Category Archives for Learning

Is Excellence An Act or a Habit…


"Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit."


The original quote is much longer, but sometimes I think it is helpful to break things down a bit. Can the word excellence really not denote an act, but actually be understood as a habit?  What does this mean?  The idea here is that by acting appropriately each and every day, we will achieve excellence. So, if excellence is ‘won’ by acting rightly again and again, then it follows that excellence is actually a habit, not one act, but a habit. 
 I can’t resist circling back to business here…in business; one stellar moral action does not create morality. In the same way, one great phone call with a client doesn’t mean that you have given the client excellent service, it only means that you had one great phone call and it should be followed by another and another and another.  
Repeated excellent phone calls, thereby creating a habit, will then make your service worthy of being called excellent. Even one charitable contribution does not make you a charitable human being, it simply means that you have committed one action that is good and repeated good actions may lead to an achievement of the virtue of being charitable. Do you see where we are going here? Excellence is only achieved if you choose the right action again and again, each and every time. Check back soon...We are going to stay on this topic!

Do Good Habits Really Lead to a Good Life?


"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.” Aristotle


Personally, this is my favorite quote by Aristotle, I just love the emphasis on consistency.  Again and again, all that we read points to the notion that in order to be successful; one must stay the course, follow a routine, be consistent, etc. I hearken back to one of my original blogs, Aristotle had it right all along, no self-help books needed, the secret to the good life is to read philosophy! Seriously though, the secret achieving excellence in work and life is to do the right thing, make the right choice, again and again.  So, are you ready for this exploration, here we go!

“Moreover, we take the human function to be a certain kind of life, and take this life to be activity and actions of the soul that involve reason; hence the function of the excellent man is to do this well and finely.” Aristotle

Everyone is purporting the secrets to a good life, but I always shake my head and think, Aristotle had it right all along.  We give credit to self help books, entrepreneurs that made it big, celebrities that give back and all sorts of other folks along the way, but the real credit belongs to philosophers. Aristotle identified the idea that happiness is what we all seek at the onset of his examination of man. If we move from this premise that we all desire happiness for happiness sake alone, we are better able to ascertain how we should live.  If happiness is the goal, it should follow that all of our activities should be in the pursuit of happiness.  
Now, wait a minute, don’t run in the direction of hedonism believing that you are now living Aristotle’s definition of a good life, you are not. It is a bit more complicated than that…Aristotle believes that you must first define what it means to be happy, and a little hint here, it doesn’t mean that you should pursue pleasure at every turn. Happiness is defined as the "best good” according to Aristotle. So, what would make you happy may not make me happy, does that follow then?  Well, perhaps, but the real crux here is that if you pursue your life rightly, you will behave properly each and every day, thereby becoming consistent and excellent.  How did he make that leap? A minute ago we were talking about happiness and perhaps you were thinking that you should forego work and relax on the beach each day, not so, says Aristotle. You need to identify what makes us human, or more succinctly put, what is the function of being human? Aristotle believes it is "the activity of the soul in accord with reason or requiring reason.” Okay, back to our beginning quote, read it again and this time, think about each word in the quote, are you able to summarize the meaning? Aristotle wants us to understand that we are here for a purpose, that we all share the same goal, happiness…however the path to truly achieving happiness begins with an understanding of our function as humans.  He identifies reason as our uniquely human function, and to achieve excellence, we must learn to reason well. So, let’s go with this pursuit of knowledge and see where it leads.

How will we ever learn to reason well and what does this have to do with business anyways?

I like the exploration of what makes us uniquely human because it provides a framework for our behavior. If we learn to reason well, we will do well in our personal and professional pursuits. But achieving excellence, doesn’t that seem a bit daunting?  Aristotle understood that the pursuit of excellence was a lifelong activity and he put it eloquently when he stated, “For one swallow does not make a spring, nor does one day; nor, similarly, does one day or a short time make us blessed and happy.” (Nichomachean Ethics) 

The point is that it takes a complete life to measure one’s excellence and proper behavior must be exhibited again and again. So, back to business for a moment; if we behave virtuously again and again, what might happen in our business relationships?  How might this consistent application of virtuous behavior affect our professional associations?  What sort of a world would we be living in if reliance on receiving the most virtuous and excellent dealings in business is expected? A satisfactory and pleasant business life would surely ensue.  Aristotle purported that happiness requires an excellent pursuit of our function, namely reason, so it follows that happiness is derived from proper reasoning, which leads to the pursuit of excellence and by proxy, virtuous actions. We haven’t quite answered the leading question yet, it takes a while to dig through this philosophy stuff, stay with us!

