Demure, soft-spoken, personable, affable, no-nonsense. All those things, in that peculiarly North American way. Those words don’t do justice to B., the uniquely compelling individual I met for the second time last night in Divonne-les-Bains. To describe him as a living legend in the world of learning and development is accurate, but far from complete. The first time we met, our lunch turned into a nine-hour knee-to-knee exploratory journey of the linkages between corporate learning and the wicked problems of humanitarian education. Reflecting on his insights kept me awake at night. When I finally found sleep, it was only to find myself wrapped in vivid dreams in which the ideas became colors and shapes, many moving parts dancing in complex patterns.
B. shared three lessons from a time when he set out on his own, leaving the comfort of an established organization.
Lesson #1: Autonomy. Learn that being independent means doing it yourself. Your legitimacy and credibility are based on your self-reliance, not by the power of the brand you are affiliated with.
Lesson #2: Focus. Boundless possibilities. Limitless conversation. Consider applying the 80/20 rule that sales people use (focus on the twenty percent of prospects that can turn into a sale) even if you do not have anything to sell.
Lesson #3: Structure, but only when the time is right. The liquid concrete used to pour the foundations is in the quality of the relationships, not their volume.
Photo: Château de Divonne (Patrick Nouhailler/Flickr)