Learning Strategy Skills

How To Cross Your Fear Gap

How do you cross the fear gap?

A topic which doesn’t get nearly enough coverage despite its importance.

Learning Strategy Skills

The 8 Skills For The Future L&D Pro (And How To Build Them)

What does tomorrow’s learning professional need?

It ain’t more e-learning, I can tell you that. We need to be builders and strategic operators.

Below is data based on what I see as a practitioner in the flow of work.

Connected with developments in our modern world and the variety of conversations I have with fellow L&D Pros.

Focus your skill-building on these 8 areas ⬇️

Learning design 

This is your bread and butter. Without this, it’s hard to do anything.

Good learning design is not restricted to the physical world.

Every article, how to and step-by-step guide is a learning experience. Pay just as much attention to these journeys.

Become Tech Savvy

Digital technology powers many areas of our lives.

It makes sense to learn more, right? Hopefully, you agree.

Invest in understanding the basic principles of how different tech works together. This will improve your learning tech conversations and your day-to-day awareness.

Helpful resources:

👉 How to optimise your technology to improve learning and performance.

Build awareness

Understanding how to market your work and products is powerful for any career.

You don’t need to be a marketer but thinking like one won’t hurt you.

Helpful resources: 

👉 How to build awareness of your L&D products.

👉 How to use content marketing to supercharge your L&D brand.

Get comfortable with data

If you don’t know what works you can’t know what to work on.

Data is cool. But, what’s even better is knowing how to use this. Look beyond the vanity metrics.

Find people in and outside of your company to help you identify the metrics that matter.

Helpful resources: 

👉 I don’t do TNA (training needs analysis) here’s why.

👉 How to measure L&D success: Don’t do that, do this.

Learn how to use artificial intelligence tools

They’re not going to replace you but they can certainly help you. The current wave of AI tools is like a “pick your poison” choice.

There are thousands available to save you time.

My favourites include:

Helpful resources: 

✍️ The 3 Best AI Tools You Need To Know

🤖 The Ultimate ChatGPT Prompt Writing Guide

Focus on building a consultative approach

Consulting makes you hard to replace, facilitation makes you easy to replace.

Adopting a consultative approach gives you a sense of credibility as a trusted expert. You become the architect, not just the engineer (no idea where all these analogies are coming from today!).

Helpful resources:

👉 The 8 Best Performance Consulting Questions

👉 For L&D Pros How To Move From Learning To Performance

Learn how to write for the attention economy

The digital world has changed the way we consume writing.

You need to learn the game for today’s world.

Becoming a better writer has been instrumental in my own growth. We all write every day. This is one that’ll always be on the list.

Helpful resources:

📘 The Art And Business of Online Writing | Nicolas Cole

📘 Everybody Writes | Ann Handley

📽️ The Fundamentals Of Digital Writing

Double down on your human skills

Get comfortable sharing feedback, navigating difficult conversations, storytelling and emotional intelligence.

These will be core activities you do for a lifetime.

Helpful resources:

👉 10 Tips For Sharing Feedback That Will Improve Your Life And Career

👉  4 Lessons That Will Transform Your Storytelling Skills

👉  Emotional Intelligence Crash Course

You might think this is a lot, but it’s not really.

These are the future skills for the high-performing learning professional.

You’ll need to niche-down skills for different categories of L&D roles.

Before you go… 👋

If you like my writing and think “Hey, I’d like to hear more of what this guy has to say” then you’re in luck.

You can join me every Tuesday morning for more tools, templates and insights for the modern L&D pro in my weekly newsletter.

You might also like

L&D Tools Skills

How To Unlock The Benefits Of Content Marketing For L&D Pros

Marketing, marketing, MARKETING! That’s what we as modern L&D Pros hear daily.

It’s been an industry topic for nearly a decade.

I love marketing. I talk about it a lot. Marketing frameworks have helped me accelerate my L&D career. The thing is marketing is not the cure to all our problems in the vast world of learning.

You don’t need to be a marketer.

Yet, learning a few frameworks from our friends here can help you in the world of L&D. We live in an attention economy. If a piece of content doesn’t pass the instant gratification test, we throw it into a black hole.

So, building awareness of all those learning products into which we pour our soul is a benefit, really.

