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How Much Does an eLearning Freelancer Earn?

2 months Ago
I was recently asked by somebody who was thinking about quitting their job, what can they expect to earn as a freelance instructional designer or a freelance elearning developer? What's the typical salary over the first 12 months? Now that question is extremely difficult to answer and obviously there's so many factors involved right through from how much experience you have, to what skills you have, to where in the world you're located, how many people you know in the industry that might be able to refer work your way etc. But saying that "this is a difficult question to answer" isn't really helping anyone! So what I thought I'd do in today's video is lay out exactly what I earned in my first 12 months of freelancing and then dig into that information a little bit. Now as I was doing the research for this video, I took a look at my accounting software and I realised that the first 12 months of my freelance career are a really good example to talk about because they're pretty typical for anyone who's about to start freelancing. And what I mean by that is that I did lots of different types of projects, I worked with in those projects in different roles, some of the projects I did were directly with my own clients and some were subcontracting roles with agencies. So I think what I'm going to share today will be quite good for you to benchmark against if you're thinking of starting to freelance or maybe you've already started and you want to just draw some comparisons. Now before we get started, I thought it'd be useful to give you a bit of context. When I started freelancing I was 34/35 years old. I was living in London which was an advantage because it meant I could attend the on-site meetings with clients and agencies who were potentially going to work with. I have about I think up to about 15 years experience in learning and development and approaching 10 years experience in elearning. And I'm not saying that to try and scare anyone but because I think that the quality of your experience is far more important than the quantity. But it's obviously important to be aware of that if you're starting to compare yourself against me based on what I talked about in this video. It may also be interesting for you to know that I don't have any formal qualifications when it comes to training or learning and development or instructional design. I do have a degree which was in computer-aided design which obviously is design related. But I have no formal qualifications around the type of freelance work that I was doing. So let's get into the detail. I looked at my profit and loss sheet for the year 2015, 2016 which was the first full accounting year as a freelancer. And my business revenue for that year was pretty much bang on £60,000. Now it's important that you recognise that I used the word 'revenue' there, because I think one of the problems when we start freelancing is that we think that all the money that comes in is profit and that's not true because you're going to have costs. So within my first year I had to pay for access to a coworking space, I had to buy a computer, I had to buy software to use on the computer to deliver the projects. I attended some conferences, I bought some subscriptions to training modules and access to things that were going to help me learn how to run a business. So all of that obviously comes out of the revenue that you're taking from your business. But I would say that that first 12 months my costs were relatively low. So all the numbers I'm gonna be talking about today, you can probably, I don't know, shave off 10/20% and that will give you an idea of my costs. And if you're interested in seeing a breakdown of my business cost, so I'll pop a link to the video in the description. So let's start off by taking a look at how I actually earned this money. And the breakdown is quite interesting actually, it's about 50/50 split between money that I earn directly from my own clients versus money that I earned through subcontracting via an agency. And if you're not quite sure about the difference between freelancing and subcontracting and consulting, I'll pop a link to a video where I talked about this in the description. But that money came from 12 different companies. And so essentially six of those were my own clients and six of those were agencies. Now if we take a look at the breakdown of what I was actually doing to earn that money, £39,000 of that came from content development work. So that's almost two-thirds of the £60,000. So that was doing things like content development in PowerPoint, Keynote, Articulate Storyline, Camtasia Studio, I need some video work in VideoScribe as well, but it was that physical hands-on design type work. I earned £12,000 from doing instructional design work, so that was working with SMEs to write storyboards, things like that. I made another £5,000 through consulting style engagements. So that was where I was offering more strategic advice, talking to clients about things like, whether they needed a new learning management system. Or what style of training they should create that was going to achieve their objectives. Or whether they should be creating their training in-house or outsourcing it to an agency. But helping them with that more strategic level type work. And the remaining £4,000 pounds came from doing classroom training where I was actually working with businesses to train their staff on how to use rapid authoring software and the video editing software, things