I have 36 courses in Pluralsight… kind of. Two are retired and “one” is a 6-session job search course. I started in 2012 with a LinkedIn course and have done many job search, career, soft skills, and professional development courses in the last 9 years. I’ve spent the last year and a half updating courses, and have a few more to update.
For years I’ve recommended various courses to various audiences, whether that was on this blog, in a live presentation, or on social media. I’ve had to think “what are the two or three courses I would really recommend to this audience?” This morning I had a similar thought, but instead of “to this audience” it was more “to anyone.” So, without further ado, here are the top five I’d recommend… and why:
Hands down, this one impacted me the most. I went into this course thinking “okay, what is this emotional intelligence stuff? Is it fluff, or is there real substance here?” When I was done I thought “if everyone watches this, and starts to implement just one or two of these ideas, we could change the world.”
Literally, change the world. Becoming more empathetic, understanding ourselves better, striving to understand others better… these are things that really can change the world. First, by changing ourselves, and being better to ourselves, and then being better with others around us. Can you imagine how much better your workplace would be if you had a boss with high emotional intelligence? What if YOU had higher emotional intelligence?
I set myself on a lifelong journey of improvement, and I invite everyone to join me. This course was a turning point for me.
This is my most popular course, with 629 ratings and over 300 comments in the discussion area. I honestly had no idea it would resonate with anyone. I remember getting ready to dive into this course thinking “come on, we all know how to listen!” I was wrong. I learned a lot while I researched for this course, and have since learned a lot from the comments in the discussion area. Listening is a soft skill we take for granted but could usually improve. The thing that stands out the most to me, after all these years, is learning more about “active listening,” and the tactics that go into real active listening.
I will try to improve my listening skills for many years to come. This is a life-long journey.
This course was fun to put together, and gave me a chance to really dive into the Myers-Briggs model. But don’t let Myers-Briggs get you down… while super popular in the 1900s, there are other assessments that corporate America seems to favor. Regardless of which assessment you use, or gravitate towards, the idea is simple:
We have different personalities, and even so, we can work together.
I have been frustrated by people at work. People who think and work differently than I do. It’s frustrating for someone with a lot of energy to go into a meeting with people with little energy, and vice versa. It’s frustrating for people who talk and make decisions quickly to work with someone who is more methodical, and likes to think deeply before responding. It’s frustrating when they are your boss, or when you are their boss.
What I’ve learned is that these differences don’t mean that we necessarily dislike one another. Differences don’t mean that we are right and they are wrong, or they are right and we are wrong. Understanding differences in how we think, act, react, communicate, make decisions, are motivated, etc. are important to understand. I’m reminded of a quote I heard from someone I worked with years ago: “If knowledge is power, then knowledge of human nature is a super power.” I love that concept… notice each of these three courses I listed all dive deeper into knowledge of human nature.
One more thing… I think it’s absolutely critical that we, ourselves, understand our own personalities and tendencies. When we understand ourselves, and those around us, we have a better chance of higher workplace satisfaction, performance, etc.
I am a nut for personal branding. If I heard about it before 2006 I don’t remember. But in 2006, during My Big Fat Failed Job Search, I learned that I didn’t have a brand, which meant I spent a lot of time educating people on who I was and why that was important to them. Personal branding changes your self-marketing strategy from a push strategy, where you are constantly educating people on these things, to a pull strategy, where people gravitate towards you because, as they say, “your reputation precedes you.”
Since 2006, when I figured this stuff out, I’ve been hired because of my brand. I’ve had people come to me. I’ve had people vet me online and realize they want to work with me, or could trust me, etc. This is a 180 difference from back in 2006.
Also, in my job search I learned that two things I had neglected, which impacted my effectiveness as a job seeker, were my personal/professional network, and my personal brand. I talk about that in the course that was inspired by hundreds of on-stage presentations, titled Career Management 2.0.
This course was pivotal for me. There was a period where I wasn’t doing Pluralsight courses, and even took a job because of the time I had freed up. That job lasted 10 months. It was an awesome, amazing job at an awesome, amazing company. One of the books their leadership talked a lot about was on difficult conversations (it might have been Crucial Conversations, I can’t remember). Anyway, I had to have some very difficult conversations (I don’t gravitate towards that), and made a study of this topic. Then, I found myself in a really weird place. On a particular Wednesday in late October I was on a call with Pluralsight talking about picking up my work again, and perhaps doing more courses. The very next day I went into my bosses office for a one-on-one with a particular challenge: My family had planned a two-week trip, but I didn’t have two weeks of vacation. I was hoping she’d let me borrow against future vacation so I could take this epic trip.
Alas, that wouldn’t be an issue because her single agenda item on that Thursday was to lay me off. I got five weeks notice, which was a kind gesture, but it was a bit of a shock. I decided, that day, that I was going to work as hard as I could to get a course out in five weeks (after hours, of course), and launch it before my last day at work. And I did. I focused on this course, this topic, and got to work. This course, which covers such an important topic and and outside of work, was turned in before my last day and launched just a few days later. That’s a fun story, right? It was great to get back into doing courses. But more important, the topic is critical for us to be better people, better communicators, better team members, better leaders, and more happy with ourselves and our work.
There are other courses I could have listed here, but these are the five I picked. I hope you can spend time digging into your own soft skills, career, and professional development. These are ways you can invest in yourself and your future.
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