Never Stop Learning

With Mordy GoldingEP 33

Never stop feeding your brain with knowledge because constant learning allows you to grow and develop life skills.

Today with Meny Hoffman is  Mordy Golding, the Director of Content for LinkedIn Learning.  They talk about LinkedIn Learning in particular and discuss the importance of constantly educating oneself and growing. Mordy then shares the top LinkedIn job requirements, top skills you’ve got to learn, and the differences between soft skills and hard skills. Absorbing knowledge has its limits, and with this, he shows you how much you need to learn, what you need to do, and how you need to do it. Finally, pay close attention to how Mordy shares their transition from to LinkedIn acquiring Lynda, and Microsoft acquiring LinkedIn.


Never Stop Learning With Mordy Golding

Our guest is Mordy Golding. Mordy is the Director of Content for LinkedIn Learning. It’s a vast library of high qualified learning content, primarily in the form of on-demand online video-based courses. Mordy guides the team at the LinkedIn strategy for a career writing the topics that their library features, selecting individuals to teach those topics, defining which specific courses are required and performing in-depth analysis on learning behavior. If you’ve followed me for a while, you know how important constant growth is. Therefore, I had a blast speaking to Mordy about learning and about LinkedIn Learning in particular. We discussed the importance of constantly learning and growing. Mordy shares the top LinkedIn job requirements, what are the top skills you’ve got to learn, what are the differences between soft skills and hard skills, how much do you need to learn, not only what you need to do, but how do you need to do it. Finally, pay close attention to how Mordy shares their transition from to LinkedIn acquiring Lynda and Microsoft acquiring LinkedIn. Without further ado, here is my interview.

Mordy, thank you so much for joining me on the show.

It is my pleasure to be here.

We have known each other for quite some time virtually via LinkedIn. For our readers, tell us a little bit more about what you do and how you got started in this field?

I oversee the content strategy for LinkedIn Learning. I work at LinkedIn. Previously, we were a company called We were acquired by LinkedIn in 2015. My role is I oversee content strategy. We manage and maintain a library, which is about 15,000 high-quality video-based online courses. My team is in charge of deciding what topics we teach in that library and which instructors we use to teach those courses.

For a typical day, are you selecting the content, working with those people, the course creators?

We do a tremendous amount of research. You asked about how I got started also in this. I was a graphic designer and ended up writing a couple of books on graphic design and how to use Adobe software. I got into the business of helping other people learn how to use Adobe software at the time. I love teaching other people and I have a way of breaking down complex information into easy to understand step-by-step concepts. I became familiar with the type of teaching that online learning has evolved. It used to be that you would have this hour-long or multi-day sessions and training that would be very hard to follow, capture and retain information.

LinkedIn Learning: Even though a lot of people do things that are individual, a lot of people struggle with similar things.

I and Lynda Weinman, who started, was very instrumental in innovating in the ways of putting online courses and short little videos that help people learn difficult concepts and how to use the software. Since I was already teaching, I was starting to do courses on and considering taking a look at the future and where things were going. It was pretty clear to me that the idea of online education was going to be something that was big. I ended up joining the company when there was an opportunity to do so. The reason why I joined, which leads into what a day-to-day thing is for us in our team, is that at that time, Lynda had a lot of friends, myself included, who did a lot of consulting and training. I’m sure you do. You talk to customers, talk to clients and you hear the challenges that people have and you’re like, “I can help solve those problems.”

Especially when you start realizing that even though a lot of people do things that are individual, a lot of people struggle with similar things. Time management is a good example. A lot of people are like, “I don’t know how to manage my time.” They don’t say it that way, but you quickly realize, “I can provide some pointers or some things that would help a lot of people deal with these kinds of problems.” At the time, in their early days at Lynda, I would have an idea for a course and I would say to Lynda, “Do you mind if I do a course on topic A, B or C?” She’d be like, “Go ahead for it.” We were able to serve a very specific audience who cared about the topics that we were teaching. In those days, it was a primarily graphic design or Adobe software, web design and video as an example.

