I’ll see you in the next piece.

Kobi Simmat - Director & CEO of the Best Practice Group.

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