Learning New Tricks

16 Jan

Ever since I can remember, I have been interested in learning how to do new things. For some reason, the learning is more important to me than the end point of having learned.

Some people are just never satisfied. I’ll admit to a bit of that. Growing up, my parents moved 14 times between my birth and finishing college. So I come by it honestly — my mom is a big believer in change. She likes the smell of new carpet, I guess.

But for me that searching is about new ways of thinking. My work is an outlet for this, in a productive way. The landscape of public affairs, PR, marketing and advertising is constantly in flux, which keeps my thinking fresh. My discovery of social media has been an outlet for me personally and a boon to my professional portfolio. Helping clients learn more about how to apply social media in the business environment has become one of my pet projects. I am impressed by how technology can help our productivity, and help us to pioneer new ways of delivering our work processes and products. Olivier Blanchard (blogger handle The Brand Builder) has a good post about this phenomenon.

Client account management is fluid–never a dull moment–and it also keeps my brain flexible. Working with people, including their infinite array of ways to surprise and engage my imagination, is fulfilling. I am fascinated by the dynamics of teamwork in the client environment. Just yesterday I facilitated a meeting that included several more junior associates that are all up-and-comers. We were brainstorming with a client, who happens to be a guru in his area of practice, and I observed such active creativity that would never have occurred via conference call or back-and-forth e-mail messages. The beauty of client engagement is the interpersonal, in-person contact that fuels our work. I was proud of our team for the ability to bring best-practice thinking to the table and infuse it with in-the-moment solutioning. You can make your agenda, plan the desired outcome of a meeting and anticipate how it will unfold, but so often it goes in a different and improved direction. In yesterday’s case, we were generating new ideas that will soon be moved into execution. It’s good to see a group’s ideas go from start to finish.

And knitting is similar. I just learned how to make cables–easier than I thought it would be. And they are just lovely. I am so proud of my cables.  Every new row of cables makes me happier. There’s a beauty in learning a new technique and repeating it row by row, letting it sink in. Mastery of one’s craft–for fun or for money–is rewarding.

Teaching is a natural progression for this admirer of change. Yesterday I led an informal lunch-and-learn session on using FastTrack for project management. I’ve found that PR professionals do not always see the benefits of this practice, but at Paul Werth Associates my colleagues understand the practical application and how this can help us to be better account managers. I would like to do more teaching in my field, and have equally enjoyed opportunities to share my knowledge of knitting with those who are learning their way.

I never teach my pupils; I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn. – Albert Einstein

The teacher if he is indeed wise does not teach you to enter the house of wisdom but leads you to the threshold of your own mind. – Kahlil Gilbran, Lebanese symbolist poet and painter

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