As the idea of online learning came to be more important, as the high-speed internet became available to more people, as people had access to the internet via their phones, companies started coming to us and asking us saying, “We would love training on these topics that matter to us, not just those topics as well.” I joined the company to focus on strategy, which is figuring out what is it that the world needs to learn and then try to create content to fill those needs. The way we think about it is that people have skill gaps. That means that you have a certain skill set, you need to do a certain task at work, you wished that you could become or get a certain job that you are not qualified to do. You have a skill gap like you’re not qualified for that job, but we can provide training that helps you close that skills gap and acquire those skills. If you’re at work and your manager says, “I would love for you to build a business case for this idea that you have,” and you’ve never written a business case before, that’s a skill gap. We can provide training to help you close that.

On a day-to-day basis, what we do is we scour the world and talk to our existing customers. They’re about 23 million people who have access to our platform. We talk to a lot of learners and we ask them, “What are you struggling with?” We look at a tremendous amount of data on the LinkedIn network on what people are talking about what they would like to learn. We track trends of what’s happening in the world. For example, companies are hiring more people. As you see, unemployment is low. Companies are struggling to hire people. There are a lot of people who are being promoted and put into management positions who have no management experience. They didn’t go to school to become a manager.

We see that as a trend so we’re providing a lot of training to help people who are first-time managers what does it mean to be a manager, as an example of that. For the most part during the day is trying to figure out and see where the world of business is going. We specifically provide training around people’s professional lives, which is a good fit for LinkedIn. Once we identify the needs for that learning, we identify specifically what kind of courses we should be teaching and what specific skills we do need to focus on. We try to find the world’s best experts or instructors who can teach that kind of content. That’s what day-to-day is like for us.

At what point did LinkedIn acquire Lynda?

This was in May of 2015 when we were acquired. That was at a point, I would say go around 2012, was when we started making a decision to start focusing on teaching soft skills, which are negotiation skills, communication, time management. I know you’ve seen some courses from Dave Crenshaw as an example. Dave was one of the first people that we worked with on the idea of time management. In those days, it was different for us because most of our training was taught specifically in a screen capture where you hear the instructor’s voice on their screen or video of their screens, you could see what they’re doing, but you don’t see the face of the instructor speaking. When you’re teaching those soft skills, like how to manage your time and you’re talking about tips and tricks for management or leadership, you need to see the person speaking on screen. There needs to be more of an emotional connection.

We started experimenting with teaching with an instructor on the screen what we would refer to as live-action. Since we started adding a lot of that and we were innovating from an early day on that, we evolved to be known as one of the highest quality trainers or training companies, specifically for teaching soft skills. That was a gap that LinkedIn identified as something that was incredibly important to people who were looking to acquire jobs. There are plenty of websites out there that teach you how to write Javascript. There are plenty of free resources like Khan Academy that teach you specific hard skills, but we brought the table an innovation that did not exist out in the world, which was how to think about, “What does it mean to hire and manage a diverse team of people? What does it mean to have a difficult conversation with an employee?” That’s where LinkedIn was interested and acquired us then.

[bctt tweet=”A lot of people who are being promoted and put into management positions have no management experience.” username=””]

If you’re allowed to share, how has LinkedIn Learning grown since LinkedIn took it over?

It’s been a wonderful experience. We were acquired in 2015. It was an interesting journey. We have been acquired twice. After being acquired by LinkedIn, about a year later, in 2016, LinkedIn was acquired by Microsoft. It’s been a fun ride. I don’t think there’s anybody out there big enough to buy Microsoft. We’re pretty good. You probably have seen Satya Nadella. He is incredibly passionate about learning the growth mindset and how it’s better to be a learn-it-all than to be a know-it-all. That culture that they’ve built at Microsoft is the same culture we have always had at LinkedIn as well. It’s a good fit. It’s also a great, similar culture we had at Lynda. My team has doubled since we were acquired by LinkedIn. I always say we were acquired by a very rich uncle. It allows us to focus on the things that we do best, which is creating great content. Both Microsoft and LinkedIn have been great in helping us succeed, almost getting out of the way but being helpful where they can and us being able to leverage the tremendous assets that you have at a company like LinkedIn or Microsoft. It’s been a great experience.

