How To Create A Career With Purpose, Passion And Cammy Bean

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Hello everyone! My name is Ladek and my guest for this episode is Camy Bean. Cammy started as a Junior Instructional Designer in 1996 and has since collaborated with hundreds of organizations to design and deliver training. In 2009, she helped start up US operations for Kineo, a global provider of learning solutions. She currently leads the North American sales team, supports clients through the initial discovery process and manages a portfolio of custom client accounts to help organizations meet their strategic business objectives through better learning solutions. She’s also the author of The Accidental Instructional Designer: Learning Design for the Digital Age, now in its second edition.

In this ‘accidental’ conversation, Camy and I discuss

00:00 › Start

6:46 › Coming Of Age—Cammy describes how the role of the instructional designer has come of age, especially post pandemic; and why, after many years, she is still passionate about the profession

11:52 › Counseling Book—Cammy talks about how her book counsels people to follow their passion and start a career that honors those passions. We also discuss the pros and cons of specializing vs remaining a generalist

20:20 › Working Challenges—We discuss how Cammy works through challenges with projects and clients

28:29 › Early Starters—Cammy provides her perspective and advice for early career professionals and what she sees happening in the near future for the instructional design profession.


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Learn more at Open LMS .net Hello, my name’s Ladek, and my guest for this episode is Cammy Bean. Cammy started as a junior instructional designer in 1996 and has since collaborated with hundreds of organizations to design and deliver training.

In 2009, she helped start up U .S. operations for Kineo, a global provider of learning solutions. She currently leads the North American sales team, supports clients through the initial discovery process,

and manages a portfolio of custom client accounts to help organizations meet their strategic business objectives through better learning solutions. She’s also the author of the Accidental Instructional Designer,

Learning Design for the Digital Age, which is in its second edition from ATD Press. In this somewhat accidental conversation, Cammy and I discuss how the role of the instructional designer has come of age,

especially post -pandemic, and why after many years she’s still passionate about the profession. Cammy then talks about how her book counsels people to follow their passion and start a career career that honors those passions.

We also discussed the pros and cons of specializing versus remaining a generalist. Then we discussed how Cammy works through challenges with projects and with clients and, you know,

some of those usual things that you see in every project. Cammy then provides her perspective and advice for early career professionals and what she sees happening in the near future for the instructional design profession.

And remember, we record this podcast live so that we can interact with you, our listeners, in real time. So if you’d like to join the fun every week on LinkedIn, on Facebook, or on YouTube, just come over to eLearnmagazine .com and subscribe.

Now, I give you Cammy Bean. – Hello, everyone. Welcome to the eLearn Podcasts and an especially warm welcome to Cammy Bean. How are you today, ma ‘am? – I’m awesome.

Good to see you. – Wow, you’re awesome. That’s fantastic. Where do we find you in the world? – I am in Massachusetts outside of Boston about 23 miles northwest of the city of Boston.

– What’s the name of the city? – Littleton. No one’s ever heard of it. – No, I don’t know. I grew up next to a Littleton in Colorado, so I don’t know. – Ah, good, yes. It’s a little town in Massachusetts.

– That’s awesome. I feel like there’s like a Littleton in every state somewhere. It’s like a little town. – There are many, yes. – Cammy, I’m psyched with this conversation ’cause I feel like it’s a beautiful departure from what I usually get to talk about,

at least over the last six months, which is AI or something deep in ed tech or something that meshes up those things about, oh my gosh, what’s happening and how are we going to save ourselves in this debacle of disruption that’s going on?

Because we’re gonna talk about how we stumble into these careers, right? How do we get there and what do we do about that? And the reason why it’s really,

if I’m completely honest, near and dear to my heart is that in a former life, I worked in a different sector and I had this conversation over 15 years with everyone. It’s like no one ever chose to be a part of what was the humanitarian and the international development world,

right? You like, you just find yourself there one day and what do you know about it? – Yeah, what, what? – But you are the author of a book called The Accidental Instructional Designer, right? Oops, sorry, messed up the title there.

But let me give you the stage. Tell us about yourself. You know, give us the 60 to 90 seconds on who you are and what you do and what you do for Kenya right now. Yeah, sure. 60 to 90 seconds.

