Tag Archives: lifelong learning

It Takes A Learner To Learn – Consider Matt Damon

Quoted without comment (but with a lot of admiration!)

For all his star power, though, Damon is more than just the pretty face of Water.org. He has turned himself into a development expert. This would seem like an obvious and necessary first step for someone embracing the global water crisis as a personal mission. But, in fact, it’s highly unusual for a celebrity to dive this deep into a problem this daunting.

Please make the time to read this article from Fast Company:  Can Matt Damon Bring Clean Water To Africa? – The inside story of Matt Damon’s bold yet sane plan to use his celebrity and smarts to help attack one of the globe’s great crises by Ellen McGirt.

Lifelong Learning – Thinking About Why College, and Lifelong, Ongoing Learning, Really Matter

From Wikipedia:
Lifelong learning is the continuous building of skills and knowledge throughout the life of an individual. It occurs through experiences encountered in the course of a lifetime. These experiences could be formal (training, counseling, tutoring, mentorship, apprenticeship, higher education, etc.) or informal (experiences, situations, etc.)[1] Lifelong learning, also known as LLL, is the “lifelong, voluntary, and self-motivated”[2] pursuit of knowledge for either personal or professional reasons. As such, it not only enhances social inclusion, active citizenship and personal development, but also competitiveness and employability.

(Hey – somebody needs to add “It comes through disciplined, lifelong reading”)…


On our blog (and on the other sites for which he writes), Bob Morris is always helping us learn to ask the right questions.  Why?  Because, learning is about finding, and then pursuing, such questions and their answers.

From a terrific, substantive article in the New Yorker, about the current and ongoing debate about “Is a college degree worth it?” (the answer is yes!), we can learn a lot about learning.  The article is Live and Learn:  Why we have college by Louis Menand.  In the article, he draws much from two provocative books, Academically AdriftLimited Learning on College Campuses by Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa, and In the Basement of the Ivory Tower:  Confessions of an Accidental Academic by Professor X  (I’ve posted about this anonymous, adjunct professor/author before).

Here, from the article, is a simple yet challenging moment from a college classroom:

Soon after I started teaching there, someone raised his hand and asked, about a text I had assigned, “Why did we have to buy this book?”

I got the question in that form only once, but I heard it a number of times in the unmonetized form of “Why did we have to read this book?” I could see that this was not only a perfectly legitimate question; it was a very interesting question. The students were asking me to justify the return on investment in a college education. I just had never been called upon to think about this before. It wasn’t part of my training. We took the value of the business we were in for granted.

I could have said, “You are reading these books because you’re in college, and these are the kinds of books that people in college read.” If you hold a certain theory of education, that answer is not as circular as it sounds. The theory goes like this: In any group of people, it’s easy to determine who is the fastest or the strongest or even the best-looking. But picking out the most intelligent person is difficult, because intelligence involves many attributes that can’t be captured in a one-time assessment, like an I.Q. test. There is no intellectual equivalent of the hundred-yard dash. An intelligent person is open-minded, an outside-the-box thinker, an effective communicator, is prudent, self-critical, consistent, and so on. These are not qualities readily subject to measurement…

College was a gate through which, once, only the favored could pass. Suddenly, the door was open: to vets; to children of Depression-era parents who could not afford college; to women, who had been excluded from many of the top schools; to nonwhites, who had been segregated or under-represented; to the children of people who came to the United States precisely so that their children could go to college. For these groups, college was central to the experience of making it—not only financially but socially and personally. They were finally getting a bite at the apple. College was supposed to be hard. Its difficulty was a token of its transformational powers.

This is why “Why did we have to buy this book?” was such a great question. The student who asked it was not complaining. He was trying to understand how the magic worked. I (a Theory 2 person) wonder whether students at that college are still asking it.

You’ll have  to read the article to understand the two theories (“I am a Theory 2 person,” Menand writes).  But the article will help you better understand just why a college education can be, should, and could be so valuable; and when it is done well, definitely provides such very great value to the individual student and to our entire society.

It will also challenge you to genuinely become, and remain, that lifelong learner we hear so much about.  It’s a great read!

We’ve Joined the “3,000 Club” – This is Our 3,000th Blog Post

Reading remains an unsurpassed vehicle for the transmission of interesting new ideas and perspectives.
Steven Johnson,  Where Good Ideas Come From:  The Natural History of Innovation

As business leaders, we’re voracious seekers of business improvement ideas in the form of conferences, books, blogs, and training.  We want our performance to be better, and we know it should be better. 
Gary Harpst, Six Disciplines Execution Revolution:  Solving the One Business Problem that Makes Solving All Other Problems Easier

Of course I cannot do without a single one of these possessions, including more or less every book I have owned since I was seven, starting with Huckleberry Finn.  Other books I can’t throw away because–well, they’re books, and you can’t throw away a book, can you?
Roger Ebert (see this blog post)



That is something of a magic number.  There is a 3,000 hits club in baseball, with only 27 players in all of MLB history to reach that milestone.  (Here’s an amazing fact – not one New York Yankees player is on the list.  Hard to believe!  Derek Jeter has over 2800 hits, and still active).

And now, 3,000 is the number for this blog.  This morning, I am posting this, article/post #3,000, on the Frist Friday Book Synopsis blog.  Not bad considering how long we have been at this.

Though Karl Krayer and I posted a few entries (literally, a few—not more than two in any one month for the first 15 months of this blog), in April, 2009, everything changed.

First, I decided I really liked blogging.  So I started posting far more often than at first.