You don’t want to spend time building an amazing learning experience just for it to get no engagement, right? If you build it, no one will come.

Unless you know how to build awareness.

Let’s focus on how you can build awareness to drive the value of your products.

Marketing Is HUGE

The problem with a lot of the “L&D needs to do marketing” advice I see online can be broken down into 2 areas:

  1. Saying “L&D needs to do marketing” is a captain obvious statement. We all know this. How about providing some direction?
  2. It’s not specific enough. The world of marketing is huge. So, for the modern L&D pro, what are the most useful areas for you?

Some areas of marketing include:

  • Outbound marketing
  • Inbound marketing
  • Email marketing
  • Brand marketing
  • Search Engine Optimisation
  • Stealth marketing (Ok, I might have made that one up)

You get the picture, right?

Not everything under the umbrella of marketing is right for you.

I want to be specific and break down one type of marketing that I believe works for our industry.

Content Marketing.

Content Marketing Explained

Our friends at Hubspot (an all-knowing and cool marketing company) summarise content marketing as:

“Content marketing is the process of planning, creating, distributing, sharing, and publishing content via channels such as social media, blogs, websites, podcasts, apps, press releases, print publications, and more.

The goal is to reach your target audience and increase brand awareness, sales, engagement, and loyalty.”


Does any of this sound familiar?

Now, some of you might be thinking “But. I’m a learning designer. I don’t need to know how to raise awareness of my work”. What are you…crazy? You do!

You might not realise it, but we’re marketing all the time.

  • We market our skills to potential employers.
  • We market our careers when building a case for promotion.
  • We market our compatibility when convincing our crush to go on a date.

Each of these is a piece of marketing.

L&D is no longer about design alone. You need to know how to position a product.

No matter if that product is you or what you’ve created.

Now, content marketing is best placed for L&D because it focuses on maximising awareness of your current assets to deliver value to users.

The important word here is value.

You can use all the marketing tactics you want. But if your experience or product sucks. It will still suck, no matter how many keywords or fancy visuals you used to promote it.

In summary, content marketing does what it says on the tin.

Market your content. Simple.

Content Marketing: How to use it in L&D

Ok, let’s get into the good stuff!

At its core, content marketing focuses on providing people with information that educates, inspires, informs and empowers.

Not much to ask for, right?

We can use this in both digital and physical experiences. Like content from your local learning platform or hyping up your next live workshop.

Content marketing can be both educational and entertaining. The best content marketing is a mix of both.

Types Of Content Marketing

We have a lot at our disposal with CM.

This commonly includes:

  • Blog posts
  • Articles
  • Toolkits
  • Infographics (are these still a thing?)
  • Video
  • Audio

Plenty for you to sink your teeth into.

Don’t be limited by picking one or two. Try them all out and find what works for your context.

Content Marketing Benefits

So many, my friends.

Here are some of my favourites:

  • Build L&D brand awareness
  • Surface value-add content that would otherwise be lost
  • Build trust within your company
  • Convert more people to accessing useful stuff
  • Maximise ROI on your learning content and experiences

That’s just the tip of the iceberg.

I’m sure you’ll discover more in your own journey.

Getting started with content marketing

Right, you’ve had your crash course in content marketing.

Now it’s time to put what you’ve learnt into practice. Lucky for me (and you), I’ve compiled a bunch of resources on bringing CM into the L&D world already.

Check out my in-depth breakdown of 3 Steps To Better Content Marketing For Learning Teams. Complete with examples and templates for you to steal.

Plus, you can check out my step-by-step video tutorial on content marketing best practices for L&D pros below.

Happy learning, friends.

Build your content marketing skills

Some of my favourite places to keep learning include:

  1. Content Marketing Institute
  2. Hubspot
  3. Copyblogger


  • Get specific on how marketing can help you.
  • Test and learn. Find what works for you.
  • Keep learning.
Career Development Skills

Don’t Panic! Slow Growth Is The Key To Long Term Success

“Build a 6-figure business in 60 days with my obvious framework that I copy and pasted from the other 100 people posting the same thing for too much money here!” – is what I’m greeted with on doom-scrolling trips on LinkedIn in particular over the last year.

