The University of [insert your name here]

As you are no doubt intimately aware, it's the time of year when people question what it is they do and why they do it.  Possibly it's the relaxation after a bunch of days off, or the significance of a shiny, brand, new year or maybe simply spending more time connecting with family and friends.  Don't panic - we all do it.   I guess, we've all been reminded of what's ultimately really important.

Whether you have all the answers or are still searching doesn't really matter because there is a heap of work you can do in the absence of an immediate opportunity.  Maybe you

  •  want to regain some inspiration,
  • refresh and brush up on your technical your skill set, or maybe
  • You're even thinking of going so far as to developing your "inner expert" and become acknowledged by your colleague or industry for your expertise.

You can still do something about it without having to "give up your day job". In fact, you could probably do something about it without leaving the comfort of your own living room - right after you hide the remote as I wrote about last week!

To help you get on the front foot and set your own curriculum for your own University of [insert Your Name], here are a two of my go to recommendations to get you started.

  • Find a podcast series that floats your boat - I love TED Radio Hour NPR - curated and edited version of TED talks for those who learn by listening. In fact, it was a leadership talk that I heard back in 2014 that really inspired my current journey. Podcasts are easy - you can download them in advance, play them while at the gym, walking, driving or commuting - and the best bit is you are being exposed to great new ideas all at your own convenience! If you're into business adn want some infotainment - then why not check out Omar Zenman's $100 MBA Podcast?  Fun, educative and entertaining all at once - in bite sized chunks. 
    Got another idea or suggestion? List it below and share for others to learn.


  • Reading - and consider upgrading to a Kindle or other electronic reading device.  I'm in the middle of writing a book. (In fact, right at this very moment, I'm in the middle of procrastinating about writing a book if I'm honest!!)  However when I recently attended an event with the publishing industry I was totally surprised at how many people still prefer the regular old style paper back or hard cover.  However for the purposes of this article - I'm a Kindle fan and here's why.

As a voracious consumer of literature, I probably read about 2 or 3 books in a week - if not more. I love the convenience of the immediate download function on a Kindle. This also means that I don't get to the end of the year and need to find homes for my books as my book shelf shelves start bulging.

But if you're not convinced, then stay with the physical version - but the point is to schedule 30 minutes of reading and development time per day. Non-negotiable.

Development time helps you deliver better results

Some years ago I was working in an organisation who shall remain nameless. We were lurching from one change management remedy to another, with a seemingly endless parade of highly paid consultants coming through the door. There were two who made a huge impression on me and both of them were avid readers of business books. One of them in particular, I questioned as he would take time each day at his desk to read while the rest of us were running around "putting out operational fires". When I asked him why he was doing it and how he could "get away with it" -  he said something that went like this:

The leadership team is not paying me to come in and keep on doing what you’ve always been doing. That type of thinking hasn’t provided a solution yet. We need to solve these issues with new ideas and new thinking. I’m making sure I keep up to date and on top of things so that we can actually solve things before they get worse.

Wise words that took me seven years to fully comprehend.

Take ownership and embed the learning

Now you might imagine that you could get a similar result from scannning blogs or articles on LinkedIn. Possibly.  But you have to read a lot of rubbish to find what works and ..... it's not a planned curriculum.  You're at the whim of the owner of the site, or your own attention span, rather than being lead in a logical structured way through an argument or sifting through evidence in a sequential manner.  It's not taking you to the next level and helping you to Level Up - which is what you need.

So taking ownership and setting your own curriculum - puts you back in the drivers seat of your own development.

Plus don't rely on memory or luck in terms of remembering what you learned.  Plan to take notes, summarise, or talk about and apply what you learned in an organised manner.  Schedule a book club, team meeting, one on one with a boss, mentor or colleague to discuss the learnings and how things might work in your current situation.  Document what you learned in an orderly manner.

  • I have a consultant friend who always summarises each book he reads with a 2 page document. 
  • I personally set up a spreadsheet and take notes of all the highlighted areas - then write down what I think about those highlighted areas. 
  • Why not try the Yes And and Yes But technique?

Find something that works for you to get ideas out of your head and into real life scenarios to embed learning.

In summary - Embrace your inner expert

So instead of distracting yourself from stress of your role with mind numbing reruns of NCIS or The Good Wife -  find the latest business book on a topic that inspires you and get your inner expert inspired.

Take control of thecurriculum plus take steps to embed the learning as well. 

Finally step up and take charge with what you do with the information as well. It's all well and good to know things in a theoretical sense, but it's better to be able to apply it. So set yourself the goal of being able to share the learnings from the book in a weekly team meeting,  publish articles on your intranet or LinkedIn, or host mastermind lunch discussions at work to make sure that you are leveraging your learning, pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and "levelling up" more easily. 

Step Up, Speak Out and Take Charge is my go to mantra - and the University of [insert your name] approach is a really easy way to get going.

Vive la révolution! #ambitionrevolution #LookOutCsuiteHereSheComes

Note from me: With the opening up of the publishing industry and Kindle devices making it super easy to purchase and download books immediately at a very affordable price - it truly is a great time to find modern and relevant business books, written in language that resonates, that solve the problems of modern businesses. Here are a few of my own reading suggestions:

Feel like your leadership journey has stalled? Email to set up a 30 min one on one to learn more. Helping clients shift from feeling invisible to becoming invincible in just 12 months