“Don’t know much about history; Don’t know much technology …”
By the title of this post alone, you might guess that my original professional frame of reference may be a few decades old. And you’d be right. Add to that a number of career breaks over the years, and you’ll understand how this familiar song (Wonderful World) might have played non-stop through my head when I was hired to handle marketing for iRelaunch in 2011.
All I could think about was how much I didn’t know about technology - and the learning curve I was facing. When I started my career in Public Relations and Communications, “press type” and fax machines were the norm. Now, using Adobe Creative Suite (on the CLOUD no less!), Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram is expected to be second nature. Resumes aren't on paper, they're on LinkedIn. And slides aren’t in a carousel, they're in PowerPoint.
There was no job description for my position at iRelaunch, so I wrote my own. Basically, it was to grow public awareness of iRelaunch in any way I could … oh, and manage the website, built on the Drupal platform (the WHAT?).
Rather than feeling overwhelmed at what I didn’t know, I jumped in wholeheartedly! Never used Drupal before? So what, I’ll figure it out. New to all these social media outlets? There’s got to be a YouTube video that can tell me what to do! And Adobe Creative Suite? Thank you, Lynda.com (now LinkedIn Learning).
Since starting at iRelaunch, I’ve not only mastered these technologies (okay, I admit, sometimes Drupal can still unhinge me at times!) but have learned and mastered many others as well. Our “3, 2, 1, iRelaunch” podcast started with me searching the Internet for “How to Make a Podcast” and being determined to learn how to edit audio in Audacity. Our online “iRelaunch Return to Work Roadmap” was the result of finding a platform called “Kajabi,” watching every available tutorial, and joining the Facebook Users Group so I could learn more from my peers.
My excitement about learning new things is supported unconditionally by iRelaunch Chair and Co-founder Carol Fishman Cohen and our CEO Jill Kravetz, and I 100% attribute their encouragement and confidence in me to any success or comfort I have in trying something new. I’m also very fortunate to have awesome teammates who know that working together to help each other makes all our jobs easier. We’re all fearless about learning new things, and we want you to be too.
Here’s a few things you can do to become a fearless learner too:
- Embrace the excitement (yes, it’s excitement, not anxiety) about learning something new. Decide that you don’t have to become an expert and let go of the perfectionism! Congratulate yourself for your courage and jump in!
- Remember, technology is always changing. If you start learning something now, you’re probably going to be a step ahead of the person who learned it a year ago!! Think how great that’s going to feel!
- Be proactive in your plan to learn more. Right now, I’m auditing the edX HarvardX: CS50 Introduction to Computer Science – just for fun! Its free to audit, and you have complete access to all the course material, activities, tests, and forums. True, I can’t get a Harvard certificate at this price (but for $90 I could!!).
- Pick one thing to learn that could help you return to work. Choose something in your field of interest or choose something different just to see if you like it. Find a free class to start (YouTube is such a great resource!). Then, make a decision to succeed and add this to your list of competencies.
- Most of all, STOP telling yourself you can’t do it, or you don’t have the resources to do it, and START applauding your efforts. It’s a head game – decide that you’re going to win it!