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These 5 Skills Are Actually Better Off Being Learned Online

These 5 Skills Are Actually Better Off Being Learned Online

Today, we use the Internet for pretty much everything: research, communicating, writing – so why should learning be any different? If you’re afraid that online education is inferior to face-to-face education, don’t be. In 2011, Babson found that online education is considered as good or better by more than 85% of US students.

The following 5 skills will add immeasurable value to your repertoire, all accessible from the comfort of your home.

1. Coding

In the lost interview with Steve Jobs, Apple’s co-founder was quoted saying “I think everyone in this country should learn how to program a computer because it teaches you to think.”

Coding is a lot like applied science and math because it teaches you a repetitious method to solving problems and testing out new ideas. Coding isn’t especially easy to learn but that’s what makes it such an invaluable skill.

There are plenty of ways to learn coding online, one of the more popular options is here. There are several different courses offered such as JavaScript, Web Fundamentals, PHP, Ruby,  jQuery, Python, and APIs. Within every lesson is an explanation of the fundamental code and instructions.

Another panel provides an opportunity for you to try your hand at coding while also confirming that you’re doing it correctly. With hints and warnings of potential errors, it feels as though you are being guided through the learning experience with a personal tutor.

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2. Piano

I know what you’re thinking: how can learning piano online be any better than sitting down and learning in front of an actual piano? Well, there are several benefits. First, it’s much cheaper. Typically, a 1-hour class ranges from $50 to $250 depending on the teacher, this can range between $2,400 to $12,000 per year! In contrast, compare this to an App or platform such as this one, which is only $59.95 per year.

In addition, online piano classes help teach students to play their favorite songs, learn to play by ear, improvise, and even create their own music – doesn’t that sound better than a piano teacher breathing down your neck telling you that you missed a beat? In fact, the piano online education market has doubled since 2006, according to Google Trends’ search query volume statistics.

3. Language

There are thousands of reasons why we should learn foreign languages. In addition to impressing that cute girl at the bar, learning a new language will boost your confidence, increase your brain power, improve your decision making skills, and open your mind to empathizing with and discovering new cultures. It also makes traveling easier and more enjoyable – imagine being able to ask a Parisian which way the Arc de Triomf is in a perfect French accent.

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If you learn it online instead of sitting in a classroom at nights, you’ll be able to pick up the language much quicker. There are several reasons for this. First, unfortunately, classes typically move at the speed of the slowest learner. There are more levels than just beginner, intermediate, and advanced, but most classes don’t cater to those in between the main three.

Second, language fluency and conversation cannot be taught in a classroom, or anywhere besides a one-on-one environment where you are forced to adapt to a normal conversational speed. In the meantime, download an app or watch some YouTube videos. It will enable you to learn on your own time, which will go quicker than you think.

4. Excel

Microsoft Excel is something everyone should learn. It’s not only for brilliant financial analysts – it’s also good for budgeting personal finance, organizing client lists, planning social gatherings, assessing students, and pretty much anything that requires numbers. In truth, any person, from a stay-at-home parent to a small business owner, can benefit from learning Excel. It’d help you save massive amounts of time automating complex formulas and organizing information.

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In seconds, you can calculate a quick budget, see which students are performing better than others, contemplate how many more miles you need to run this week to reach your dream weight, etc. It’s much more intuitive than most people give it credit for – a quick online course can teach you the basics and help you learn from there. I’m sure, you’ll be making spreadsheets in no time.

5. Photography

Photographs serve an important purpose in our lives. By taking photos we have the ability to preserve a memory for eternity and share our world and past with the people we love. Learning a little bit of photography is a skill that everyone can benefit from.

Photography is also a form of creative expression. They say a photo is worth one thousand words so the images you capture tell a story. By taking an online photography class, you have the opportunity to learn new skills from the comfort of your home than can be an asset to both your personal and professional life.

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Whether you’re interested in photojournalism, street photography or just capturing family photos, every moment is an opportunity to tell a story.

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Yoav Vilner

CEO at Ranky

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Last Updated on February 18, 2019

How to Motivate Employees and Boost Team Productivity

How to Motivate Employees and Boost Team Productivity

These days, in a world with cognitive, AI, and extraordinary advances, we have failed at the most basic stimulus: motivation. Why do I say so? Just take a look at these statistics:

58 percent of managers said they didn’t receive any management training as per a CareerBuilder.com survey. Only 12% of employees leave their jobs because of more money. Research indicates that around 80% of employees leave their jobs due to “lack of appreciation”. Due to fear of failing, more than half of American workers don’t take their paid vacations. 53% of Americans are unhappy at work (not engaged). And 1 in 3 are working in a field they don’t like.[1]

Archaic people management and HR structures are the root cause.

“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery

So how to motivate employees and boost team productivity?

Here are 3 key things that you can do to motivate your employees and boost team productivity:

1. Run Your Team/Group/Company like a Lean Startup

The Lean Startup phenomena by Eric Ries has been socialized across millions all over the globe. In a nutshell, it is a methodology for developing businesses and products, which aims to shorten product development cycles and rapidly discover if a proposed business model is viable; this is achieved by adopting a combination of business-hypothesis-driven experimentation, iterative product releases, and validated learning.[2]

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Encourage Your Employees

When you empower your employees (or family members) to do what they deem to be best for a particular roadblock, idea, or improvement, you create magic. You create genuine trust. You enable innovation. The result is happy, inspired employees who feel they have a say in the grand cosmic stage at work.

