Mentors, coaches and the like are not really that easy to come by – at least, the ones that you like and trust and can build a lasting rapport with even when, or especially when, you’re paying them to be an advisor.
I’ve spent the past few months mulling over a business problem, spinning it around in my mind like a Rubik’s cube, trying to solve the riddle with very little success. Each time I thought I was close to the answer it receded like a mirage in the shimmering desert. Yet all the while I was plagued by a persistent knowledge that the solution was simple and it was right there within my grasp. How annoying is that? Well, if you’ve never experienced anything like it, it’s maddeningly so. If you have, then you know precisely what I’m talking about.
As a business consultant I am rarely at a loss about what to do when it comes to my clients’ or other people’s business issues, always ready with solutions and helpful suggestions and advice. When those issues relate to my own business, however, all of a sudden I’ve got a great big blind spot; it’s like I’m a juggler learning to perform with one hand tied behind my back and the other pinned at my side—in other words, it’s a challenge.
Now, there’s no shame in admitting you need professional help—I wouldn’t have a business if that weren’t true—and most service professionals of one kind or another seek out mentors, coaches, advisors, therapists and so on from which to gain greater insight into their profession, hone their craft, if you will, and continue to advance and deepen their expertise. But mentors, coaches and the like are not really that easy to come by – at least, the ones that you like and trust and can build a lasting rapport with even when, or especially when, you’re paying them to be an advisor to you or your business. Again, I should know.
As an expert it’s also important to continually monitor the field, stay up-to-date, and know what other experts are doing, so with both the desire to find a qualified advisor and check out the competition I began attending quite a number of free business coaching or strategy sessions either via teleseminar or webinar over the past several weeks. In short, I was on a hunt to find the needle in the haystack, the prince among frogs.
What I found and learned was this:
What do you think? Have you found free teleseminars and/or webinars a useful tool in solving your business or career issues? I'd love to know how your experience compares to mine, so get in touch.
Participating in this fascinating social, educational, and even cultural experiment that has the power to transform learning and teaching worldwide, is a pretty amazing opportunity in and of itself.
I’m going to admit something that for some, I'm sure, isn't going to shatter any illusions, but I did not entirely hate school when I was a kid. In fact, I kind of dug it. Granted, I didn’t love the uneasy feeling of not knowing what awaited me at the beginning of each school year, but from an early age I grew addicted to learning and the opportunity to dive into the things I really enjoyed like literature and history and music. I also loved the wonderful feeling of discovering something new that left me breathless and excited.
I suppose that’s why I always look forward to Labor Day like a small child welcomes the coming of Christmas, even though my school days are long behind me. While, of course, I know and believe we are lifelong learners—well, I am at any rate—my days of formal education ended with a graduate degree not quite two decades ago. Well, at least that’s what I thought.
When my BFF emailed me earlier this year about a website called Coursera, which offers free online courses from prestigious institutions of higher education, I was immediately suspicious. I worked in higher education once upon a time and know that courses weren’t just given away for free. My friend mentioned she’d already signed up for a course being offered by Stanford University, so that certainly made me curious. When I check out the site for myself it all seemed on the up and up.
I ended up signing up for two classes: Gamification offered by The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, which I took for business purposes, and Introduction to Philosophy, offered by The University of Edinburgh, which I always wanted to take in college, but could never quite fit into my schedule.
My Gamification class just started at the beginning of September. Taught by Wharton Associate Professor, and co-author of the ebook For the Win, Kevin Werbach, it’s one of the first university-level courses on this timely subject. You can take the class for a certificate of completion, which means you need to do the weekly homework, complete the quizzes and final exam, and participate in the discussion forums, or you can simply watch the lectures and do whatever aspects of the homework, quizzes, etc. you want if you don’t really care about the certificate, which requires a passing grade.
The course itself won’t earn you any college credits, so, other than the certificate, which I do think you could list on your resume and anywhere else such credentials would be of value, here’s what I’m getting out of my online educational experience that’s certainly worth the time investment, never mind the tuition:
And, although it’s not on the hit list above, participating in this fascinating social, educational, and even cultural experiment that has the power to transform learning and teaching, not just in higher education, but across the entire spectrum of education worldwide, is a pretty amazing opportunity in and of itself.
So, while I watch all the kids in my neighborhood acclimate to their new school schedules, their shiny new backpacks already weighted down with more books than their small frames are meant to carry, this September, rather than feel a twinge of envy, I’m actually commiserating. For I, too, have quizzes and a final exam for which I need to study and homework I have to devote a portion of my weekends to (aw, man, that’s so not fair).