5 Ways To Increase Contract Training Sales

Top 5 Ways To Increase Your Contract Training Revenue

1. Find Your Top 50

Strategic selling requires knowing your geographical area, so spend time researching the top 50 businesses that you should contact. Focusing on your top 50 helps to narrow your message and better understand your audience. For example, perhaps you are surrounded by manufacturing facilities...Well, then it might be a good idea to understand the deficiencies that exist in the manufacturing industry today in terms of employee skills. Use this information to customize a program that focuses on upskilling manufacturing employees. 

2. Make Phone Calls

Many people are afraid to make phone calls to potential clients or they have convinced themselves that phone calls are not a productive use of their time.  This isn’t true! Phone calls are a great way to connect with your prospects. Phone calls are personal and 

effective. Your approach and preparation prior to making phone calls is key to making this work. You need to have an idea of what you are going to say, you need to rehearse a bit before diving into a phone call blitz, and you need to smile.  That’s right, it has been said again and again, but people are able to tell if you mean what you say by your tone, so smile, and relax!

3. Being Part of a College Matters, Use The Advantage!

It is easy to get caught up in the day-to-day activities and forget that we are part of something bigger. Our college or university has prestige and knowledgeable people on campus, share this knowledge with your community. Send an email to all of the department chairs inquiring about who has published recently, check out their books and articles, and apply that newfound information to one of your programs. Sharing information is key to creating value. 

4. Campaign Strategically Via Email

You probably have a marketing department to help you with this step, but it is critical that you generate content ideas. Part of being able to get meetings with top businesses in your area relies on your knowledge of the trends in business...You need to know what is happening and you need to let area businesses know that your department can help with training needs.

5. Host Your Own Events

One great way to generate opportunity and create buzz around your department is by hosting your own event. Colleges are a hub for exceptional talent. Consider asking faculty and other subject matter experts to speak at your event. Many of these individuals have tremendous experience, knowledge of best practices, innovative ideas, and groundbreaking technologies regarding our marketplace. 

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Build A Revenue Producing Contract Training Department

Want to learn How to Build a Revenue-Producing Contract Training Department? For the first time, we are offering an online course that offers a step-by-step process to get you on your way! We have experience working with over 90 different community colleges, helping them become revenue-producing entities. This course is specifically created for the continuing education market, we are not approaching sales from a corporate perspective, we are approaching sales with the foreknowledge of how Contract Training Departments work.

Brian Mallory Will Teach Your Business Development Team How To Increase Your Revenue In The Contract Training Department!

Check Out Brian's Video Below!

Why Companies Need to Offer Customized Training

Customization is the idea that learning is modified to meet the learner's style, perhaps even giving the learner the opportunity to change how content is presented. When we focus on offering a personalized journey for the learner, we take into consideration the individual learner's pace, perhaps even altering the offerings based on responses to activities. In the corporate environment, the intent is on identifying the areas that need improvement and pivoting the training to meet that identified need. 

Last year, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative jointly funded a 12 million dollar initiative to support new ways of tailoring classroom instruction in the K-12 environment. Since 2009, the Gates Foundation has given more than $300 million to support research and development of personalized learning. If the concept of personalized learning is expanded with the younger generation, the expectation will be that businesses will need to provide the same kind of nurturing to employees and clients as the workforce begins to accept recent graduates. 

So far, personalized learning has grown in popularity and sparked interest, but we have only just begun to see this trend in action. The idea of providing a learning path that integrates a person's interests, style of learning, responses to questions, and previously acquired knowledge is intriguing for the business learner. If we can create a learning journey that progressively builds on knowledge and keeps the learner's interests because we have personalized the curriculum to change based on interest, progress, or responses, then we are really nurturing and educating our employees and clients. 

Do you want that customized?

A couple of weeks ago, we wrote about our bespoke work with curriculum development and business development. We offer customization to meet your team's unique needs. We will continue to see this bespoke trend growing in 2019. We have noticed in our work with clients that learners respond the best when the training is created with not only the end in mind, but with a focus on what will engage the learner. We are not into the 'one size fits all' mentality because it isn't effective. 