I will get into a little bit more about culture, in general, and we’ll speak about LinkedIn and Microsoft. I want to start where you left us off, which is on the learning itself, the platform itself from the people that I know that are instructors on the platform and people that are reading to a lot of those learning. A lot of people say that this is the best-kept secret. People could be hours a day on LinkedIn, not realizing that a huge part of LinkedIn and in the strategy going forward is the learning side of it, which is those soft skills learning.

I want to bring attention to this part of LinkedIn for my readers and people that follow the show, my speaking and in general, my teaching to see it almost on a daily basis how passionate I am about growth, and in particular, soft skills. With hard skills, you’re going to hit a brick wall. You’ve got to be a programmer, you’ve got to learn the skill. It’s either, you know it or you don’t. When it comes to soft skills, there’s so much talent out there. If only they get those advantages in learning a little bit better and growing themselves more and more, how much more could they achieve.

There’s a famous quote I use from Dave Ramsey and he says, “Organization will never outgrow its leader.” The power of that is that you could have a great idea, start a great business, run a great business at one point, but if you’re not constantly growing yourself, the company will not be able to outgrow you. It’s either going to stay flat or it’s going to go on there with time. I’m a strong believer. I want to get into a little bit about it in understanding the mindset of people that maybe do take advantage of soft skill learning and those people may be that are not adopting yet to those platforms like LinkedIn Learning. From your findings, what would you say are the common friends of those people that are adopting it and the people that maybe I’m not seeing it yet as another way of growing themselves?

There are a couple of things about that and one point that you made before. There’s a saying that we use all the time, which is, “A lot of people often get hired for the hard skills that they have or they ended up getting fired for the soft skills they don’t have.” I totally agree with you on the importance of that across the board. Sometimes people over-index on one and not the other. I would say in general, there are two kinds of people who learn. There are some people that are generally curious about things and they’re always trying to learn new things. We see people who come to our platform and watch movies on a regular basis. They’re not necessarily doing it in order to put a skill on their profile or try to get a job by saying, “I have this skill.” They always feel they want to learn something new and they want to challenge themselves on that.

Those are intrinsically driven. Those are things that people themselves feel, “I need to grow. How am I different today than I was yesterday?” It could be anything. We learned from a lot of different places. I wrote a post on LinkedIn about all the things that I learned from my janitor in my school during high school. I wouldn’t say that I’d do a course on that, but what I am saying is you can learn from a lot of different things. I’m always intrigued by even other businesses to do something a little bit differently. You’re always making slight improvements throughout the day. One of the reasons why I would say LinkedIn Learning is not as visible on the platform yet we’re still incredibly successful is the way that our business model works. We’re a subscription-based service. We’re not a company like Udemy, for example, that needs to sell individual courses that you’re paying $10 or $50 a piece for it. That’s like somebody who says, “I need to learn something specific. Let me go ahead and find the right course for that kind of thing,” then pay for it. We’re a subscription, you pay $30 a month, you have access to every course in the library. You can always be saying, “This is interesting. Let’s see what this is.”

You don’t have to worry about, “What do I pay for that course?” It’s easy to watch half a course, watch two movies from a course and get something valuable from it. The way that most people access our library is their organizations provide access for them. It’s a benefit that a company would provide to employees of that company. If you had a company of 500 employees, we sell an enterprise subscription. You either buy ten seats or you buy seats for all of your 500 employees and they have the ability to access that learning. That gives you as a leader at a company the knowledge that “I can throw challenges or I know my team will continue to innovate. If they ever get stuck on something where they realize, ‘I need to come up with an idea and I don’t have the skill for it yet,’ they can teach it to themselves very quickly based on this massive library content that they have.” It doesn’t need to be visible per se on LinkedIn. We live on LinkedIn, it’s accessible, that’s there, but most people get access through their organizations from that perspective at least.

LinkedIn Learning: There are people that are generally curious about things and are always trying to learn new things.

For our readers, if you are a self-employed person, entrepreneur or maybe a small team, take advantage of it. Let’s speak about the types of content and the trends you’re seeing. We differentiated between hard skills and soft skills. In soft skills, what are you seeing? What is the most common theme or type of content that people are looking for or watching? Let’s dive into some of those and the why behind it.