All right, that’s going to be tough because I like to talk. So I graduated from college in 1990 with a degree in English and German Studies.

I thought I would be a teacher. I wanted to be a writer. I had all these aspirations. I ended up getting a job at a company. And I somehow found my way into the training team,

like into a training function because we were designing software systems for this company. It was the first time anyone had used a computer. It was 1992, 1993, right? Anyways, I eventually found my way then to that next job,

which was at a, I guess, boutique e -learning shop, but we didn’t even call it e -learning back then. We created CD -ROMs and it seemed really glamorous and really exciting and creating training and video and all this cool tech stuff.

And I was going to get to write and teach and I had junior instructional designer on my card and I was like, what is this field that I’m in? And that’s just, you know, here I am all these years later.

I’ve worked as a in small boutique e -learning companies. I’ve worked as a freelancer. I’ve, in 2009, I helped found Kineo US.

Kineo is a global learning company that started in 2005 in the UK. I helped start our US operation as that instructional designer who had a lot of practice, you know, practical skills and abilities.

And now seven, well, 14 years later, I’ve been with Kineo for a while. I’m now the head of our sales team here in the US, like accidental salesperson. I mean, we all find ourselves like,

what? So I didn’t start from point A to point B. I would never would have, never in a million years would I have told told you I would have landed up doing sales for a learning design company. And a large part of what I do in the sales role is talk instructional design and learning design and L &D challenges and solutions and problems with people.

– Super good. Well, then, I mean, let’s just be transparent here. What is, what is Kineo? I just, you know, I want to know like what do you deliver that, you know, give me the elevator pitch. – The elevator pitch.

So we are a global learning solutions provider company. We do, we specialize in digital learning. So my background was custom content. And that is what we do. We develop a lot of custom learning content for organizations.

We also have an LMS product, which is based on Totara, which is an open source learning management system. And we do a lot with open source tools. So we have a lot of,

a lot of excitement around open things like you. – Why open? Yeah, exactly. I mean, that, and obviously, I mean, we are called open LMS, right? I mean, that’s, it’s in the name. What, why,

why are you passionate about open source? Like what does that mean to you? – Well, and we’ve forked off of it, but open source just puts the tools in the people’s hands, right? So I remember when I first heard about Kineo back in 2006,

they were experimenting with Moodle. And at the same time, the company I was working for was gonna create, you know, a from scratch custom LMS for a company.

I was like, this doesn’t seem very smart. There’s tools out there that you can leverage and you can customize and you can build on. So that’s what Kineo created with Totara and collaboration with some other partners was an open source LMS for the corporate space.

And then we’ve done similar things with ADAPT, which is an authoring tool. That’s an open source, fully responsive HTML5 framework for creating really high end custom learning content using ADAPT,

but it’s an open source tool that anyone can get out there and use. We think that’s pretty exciting. – Very cool. So take me to, you know, you’re on your second edition of your book,

The Accidental Instructional Designer. It’s a story that resonates with you and I. Let me ask you first, is it still true that are you meeting people pretty regularly who are like,

wow, I had no idea this was even a profession. Like I didn’t, I don’t know how I got here. And, you know, or are you hearing more and more people are choosing this either as a career path or they’re like,

wow, you know, because e -learning now, you know, post pandemic, it’s kind of come of age. – Yes. Well, the answer is yes and yes. So, you know, I walk into,

I speak at conferences a lot. I’ll visit a conference in July, an ATD conference called Core 4, which is really for people who are kind of getting started foundational. Pretty much everyone in that room was,

you know, figuring it out for the first time. And what happens with many of us is you get tapped. You’re part of an organization and you get tapped to be the training guy, you know,

or the training woman as it may be, or the PowerPoint guru or the this. And, you know, suddenly training gets put on top of your, you know, already full plate. And they say,

you know, you should be the instructional designer. So there’s tons of people out there who are figuring this out for the first time accidentally because they have shown some, you know,

skills, talent, capability. Maybe they have the subject matter expertise. Maybe they have the jazz hands and can talk in front of a crowd. Maybe they can, you know, parse out the steps of a process in a really effective way.

