I was out on my daily learning walk this morning and the podcast of choice was – as it often is on Monday mornings – Mitch Joel’s Six Pixels of Separation. While most people would consider this to be a marketing podcast, I think the fact that Mitch’s insights tend to range much broader than marketing have contributed greatly his success. Today, as it happens, the topic of learning was central to the podcast.
Specifically, Mitch interviewed Ben Casnocha, co-author, along with LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman, of The Start-up of You: Adapt to the Future, Invest in Yourself, and Transform Your Career. Right around 25 minutes into the podcast (25:05, to be exact), Mitch and Ben – both of whom are college dropouts – start discussing education and learning. I was struck by the conversation because:
(a) it touches on several of the themes that come up in Shift Ed: A Call to Action for Transforming K-12 Education (my book last year with futurist David Houle) as well as in 10 Ways to Be a Better Learner. (Okay, yes, I probably fall in the “narcissist” camp that Mitch highlights earlier in the conversation.)
(b) I’m finding that this kind of conversation is becoming increasingly common and mainstream.
I sense a growing view – certainly one I share – that education and learning are essentially entrepreneurial activities. We all have to take a certain amount of initiative. We all have to be willing to take a few risks if we want to achieve significant returns that really align with who we are and aspire to be.
As Ben puts it, “Most people have to take education into their own hands.” He goes on to add that he’s “not wildly optimistic that we can really reform our institutions to teach entrepreneurial thinking.” Rather, he says, “Let’s take it right to the individual … and brainstorm wildly different institutions that we can create…as opposed to try to reform what has so clearly been broken for many years.”
Mitch reflects on his own experience with traditional schooling, saying that he eventually came to the conclusion that “I’m not going to let school get in the way of my education.
I’m a passionate reader, I go to events, I’m always trying to learn, I’m always trying to sidle up next to people I think I can learn from. I often say that this podcast is a completely narcissistic act where I get to pen people like you [Ben] against the corner and use you as a sponge to grab information out of.
Ben adds: “Everyone needs to be asking themselves every day “How am I investing in myself today. What am doing to become smarter, better, more connected, wiser” … If you are going to live a long fruitful life and have a long fruitful career, one always needs to be improving oneself… Having a strategy for doing that is really important.”
As noted above, this conversation starts at around 25:05 and runs for 8 to 10 minutes. I think the whole podcast is worth a listen, but I’d recommend tuning in for this segment of it at a minimum: The Start-Up of You with Ben Casnocha.
I am an avid lifelong learner who writes and speaks frequently on the critical role of learning in our fast-changing world.