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10 Things Only People Who Can’t Stop Learning Would Understand

10 Things Only People Who Can’t Stop Learning Would Understand

Learning matters in living a full and rich life. You can take your passing interest in art and explore it more deeply. You can also improve your career prospects by learning new skills. To discover the benefits of lifelong learning, read on.

1. They expand their library of books regularly.

As businessman Jim Rohn remarked, “Some people read so little they have rickets of the mind.” People with non-stop learning are often found browsing for books on Amazon, visiting their local library or book stores. Lifelong learners also ask friends and family for book suggestions, especially for non-fiction titles.

Tip: To reach your goals faster, choose books that relate to your goals: 15 Inspiring Books Every Leader Should Not Miss.

2. They take the time to ask questions when they take courses

Deep engagement with learning makes the experience more valuable and easier to remember. Fortunately, this tip is easy to use. Simply take a few minutes during a class break to write down some questions about the material. If you are taking a business course, you can always ask questions about how to apply the material to your career goals.

If you are uncomfortable asking questions in front of other people, there are other options. You can send questions by email or ask for an appointment to discuss the matter in depth.

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3. They learn to earn

Continuing education is vital to maintain your career growth. Lifelong learners view their education as a portfolio with several components. For example, project management professionals are required to pursue ongoing education in three areas: leadership, technical knowledge and management.

If you are seeking to increase your income, consider learning sales and marketing skills. Those skills make a great difference even if you are not in a traditional sales job.

4. They enjoy deeply exploring their interests and hobbies.

In the pursuit of the good life, lifelong learners know that career enhancement is not the only part of the picture. Foodies can explore their appreciation by  taking wine courses or improving their cooking skills (I have enjoyed taking wine courses at George Brown College in Toronto). In addition, there is much to be said for studying music, drawing and other creative efforts.

Tip: Read The Top 17 Ways Learning a Musical Instrument Gives You The Edge.

5. They enjoy the social aspect of learning.

By taking a course or attending a seminar, lifelong learners are exposed to other highly motivated people. It is sometimes difficult to find people who share a passion for lifelong learning. That’s why in-person learning is worth the price: the experience includes exposure to lifelong learners. There is also much to be said for the positive energy and excitement you can learn from a conference.

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6. They use what they learn to improve their lives.

Lifelong learners know that reading a good book on productivity, leadership or stress management is only the first step. If they read a productivity book such as “Getting Things Done” by David Allen, they know the value lies in application. Successful lifelong learners learn how to use the Weekly Review to improve their personal organization.

7. They know how to pursue lifelong learning on a budget

They know there are many different ways to acquire new knowledge and some of them are very easy to afford. For an easy to read introduction to a topic, I suggest reading a “For Dummies” book. I have found them a great way to learn new technology skills. There are also a wealth of resources available through many public libraries. Many public libraries provide access to traditional books, digital books, and video courses.

More learning options for learning on a budget:

Udemy.com: This online learning platform is known to provide frequent sales and discounts on courses covering technology (e.g. Microsoft Excel) , business skills, personal development.

Coursera.org: You can take over 1,000 college/university level courses for free through this website. There are specializations offered in Data Science, Data Mining, Cybersecurity and other fields.

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Clarity.FM: Have you ever wanted to get answers and advice directly from experienced business professionals? That’s what you can get from Clarity.FM. I have used this platform to obtain advice on online marketing and growing my email list.

8. They know how to learn from conversations with experienced people

Books, courses and other traditional forms of learning are effective. Yet, one must admit their limits – there is little interaction or customization. That’s why there is great learning value in speaking with a skilled person at length. A live interaction gives you the ability to learn and build a relationship at the same time.

To make the most out of a learning meeting with another person, take the time to prepare. Specifically, read about the person’s background and accomplishments (e.g. read their articles and books and their Linkedin profile). In addition, come prepared with a written list of questions. Finally, plan to pay for the lunch or dinner with the expert.

9. They know how to use journals and reflection to learn from their mistakes and errors

Everyone makes mistakes, even lifelong learners dedicated to learning a better way to reach their goals. That’s where reflection and journals come to play. For example, if you take a risk at work and it blows up, take the time to review the activity. Take twenty minutes (or more) to write in a journal about the experience. Ask yourself what lessons you can draw from the mistake. What would you have done differently? How could you have prepared better for the experience? Reflecting on your mistakes transforms them into valuable learning experiences.