But then, the real change came when we expanded our “blogging team.”  We asked some others to join our efforts.  Karl and I continued to write; Cheryl wrote a few posts.  But the writer with the most at-bats (to continue the analogy) is Bob Morris.

As I stated in our most recent e-mail to our First Friday Book Synopsis e-mail list:

Bob Morris posts multiple posts every day.  Interviews with authors; book reviews; nuggets from a wide array of business sources.  This is truly a place to keep learning.   It is worth reading, every day, with valuable, useful content.

And so, as the months progressed, the blog took on its current personality.  Bob is the king of content.  He provides, quite literally, a business ideas, business trends, business questions education.  In case you can’t tell, I genuinely admire him, and learn much from him and his writing.

I think I provide something like business devotional reading – kind of business sermons.  (I spent 2 decades in full time ministry/preaching).

But we are all deeply committed to lifelong learning. It’s not that we love books (though we do) – it is that we believe in the value of, and the energizing power of, learning – true lifelong learning.

So, yes, this is a blog about business books, and many business subjects/issues.  But it is not quite a blog about business books.  It is much more a blog about learning; a blog providing a place to help you learn; a blog devoted to lifelong learning.  And our commitment to learning flows from our experience with books — we read, therefore we learn.

And, a very special thank you to you, our readers.  Yes, your numbers have grown, and continue to grow.  How big is our readership?  I have not figured out how we compare to others.  But we have grown from less than a handful of readers to nearly 600 page views every day – and that number increases month after month.

Bookmark us; spread the word about this blog.  Use those buttons at the end of each of these articles: tweet our articles, put them on your Facebook page – help us tell others.

We simply want to help each other learn – it’s that simple.


This blog is a part of the overall First Friday Book Synopsis community.  It all starts with our monthly learning event, at which Karl Krayer and I each present a synopsis of a useful, valuable business book.  We have met every month since April, 1998.  Take a look (thanks to Anastasia Lankford for the photos):


Many people prepay on-line, and pick up their name-tags and packets - no wait; others pay "at the door"

We visit before the event

The Park City Club has a great breakfast buffet (with made-to-order omelet bar)

People eat, visit with each other, and listen and learn together

At the end of the event each month, we give the books away

Lifelong Learning – One Life-Long String of Refresher Courses

“The only job security is found in your own ability to keep learning!”
Peter Drucker

“Through learning, we re-create ourselves.”
Peter Senge


We all know the challenge – to keep learning.  But, in most cases, learning is not learning something new, but instead, remembering what we knew, but forgot — or remembering what we knew, but never actually implemented.  (back to that knowing-doing gap).

Thus, one way to look at the lifelong learning challenge is as one life-long string of Refresher Courses.

I thought of this as I was perusing CoxToday (the Spring, 2011 issue:  you can download the issue here), the publication of the Cox School of Business at SMU.  In “What Do Recruiters Look For In BBA Graduates?”  Paula Hill Strasser, MBA Business Leadership Center and BBA Leadership Institute, describes key skills, especially “soft skills,” that are quite important in landing those first jobs, and then succeeding in those jobs.  She lists 4 primary ones, and then a few others:

1)    Good presentation skills (“Communication is first”).
2)    Excellent writing
3)    Leadership Skills
4)    International Immersion
5)    and those soft skills like:  professionalism, strong work ethic, negotiation skills, conflict management skills, team building skills…

Strasser:  “There is a belief that soft skills have become the hard skills for many new hires because it’s easy to measure quantitative skills.”

Here’s my thought.  SMU may realize that these are critical to their graduates as they start out in their business careers, but in our experience (my work with Karl Krayer, and others), this list represents the perpetual curriculum for the business refresher course learning that can never stop.

Think about it:  have you ever sat through a less than stimulating presentation; have you ever heard of a poorly functioning team; have you ever seen the effects of a mediocre (or worse) leader?  These cry out for some serious, ongoing refresher work.  None of these are skills that you can learn, master, and then never need to refresh.

Companies provide training, mentors, “CEUs,” but it really is up to the individual to take advantage of such opportunities.  And each individual has to take the opportunity seriously – that is, actually learn.  You know:  you can lead a horse to water….

And if a company or organization has not built a culture of lifelong learning, you will see these skills diminish.  It simply takes constant attention, with regular, perpetual, ongoing refresher efforts.

What about you?  Are you regularly refreshing your knowledge, practicing your skills, and staying current?  If not – it’s time to start.  So…start!


(disclosure:  I am an instructor in the Edwin L. Cox Business Leadership Center at the Cox School of Business — a wonderful program for their students).

Keep Learning – It’s Your Only Job Security (Macrowikinomics reinforces this ever-more-true truth)

Yesterday you graduated and you were set for life – only needing to “keep up” a bit with ongoing developments in your chosen field.  Today when you graduate you’re set for, say, fifteen minutes.  If you took a technical course in the first year of your studies, half of what you learned may be obsolete by your fourth year…  What counts more is your capacity to learn lifelong, to think, research, find information, analyze, synthesize, contextualize, and critically evaluate; to apply research to solving problems, to collaborate and communicate.  This is particularly important for students and employees who compete in a global economy…  given networked business models, knowledge workers face competition in real time.  Workers and managers must learn, adapt, and perform like never before.
Don Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams, Macrowikinomics: Rebooting Business and the World

{Peter Drucker said it first:
“The only job security is found in your own ability to keep learning!”}

{And Peter Senge:
“Through learning, we re-create ourselves.”}