Sep

17

2013

Learning Every Day

by Dan Balow

Doors opening to show flying letters in a grey room

One of the favorite things I do each month is to get together with three friends to talk about life and work.  We meet for breakfast and share what we are doing.  All of us are Christ followers and have known each other for many years.  We discuss issues related to the changing world of communications as all four are involved in various aspects of the media.

For example, I recall one day that we discussed how bad news has much more velocity than good news in social media.  One of the breakfast gurus mentioned an event he was involved in promoting where comments were being posted on social media during the event, by the participants. (It was a very large race…no idea how people on racing bicycles can be Tweeting) We then discussed how public relations used to be a process of spinning a story and getting media to cover it in manner you wanted.  Now, negative comments seem to take on a life of their own before we know it.

Each month the subject is different, mostly unplanned, but always interesting and always challenging.

Each generation, there is an important skill to be practiced that is a key to working successfully.  I recall many years ago when personal computers came on the scene and thinking that I was really happy that I took a typing class in high school.  Now, the schools call it “keyboarding”, but the QWERTY keyboard is as important to every job today as good handwriting was a couple generations ago.

So what is the critical skill for today?  I believe it is continually learning new things.  Call it being a life-long learner.

A comment that was reserved as a quaint compliment for a person who takes a class at the local junior college when they are 70 years old is now a critical skill for work-survival at all ages.  If you are not learning something every week of your life, you are in jeopardy of becoming irrelevant.

I have a challenge for you.  Make a regular effort to learn something new about the media in which we work.  Do a little every day or week, but do it.

We gather in small groups to study Scripture, so why not use that same model to regularly gather in a small group to discuss writing, publishing, reading and changes in the media?

Do it for your work and craft.  At the end of each week, you should be able to identify something new you learned.  And most importantly, just like we need to take the head-knowledge from a Bible study and apply it to life…create an action plan to act on it.

By the way, our Agency blog is one way to grow your publishing mind.  Also, consider subscribing to daily news feeds from paidcontent.org and publishingperspectives.com.

Your Turn

What new thing did you learn last month?

7 Responses to “Learning Every Day”

  1. Ron Estrada September 17, 2013 at 4:14 am #

    Funny you mention the typing class, Dan. I took mine as a senior year blow off class in 1984. Once computers became mainstream, I realized it was the best thing I did in high school. I’ve learned that our social media presence grows quickly and is not as hard to establish as some may think. I’ve lamented that I don’t have many readers of my real-writer’s blog, certainly nowhere near that magical 10k mark that we’re told to aim for. Then I mentioned to an agent this weekend at ACFW that I do have 25k subscribers to a newsletter I write for a small RV company. The newsletter is all about camping, RVing, and such. She informed me that is a following. RVers read books, too. I also write for a local magazine with a distribution of 10k. Not much in the magazine world, but they also have a website, facebook page, etc. I also write for a couple of Christian blogs that total up to 5k readers. So when I tally everything, I’ve got 40k potential readers. Really! I had no idea. So my lesson of the month is that an online presence doesn’t just mean blog hits. We have a much greater reach than we realize. Volunteer to help out with blogs, websites, newsletters for non-profs. The magic 10k number is well within reach. Now I’ve just got to write a great book to sell them.

  2. Nancy B. Kennedy September 17, 2013 at 6:28 am #

    I’m such a word person and not at all attuned to visuals. So, I’m pleased that in just the last few minutes, I’ve learned how to create a collage on PicMonkey!

  3. Jeanne Takenaka September 17, 2013 at 6:31 am #

    Dan, one thing I like about your posts is how you give me something to think about, as well as great links. I love the idea of being part of a group that encourages/challenges me to stretch in my knowledge and application of things like social media.

    I haven’t been purposely focused on acquiring new skills or knowledge over the past couple months, because life has demanded all my time. But, I’m going to take your challenge on and be intentional about learning new skills, concepts each week.

    BTW, this was a great line: “If you are not learning something every week of your life, you are in jeopardy of becoming irrelevant.”

  4. Robin Patchen September 17, 2013 at 7:50 am #

    I couldn’t agree with you more about this. Fifteen years ago, I didn’t own a PC, and I’d just purchased my first cell phone. There was no such thing as mp3 players and iPhones were a figment of someone’s imagination. Today, those things are not only common but essential to life. What will the world look like in 15 more years? I believe in my Christian walk that if I’m not moving closer to Christ everyday, then I’m drifting away. The same holds with this: if we’re not choosing to stay abreast of the latest media and technological changes, we’ll fall behind without realizing it. And if we want to be in the world and communicate Christ’s love to the world, then we have to understand the world’s tools, whether we like them or not.

  5. Rebecca Barlow Jordan September 17, 2013 at 10:47 am #

    Dan, I appreciate your post. Being a “life-long learner” has been my life-long philosophy. I love to learn new things, though the older I get, the longer it may take me. Still, there is a joy in mastering a new skill, in overcoming a new challenge, and in finding new ways to impact our world through writing. Our world is changing so rapidly, it’s imperative to keep on learning. Can it be frustrating at times? Yes. But doing so with a group of others makes it more fun.

    Years ago, I tried to establish the habit of learning one thing new that day. I wasn’t always successful, but I kept trying. For me, I never would have known I could write more than one thing had I not tried and learned different crafts. And that’s true, whether it’s technology, the arts, in ministry, or any of our work. I become stagnant when I refuse to change or learn. So thanks for this reminder.

    • Dan Balow September 17, 2013 at 12:28 pm #

      Good going! To make this a spiritual issue, the very nature of disciple of Jesus Christ is to cast off our own opinions and tendencies and to put on those of Christ. Renewing our minds means we have to change our mind about something.

      I think lifelong learning should be second nature to believers because we are doing it every day!

  6. Jackie Layton September 17, 2013 at 12:59 pm #

    I try to learn something every day by stopping by different writing blogs.

    I appreciate everything you all teach me. Thanks!

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