And, you know, hey, you should be the trainer. You should do the instructional design at this company. So that happens all the time and that’s never gonna stop, right? You see startups who are suddenly going, “Oh crap, we have to do training now.

Kami, you take that on.” That’s gonna be on your job description, right? So there’s people figuring it out. And there’s always this kumbaya moment when people come together because they realize they are not alone. I’m not the only one figuring this out for the very first time all by myself.

And I do not have to reinvent any wheels ’cause they’ve all been invented, folks. – Hi there. I’m sorry to break into the show right now, but if you’re enjoying this show, if you are challenged,

if you’re inspired, if you’re learning something, if you think that you’re gonna be able to get something out of this to put into your practice, do me a quick favor. Pause right now and just hit subscribe on your podcast player right now. It doesn’t matter which one,

just hit subscribe because that way it’ll make sure that you never miss an episode in the future. Thanks. Now, back to the show. So that’s one thing. And then secondly, you asked about people moving into the field.

So that’s absolutely happening now, too. I was just an hour ago reading a post and someone said, “Since the pandemic, instructional design has become a thing.” And I was like,

“I’ve been a instructional designer for 25 years.” It’s been a thing for a long time, but there’s a lot more visibility on that because e -learning has absolutely come into the spotlight and we see more of a focus on digital learning solutions and people recognize it’s not going away.

I mean, 20 years ago, if you tried to explain what you did as an instructional designer in the digital learning space, I got a lot of cross -ties and, you know, what? Well, I’m wondering that and disabuse me of this,

if you will. It’s, I wonder how many people go into the education field thing. Yeah, what I feel that make my calling is being an instructor, being a teacher, being an educator without even really knowing,

“Hey, wait, there is this opportunity.” ‘Cause what the real passion may be is actually, I think it’s in, I read it in your bio earlier, where it’s a passion for effectively explaining something,

right? – Mm -hmm. – Or it’s a passion for taking these complex ideas and knowledge and packaging in a way that makes it accessible. Does that resonate with you? – Yeah,

absolutely. I have done a lot of surveys of people in this field over the years. There’s a lot of people who wanted to be teachers, journalists, maybe trained, right? As teachers,

journalists, writers, you know, we all kind of tend to, I don’t know, conglomerate over in a certain part of the world. It is communicators,

generally, I think. And you have to have some inherent curiosity about things to do instructional design, I think. You gotta be willing to ask stupid questions. I love, I haven’t done this in a while, but like content gathering,

being the stupid guy in the room and just asking all those questions, it’s really fascinating. You get to put on beginner mindset and learn about so many amazing things. – Yeah, I think it’s like a superpower,

I think, that so many people I’ve met don’t use effectively in that, you know, just being the innocent in a room, I mean, you can create some pretty uncomfortable situations pretty fast,

especially for, you know, if obviously you don’t want, it’s never the intention, but it’s just like, well, that’s interesting. Tell me why you do that that way. – You know, just like a simple question like that can really,

you know, open up doors into creating new processes or like explaining something or whatever. – Right, perhaps create a lot of internal debate on the subject matter expertise that you’re interviewing.

– Exactly. – That’s not how I do it. – So if somebody has stumbled into this, you know, they’ve, let’s see, they picked up your book, you know, and they’re like, wow,

I didn’t know this is a thing. I want to learn more about it. You know, for myself, you know, I can remember a moment, I did a lot of training again in that former life where I, and then one day it dawned on me,

I’m like, I don’t really want to be a trainer. Like the training, training isn’t my thing. Performing is my thing. Really love performing, right? But then there’s a clear distinction there. There’s the jazz hands things, right? Which I love that.

That was such a beautiful call out. What, you know, where in your book or in your life do you start to counsel people like, how do you start to actually wrap a passion?

You know, identify the passion and then start to wrap a career around that. Like it’s an uncomfortable space to move through, right? ‘Cause sometimes there aren’t labels that you can find. – Yeah, sure, sure. All right,

so a lot of people get into this by accident and they’re tasked with a job, right? Like create a PowerPoint training out of this and then publish it in Storyliner. And to them, that is instructional design,

you know? And so first of all, let’s acknowledge that every instructional designer in a room of 400, they will all define what they do differently. The job descriptions for all of those people are gonna be totally different.