I’m not here to moan about the ethics of such posts (I hope that’s obvious), but rather about the meaning behind the words. 

These posts are part of a wider movement trying to suggest we can all create huge wealth and knowledge in x days by doing x obvious things which those who spent 40 years building a successful career didn’t know. 

Hmm, really?

I don’t like the vibe of that. It’s too black and white thinking in a world that isn’t (what world is?). Outliers exist in life but come on, let’s leave the matrix for a few minutes.

I’ve talked about not everyone needing or wanting to ditch the path of traditional “9-5” careers before.

And I think this connects with the whole movement of messages like I shared above and other narratives like “escape the rat race” and “do what you love and you’ll never work a day”.

It’s clickbaity.

When I see those clickbaity posts and headlines

A lot of content promotes urgency, speed and so much hyperbole about an impending apocalypse if you don’t achieve something in the next x days that you’re left on a heap of mental failure.

(Phew! I’m getting nervous just reading that back).

In the real world, everything takes time. That’s the kicker. The one thing we can never replenish is the exact thing we need to invest more in. 

Whether it’s money, careers or our families – they need time.

Yes, I know we want everything right now, but it’s a fantasy we try to tell ourselves while doing the hard work. The good thing is a lot of success is found in the slow game.

Slow growth is highly underrated

When I first heard the term Slow Growth, I thought it was crazy. 

I learnt about this from the aptly named Slow Growth Academy which focuses on the power of slow growth (obvs!). I instantly fell in love with the concept, especially with its connection to careers, skill-building and amassing experience.

In a world of instant gratification, people want results in 5 minutes, not 5 years. That’s not how life works, sadly.

Things take time to build.

You plant seeds, nurture them and harvest the rewards in the future.

Deciding whether or not to invest in something for 5 years matters not because those 5 years are going to come and go whether you do or you don’t.

We all look for hacks or secrets when in reality there isn’t one. Do the work, embrace slow growth and you’ll be better in the next 5yrs than you’re now.

That’s the non-obvious ‘secret’.

I share this as I believe it’s of value not just to my fellow L&D and Marketing friends, but to anyone. We’ve had this strange movement of productivity gurus peddling the “hustle” culture of quick results with low-quality outputs.

If you research some of the most successful businesses and people in traditional careers, you’ll find their growth was slow.

Mary Barra, the CEO of General Motors, has spent her entire career at the company, starting as an engineer and working her way up to CEO over 43 years.

Satya Nadella, the CEO of Microsoft, has worked at the company for over 25 years, starting as a member of the technical staff and working his way up to CEO.

Ginni Rometty, the former CEO of IBM, worked at the company for over 30 years, starting as a systems engineer and eventually becoming CEO.

These people are products of slow growth.

They consistently show up, do the work and acquire new experiences. They don’t preach any secret hacks to achieve this.

Patience, I find, is the most underrated thing with growth. We’re playing an infinite game, not a finite one.

I look at slow growth like a board game. There are times when you’re on a roll and accelerate, and others when you’ve hit a blocker and get pushed back 3 places (I’m looking at you Monopoly).

We’ll all get there eventually. We just have to play our game.

Slow growth in action

Let’s be clear, I’m not against the “move fast and break things” movement at the micro level. As long as we learn from those experiences.

But applying that to the macro level with an overarching strategy is dangerous.

An example of slow growth in action is Apple.

They’re mainstream now, yet we’re once the outliers of their industry. It’s hard to imagine, but Apple was not the industry’s de-faction leader; only a hardcore set of consumers purchased their products.

Apple blew up once the iPhone landed.

However, a lot of people only think about them from that time in 2007. In reality, they’ve been around since the 70s – scaling, falling and scaling again.

They grew slowly and now own the market.

Apple’s growth has been a 40-year-plus journey. It’s 30 years if we were to stop at the launch of the first iPhone. Think about it, they’ve been working 3 decades to have their best decade ever!

We just assume it’s always been that way. So, why do we think that we need to get there any quicker?

The concept of slow growth does not apply to just the working world. It applies to all areas. It strikes a chord with me as an L&D nerd. Learning to be a better human is the ultimate example of slow growth.

Continual development in an ever-changing world never ends. No one just gets the answers one day or figures it all out. It comes in time and with experience.