Learners, especially Millennials and Gen Zs want companies to invest in training that is personalized and engaging. Both of these groups expect companies to care about the world at large and how we all fit into said world. Gen Zs focus on developing personal connections, so learning must take that into account. These digital natives are very used to stimulation coming from many different points all at once, so engagement is key to making an impact. 

The idea of developing curriculum that is customized begins by gaining an understanding of who is in the room and what do we want to achieve. Simply put, we develop using a backwards model of thinking, meaning that we review the knowledge we wish to convey and then step back and analyze the learners to determine how best to convey said knowledge. Customization comes into play when we gather data on the learners, play to their interests, create pathways that allow a learner to go in a different direction based on interests, but with the same end result in mind regardless of which pathway was chosen. If we develop using this criteria, we will have employees that feel supported in the workplace and are incentivized to improve and develop. 

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What do we mean by bespoke?

The word bespoke has really become popular in the last few years and for good reason...We all want something specific, something just for us. So, what do we at EI mean by bespoke? Well, hearkening back to the definition of bespoke: "Make for a particular customer or user," we mean exactly that! And we mean it in all areas of our business...

Curriculum Development

Our curriculum developers specialize in taking your own unique ideas, content, and desires and turning it into stellar courses. We understand that you don't want generic training that won't resonate with your clients or staff. Our work focuses on what you want to convey, we are invested in the concept of the transfer of knowledge, so to that end, we sit down with your subject matter experts and glean as much information as possible to turn that knowledge into curriculum. 

Business Development

And the bespoke work doesn't stop there...Our business development team customizes our training and techniques to meet your team's unique needs. We teach your team how to uncover new business, market effectively, and provide excellent solutions, always keeping in mind the personalities and strengths of your team. 

We get to know how you think, so that our work responds to your needs. 

Find Your Tribe with Simon Sinek

"The modern-day tribe is the company." - Simon Sinek

Love Simon's message...We wrote about his TED Talk and one of his great books awhile ago on our blog, check it out here. Simon recently sat down on the Jordan Harbinger Show to discuss how the best companies are values-based. He believes that the best way to foster this idea is to be authentic at work and at home. At Erudite Ingenuity, we are big fans of discussing authenticity, think Brene BrownJames McCrae, and Barry Schwartz. I really liked when Simon discussed how a leader must take the risk to trust first...I think many good leaders do this naturally, but if we desire to become better leaders, it is a great message for intentional growth of our leadership skills.

Simon goes on to discuss, "Why we all deserve (just) a styrofoam cup." Take a listen to Jordan's show with Simon and discover what he means. Simon's message is all about finding your "why," which incidentally is the basis of much philosophical writing and something we love to blog about. We all desire to know our why and the only way to understand what motivates us, what makes us who we are, and how to live is by looking inward.

5 Ways to Define Your Audience For Continuing Education Departments

College Marketing

When we first got started in the marketing game, I was stumped by the audience conversation. It seemed so pointless to me, I mean, I felt like I knew our audience, so why did we need to spend time creating a persona of our ideal audience? Also, whenever we had a meeting to create our audience personas, I was unable to come up with a single descriptor, it was very frustrating. In an effort to save you from similar frustration, I would like to offer 5 ways to define your audience. 

1. Draw Your Persona

I know it sounds silly and I am not much of an artist, but drawing your persona is a great way to get this 'character' in your mind. Is your persona male or female? While you might be saying, "Well, that doesn't matter, our programs are great for either gender." While this may be true, when you are creating your marketing strategy, it is absolutely necessary for you to have one persona in mind. Does your persona favor jeans and a 't' 

shirt or business attire? Again, perhaps clothing choices seem unnecessary, but in order for you to have a person in mind, you need to have all of these questions answered. The details are what is important here. Give your persona a name and really start to recognize him/her in other people. If you are able to recognize your persona's attributes in other people, you will truly have a sense of your audience.

2. Family & Work Habits

Now that you have drawn your persona and have a strong sense of who he/she is, it is time for you to create a narrative as well. Try to describe your persona's family life and work habits. Ask yourself questions like what kind of family is my persona part of? Is my persona part of a family that values higher education? Does my persona desire a job that is very structured? Or, is my persona wanting a flexible workplace? You get the idea, you need to know how this person works and what his/her expectations might be regarding family life, workplace, and daily life habits.