They’re not gonna be the same. Every company defines it differently and what they want. So the framework that I like to talk about with regard to this is pie, it’s food -based.

– Nice. – And, yes, we all like pie. And it’s really thinking about kind of the digital learning space, but more often than not these days, I think this applies to all of training.

It’s that there are essentially four key sectors that we have to be thinking about. So you stumble into instructional design and there might be a sweet spot that brought you into it. So let me take you through the four pieces of pie right now.

All right, so first is learning. You know, it’s the learning sciences. It’s understanding how adults learn. It’s how to define instructional strategies. It’s how to do curriculum design.

It’s writing assessment questions. It’s Bloom’s taxonomy. It’s all the learning theory. Some people get super into that and that’s what brings you into this field. And, you know,

boom, you’re an instructional designer because that’s, in many graduate degree programs, that’s what they are teaching, right? The learning sciences piece of it. But when you get into the digital learning space, it’s the jazz hands,

but it’s jazz hands with intent and purpose. It’s the creative piece of what we do. When we are creating digital learning experiences, especially self -paced e -learning that someone’s sitting down in front of a computer,

it better look good. It better be on brand. It should be telling a story. There should be some engaging interactivity. Maybe there’s video, there’s audio. There’s this whole creative component.

And when I, you know, my first instructional design job, I was like, I get to write scripts and I get to go into a video studio and shoot video. I was 26 years old and I was so excited.

It sounded so incredibly glamorous and creative. I was like, this is awesome, right? – I mean, it’s like a mini, it’s a mini Hollywood, really. – Absolutely, it can be for some people.

And other people are listening to me and go, “What? I’ve never done that.” that I you know, I just right so there’s lots of flavors of creativity within that then of course There’s the technology piece and technology for me was the you know,

I don’t want to I don’t want to know But I’m an English major. I don’t want to really. Oh, I’m surprised here that you I would I would think that you would cotton Do that you seem so I have learned over the years And perhaps it’s just because I’ve been doing this so long my pie is really well -rounded right now I know a lot about a lot of things not not deeply but I have you know wide generalist knowledge at

this point, but the technology piece is You know scorm it’s X API. It’s the tools It’s building in the tools which you know, you might say like using storyline probably transcends both the creative and the technology piece,

right? It’s LMS is it’s Quality assurance testing it’s coding. It’s programming. It’s JavaScript. It’s Reloads and seats,

you know Into the technology of learning and now with you know AI and VR and AR right like There’s a lot of slices to that piece of the pie And then the last piece of the pie is is the business piece of the pie and most of what we’re talking about are people who are focusing on Corporate training or the excess that’s been my my focus corporate training But I think even if you’re at higher ed you got to think

about the business side of it, which is Serving the needs of the business right laddering up to the corporate objectives and and you know metrics and and goals But it’s running your project like a busy business You’ve got project management.

How many instructional designers in the room have been a project manager to for every project that they’ve run, right? Those are business skills. That’s not Instructional design project managing does not equal instructional design,

right? But it often falls under that heading and then you know, you might have to be a performance consultant You know, you’re talking to key stakeholders within the organization Communicating so there’s a lot of business skills that fall into it.

So this well -rounded learning professional in the L &D space you know Maybe knows some of those, you know, all of those and there’s just so many different slices within each of those pieces of pie so you get into this because you’re into video and you’re into um,

you know learning and pedagogy and and you know for me that was you know, I was like, oh, I want to be a teacher I want to be a writer. Boom. Awesome. This is a great career. And now I’ve had to learn about the technology piece over the years And the business side here.

I am a salesperson now, right? Like I can talk you through a contract um And so, you know, you might get into here with a little bit of a sweet spot and where you go next is totally up to you It’s super exciting.