like that. So that they could maybe create the training in-house rather than actually outsourcing it to a third party. Now let's get a bit more granular and talk about the amount I actually earned for each project. And if we start off with the content development work. I did content development both for my own clients and for agencies as well as a subcontractor. Now for my own clients, I worked on a project rate where I charge the client a fixed fee to deliver a piece of training. And when I look back it was pretty terrible, I was really bad at estimating how much time it was gonna take to deliver a project. So I massively undercharged these clients for the work I was doing. So my effective hour or day rate was extremely low. But if I look at a comparison of that against the subcontracting work I did where I was doing both instructional design and content development work. My day rate was anything from £200 pounds I think the lowest earned, £200 a day that is up to £400 a day was probably the highest I earned for that type of work. Now the consulting work that I did was with my own clients. I actually charged the day rate for that because it was very much, it was very difficult to charge a project rate for that. And I was able to charge a lot more for that type of work and I think I charged anything from £600 to £800 a day for that type of work. So obviously that type of work was a lot more lucrative and you're selling your brain essentially rather than your hands and obviously that was a lot more profitable. But I found it really difficult to find a lot of that type of work and actually I made a video all about how I failed in my transition from freelancer to consultant. So I'll pop a link to that video as well in the description. Now you might be interested to know where I actually found this work. And I would say that almost 50% of that work came from referrals. So when I quit my job and started work with myself, I set up a website and I told everyone I knew pretty much. Friends, family, I posted on LinkedIn, I sent cold outreach email to people who I've met at conferences, people who I work with in the past. Just telling them what I was doing and putting a link there to my website and explaining what type of work I was looking for. This was brilliant when I started off because I think this is something you can do in the first 12 months but then once you've done that you pretty much exhaust all your options to do that. So in that time you need to build up other ways of finding work. But to begin with this was a great way for me of finding work. Another technique that I use that brought in probably 25% of the work throughout that 12 months was actually contacting agencies directly. So what I did is I went to a couple of conferences and I took a list of all of the elearning agencies that were exhibiting there because I figured that they were probably big enough to need freelancers to help them and then I contacted them directly. So I did the same thing, I wrote an email, put a link to my website. And I spent some time making sure my website looked good and I had some nice examples there. And this gave agencies the confidence to recruit me and I was able to do a lot of subcontracting work like that. Now most of the client work that I did directly with my own clients, they came through inbound marketing, so they somehow found my website and contacted me directly. And I think I can attribute most of that to the fact that I was writing quite a lot of blog posts and that really helps exposure within Google. So I think using lots of good keywords in your blog's and writing about very relevant topics is a great way for people to find your website and then contact you. But I think that's more of a long game, and I think in the first 12 months you need other strategies to try and help you generate some business. The last part of this that I wanted to talk about was location. And within that first 12 months I would say 80% of the work I did was remote versus 20% of onsite work. Now I've proved to myself that working remotely is completely viable. And actually the last two years as many of you know I've been over here in Bali. So you don't need to be in a capital city or attending onsite meetings with clients or with agencies to be able to make a success of a freelance career. But I think when you're getting started it does really help because you can attend meetings, you can show your face, you can show people that you are who you say you are and you're trustworthy and you dress smartly and you can look people in the eye and talk confidently and build trust, that's the important thing. So I'm not saying that working remotely isn't possible but I think for me having just a little bit of contact with people in that first year was very, very helpful. So there's quite a lot to digest there. I hope that was useful. If you've got any questions. If I missed something that was kind of would have been useful that I include in this video and you'd like to know, please drop your question in the comment section below the video and I'll be more than happy to answer you. This is actually the last video you're gonna see from me here in Bali because next week we're going to be going over to Australia to spend some time with my wife's family. So you know pretty sad to be leaving Bali but pretty excited about the adventures that lie ahead. But I hope that was useful. If you've got any questions as I said, drop them in the comment section below the video. I'll see you in the next episode.

Is THIS Stopping You From Creating Incredible eLearning?