3. Your Persona's Goals

This might seem really difficult to ascertain, just remember that this is an internal exercise and it is only to help your marketing department speak to the right audience. Understanding your persona's goals will help you position your programs and courses effectively. Let's say that your persona wants to achieve a higher salary in the manufacturing industry. Perhaps you have a leadership program that has been recognized by area businesses as a nice stepping stone to achieve a management position...If you are speaking to a persona that is in the manufacturing industry already, you might decide to position your marketing language to identify with that industry and discuss how leadership classes will improve his/her chances of moving up in the company.

4. Know the Obstacles

This step is a bit more difficult, but it is important to spend some time thinking about what is holding your persona back from moving forward with his/her education. Consider your persona's economic standing, buying decisions, and family obligations. For example, is your persona likely to be the first one in his/her family to pursue an education beyond high school? Does your persona have a fear surrounding advanced education? What sorts of things might incentivize your persona to pursue a program?

5. Where Does My Persona Hang Out?

Okay, we are on the last step...Let's brainstorm a bit about where your persona might hang out! Try to guess who might influence your persona? Do you think your persona would enjoy any specific podcasts or blogs? Make a list of all of the influencers in your persona's life. What kinds of books does your persona enjoy? What about online reading material?

At this point, you should have quite a bit of information written down regarding your persona's likes, dislikes, habits, and behavior. You should feel comfortable describing your persona and answering questions about whether or not your persona likes this or likes that! Remember that you are actually writing a story when creating a buyer persona. And if you approach this more like a creative writing exercise, I think you will find it much easier to complete. 

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4 Philosophy Books You Should Read to Improve Your Work Life


Is philosophy the pathway to a better work life? At Erudite Ingenuity, we believe that it is important to explore topics that might seem esoteric or unfamiliar to help you see things from a different perspective. If you read only business books in your quest to get ahead at work, you will miss out! We are big proponents of studying philosophy to change our perspectives, encourage out-of-the-box thinking, and help us perform better at work. Philosophy really is all about living well and instead of heading to the self-help section, I implore everyone to instead peruse the philosophy section of your local bookstore and discover what the great thinkers had to say about living a good life. Grab these books off the shelf and discover what I mean...

The Art of Living is a collection of Epictetus' quotes and you will be amazed at how current his thoughts are in today's world. “We are not privy to the stories behind people’s actions, so we should be patient with others and suspend judgement of them, recognizing the limits of our understanding.” - Epictetus

This is a tough read, however there are so many golden nuggets in Aristotle's philosophy that I encourage you to plod your way through. Aristotle is a bit of a misogynist, so know that up front, forgive him, and focus on his beautiful thoughts on ethics and friendship. "My best friend is the man who in wishing me well wishes it for my own sake." - Aristotle

Plato's dialogue-style writing is a great read. “I am the wisest man alive, for I know one thing, and that is that I know nothing.” - Plato

Descartes' writing may not resonate with everyone, however I purport that his standard for knowledge is noteworthy. “To know what people really think, pay attention to what they do, rather than what they say.” - Descartes

Do You Lead With Compassion?

Ever since Chade-Meng Tan gave his TED Talk in 2010, compassion has become an important characteristic in the workplace. Are we comfortable discussing compassion? Webster defines compassion as "a sympathetic consciousness of others' distress together with a desire to alleviate it." I hope that exists in the workplace, but I am just not so sure. Maybe we have 'a sympathetic consciousness of other's distress,' probably because we can sympathize and in some cases, even empathize, with what people might be going through, but do our leaders and coworkers really have a desire to alleviate our distress? I think that some people recognize the importance of helping others alleviate distress, but how far are leaders willing to go?  Oh, I so want to delve into the question of whether or not it matters if our reasons are selfless when we offer help, but that will have to wait for another day! Are compassionate leaders encouraging their teams to care about the greater good? Chade-Meng Tan tells us in his TED Talk that caring about the greater good is a key ingredient in creating a compassionate workplace. Companies that put an emphasis on caring for communities and have a passion for the greater good are quite successful at creating a workplace where people show they care about one another. Autonomy is also cited as a necessary component in creating a compassionate atmosphere.  In my experience, autonomy requires a level of trust that some companies have difficulty affording to employees, but when companies let go of control and trust, people tend to flourish in their roles. Self-awareness and a focus on inner growth also plays a large role in creating a compassionate workplace. According to a recent article in the Harvard Business Review by Adam Robinson, a study of over 1000 business leaders found that leaders who led with compassion produced teams that were superior. "Teams led by compassionate leaders exhibited better intra-team collaboration, stronger commitment to the company, and far lower turnover rates than those led by less-compassionate leaders"(https://www.inc.com/adam-robinson/according-to-harvard-this-1-leadership-trait-separates-exceptional-leaders-from-rest.html). Take a listen to Chade-Meng Tan's TED Talk, he makes a compelling case for compassion and ends his talk with this wonderful quote! 

