I love to explore new technologies that expand my way of thinking. In order to build new skills, I find myself on a constant search for improvement. Below, I’ve shared five easy steps that have helped me on my lifelong learning journey. Hopefully they will help you too!
#1: Find Your Mentor
Whether this includes friends, colleagues or even celebrities, they are surely all around you. If you are interested in a topic and can ask for advice or learn from your mentor directly, that will always be the best way to grow. Here is an article on how mentors can help guide you along your career path. Most of the time it’s just enough to follow these people on social media or read their blogs, books and literature that they recommend. It is very important to ask your mentors for feedback and work on adjustments. Feedback is a gift!
#2: Read, Listen, Watch
Read everything from books, articles, scientific papers, blogs etc. It can be hard to find good books among all the possibilities out there, but they do exist. Make sure you spend time researching because time is limited and you want to be certain you are reading the best of the best. Below are some books that I’ve found worth reading.
- Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
- The Second Machine Age by Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee
- Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
- Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell
- Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel H. Pink
- A Time to Love and a Time to Die by Erich Maria Remarque. This book always reminds me to look at a situation from different view points and angles.
I would also highly recommend many of the blogs available on Medium.
Listen to podcasts and audiobooks. I am especially fond of the listening part, because I can combine it with other activities such as running, cycling and any other activity that doesn’t require too much of my direct focus. It can not only be educational but inspirational, depending on the podcast. My favourites are:
- Greymatter from Greylock Partners
- Masters of Scale with Reid Hoffman
- Freakonomics from NYC Radio
- PYD: Podcast Your Data from InterWorks
- How to Start a Startup from Y Combinator
- Super Data Science from Kirill Eremenko
If I’m ever looking for something topical, I typically will turn to these other podcasts: More or Less: Behind the Stats from BBC or Software Engineering Radio.
Watch webinars, TED Talks and YouTube podcasts and channels. TED Talks I greatly recommend watching:
#3: Study and Practice
Yes, you also need to actively practice, because the first two steps are more passive. Only by applying something in practice can you truly build and develop a new skill. There is a huge difference between having an understanding or theoretical knowledge in a topic to becoming an active user or expert in it. Internet and MOOCs provide infinite possibilities here. Find your favourite type of practice and decide what suits you the best and start building your new skills now!
Meet and become a part of the community by attending conferences, meet-ups, webinars and workshops. Not only will it broaden your horizon and boost your curiosity, but you will also meet interesting people who share the same passions as you. You could quite possibly gain a mentor too. You can learn from each other and inspire each other to be ready for the next challenge. In my previous blog post, I described the London Tableau User Group to give you a taste of the networking experience.
It is important to share, because we live in the era of shared economy and this is what it’s all about. Sharing your knowledge is a little bit like teaching. You repeat and expand on the ideas you already know, thereby strengthening the existing knowledge. You can discuss, let’s say, a book or topic with the community and come away from the conversation with new or additional information you might have missed the first time you learned about the topic. Moreover, you can learn about another interesting book, podcast or TED Talk while on the subject. There’s no downside to sharing information with one another. You spread the knowledge and become richer yourself.
I feel quite fortunate to be part of InterWorks where I have all five components: my colleagues are my mentors, we write blogs, produce podcasts and webinars from which I can learn. At the same time, I am happy to share this content with others. I’m learning and applying my knowledge every day. InterWorks has an especially great culture that emphasizes helping each other and helping our clients. I probably enjoy the last part the most. Finally, being a part of the Tableau community has always been fun!
In conclusion, my last advice would be to follow your passion and work for a company that inspires you and helps you grow.
I look forward to hearing your suggestions on what helps you in your learning journey and, of course, seeing some book, podcast and article recommendations!