2 months Ago
If you want to create good quality, effective, engaging online training or e-learning - or whatever you want to call it, you need three key skills. Those are: 1) Instructional design Instructional deisgn is the ability to take a complex subject, break it apart, and be able to deliver it in a kind of digestible manner. You also need to add some kind of learning methodologies to make sure that the information is gonna be absorbed by the people learning from the material you're creating. You probably need to be quite good at teasing information out of subject matter experts, and communicating with those guys to make sure that you're getting the right information to put into the training. And, other things, like you probably need to be good at writing scripts and storyboards, to make sure that the language you're using is conversational and engaging and appropriate for the audience. 2) Graphic design The second skill you need to have is graphic design and the ability to make your content look visually appealing. So that would be understanding colors and the different color pallettes that you might need to use and how those colors work together, typography, fonts, you need to understand how to use different visual effects, animations, transitions, understand things like how to use white space so your content doesn't look overcrowded. And you need to make sure that your content is consistent, so, using the same style of images and the same style of graphics. 3) Development The third skill you need is the more technical development side of things, because you need to actually be able to build what you've designed. So that would include anything from the more basic rapid altering style tools where you're kind of creating that sort of slide layout, but then you go into the more detailed and the more complex programming languages like JavaScript and CSS, and obviously it depends what tool you're using to create your content, but you need a certain level of technical expertise to do that. If you're creating video content, you'll need to have a certain level of video editing expertise. And you're probably going to need to have some expertise on the platform on which your training is gonna be hosted as well, so whether that's a learning management system, or a WordPress website, or YouTube, wherever that training's gonna go, you need to have some understanding of the relationship between the content that you've created and the platform on which your content is gonna sit. Now, if you want to work with somebody who creates online training, or if you're maybe already doing a job that requires you to build e-learning, you need to make a really important decision. You can either focus 100% of your energy on becoming exceptional at one of these disciplines, or you can sacrifice some of that focus and just kind of get good enough at all of those different aspects of creating online training to just get by. So my thoughts on this is that if you really, truly look at yourself in the mirror and you think to yourself "yes, I really wanna create impact the world. I really wanna deliver work that's gonna help people do their job better, I wanna earn more money, I wanna become an expert at what I do. I wanna be able to command higher fees and become viewed upon within the industry as an expert"... if that's 100% what you want to achieve, I don't think there's a decision to be made here - you really have to pick one of those disciplines and double down and become an expert. If you say to yourself "I'm not quite sure, I think I'll just do all three and carry on plodding along in this direction", my gut feeling is that you'll never become an expert at any of those disciplines and the content and the training that you create will never be as good as it could be because you're selling yourself short. So my advice is that you really need to be quite honest with yourself and figure out a) what you're best at and b) what do you truly love doing when it comes to this? And some people might argue, if I just do one of those things, I'm gonna get bored, but actually I think the opposite is true. And if you really get stuck into something, you realize that there's so much to learn, and there's so much opportunity there that actually it becomes more exciting, because as you build up that expertise, you become more and more confident, and you feel like you're delivering more and more value. I hope that was useful, if you've got any questions or comments, as per usual, just drop them in the comment section below the video, and I'll see you in the next episode.