"If you want others happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion." - Dalai Lama

10 Unconventional Habits

I love quick tips about how to improve your life, don't you? I like this list because it seems so counterintuitive...Sleep More, Quit Being Nice, Play More Video Games, etc.  Did the author of this article consult with my 14 year old? It does bring up some interesting points and the overall sense is that we need to relax and spend more time just being, rather than the go, go, go lifestyle we are all so committed to these days. 

#9 "Quit trying so hard."

It is no surprise that exercise is on the list, but I had to smile when I read #8, 'Don't Trust Yourself.' It is something we don't often think about, but it is so true, we are the best liars to ourselves, aren't we?  I probably lie most to myself about my eating and exercise habits.  That portion was very small, so adding another dollop of whipped cream to my peach cobbler won't ruin my diet. I ran three days last week, so I only have to run once this week. You can probably relate, right? The last two made me laugh out loud, I definitely need to take myself less seriously, smile more, and laugh! Give this article a read


Great List of Habits for a More Productive Life

It is always a good reminder to practice daily habits, check out this article. I especially like to rise early, it is always refreshing how much more can be done when establishing a morning routine. I have struggled with following the Pareto Principle, it seems like each year I remind myself to once again focus my efforts on the aspects of my business that produce the greatest results. So, this month, I am asking myself which 20% of my efforts are producing the best results. Another habit that I would add to this list is developing an understanding that we learn by doing, so getting our content out there or producing a work product is more important than tweaking and tweaking and never actually producing anything. 

Vulnerability Matters

One of my favorite authors and Ted Talkers! Brene Brown is inspirational, funny, and real. I was perusing our blog posts and realized I had never posted this amazing TED Talk. In 2011, Brene Brown's video went viral after she exposed how being vulnerable is a necessary component of finding happiness and joy. It really resonates with me because I think that our 'go-to' is often to respond with fear, instead of with "courage, compassion, and connection." Brown's words in this talk are so powerful and she really hits on the notion that our courage and willingness to be vulnerable is what opens us up to a life filled with joy. I have to say that vulnerability has never really sat well with me, I like words like strength, power, resilience, etc. The idea that being vulnerable was the surefire pathway to finding happiness and joy sounds counterintuitive to me. Brown's examination of this subject is compelling and convincing, she frankly discusses how she pushed back on the notion of becoming vulnerable and found that letting vulnerability in led to a fuller and happier life. Take a listen today!

One of Brene Brown's lesser known books should really be pushed to the forefront with this #TimesUp movement. She published Women & Shame in 2004, however the notion that shame shapes our behavior and damages our spirit is a timely subject. 

Lifelong learning…

We write quite a bit about learning and the importance of challenging oneself...We can't help it, our background is in higher ed teaching, so we love to talk learning whenever we get the chance. In this TED Talk, Bernie Dunlap revels in our "insatiable curiosity" and an "irrepressible desire to know" as driving forces of what makes us want to learn and learn and learn. Mr. Dunlap's talk is inspiring and concludes with these wise words from Mahatma Gandhi, "Learn as if you'll live forever."


Learning Should be Valued

About a month ago we shared an article and our thoughts about the importance of learning in the workplace. Learning in the workplace is often undervalued, however studies have shown that the best managers focus on training employees and encouraging learning. Bernd Vogel, Director of Henley Centre for Leadership at Henley Business School notes, “L &D is often seen as a ‘token’ activity and that is the underlying philosophy that top managers have about it." Learning & Development professionals need to possess the confidence to impact how employees learn and grow in the workplace. The notion of constantly improving, rather than simply focusing on what one needs to know to do his job today, is the real value in empowering a Learning & Development department. At Erudite, we believe strongly in learning in the workplace and in this crazy, fast-paced world, learning has never been easier...or has it? Sometimes, the onslaught of information is simply overwhelming. For example, I will be scrolling through Twitter with my business hat on and stumble across a post about Whitman's poetry, then all of the sudden I seem to be interested in poetry, but of course Whitman sparks a love of nature, so then I am searching for my next hike. You get it, right?