Um, there is no end to where L &D as a field Can go and you’re seeing that with the explosion of all these disruptive technologies right now, right? You could you could Go down that path for the next six years and and you become an expert in that area Um,

or you could go over this direction Well, so let me yeah, well, let me if I’m if I would get interrupted just a second like uh, again This isn’t about me, but I’m bringing in in that past life again I used to have lots of conversations about or debates around the benefits and cons of specializing versus generalists,

right? So somebody who comes in and says look, I’m learning cognitive You know adult cognition, you know, I’m like I can tell you everything about you know, kerpatrick and balloons and blah, blah, you know, um Or someone like yourself now who’s grown into a specialist,

you know, 10 ,000 miles wide, you know, half an inch deep, you know Well, where would you find the balance? Where would you counsel people to say, you know, should I have one or two of those muscles like Okay,

learning, you know, like the actual creative side and the tech side like I’m huge on but The other two pieces maybe not so much. Do I pick one or do I try to do all four like what’s what’s your counsel there?

It kind of depends, you know, it depends on what floats your boat. Um Specialist, generous, and then there’s instructional designers, absolutely. Absolutely. Everyone see that the header under there?

Yeah. Right. So I think I’m pretty much of a generalist at this point. Some people are going to have that more T shaped skills model. Have you heard of that, where you have like,

you know, generalists, all these skills across the, across the top of the T, and then you, you develop some deep expertise. Maybe you’re the LMS Scorm guy, maybe you’re getting into XAPI,

but you have a good well rounding on all these other areas. You know, it probably is going to depend on the team that you’re on. Are you a one -stop shop? Many people at many organizations,

they are the training department. And definitely like the resources you have available, right? Like if you’re, if you’re working for Salesforce, and you’ve got, you know, 300 other colleagues that you’re working with,

your ability to either specialize in something or really hone a particular aspect of this craft is probably much more likely than if you’re at a, one of the new AI startups and you’re,

you know, you’re a marketing department of one, right? Yeah, exactly. So I think, yeah, you, I was just reading an article about data maturity, learning analytics and, you know,

maturity models of, for learning analytics teams. So the Salesforce team is probably going to have a learning analytics scientist, right? They’re going to have a team of scientists.

Yeah, they’re going to have all the data and trying to make a sense of it. And you’re the data analyst over here too. That’s, that falls under your many myriad job titles. So some of it’s the kind of organization you’re at. Some of it’s what you’re interested in as a human being.

You know, it depends. So if I’m, you know, you went to the core, ATD core, did anybody walk out of that room going,

it’s ain’t for me. Like, is there anybody who kind of discovers this and kind of, you know, walks in for, you know, a mile or two and then it’s just like, you know what, maybe not so much. I haven’t seen that.

I was wondering, cause it seems like one of these professions where it’s like, because there are, I love these four aspects that you put to it. You know, it, it,

um, speaks to my personality where you, you, you kind of have the ability to kind of renew or at least find something new on a pretty regular basis. It stays interesting. You know, it’s got depth as well as breadth. Um,

what are the, if, if you don’t see people walking away, like, what are the challenges that they come to you with in that core meeting or, or it’s like, what are the, I don’t knows that you want to help them get through.

Yeah. Well, I think, so identify what’s your strength, what’s your sweet spot. What is it that makes you saying what brought you into that and really focused on that and get really good at that. I encourage people to do that.

Um, and then also identify what’s your weakness. What’s that thing that you kind of stick your fingers in your ears and go, la, la, la, I don’t want to know anything about that. And maybe there’s a bandaid you have to peel off and,

and go dive in a little bit, um, I think it is important, uh, I think it’s important, but maybe that’s my own personal perspective to have enough of that broad understanding to know what you don’t know about a lot of things.

Uh, and then figure out who you can go to. Um, and at some point in your career, you may decide you want to, you want to go down that path. I once, um, when I did the book launch in April for the second edition of Accidental Instructional Designer,

I had a guest on who, uh, likened the L and D field and I loved this image to climbing a rock wall. Um, so your career path is not going to be from point A up to point B over here.

It’s not a straight line. And she said, it’s really, and I’m not a rock climber, but I’ve, I’ve seen people rock climb, you know, you go up and then you go sideways and then you might go here and then you might have to belay down for a bit and then you go back up,

you can go all over this amazing rock face in this field. and never be bored. I’ve been doing this for a long time. At some point in my career, I will be ready to retire.

I’m not there yet, but you have to keep renewing yourself. Otherwise, we all do get a little bored. There’s some natural career cycles and paths that we go in.