For more inspiration on the benefits of keeping a journal, read these articles from Lifehack.org:

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6 Ways Journaling Will Change Your Life

10 Ways Journaling Can Improve Your Life

10. They schedule time for learning on their calendar

Successful people dedicated to lifelong learning understand that they must allocate serious time to learning. One approach is to spend an hour every morning on study – dedicating an hour every day to work on your skills puts you into the ranks of top performers. In addition, some people use one lunch hour per week to attend a webinar, read a book or work on another educational activity.

Featured photo credit: Young adult girl reading book near the window. via shutterstock.com

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Bruce Harpham

Bruce Harpham is a Project Management Professional and Founder and CEO of Project Management Hacks.

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Last Updated on September 30, 2019

How To Write Effective Meeting Minutes (with Examples)

How To Write Effective Meeting Minutes (with Examples)

Minutes are a written record of a board, company, or organizational meeting. Meeting minutes are considered a legal document, so when writing them, strive for clarity and consistency of tone.

Because minutes are a permanent record of the meeting, be sure to proofread them well before sending. It is a good idea to run them by a supervisor or seasoned attendee to make sure statements and information are accurately captured.

The best meeting minutes takers are careful listeners, quick typists, and are adequately familiar with the meeting topics and attendees. The note taker must have a firm enough grasp of the subject matter to be able to separate the important points from the noise in what can be long, drawn-out discussions. And, importantly, the note taker should not simultaneously lead and take notes. (If you’re ever asked to do so, decline.)

Following, are some step-by-step hints to effectively write meeting minutes:

1. Develop an Agenda

Work with the Chairperson or Board President to develop a detailed agenda.

Meetings occur for a reason, and the issues to be addressed and decided upon need to be listed to alert attendees. Work with the convener to draft an agenda that assigns times to each topic to keep the meeting moving and to make sure the group has enough time to consider all items.

The agenda will serve as your outline for the meeting minutes. Keep the minutes’ headings consistent with the agenda topics for continuity.

2. Follow a Template from Former Minutes Taken

If you are new to a Board or organization, and are writing minutes for the first time, ask to see the past meeting minutes so that you can maintain the same format.

Generally, the organization name or the name of the group that is meeting goes at the top: “Meeting of the Board of Directors of XYZ,” with the date on the next line. After the date, include both the time the meeting came to order and the time the meeting ended.

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Most groups who meet do so regularly, with set agenda items at each meeting. Some groups include a Next Steps heading at the end of the minutes that lists projects to follow up on and assigns responsibility.

A template from a former meeting will also help determine whether or not the group records if a quorum was met, and other items specific to the organization’s meeting minutes.

3. Record Attendance

On most boards, the Board Secretary is the person responsible for taking the meeting minutes. In organizational meetings, the minutes taker may be a project coordinator or assistant to a manager or CEO. She or he should arrive a few minutes before the meeting begins and pass around an attendance sheet with all members’ names and contact information.

Meeting attendees will need to check off their names and make edits to any changes in their information. This will help as both a back-up document of attendees and ensure that information goes out to the most up-to-date email addresses.

All attendees’ names should be listed directly below the meeting name and date, under a subheading that says “Present.” List first and last names of all attendees, along with title or affiliation, separated by a comma or semi-colon.

If a member of the Board could not attend the meeting, cite his or her name after the phrase: “Copied To:” There may be other designations in the participants’ list. For example, if several of the meeting attendees are members of the staff while everyone else is a volunteer, you may want to write (Staff) after each staff member.

As a general rule, attendees are listed alphabetically by their last names. However, in some organizations, it’s a best practice to list the leadership of the Board first. In that case, the President or Co-Presidents would be listed first, followed by the Vice President, followed by the Secretary, and then by the Treasurer. Then all other names of attendees would be alphabetized by last name.

It is also common practice to note if a participant joined the meeting via conference call. This can be indicated by writing: “By Phone” and listing the participants who called in.

4. Naming Convention

Generally, the first time someone speaks in the meeting will include his or her name and often the title.

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For example, “President of the XYZ Board, Roger McGowan, called the meeting to order.” The next time Roger McGowan speaks, though, you can simply refer to him as “Roger.” If there are two Rogers in the meeting, use an initial for their last names to separate the two. “Roger M. called for a vote. Roger T. abstained.”