So, don’t panic if you don’t know everything, don’t have the skills or your business is not in the exact place you want it to be right now.

The power of career compounding 

People want everything now. But, the overnight success story is BS.

The smart ones focus on decades not days. We often look at the end product, not the long journey that paved the way for the current success.

Compounding small changes over time leads to HUGE results.

This is true for many aspects of life. Most certainly for our skills and careers. I tell people to invest in their career currency as much as they can in the early phase of their careers.

Your career currency is made up of your knowledge and credibility in a subject. And guess what that needs? Yes, you know it – time.

This is a slow game too. None of us can cheat time.

I’m pretty sure James Clear would like slow growth

Before you go… 👋

If you like my writing and think “Hey, I’d like to hear more of what this guy has to say” then you’re in luck.

You can join me every Tuesday morning for more tools, templates and insights for the modern L&D pro in my weekly newsletter.

L&D Tools Skills

This Is What Makes A World-Class Manager

I believe that looking after and leading other humans is one of the most challenging roles we can take on (outside of raising children of course).

That’s why we could all use a little help in putting our best foot forward.

Below, I’ve compiled data from a high-performing organisation to inform and inspire our own discovery on this topic.

There is no straightforward approach to building world-class managers.

No one has all the answers, sadly.

But, we have lots of data and experiences from those who’ve walked the walk from which we can learn.

What we can learn from high-performing organisations

Back in 2008, Google launched Project Oxygen aimed at discovering what makes a great manager at Google. 

Although this research focuses on the walls of Google, there’s much we can all learn about the role of management at one of the world’s largest and most profitable organisations.

This project kicked off in 2008 and continued until the end of 2018, accumulating a decade worth of research.

In their original findings from 2008, Google identified 8 behaviours on which they educated their managers, and of course, many other organisations copied to do the same in pursuit of similar success.

An update was released in 2018 which scaled to 10 behaviours to reflect the world at that point, including👇

Google’s data showed a strong statistical relationship between these behaviours and the effectiveness of managers across all corners of the organisation over the decade.

We could agree that these ten probably cover most, if not all, of the behaviours we look for in people managers.

The funny thing is that before Google conducted this research, they funded another internal research project to prove don’t managers don’t matter in a modern organisation!

Instead, they discovered that they do and they better find out what makes them great.

The turning point came in how the team defined manager quality.

They did this based on two quantitive measures: manager performance ratings and manager feedback from Google’s annual employee survey.

To their surprise, this data revealed that managers did matter.

Not only did they matter. They discovered that teams with managers were happier and more productive. Who would have thought, eh?

How can you do the same in your organisation?

No doubt, Google’s findings inspire us all, but how do we find out what makes managers great in our organisations?

Well, lucky for us, Google has made this method open source for all to use.

The team recommends that to determine what makes managers great, we should consider these three questions:

1/ Do managers matter in your organisation? 
Explore external research and internal input like surveys or interviews to determine if people managers matter to your team members’ performance and happiness.

2/ If managers matter, whom do you need to convince and how? 
Google used internal data to convince engineers and leaders that managers matter.

How will you convince your organisation?

3/ What makes a great manager at your organisation? 
Google found ten behaviours of successful managers – you might find you have two, three, or twelve.

Internal data, like employee survey results and interviews, can help uncover the elements of good management at your organisation.

You can also explore external research through, you guessed it, a simple Google search to get started.

What might you discover?

If, like me, reading research like this gets you excited to do the same in your workspace.

Although I like the behaviours that Google have listed, we could certainly add a few pieces to make this even better.

One thing that stands out for me is Emotional intelligence.

Though not specifically called out in the ten behaviours, we can see a few areas where it would overlap.

Nonetheless, the lessons learnt during the pandemic have brought this behaviour to the forethought of how we lead (and so it should).

Teaching people how to be more emotionally aware and lead with empathy can only be positive moves, right?

Hopefully, this edition has given you some food for thought, data to utilise and some idea on how to take action in your practice.

Before you go… 👋

If you like my writing and think “Hey, I’d like to hear more of what this guy has to say” then you’re in luck.

You can join me every Tuesday morning for more tools, templates and insights for the modern L&D pro in my weekly newsletter.

You might also like