Why Web Design Is Better Than eLearning

2 months Ago
In the past few years, I've been as proactive as possible about actually learning about how to run a business, because when I quit my job I felt pretty confident about delivering, training, and doing the learning and development side of things - but I didn't have a clue about running a business. All that was completely new to me. So during that time I joined lots of mastermind groups and online communities that were basically designed for business owners and entrepreneurs to network and to try to have each other there as a support network and somewhere that you can talk to people about different questions whether it's marketing, accounting, project management, all the different facets that you need to run a business and having other people to speak to regardless of whether they work in learning and development and e-learning or whether they work in a different field is actually irrelevant because just having somebody else to speak to who is going through the same challenges is really useful. And a lot of the people that I've met on this journey have been web designers. Now with web design obviously, it's a pretty straight forward process. I'm not saying it's easy, but it's a simple process where you design a website, you put it online, and then you can share it with the world, and everyone can see it. Then once you share the URL with somebody, anybody can come along and just check out the website and they can look at the design, test the different functionality. They can try it on different devices to see how that website's optimised for different screen sizes, and you can even do things like actually explore the code and see how it was built, what technology was used. I think because of the fact that all these websites are public, and you can go and explore a website and you're gonna break it down, and test it, and jump on the different pages, and see how it all works, I feel that that really allows other web designers to have some competition and to get some inspiration and it gives them opportunities to see what else is out there and then go away and design their own work based on what they've seen that's already out there on the market. Now if I think about an example that's very relevant to me at the moment, I can liken that experience to YouTube because when I started vlogging, I didn't really have any idea what I was doing. I was just making it up as I went along and over time I hope that my content has improved in quality and I've learned a lot from watching other people make vlogs and watching tutorials about how to do it but also just analysing videos that are out there and in the public domain and getting ideas from people and the way to do it and the way you can improve the quality of the vlog. But the point of today's video is to highlight that we can't do this within e-learning and training design because 99% of the training that we create is behind closed doors, and I completely understand the reason behind that. Obviously if a company's investing in training, they don't want to necessarily make that training available to everybody especially if they've got quite unique strategies and ways of doing things that give them a business advantage. There are obviously reasons why they don't want to share that with the rest of the world. And I also realise that there are quite a few places where you can find examples of e-learning in the public domain. There's different websites and communities where you can go and see examples of people's work and I know that they have e-learning awards and things like that where you can see examples of best practice type e-learning. But that doesn't really negate the fact that there's a fundamental problem there whereby I would imagine 99.9% of training that is created is never seen by anybody apart from the audience who it is designed for. And that means that none of the rest of us who want to improve our skills as learning designers or training designers, we can't have the opportunity to do that unless we, because we can't see that work. I think this is probably one of the reasons that e-learning design, or training design is quite far behind other design industries because there's just not that level of competition because you don't have that much inspiration on a daily basis. Again we'll go back to the web design concept. We all use websites every day and quite often I'll visit the website and I think to myself, wow this is so beautifully designed, and I'll have an explore and I'll be really, really curious about it but I never get that experience when it comes to e-learning unless I actually go and seek it out. Now I don't think that there's a kind of top down solution to this where we can change the way the industry works to enable everyone to see each other's training. I just don't think that's feasible. But I think the best and the most feasible way of us improving this situation is first of all to be aware of it. You know anyone would say the first way to solve a problem is to be aware that there is a problem in the first place. So being aware that there is a problem is a big part of it. I would say secondly, is that it has to come from us as individuals, as training designers. We have to identify that there's an issue there that we are probably not getting exposed to much other e-learning or training design because on a day to day basis we're probably only working with other people in our office and we don't see all the other training that's being created out in the world. So we have to be really proactive and that might involve going to conferences, networking with other training designers, or other people who are working in your field. You could go to meet up groups. You could set up a meet up group if you don't have one in your local area. It doesn't have to be a physical group. It could be maybe like an online community - I'm a member of a few Slack communities and that's been a great way of meeting new people that I'm getting to network with other people. And then you can share designs, share best practices, share tips and techniques, and I think that's the only way that we are collectively as an industry of individual training designers, the only way we're gonna improve our craft and really push the levels of e-learning design forwards is by being very proactive on the individual level. As I've said before, this is really, really hard because this isn't the work you're getting paid for. This isn't what your boss wants you to do. This isn't what your clients want you to do. This is something you have to do from an internal perspective to force yourself to get better. But I think as we all know, in times of financial difficulty, training is always the first thing that gets cut because it seen as a bit of a nice to have and that's probably a whole nother story. But we need to take the responsibility into our own hands and the way that we can prove our value and prove our worth is by becoming better designers, creating better content, and delivering more business value. So I hope that was useful. If you've got any questions or comments, please drop them into the comment section below the video. And I'll see you in the next episode.