There’s a very big difference between what people watch and what companies are looking for and that’s by design. We have the ability at LinkedIn to look at the data that recruiters are looking for. There are millions of jobs available posted on LinkedIn and we could go through what are the skills that those jobs are asking for. We talked to recruiters also. There are what we refer to as in-demand skills and those skills are the ones that companies are looking for. In that case, demand means I’m a company. What are most companies looking for in people? On top of that list is the creative skills, emotional intelligence, which are things that companies are looking for because they’re specifically hiring more managers in that area and companies need to innovate more. They’re looking for those skills.

If I look at what people are watching, always rising to the top are leadership and management skills. That is primarily because most of our learning is done through organizations. A lot of times, when you become a new manager, your manager will assign some learning for you as an onboarding process to help you get up to speed. You probably will sit down and talk to your manager and say, “What are the things that I need to do to be more successful?” You generally have somebody else that you can talk to that to say, “What’s worth my time to focus on?” Almost every time, if you’re in a management or leadership position, you need more communication skills and more soft skills development.

The challenge that a lot of your readers might have, which is, “I run an individual business. I’m an entrepreneur. I don’t have anyone to talk to to find out what skills I should invest my time in.” That comes down to taking some time to think about what’s most important to your customers and seeing where you feel you can have an edge and then make investments there. Maybe that’s writing better communications via email. If you do a lot of business via email, that’s a good skill to focus on your communication, your written communication skills. That’s where we see the world. There’s a lot of leadership and management skills, a lot of project management, and time management. The word management shows up a lot.

It comes to mind something I shared, which is one of my episodes I did with Brian Scudamore from 1-800-GOT-JUNK?. We were speaking about where the market is going and where the business world is heading. He said something fascinating, which is that once upon a time, we had service businesses. We had product businesses. That’s how people were dividing their nature of business. He says, “We’re coming to a place where everything is a people business.” It comes to show that when we speak about soft skills and leadership skills, the better leader you are, the better your culture is, the better people you have that are performing for your customers. They are interconnected and nobody is exempted from learning those skills.

Here I am, saying, “We believe online learning is a great tool that people can use.” For soft skills, watching a course on how to communicate better doesn’t mean that you’ve acquired that skill. You need to practice it and that’s a huge part of the development of those skills. We try to provide exercises, challenges, or things you can try on your own. Ultimately, that person still needs to put that to work every single day, try it out, figure out what works for them and continue that process.

How do you overcome it? I’m not sure the specific set up LinkedIn Learning has, but I know a lot of reservation people have from joining a platform like LinkedIn Learning or a lot of those similar either platforms. Even events in general, which they’ll go to an event, there are going to be five sales trainers and everybody will give you different techniques. Who exactly am I following? How do you select those teachers as you call them? What is the right terminology you use?

We vet our instructors.

Could I go on LinkedIn Learning and find five courses on the same topic by different instructors?

This is one of our competitive advantages. When we think about all the other platforms of learning that are out there, what makes us unique is the fact that we have a team of people who are curating a high-quality library. Let me explain what I mean by that. There are two parts to it. We’re going to try to make sure that we are adding content in there that’s relevant to professionals. That’s the first part. You can go there and you’re going to find what you’re looking for. That’s the job that I expect, at least in my team from that perspective. We also are the ones that we refer ourselves as the gatekeepers or the protectors of the library. We want to make sure that the library is always going to be a high-quality library. We’re very careful about what we put into it and we think about how people use that library.

Let’s take a very basic example. I want to learn something about Microsoft Excel. It’s a very popular topic. It’s one of the most popular topics. I think Excel and Microsoft Office is the number one skill on everyone’s profiles in the entire world on LinkedIn. It’s obviously very important in business. If I were to go to our library and say, “I want to learn Excel,” then I had to choose between 30 different Excel courses, that will be very difficult, especially if all those courses were the same. It’s no different than if you go to Amazon and you search for a product and you have to make your decision. How many people have struggled with this? You have to make a choice. Your wife asks you to buy a broom and there are 300 of them. How do you choose the right one? You’d have to rely on ratings and reviews, which are also problematic because some of those can be fake or don’t necessarily help you decide what’s best for you. Just because it’s most popular, it doesn’t mean it’s the right one for you.