I recently stumbled across this, it was like the seven -year career cycle S -curve. And I’ll take it. – You just, hey, are you throwing something on the table? – I’ll talk you through it.

So prior to my coming to Kineo, I always thought, oh, every five years or so, I get bored and I’m ready to move on to the next thing. At Kineo, I’ve had two full cycles.

I was the head of our learning design team for seven years and now I’ve been in sales for seven years. So clearly, so if they say it’s a seven -year cycle, I’m ready for the next thing. – Can we ask and you don’t have to answer the question.

Like what was the impetus for the change? Was it just like on board or a new opportunity came up or this was just a– – Seven years ago, I’m ready for the next thing. I’m ready for that next challenge. So if you are,

I’m gonna draw an S on this piece of paper, which maybe you’ll see. Can you see it? – Kind of, sort of. – All right, so we, okay, it’s backwards for me. Okay, so you start your career.

It’s basically a competency to mastery cycle. So you start your career and you’re learning for the first time and it’s super exciting. I can’t do this ’cause it’s backwards. – I’m nowhere, just watch this. – I’ll look at it here,

I’ll look at it. So you’re going up the curve, you’re learning everything. It’s really exciting. You’re like, this is the best thing. I’m so awesome at this or I’m challenged,

I’m challenged. And then you get up somewhere around here and this is kind of that sweet spot where you’ve probably been doing it for a few years but you are so good at it, it’s really awesome. And then you kind of start to come down.

– Yeah, there’s a plateau moment for a while. – You plateau and you go down ’cause you’ve mastered it. You’ve mastered everything in that. And so it’s this competency to mastery curve that is a natural thing for us,

for all of us human beings and it probably for people who are like, huh, can we switch and now she’s going to switch her job again. I don’t have to switch my job, but maybe I can find that next thing within what I’m doing.

And the cool thing about being an L and D is you can find your next S curve super easily. I’ve been spending my day thinking about content analytics and accessibility and VPAT.

Like those are things I had not stuck my head into really deeply. So now I’m going a little deeper with that kind of stuff. And I just think there’s so much on the L and D pie that we can get deep into that you can keep finding your next S curve is what I’m saying.

Yeah, so what I mean, what I want to ask is like, so what are the challenges that you’ve experienced? And, you know, is it burnout? Is it you kind of you thought learning analytics was going to be exciting and you got into the week and you’re like,

you know, I really, I don’t want to spend my day, you know, in equations and data lakes and those kinds of things like, are you know, do you do you just kind of find those things? And then if you run up against the wall,

you’re able to either push through it or run around it. Or like, how have you worked through the, I don’t want to do this kind of stuff. Gosh, you’re asking a hard question.

I mean, generally, you kind of know, right? You either feel bored with it. You’re like, eh, this isn’t my thing, right? Like, I’m not that into this. In my role, kind of,

I mean, I speak to a lot of people and people look to me for like, not all the answers, certainly, but where they want to hear what I have to say, because then they can go research it more.

So I get to point people a lot of direction. So for me, I can learn three inches deep. I don’t have to go 12 feet deep, which suits me. I’m not generalist at this point.

Yeah, yeah, it’s great. So talk to me about the role of talking about the role of mentors in this universe as well. So again, you go take us back to that ATD core session. What’s What’s your advice for individuals who are getting either,

they’re fully in the instructional design universe, but they’re kind of figuring out what they want to do. They’re early career professionals. If I want to reach out to a Cammy Bean in the world, how do I do it? How do you do it?

I get that a lot. A lot of people reach out to me on LinkedIn. Will you be my mentor? Don’t ever ask that question. Because yeah, that said,

I would love to mentor everyone. And I think look to the people who are out there talking and sharing and learn from them. Go speak to them at conferences. Ask. I mean, it doesn’t hurt to ask. But many people will say like,

I’m too busy or, you know, I’m mentoring my own team or I’ve got my own team, I’m already mentoring. That said, you may find informal mentors along the way who,

even if you don’t ask them directly, may play a mentoring role for you just because of the way they put themselves out there in the world. So I guess I sort of,

I probably am that for people without even realizing it. And you may find people, I don’t know, Ellen Wagner, Dr. Ellen Wagner, I don’t know if you know her, but she was kind of my informal mentor.