The BEST eLearning

3 months Ago
In the last few weeks I've delivered the biggest project that I've ever worked on since I started working as a freelancer directly with my own clients. That project was to deliver a series of software training videos teaching people using my client's software how to kind of get started with the software but also going on to talk them through kind of more advanced functionality as well. The first part of the project was to deliver these videos in English but the software is being used around the world so the actual software interface can actually be changed into some of the different local languages as well. So the next part of the project will be to translate all the scripts into different languages. We'll then have to re-record with a voiceovers and re-record all the video recordings as well to show the software in those local languages. And I realised quite soon after I started sending the final versions of these videos through to the client that this was the first time I'd worked on my own project with my own clients where I actually felt that the work I was delivering was the best possible work I could've delivered and there was pretty much nothing I could've done to improve the quality of the work that we had created for them. And when I sat down to reflect on this and to really think about what was the reason behind this? Why was this project different to so many of the others that I've worked on where I feel like we've done good work and I've delivered a good level of final output to the client but what was different about this one that made me feel it was so much better and I think the key reason when I think about it, is that the client with whom I'm working on this project, is so much more focused on the final outcome of the training we're creating, rather than the training itself. So to give you some context, the software training videos that we're creating are designed to replace live webinar training that the client is currently delivering to users of the software. And they currently do two or three of these sessions every week. They take a couple of hours and obviously, that's a big kind of burden on the training team. But not only that, they have a customer support team who are also answering lots of questions about how the software work and every time they receive a question, they either have to kind of type up a response or phone the user directly to kind of give them an explanation over the phone, or point them to a help document. And they're spending a lot of time doing this so there's a huge burden there on both the training team and the customer support team. Now because the client is so focused on fixing this problem and avoiding this burden on all these people within the company, they've really focused on delivering a solution that's gonna work and this is in absolute huge contrast to some of the other projects I've worked one where somebody's come to me and said, "Look, we need "a training course." "We've got £10,000 budget." "We need to train our customers on x, y and z, "can you build us something?" And the difference is that if you're focusing on the outcome and solving the problem rather than just a box ticking exercise where you have to create a training course, the client with whom I'm working have been so much more receptive to my requirements. So, you know, I need to have this level of access with your subject matter experts. I'm gonna need this much of your time. I'm gonna need to work with some of your customers to understand their needs. I'm gonna need a certain amount of budget to build what will actually solve the problem. And that's a really, really big difference. And this really takes me back to a video I published a few a weeks ago where I talked about how I failed to transition from being a freelancer into an elearning consultant. And that's actually where the whole idea of Videobites came from because I struggled to make that transition so I'll post a link to that video in the description. But if you're just getting started freelancing or maybe you're working internally, as an elearning developer, or a learning and development consultant within your company, you're not always going to have the opportunity to work on projects where the final output that you deliver, you're really, really proud of and I understand that. Especially if you're freelancing and you're just getting started. But delivering work that you're really, really proud of, is such a great feeling and it's something that actually, that having that experience has really made me think, "You know what? I never, ever want to deliver work that I'm not 100% proud of again in the future." And I think the reason I've been able to do that with this particular project is because I've become much more specialised with what we're doing with Videobites and we are creating software training and we're using video, almost exclusively to deliver that training and when you become specialised and you focus just on one very kind of narrow spectrum, in this case it's training but we're focusing on one type of training and we're focusing on one medium to deliver that. It's very easy to deepen your expertise in that area and become much more proficient at it because you're not focusing on doing anything and everything for anyone and so whilst I feel that we've really started to nail that horizontal specialisation if you like, we're just creating software training and we're just doing it using video, the next phase for me and for Videobites is to create a much more narrow, vertical specialisation. And what I mean by that is at the moment, we're doing this type of training for anyone and everyone but I think we'll become even more successful and I'll be able to deepen the expertise of the business in a much better way if I focus on just one, very narrow audience so currently I'm looking at the SaaS audience (Software as a Service) and I have a couple of clients who fall into that category already but I'm not 100% convinced that's the correct category yet and we'll have to wait and see whether that works out. But I feel pretty confident that by specialising to an even narrower focus, that it's just going to help me deliver even more value to my clients. And then the projects that I'm gonna deliver in the future, I'm gonna be even happier with because I'm just gonna have so much more resources and so much more time and more expertise on these projects that I don't ever see me working on a project where I don't deliver my best work ever again. If you're interested in checking out the project I'm talking about, I'll post a link to that in description. I'd be really interested to hear from you guys whether you're a freelancer, or whether you work for a bigger company, what percentage of the projects that you've delivered - and I'm specifically talking about training courses I guess. Whether that's online training or classroom training or maybe like a blended learning solution, what percentage of those projects that you've delivered, have you been 100% happy with and something you would say, you wouldn't change a thing and you were 100% happy with how that all went. I'd be really interested to hear from you in the comment, the answer to that question but I hope that was useful and I'll see you in the next episode.