Note that increasing the competency level of employees and coaching and mentoring them along the way is key. You yourself, need to do the same. Nourish your brain – and get a mentor that will keep you at the edge of your game.

Offer Rewards

Motivation is also intrinsic. The startups I have worked at offered instant rewards — not just fat checks or equity increments, but Oscar-style nominations.

The non-monetary rewards were actually more coveted, and grandiose: lunch with the CEO, tickets to an Obama fund-raiser, horse-back riding with a world-class equestrian.

Compare this to a dodgy, corporate, white-cubicle dinosaur that had a “yearly performance review” where both parties dread the conversation. In a world of instant WhatsApp messages, having a conversation about performance, likes and dislikes cannot just happen annually in 60 minutes. Employees need to be rooted in the belief that their manager genuinely cares about them.

Give Autonomy

Another key attribute is autonomy. Most employees start brushing their resumes and cruising LinkedIn when their hands are tied in their current positions: approval forms, long meetings, escalations, and more meetings. In the world of agile and scrum masters, deliberating for the sake of deliberating is poison. You will choke the very employees that giddily accepted the job initially to “change the world”.

Within a reasonable realm of assessment and deep-dives, trust your employees to do the heavy lifting. Give them access to the knowledge, people and resources that help them directly make the choices that will shape the future of your team, and your company.

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Eliminate yourself as the bottleneck – and interject yourself as a benevolent, servant leader that is the symbol of high-performing organizations.

2. Apply the 90/90/1 Rule

I recently saw a video by Deepak Sharma (a leadership adviser) about productivity and this principle stuck with me. Here’s what it’s about:

Devote the First 90 Minutes of Your Day to Important Project

For the next 90 days, devote the first 90 minutes of your day to your most important project—nothing else. Do this for yourself and your employees.

We usually get sucked into the most wasteful, operational activities in the morning which robs our focus, and steers us into an unwanted rabbit hole. So mute your notifications, avoid the temptation to check your exploding inbox, and scroll your Instagram feed later. Instead, focus on that ONE thing that will provide real value to you, your team, or your business/company/home.

Apply this rule to yourself – and your team. Your team will thank you. Note: If you’re feeling really stretched for time, you can always hack the rule by testing out a “45/45/1” version.

A To Do Scheduling System

Another version of this is to use the Kanban concept, developed by Taiichi Ohno, an industrial engineer at Toyota. Kanban is a scheduling system employing boards and cards.

The most basic version is a canvas with “To-do”, “Doing”, and “Done” boards (or columns). Each activity or task is a “card” that moves from one column to the other. I use Trello (a Kanban-inspired app) that is a key system for my personal and professional life. It allows me to understand my workload, their priority, and due dates.

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I use importance and effort metrics (scores) for each task to understand what is truly necessary in my life to work on. It negates the FIFO (first-in, first out) paradox that has plagued millions of people. Instead, it allows me to take stock of what is on my plate, and then bite on what truly will move the needle for me, my team, my life, and my company.

With a limited appetite (at least for some), would you eat the veggies, fries, mashed potatoes and leave the sizzling steak? No, you wouldn’t (unless you are a vegan and ended up in the wrong restaurant).

Approach your work with a weighted vengeance – and encourage your team to do the same.

3. Align Passion and Skills to Purpose

The heart of human excellence often begins to beat when you discover a pursuit that absorbs you, frees you, challenges you, and gives you a sense of meaning, joy and passion.

“The most fortunate people on earth are those who have found a calling that’s bigger than they are—that moves them and fills their lives with constant passion, aliveness, and growth.” — Richard Leider

An ace team-member once told me that while she enjoys working for the company we both used to work at, she really hated anything to do with technology. She was more of a “people” person, and did not want to sit behind a desk sifting through lines of code.

What struck me was that she was in that role for more than a decade and had just spoken up. The good thing is she spoke up. She expressed her desire and interests. And it allowed her to get into a role of her liking within 30 days.

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Ask If They like What They’re Doing

If you, or a team member is frustrated, demotivated, or not performing at their best – one of the questions you should ask is whether they like what they are doing. Then genuinely try to help them get to the role they should be in (whether in the same team/company or not).

There’s a reason why 53% of Americans (and perhaps more or same across the globe) are unhappy at work. A butcher cannot be an ace salad maker. Pursue your passion – and help pave the way for your team. Unlock your potential and theirs. You will command and lead a supercharged team.

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” – Steve Jobs

The Bottom Line

Sometimes, passion has to be ignited. It is dormant, clouded by busy-ness, buried by wrong career choices, and plagued by non-supportive eco-systems. Some will climb out of it, but we as society — and in the case of business teams — incumbent upon the manager/CEO/leader to foster, grow, and nurture the employee.

Teach her the ropes. Show her the path. Advise him as you would yourself. Let them lead, and make mistakes. Do not fear them, rather make them the leader you would want to become.

For your not-so-great team members, understand that it is not personal, it is just not a good fit. Help them move on to the pastures they would be fit to graze on. Hence, hire slow (and fire fast).

Your team is a reflection of you. Boosting their confidence and helping them achieve the impossible is motivation. Focus on that, and you will have a productive team that you and your company will be proud of.

More Resources About Team Management

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

Reference

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