Our goal is to create a curated library, which we basically create what we feel is the best course to learn Excel. There are also sometimes things that are very specific. Maybe you know Excel, but you struggle with how to create pivot tables. Maybe we’ll create a course that’s specifically focusing on working with pivot tables or with formulas. Every course that we create has a very specific learning goal and a very specific purpose. Once we solve that problem, we don’t create another one. We’ll keep it up to date. We’ll modify it. We’ll get feedback from learners. We’ll see if, over time, we want to replace that course with a better one. Ultimately, the goal is that you can quickly find the right course and the best course in the library when you get there. That’s the role that we have as opposed to going to another site and then trying to figure out what’s the right course for you to watch. A part of that process is identifying the best instructor for that and we have a set of frameworks and guidelines that we have developed over the years to help us figure out what makes a good instructor.

Instructors for us are people who are very compassionate. They don’t talk down or at learners. They treat them as if they’re their friends. They know how to take very complex topics or concepts and break them down into easy to understand chunks. They are very passionate about what they are teaching. I’m out here in a classroom or in a video teaching about a topic that I could care less about. These are people who are incredibly passionate about things. Most of the time, we also focus on people who have gone through this in their lives and they want to provide. They want to share with their knowledge or what they have learned with others. There’s a tremendous amount of generosity spirit. I’ll go back to Dave Crenshaw as an example because I know that you work with him.

He teaches time management. He is not like the person who was the professor at some college that learned a whole bunch of frameworks about time management. He is a person doing business and he himself struggled with time management. It was a huge problem for him. He struggled and he found a way to make it work for him and he wants to share what he’s learned with other people. He can tell someone, “I’d been in your shoes before. I know what the pain is like. I know how difficult this can be because I’ve done it myself and I have something that I can share with you.” That’s the approach that all of our instructors bring to the table in each of their fields. That also provides a unique experience. We find that a lot of people connect with the instructors because they see themselves reflected in the instructor. They’re like, “I’ve been there before. I understand that you’ve been where I’ve been. Help me get through it.”

Let’s walk through a typical reader to the show and saying, “I want to grow. I want to learn more.” There are a lot of people that need to learn on the job skills. He or she was a small business owner and they already have five employees. All of a sudden, he or she needs to be a leader or a manager. “I never work with money, but I need to do finance or reporting or Excel,” whatever those skills are. You mentioned that a person has to take a hard look at themselves and see where could I use support and what could I learn? What is a great framework? Sometimes people get into the mode, “I’m going to learn,” and then all of a sudden, they’re spending too much time learning and forgetting about the rest of the day that they have to work. What is the suggested method of learning with an online platform like LinkedIn Learning? Is there a designated hour time that you take and every day you go back and watch another lesson? Is it you going ahead and doing the whole lesson? Give us some practical advice.

There are two parts to that. There’s the part of, “How do I get into a habit of learning?” I think that’s the main thing, defining and creating a habit. It’s not easy to create a habit. There are courses in habits. There are some great books out there on creating a habit and most of the experts will say, “It takes six months to build a habit.” It would require some amount of work to say, “I’m going to dedicate some time for that.” From that perspective, what we find is that people schedule a time for learning. Some people work with calendars very well. Put a block of time in your calendar and figure out what that amount of time is that you want to commit. Don’t over commit so that you’ll never be able to achieve the goal, but you want it to be a good stretch goal. Some people say, “During lunch or on a lunch break, instead of watching Netflix or instead of going out and doing something, I will dedicate 30 minutes to watching learning content.” That’s one way to start a habit.

Try to figure out what time of day do you feel is protected for you or easy enough for you to achieve so that it makes it work for you. For example, if you want to lose weight, don’t keep your house filled with a whole bunch of potato chips and chocolate. If you continue it yourself, it will work the first time, but ultimately, you’ll see it come to that. Try to think about maybe in the morning, it’s not busy for you. I’ll share that in my life because I live in New York, but most of my team is based in California, I have an advantage because the first three hours a day are pretty quiet for me. I know that those are my golden hours of the day to get stuff that I feel are very important to get done. Because I put a high price, I don’t believe I can be successful in my job. I don’t believe I could help the people on my team. I don’t believe that I can continue to innovate and drive value to the LinkedIn business unless I am continuously learning every single day and I’m making connections between different things. I usually spend between 1 and 2 hours every morning learning.