Some People Got ANGRY! But I Learned Something.

3 months Ago
I posted a video a couple of weeks ago which generated a lot of conversation and debate and discussion and actually quite a lot of criticism from some people for not knowing what I'm talking about and not putting any thought into what I was saying. Here's a link to that video: But it was quite a scary thing to do, to put my opinion out there in the public domain. I've obviously made a lot of these videos now but this was the first one that had kind of really sort of provoked people into responding in the way that they did and it was quite a kind of scary thing to do, I kind of put myself into a vulnerable situation and as I was posting the video, I thought to myself, 'Oh, I hope this is taken the right way' 'and people realise that I'm just asking a question' 'and I'm just, you know, I wanna have some discussion' 'around this topic because I think it's really important.' But as I said, it made me feel quite vulnerable and I think the default setting for a human being is, I think it's quite normal, is that we wanna be liked, we wanna be popular, we don't wanna be kind of outside of the group mentality and we wanna, you know, everyone to agree with maybe what we're saying and so posting something that maybe goes against that, it was quite a, probably quite a big deal for me actually if I'm being honest with you. But what I realised about this particular video, more than any others that I've posted, is that I learnt more from it. And when I think about why I learnt more from this experience than from any of the other videos that I've posted and the subsequent discussions that I've had around those other videos, I think the reason is because this was really pushing me to the edge of my comfort zone and it was talking about something that I didn't necessarily know the answer to but it was something that I felt quite passionately about and I kind of put a lot of thought into it but that I realised that there was probably a lot of people who know a lot more than me out there who had different opinions and maybe we could get involved in some dialogue which would maybe consolidate my opinion but maybe also actually give a different perspective on the argument and have a different way of looking at it and maybe even change my mind eventually. That was really interesting for me because I could quite easily sit here and post videos every day about things that I know for sure I've been working in the field of learning and development and elearning and training for kind of nearly 20 years now so I feel like I know a lot of stuff and I could quite easily sit here and kind of regurgitate stuff that I know is true. And I'm sure I've done that in some of my previous videos and you know what, I probably will do that again in the future because I think some of the things that I know hopefully will be helpful to other people. But this single experience taught me more because I didn't necessarily know the answer and then I have a lot of conversation and discussion around the topic and it was that conversation and discussion that helped me learn more and helped me see things from a different perspective and I wouldn't have got that if I'd just posted the video saying, 'Look, this is black and this is white.' No one's gonna have anything to talk about because they're like yep, yeah okay, you're right. So whilst it's quite scary to put yourself into a vulnerable position and to say, look, this is what I think, this is my thought process, I don't know if I'm right, and then have that conversation around that and open yourself up to criticism essentially. It's also very empowering because coming off the back of that situation two weeks later I feel like I learnt a lot, I feel like I've grown as a person and had I not had that conversation I wouldn't have learnt and I wouldn't have grown as much as I have done. So that was kind of a long roundabout way of saying if you've been watching my videos, you can expect more of the same. I'm planning to kind of keep pushing myself and asking questions that maybe I don't know the answer to, talking about topics that may be a little bit controversial and may be not the sort of things you see regularly on social media and on these different platforms. So I guess if you haven't subscribed already, please consider doing so. If you've got any comments about what I talked about today, please drop them in the comment section below the video and I'll see you in the next episode.