She’s the one who came up with that pie metaphor, and I’ve totally run with it. So I always have to give Ellen Wagner credit for it. But she was a professor in instructional design. And back in the early 2000s,

the debate was raging as it still rages is, do you need a degree in instructional design or not? And there was Ellen Wagner, who was a professor in instructional design. And there’s me going, I’ve been doing this for 10 years,

and I don’t have a degree, you know, I don’t need one. And she was great and really supportive. And I’m a huge fan of her. So, you know, you find the people that you’re fans of and follow them and stay connected to them.

In what you find as well, because I just, you’ve kind of perfectly led me into my next question, where I wanted to go is, you know, where would you cancel people, especially early career professionals, would you cancel them to find a big company to work for and,

you know, kind of, you know, learn the Salesforce way or, you know, learn the Tesla way or whatever it is, or, you know, find yourself up in a startup world where it’s like, hey, you’re going to be able to wear a lot of hats fast and it’s going to be a little stressful in this net.

But, you know, that’s the fastest way to kind of get to that larger base of knowledge. I can see, you know, personally, I can see both of them, but what’s your usual answer? Yeah, well,

so instructional design and training happen everywhere. Every company has some kind of a training department. I think it’s really important to align what you do with the values that you have.

So, if what you’re super passionate about is, you know, climate change and preventing climate change, go find a job at World Wildlife Fund. Sure. Find a job with the people who are solving that problem.

Go work for the National Park Service. I’ve met many instructional designers who work for National Park Service. And those are the people when I’m talking to them at conferences, they’re like, oh, you have a really cool job.

Absolutely. But if what you want is to, you know, I don’t know, I think it depends on what’s, what’s floating your, what’s floating your goat. I was going to say floating your boat. And I don’t know if my,

if that view of like going to, it probably feels like a luxury to people who are just getting started, like, oh, I can go choose the organization I work for. But you kind of can. I mean, there’s so many jobs out there in training and development.

So, I’d find an organization that you feel fits your values. That’s important. To, yeah, think about, are you the kind of person who needs a lot of structure and coaching on the job?

In which case, you’re probably going to do better with a big team where someone’s telling you what to do. Or are you the kind of person who likes to figure it out and, you know, know? Ask for forgiveness not permission And then a startup,

you know where you’re like doing it all and figuring it all out on your own So you have to Ask yourself some questions about that and some people are probably just I just want a job I don’t care where I get a job and you see you do see a lot of teachers right now Cut especially coming out of the pandemic people trying to get out a K through 12 and switching.

Oh instructional design perfect fit Maybe May or may not be a great fit for you It really depends working with kids in a classroom is really different than sitting it in front of your computer all day Doing you know storyboards or writing a script or doing storyline development So have a have a view for what it is that you’re passionate about I’ll share a resource with you Steve It’s that that pie.

I mean, I keep calling you Steve. Sorry about that. I’m worries It’s it’s the learning pie with all these different slices and you kind of kind of map out what you’re what you’re passionate about and figure out Where you want to grow your strengths?

I’ll share that as a resource because that can be kind of fun to look at nice We’ll definitely put it in the podcast notes here for sure And we’ll also throw it up on LinkedIn and the other other places. We’re broadcasting this right now Um,

I want to take five more minutes of your time to talk about I think a part of the slice of the pie that most people at least in the conversations. I’ve had over the last three years would maybe either back away from or If it get a little bit of a black hole and that’s the business side,

right? Yeah, the slice Talk to me about first of all the importance of that second of all You know, are there any aha moments that you’ve had, you know, now that you’ve really had to flex with that as somebody on the sales side Um,

and any any pointer for somebody who’s like, no, look, I want to design learning I don’t want to be a I don’t want to have to deal with business KPI is like tell me about those things Right,

it doesn’t seem like the twain she’ll ever meet right if you’re sitting over in that creative slice of the pie Yeah, look, I’m an artist, you know, I’m putting things together making sure I’m making sure Yeah, for sure.

Um Well, you don’t have to you don’t have to speak the business Like, if you wanna just be doing graphics, you could be sitting on the graphics team on a great e -learning design development team and you don’t even have to talk to the customer.

