When in doubt, learn

I relocated early in 2015 after 15 years in London, UK, to the great city of Missoula, Montana in the great Mountain West — where I grew up in nearby colorful Colorado.

I’d done big relocations before — Australia, Sweden — and experienced culture shock in all of its variations — including the reverse culture shock of returning to a more than subtle change in a lot of the nuances of operating in my native country.

What struck me was that there is a significant difference in the thinking and approaches of the leading brand strategists and employee communication experts in this market versus the other markets I have experienced, and while some of this is certainly market-driven, a lot of it is cultural.

So far, my impression is that the average North American practitioner is far more advanced in their digital awareness and thinking than many of their peers around the world. So much so that after a few months I realized that despite world-class credentials working at the strategic level with household name global organizations, the world was moving forward — faster than I had been.

So the past few months have been dedicated to ramping up my skills in certain areas — Montana Code School Boot Camp to get under the skin of coding (OK, I’ll never be a coder but I now understand the full stack development environment and my eyes won’t cross when you mention Node, and I understand how .css, html and .js play together). Then I went to the QuestMT marketing analytics forum, and got certified in Google Adwords (next stop – Analytics).

None of these are capabilities that I am likely to spend a lot of time working and billing time to — but all of these have combined to recharge some batteries, change my perspective and raise my game just by understanding how a lot of these things work “under the hood.” They have certainly enhanced how I think about brand development, positioning, and engagement at all levels.

And that’s the thing. In this industry if you are not moving forward, you are sinking. You used to be able to coast, to dine out on previous successes. Maybe at 47 that’s reality catching up to me – or maybe (and I think this is the case) the world is just demanding personal development at a level we haven’t known before.

The good news is, it’s not just a way to grow skills. Exercising the brain and learning is fun and keeps that muscle, the most important one, fit.

Let’s continue the conversation.


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