Just Discovered Something Unbelievable

3 months Ago
I discovered something this morning that came as an absolute shock to me. And here it is: when you click your fingers, the sound you hear is not the sound of the friction between the two fingers that you clicked. It's the sound of the finger hitting against the palm of your hand. I know! I couldn't believe it either! Now, you're either sitting there thinking "yeah, what's the big deal Ant, I already knew about that." Or if you're like me, you're probably about to pause the video and spend the next 20 minutes clicking your fingers to see if I'm talking crap. Not only did I spend 20 minutes practicing to see if I could hear where the click was coming from. I asked some of my mates on a WhatsApp chat to find out whether they actually thought it was true, or find out if they already knew about this. I also went away and did some research on the Internet. And, unless I'm part of some elaborate, delayed April fools joke, it turns out it is true! Now I know that tying this back to L&D is a little bit of a tenuous link, but I wanted to mention it because I thought it was really interesting. We hear facts and information every day, whether it's in conversation with our friends, through e-mails, through listening to podcasts, through reading blogs, watching videos. We're constantly getting bombarded with information. I would guess, I don't have any scientific data, but I would guess that within a year or two 99% of that data has kinda tumbled back out of our brains and we can't remember it. Now I would put money on it if you ask me about this finger clicking controversy in 10 years time I will remember this as a fact that is kinda embedded in my head. And the reason why I'll remember this is not because I read that tweet, but it's because I went away and I got involved in the activity of clicking my fingers for half an hour to see if it was true, having a conversation about it on WhatsApp and then doing some of my own research on the Internet. Now I think this is interesting because I think the idea that many of us have and maybe less so in the learning and development community, but the standard default assumption of training is it's just that passive, one-directional information dump isn't it? And in this situation I talked about today, that would be me reading the tweet. But if the content that we're delivering is kinda surrounded by more than just the content, so in my situation today it was an activity, clicking my fingers, it was having some conversation with some other people, and it was some additional research on my own time. That learning experience is probably gonna have a much bigger impact because it was surrounded by these different modalities as well. Bit of a silly video today, but I'd love to hear back from you if you also weren't aware of this shocking news! Please let me know in the comment section below the video and I'll see you in the next episode.

I Lost My Job for Asking a Question

3 months Ago
In today's episode, I'm going tell you the story about how I got fired for asking a question. Back in 2010, I took a job as the training manager of a large web company. And one of the reasons for this was that I had got to a point in my career where I felt that like my professional development had stagnated. I'd been doing classroom training for seven or eight years, I had dipped my toe in the water with elearning design, but couldn't really see a career for me immediately there. So I thought the natural progression would be to manage the training function at a large company. The company I worked for had about 500 employees, and what they'd recently done was started an initiative to bring together the senior management team and the shop floor staff, essentially who consisted of 300/400 much younger individuals who were probably in their first or second jobs within their career. Some of them were school leavers, so there were a lot of 17, 18, 19 year olds. The company had noticed that there was a big gap between the senior management team and the people who were driving the company and then the younger guys who were actually doing all the work. And they felt there was a disconnect - and so what they'd done was set up an initiative where they would have these lunch time sessions where they'd have this open ended question and answer session where they're have the senior management team sat on one side of the room, and then all the other staff would be invited in and they could ask questions in this open forum. So I attended a couple of these sessions and what I noticed was happening is that quite often, the people who were attending the sessions weren't being that proactive in asking questions. And I think sometimes it'd be maybe that their supervisor had suggested that they should go to the sessions and show their faces almost. But when they were in that environment, and there was a desk full of senior managers who were very impressive, ambitious, very technical people and then they were sat on one side of the room and then these other guys who were sitting amongst their friends, they were much younger probably less confident, they just didn't feel confident to ask questions because of the nature of the environment. I remember one particular session where the CEO, who is a very technical, he was a German guy, spoke very quickly and very passionately about technology, but wasn't always the easiest to understand. Not just because of the fact that he was German, but also because he spoke so quickly. And he was so intelligent and he knew so much that he didn't appreciate that the level of other people was maybe a little bit less. And he wasn't the best at talking plain English. And so one particular session, this guy was rattling on about how the future of the