So that’s one option. – Okay. – Lead that off there. However, generally, even the graphic designer needs to understand business in the form of brand identity for an organization,

right? When you’re developing digital learning, it’s all about brand. That’s business, right? That’s marketing. So that’s kind of, that’s all, that’s business. I would start with thinking about being a consultant to an organization.

And it’s all about asking questions. That’s the kind of the core skill in many ways. There’s project management, of course. And often that’s what many teams,

the instructional designers by default are the project managers. So you have to learn those basic project management skills, which is managing a project on time and on budget. And even if you’re internal within an organization and you’re not tracking,

like I’m a vendor, we’re a vendor, we track our budgets very closely because it’s all about not paying you to build your e -learning for you at the end of the day.

And content learning design content, it’s a small margin business. It’s kind of like grocery stores out there. Nobody wants to pay for it, but they want the whole foods of training.

Anyways, I digress. But thinking about your road into business, so it might be that project management, just understanding how to run a project and how to communicate that back to the stakeholders.

But subject matter expert interviews, you are talking to someone within the business, so you have to speak, not in instructional design terms, you have to speak in the language of the business in order to translate that into an effective learning experience.

So just those basic bits can get you started on that business piece, but I wouldn’t get overwhelmed. I mean, I never in a million years would have,

as I said, imagined myself as an instructional designer who leads sales. Or even talking business, right? I don’t want to go to business school.

That was the last thing ever on my mind. No way. Not going to go to business school now, but yeah. I don’t know if I answered that question. You did. You did. Absolutely.

On every single one of these conversations, I’m amazed at how quickly 30, 35 minutes goes by here. Tie it in a bow for me. If your second edition of your book is coming out,

what do you see over the next year, two years in the near future for the instructional design profession and things that somebody who may be interested in this who’s listening to this right now or somebody who’s already taken the decision,

their kind of early career? Anything that you would say, look, here’s your first two steps or this is a must do for your career. Read my book.

It’ll get you grounded. Nice. It will. Someone said it reads, it’s not a how to book. It really isn’t. I would say my book is kind of an intro 101 to the industry and what you’re doing.

Go out there and read Julie Jerkson’s book, Design for How People Learn. That’s got to be must on your list. On my shelf. Absolutely. And she just got it. She just had a new book came out.

I just got it on Sunday. Oh, nice. Design the elephant in the room. It’s about behavior, designing for behavior change. Anyways, amazing. Read. Go out there, find books to read.

Get really curious about the subject of instructional design. Think about what sparks you. What is it that gets you going every morning? And focus on that and have that be your in road.

Find a lot of great people to follow. There are many, many amazing people on LinkedIn and I don’t know if people are still on X anymore, Twitter. $550 million according to the headlines today.

We used to all be out there. Anyways, everyone’s out on social media sharing what they do, and you can find them, and you can connect with them. But ask questions. Make sure the people that you’re talking to know what they’re talking about, because there’s a lot of snake oil sales mail out there,

too. Can I mean, this has been a delightful conversation. I can’t thank you enough for taking the time out of your day. Other than picking up your book, how should– I mean,

you said people reach out to you in LinkedIn. What’s your preferred way for people to raise their hand and say, “Will you be my mentor?” No, I’m just like– Come on, bring it on. Follow me on LinkedIn.

I do try to share a lot on LinkedIn about what I’m doing. Come see me. I’ll be at DevLearn in– when is that, October? Third week in October, I believe. Third week in October in Vegas.

Come hit us up in Vegas. I try to do a lot of these webinars, podcasts, that kind of thing. So come find me, and I will be happy to do what I can. Super cool.

Thank you so much once again for being here, and I wish you a wonderful day there up in LinkedIn. Yeah, you too. Thanks a lot. Thank you again for listening to the E -Learn podcast here from Open LMS.

I just wanted to ask one more time. If you enjoyed this show, if you learned something, if you were inspired, if you were challenged, if you feel like this is something you can take into your practice, please do me a favor.

And right now, on your podcast player, hit Subscribe. That way, you’re never going to miss a future episode. Also, come over to eLearnmagazine .com and subscribe there as well, because we have tons of great information about how to create killer online learning outcomes.


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