12 Resources for Learning New Work-Related Skills
What’s the best resource for learning new work-related skills (whether for employees, executives or founders)?
The following answers are provided by members of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.
1. Interview Experts
The best resource for learning a new skill in a specific niche is to go and talk to experts in that domain. Of course, getting their time is extremely difficult, so we’ve developed a method that kills two birds with one stone. We publish these interviews online so the public can also gain knowledge and the experts get more visibility. It’s a win-win for all involved.
2. Create an Informal Advisory Network
Founders and employees at startups are often entering uncharted territories. They are running an ad campaign, building a financial statement or even managing for the first time. We introduce each of our employees to informal advisers with relevant expertise who are outside of Modify. These advisers can share best practices without getting caught up in the day-to-day needs of the business.
3. Attend Webinars
We ask that employees stay up-to-date with trends through relevant, industry-related webinars. We find that webinars are a powerful way to learn new skills. They tend to be more in-depth than podcasts or other online tutorials and are convenient — often free or very low cost.
4. Sign Up for Video Courses Online
I’m a huge fan of video courses. It’s possible to learn just about anything online these days. Lynda.com offers a plethora of classes for a low monthly fee; Coursera.com and YouTube both have seemingly endless free video lessons. Encourage your employees to make time to watch videos to learn new skills, and put time in your own schedule as well (I love watching courses on my phone at the gym!).
5. Start With Lifehacker University
Lifehacker University is a great portal of free online education resources, grouped by subject and organized by semester. I’ve found many excellent courses there on subjects I knew I needed to learn but didn’t want to spend time searching for. It’s all organized for me there. Even courses not directly related to my work have opened my mind and helped me to think more creatively.
6. Mentor Startups in Accelerators
The best way to learn about new skills and innovation is by mentoring startups. While as a mentor you impart valuable advice on starting and/or growing a business, you also have the opportunity to learn from a batch of dozens of innovative teams and their products. I recently joined MetaProp NYC and Motive, both of which are real estate accelerators, with the same intent.
7. Go to Conferences
Industry-related conferences are a great way to learn new skills. Nobody knows everything, so everyone from the founders to the employees can learn a lot by attending conferences. They’re also great team-building outings, and they open the door for new relationships. Even if your industry doesn’t have a dedicated conference, there are plenty of marketing conferences that are beneficial for all.
8. Read Great Books
Sometimes it’s important to go back to the basics. Reading a great book from an inspiring businessperson, tips on how to live a happier life, or something from the “For Dummies” series is just what I need to get my wheels turning in a new and positive direction. I often purchase various books for my team members that I believe will inspire them.
9. Attend Bootcamps
There are lots of specialized bootcamps out there that will train you quickly and effectively. For instance, I’ve heard good things about Code Fellows, a developer bootcamp where you can learn how to code. They teach you the skills and get your hands on it. It’s a quick but intense program that drills it into you.
10. Listen to Podcasts
Podcasts are great for gaining insight into a certain topic. Whether you want to learn how to negotiate or how to boost creativity, podcasts offer expert advice in a way that is intimate and relatable. It’s a great way to start the morning too, whether you’re listening to one while driving to work or sipping your morning coffee.
11. Share Resources
We encourage team members to share books, articles, blogs, podcasts etc. with the full team if they find something that inspires them. This helps build internal culture while bringing in fresh ideas from the outside. Often these ideas will lead to animated office discussions where we end up learning from each other as much as we learn from the resources we’ve shared.
12. Download an Audiobook
For auditory learners, listening to an audiobook is a great way to learn a new skill. On iTunes, Amazon or Audible you’ll find the most popular business books in audio form, narrated by a professional. My own phone has been transformed into a mobile university where I listen to one chapter at a time while I multitask. Plus, it’s easy to go back and re-listen at any time to get a refresher.
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