business was in the cloud and talking all about cloud computing and how all of our products and services need to be aligned to the cloud - and whilst I had a pretty good grasp of what the cloud was, I mean this was almost 10 years ago, so I'd only recently learned about it but I kind of understood the concept. I could see that there were some people in the room that maybe didn't know what it was, and also, they weren't asking any questions so I knew that if they're not asking questions, there's no way they understand everything. So I thought to myself, maybe this situation requires somebody like me to ask some questions, and then maybe other people in the room will feel more confident in asking questions as well. So at one point, I put my hand up and I said, "Can you just explain in a little bit more detail and break it down a little bit for us what exactly do you mean by the cloud and cloud computing?" Now the guy didn't even hesitate. He just replied to the question and he kind of broke it down a little bit and I remember thinking he did an okay job of explaining it but I wasn't confident that everybody understood what it was from his explanation. But I'd hoped that by asking the question, not only had it helped other people in the room learn - because I'm the training manager - my job is to help people learn. But I hoped that by asking that question, other people in the room would feel more comfortable in asking some questions as well. Now I didn't think anything more about this until about two weeks later. I was called in to speak to the human resources manager and told that my services at the company were no longer required. I was to finish there till the end of the month and that would be the end of my time at the company. And I'd only been there for six months. So for somebody who's as proud and competitive and stubborn as I am, this cameabsolutely knocked the stuffing out of me and when I look back at my life this is probably one of the most significant periods of my life and I did a lot of soul searching and it was a really traumatic experience for me. What made it worse was that it was a real shock, because it was only a few weeks before that I had an appraisal and I was told that I was doing really well and the projects that I'd initiated were really being looked upon positively and they thought I was doing a good job. So to be suddenly told that you're no longer required when you think you're doing a good job is pretty horrible. Anyway, I will probably never know exactly why I got fired and I'm sure if you were to ask the guy who fired me, he would say that there was a whole number of reasons, and it didn't just come down to one thing. But I have a hunch that because I asked that question, the guy who was answering the questions thought that I didn't know the answer. And he probably looked at me and thought, well hang on a minute, the future of our business is in the cloud, this is our training manager. This is the guy who is teaching our staff how to use technology and how to essentially training them on all different aspects of things they need to know to do the job. If this guy doesn't know what the cloud is, is he the right man for the job? Now I'm sure there are other factors involved, like I was incompetent or I wasn't up to the task. And when I look back at the situation, I often ask myself, should I have handled that situation any differently, I could have quite easily not asked the question, and probably slipped under the radar and that guy would've been none the wiser that I didn't know what cloud computing was. But I feel really proud of the fact that I did that and I almost feel now like I almost sacrificed myself for the cause. And I think the whole point of me talking about this today is that I think as learning development professionals, trainers, instructional designers, all these roles that we're doing, quite often, we are sometimes sacrificing ourselves. We need to sometimes try new initiatives, we need to try to do things differently if we think that the way it's currently happening isn't working. And quite often, by putting ourselves on that pedestal, we're putting ourselves in a position where we can be ridiculed, or laughed at, or thought of as stupid, or, worst case scenario, fired from your job. But, I feel like that's maybe the commitment that I've made to this industry and to this career, and again, I look back on this now, and would I have done anything differently? No, I wouldn't, I can look at myself in the mirror now and I can think to myself, you know what? I did that for the right reasons. Now I'm not claiming to be any type of hero (but if you were to call me a hero, that would be totally fine). But I think what I'm saying is that working in this industry can be a pretty thankless task. You're not on your own; there are other people out there who are facing the same difficulties on a day to day basis. And every time you feel like you're just banging your head against the brick wall and you're not making any progress, just think of those times when you've actually implemented some training or you've delivered a new course, or you've stood in front of a classroom and taught somebody something. And they've had that light bulb moment where they've understood something that they didn't previously understand. Those are the reasons that I do this job and I'm sure those are the reasons that you're doing this job as well. And just remember those and focus on those because that's the most important thing, isn't it? I'd love to hear back from you, if you've got any stories about where you've sacrificed yourself for the cause. If you have, just drop them in the comment section below the video, and I'll see you in the next episode.

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