What’s been your Maker’s learning sweet spot?

Shannon asked me, “What’s the most useful thing you’ve learned since starting your own business?”

That’s a hard question. It’s easy to make a list, but to narrow it down to just one thing as the most useful on the list? That’s difficult, and I’m still thinking about it.

But then she got impatient, waiting for me to answer, and added, “And you can’t say blogging.”

Immensely useful as it has been to me, I don’t think I would’ve said blogging anyway, but the suggestive power of her mentioning it took my thoughts elsewhere instantly. Yes, I enjoy it, and LOVE what blogging platforms have done for our human expression, but blogging is too big and inclusive an answer for me — it’s not specific enough. So because she pressed me, “Come on, give me an answer without over-thinking it: What’s come to mind? I can see the wheels turning”” my answer for her was, “HTML.”

Learning HTML (HyperText Markup Language) was getting to see some of the inner works of blogging and website design, and it allowed me to venture out of ‘template’ land. Best of all, I could now fix simple code when WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) and so-called ‘rich text formatting’ looked screwed up and stayed wrong no matter what else I tried to do in those modes. Today, knowing HTML is essential in the ebook publishing I do on Kindle and Smashwords, and I look for the HTML tab in every software program I consider using.

It wasn’t the answer Shannon expected — or wanted, for the key part of her question was entrepreneurial, and she wanted to quiz me on my start-up lessons learned after I left the corporate world to do my own thing. We eventually had that conversation, but I keep thinking about, and appreciating, that I learned HTML, for it’s been a very significant learning for me. I’d certainly list it as one of the core competencies I needed when I was managing editor of our community group blog, Joyful Jubilant Learning.

There is so much more I could learn about web design, but I hire others to help me with whatever the “much more” entails. Up to now, HTML as been my sweet spot, that learning which was enough to cure my frustrations, and make me feel that I was “in the know” enough for what I needed — and so that I could create, and invent online, for so much of my coaching is now virtual and digital.

A couple of posts back, I shared some thoughts about “making” with you:

“What if we tweaked the [worker contribution] conversation slightly, to “What do you make?”

And what if we said that Alaka‘i Managers grow the makers?

I wonder what would change.

At the very least, I think the conversation as we work could change.

More here: To buy Local, buy from the Maker — if you can

This notion, about finding the learning sweet spot, is a big part of how Alaka‘i Managers grow their makers. Try giving it some thought within your own context: Mine was web design in this example, but I’m thinking about it too, with the other work my team does. Here’s the practical application:

  1. We have a virtual huddle scheduled this week, and I’ll ask them to read this post first, and then bring their own example of at least one learning sweet spot connected to one of our team’s core competencies. It will be a different kind of brainstorm, where we can share learning, and offer to coach each other.
  2. Then I’ll ask them for more one-on-one conversation about what they came up with in the next Daily Five Minutes together. I want to milk their thinking about it, beyond what time can be allotted in our virtual huddle, and just in case they have more to say to my audience of one for them.

Mahalo nui loa Shannon! Your question has been so helpful.

What about you? What’s been your learning sweet spot in recent years? Can you share an answer with us specifically connected to the making you do?

Related reading in the Talking Story archives:

  1. The Alaka‘i Manager as Job Maker
  2. “What’s in it for me?” is a Self-Leadership Question
  3. Hiding from the Web is Foolish: 5 Steps to Smarter
  4. Seven Ways to Assess Your Personal Brand Assets Beyond A Job
  5. Manager’s Skill: Separate Signal from Noise