My Only Career Plan: Lifelong learning and modern transitions
My first exposure to marketing as a profession was in the late 1980s. I had enrolled in college straight out of high school with no real career path in mind. My intake advisor, noting my interest in fashion, suggested I study fashion merchandising. (That’s a bachelor’s degree in textiles with a minor in marketing on the side.) So, that’s what I studied. Great plan, right?
What I didn’t study during my years in college was how to actually be a fashion merchandiser, marketer or even an employee. I worked part-time jobs during school but had no clue about how to develop a real career. While I was able to land a job quickly once I graduated, it wasn’t a good fit for me. And, still not aware of how to pursue alternative, I opted to head back to school–this time for a law degree. (Blame the Walt Disney movie, The Shaggy DA, for that one.)
I know this history may sound a little aimless, but I don’t regret any of my educational choices. We are the whole of what we learn through life. At different points and for different purposes, I’ve been able to apply much of what I learned in college and law school. And, I enjoyed my elective classes. Of course, back then, I had plenty of time to spare. Attending classes, whether relevant to my long-term goals or not, was my career.
New channels of information discovery: Pros and cons
My college pursuits are all ancient history now. But my pursuit of learning is not. I still enjoy learning new information and adding to my skill set. I am a self-learner.
However, my process for gaining knowledge has changed. I no longer have the time to enroll in semester-long classes to gain the knowledge I need. And, when I seek new information, my quest is more focused. I’m usually looking for answers to a specific question rather than studying just for the fun of it.
Of course, finding information on a wide range of topics has become much easier than it was in my college years.
Online databases were just becoming popular when I entered law school and the two leading case law vendors vied to win the hearts and minds students hoping that we would become customers for life. And while old legal cases may still be hidden behind gated walls, plenty of other information is not.
Now, I tend to take for granted that I can find the answer to most questions with a quick online search.
Information overload in the internet age
Even as I delight in the wealth of knowledge available at my fingertips, I have to admit that this web-driven information age has some drawbacks. In the past, our ability to learn was limited by our access to resources. Today we face the opposite, an overload of information.
It is simply impossible for a single person to locate and filter all the information on any given topic. Which means we have to rely on aggregation and curation to help us find what we are looking for. This requires us to trust whoever or whatever is collecting and screening our content, whether it is a search engine, college professor, executive trainer, or a thought leader.
And, as the amount of information available worldwide increases, the job of locating the information we want will only become more challenging.
So what kind of information do self-learners like me want?
Professionals want and need content that is actionable, relevant and contains timely information
One criterion for self-learners like me who are looking for efficient ways to improve their skills is that the information they find be applicable to real-world situations.
Sure, there are some fundamental theories in every field that practitioners should understand. However, what we really need to grow as professionals is information that we can apply in the present.
Based on the content of Josh Gallant’s article, Why Universities Are Not Preparing Marketers for the Digital World, that’s not what we always find when we look to traditional resources for learning. He writes that traditional courses still focus too much on theory and not enough on real-world application.
As a result, many of today’s students leave school the same way I did: Unclear on what to do next and not really sure if they even want the career they studied for.
Also, when you are studying with the goal of advancing your career, you have limited time. So you need to choose to learn skills that you’ll actually use. For many of us, this means targeted or micro-learning. We need to be able to acquire the information we need without getting bogged down with superfluous content that doesn’t help us reach our goal.
As the authors of The Future of Leadership Development explain, we need learning that is “personalized, socialized, and adaptive” allowing us to learn in the flow of our workday to gain the skills we need.
This is a far step from pre-recorded courses that try to be everything to everyone and printed textbooks that are out of date before they leave the warehouse.
Finally, we want information that is accurate and up-to-date. The rapid change in digital technologies represents what experts say is only the fourth general-purpose technology revolution in the history of mankind. And, general-purpose technology transformations tend to be a bit disruptive.
It has certainly been disruptive for marketers. How many thought leaders were sharing tips for leveraging Google+ for marketing just two years ago? Three weeks ago, we were reading articles touting TikTok as the next big thing in social media. Today? We’ll have to wait to see if it survives India’s nationwide ban. [Update: 24/4 TikTok lives to stream another day.]
So, how can professional marketers with a desire to learn but limited time locate and consume information that is actionable, relevant, and timely?
Yam Regev and Idan Yalovich have spent the past several years developing the answer to that first with Zest and now with Zest Enlight.
Delivering next-level self-learning to marketers
Zest Enlight is the mobile version of Zest and it will take Zest’s already great self-learning experience to a whole new level.
Those of you who are already part of the Zest community know the power that community brings to finding and sharing the best content for upskilling your marketing talent. I rely on Zest when I’m researching marketing topics for my clients and to stay up-to-date on the latest marketing trends.
Zest Enlight leverages that same community-curated content and adds personalized content selections and accountability. Using proprietary AI technology to select your content Zest Enlight will serve as your personal learning coach. You choose the topics and the timing, and Zest Enlight delivers.
I’m excited to share Zest Enlight with you because I believe it gives professionals the support they need to develop their careers without interrupting their flow.
Right now, you can sign up to try out the beta version of Zest Enlight and join over 3,800 other self-learners who are participating in our closed beta. If you sign up before April 30, 2019, you’ll have free access to Zest Enlight forever. That offer includes not just the beta version but every version–every new feature, always free.
If lifelong learning is part of your career plan, like it is for me, I encourage you to take advantage of this chance to have a front-row seat as Zest launches the next level of self-learning. Join our tribe of self-learners and let’s see where this combination of community and technology can take us.