5. What, and What Not, to Include

Depending on the nature of the meeting, it could last from one to several hours. The attendees will be asked to review and then approve the meeting minutes. Therefore, you don’t want the minutes to extend into a lengthy document.

Capturing everything that people say verbatim is not only unnecessary, but annoying to reviewers.

For each agenda item, you ultimately want to summarize only the relevant points of the discussion along with any decisions made. After the meeting, cull through your notes, making sure to edit out any circular or repetitive arguments and only leave in the relevant points made.

6. Maintain a Neutral Tone

Minutes are a legal document. They are used to establish an organization’s historical record of activity. It is essential to maintain an even, professional tone. Never put inflammatory language in the minutes, even if the language of the meeting becomes heated.

You want to record the gist of the discussion objectively, which means mentioning the key points covered without assigning blame. For example, “The staff addressed board members’ questions regarding the vendor’s professionalism.”

Picture a lawyer ten years down the road reading the minutes to find evidence of potential wrongdoing. You wouldn’t want an embellishment in the form of a colorful adverb or a quip to cloud any account of what took place. Here’s a list of neutral sounding words to get started with.

7. Record Votes

The primary purpose of minutes is to record any votes a board or organization takes. Solid record-keeping requires mentioning which participant makes a motion — and what the motion states verbatim — and which participant seconds the motion.

For example, “Vice President Cindy Jacobsen made a motion to dedicate 50 percent, or $50,000, of the proceeds from the ZZZ Foundation gift to the CCC scholarship fund. President Roger McGowan seconded the motion.”

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This vote tabulation should be expressed in neutral language as well. “The Board voted unanimously to amend the charter in the following way,” or “The decision to provide $1,000 to the tree-planting effort passed 4 to 1, with Board President McGowan opposing.”

Most Boards try to get a vote passed unanimously. Sometimes in order to help the Board attain a more cohesive outcome, a Board member may abstain from voting. “The motion passed 17 to 1 with one absension.”

8. Pare down Notes Post-Meeting

Following the meeting, read through your notes while all the discussions remain fresh in your mind, and make any needed revisions. Then, pare the meeting minutes down to their essentials, providing a brief account of the discussion that summarizes arguments made for and against a decision.

People often speak colloquially or in idioms, as in: “This isn’t even in the ballpark” or “You’re beginning to sound like a broken record.” While you may be tempted to keep the exact language in the minutes to add color, resist.

Additionally, if any presentations are part of the meeting, do not include information from the Powerpoint in the minutes. However, you will want to record the key points from the post-presentation discussion.

9. Proofread with Care

Make sure that you spelled all names correctly, inserted the correct date of the meeting, and that your minutes read clearly.

Spell out acronyms the first time they’re used. Remember that the notes may be reviewed by others for whom the acronyms are unfamiliar. Stay consistent in headings, punctuation, and formatting. The minutes should be polished and professional.

10. Distribute Broadly

Once approved, email minutes to the full board — not just the attendees — for review. Your minutes will help keep those who were absent apprised of important actions and decisions.

At the start of the next meeting, call for the approval of the minutes. Note any revisions. Try to work out the agreed-upon changes in the meeting, so that you don’t spend a huge amount of time on revisions.

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Ask for a motion to approve the minutes with the agreed-upon changes. Once an attendee offers a motion, ask for another person in the meeting to “second” the motion. They say, “All approved.” Always ask if there is anyone who does not approve. Assuming not, then say: “The minutes from our last meeting are approved once the agreed-upon changes have been made.”

11. File Meticulously

Since minutes are a legal document, take care when filing them. Make sure the file name of the document is consistent with the file names of previously filed minutes.

Occasionally, members of the organization may want to review past minutes. Know where the minutes are filed!

One Caveat

In this day and age of high technology, you may ask yourself: Wouldn’t it be simpler to record the meeting? This depends on the protocols of the organization, but probably not.

Be sure to ask what the rules are at the organization where you are taking minutes. Remember that the minutes are a record of what was done at the meeting, not what was said at the meeting.

The minutes reflect decisions not discussions. In spite of their name, “minutes,” the minutes are not a minute-by-minute transcript.

Bottom Line

Becoming an expert minutes-taker requires a keen ear, a willingness to learn, and some practice, but by following these tips you will soon become proficient.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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