It can be everything. I don’t force myself like, “I’m going to learn X, Y, and Z,” because I get bored of that particular topic. I want to be learning something and that’s what it is.” I know those were hours protected for me and I do that. Does that mean every single day I’m always doing that? There’s always going to be things that come up, a fire that happens or I’ve got to meet a customer or like we’re having a show. Bill Gates has a great quote, which is, “People overestimate what they can do in a year, but they underestimate what they can get done in ten years.” From that perspective, maybe it’s not every single day I’m doing this, but in any given week, I’m probably spending 6 or 7 hours of that week learning. That’s the first part, which is blocking off some time in your calendar that works for you and make it work for you. Maybe it’s at night or maybe it’s a weekend, whatever that it’s going to be. You have to make a commitment to yourself, “I’m going to be learning something.”

The second part is the other thing that I touched on is that I’ve blocked off time, what should I spend time learning? What’s going to be valuable? People always say, “Is this going to be worth my time? What am I going to get if I go ahead and I learned something that’s that way?” That comes from there has to be some amount of curiosity that you have. What interests you? Start out with something that interests you. Start with a topic area that you probably know you should have but that you don’t believe. Is that interesting? A boss told me, “I should do this. I don’t think it’s that important to me.” Don’t start with something like that. The main thing is to build that habit where you’re finding on a regular basis. You’re spending more time learning something. Start with something that you enjoy and maybe what you enjoy is photography. Maybe it’s a hobby. I have learned the art of photography.

I’m not a photographer myself. I love photography as an art form because it helps me see better. I pay attention to detail. If you’re a photographer, you understand light. You understand detail composition like, “Two people standing together.” I can apply those concepts to my job even though I’m not a photographer, but I see the detail that other people don’t see. That’s because I have learned to see things differently. Start with something that you enjoy and embrace that topic area. On LinkedIn, it’s a little bit easier because one of the benefits that we have when we moved all of our content from over to LinkedIn Learning, we can tap into the rich network and a platform of LinkedIn. When you go to and you have a subscription with us, we could leverage the profile that you have.

We know what skills are in your profile. We know who’s in your network. We know what your job title is and not in a spooky way. This is the stuff that everyone has control over and they share in their profile. Based on that information, we can make recommendations of what content might be valuable to you. We can make recommendations on courses of like, “Here’s what people with the same job title that you are watching. Here’s the kind of content that people in your company or your organization are watching.” You’ve identified certain skills on your profile. We can say, “Here are our courses on those skills that you have. On our platform, you can identify the skills you want to acquire and we can help you choose that as well.” The nice thing is that we make it easier to start choosing what type of content they should be learning.

LinkedIn Learning: Instructors have to be compassionate, don’t talk down to learners, and treat them as friends.

One thing I always share whenever I speak in public or even for our readers is regardless of the medium that you’re using to learn new stuff, you’ve got to implement. When you’re reading Dave Crenshaw’s episode, LinkedIn Learning is a full course on time management. When you close that screen or you’re finished at a session, you’ve got to ask yourself, “What can I implement in the next three things within the first seven days? What could I put into practice?” If you learn something and you go on with your day-to-day, you totally forget about it and you never come back to what you learned. The concept is not learning, it’s implementing and you always have to figure, “What are those small wins? What could I change as a small habit from what I learned and put it into action?” That will give you the momentum to say, “I want to go back and learn more because I know those things are effective.”

I totally agree. That’s one of the reasons why in each of the videos that we create, even beyond the courses. Every single video in our courses has a very distinct learning goal. We teach in a way that you should be able to immediately acquire, apply that skill to the work that you’re doing. In the surveys that we have with our learners, we have found that over 75% of learners who watch our courses tell us that they’re immediately able to apply what they’ve learned to their job right away. I agree with you. That’s a hugely important part of what you’re learning and that’s why I take notes when I would watch a course. I’m like, “That’s interesting.” Then I say, “Which of these things am I going to commit to applying?”

A huge part of this and this is the beauty if you’re embracing LinkedIn. Research shows that if you share your commitments with other people, you’re more likely to deliver on that. If you decide, “I learned something,” and you found that is valuable, post it on LinkedIn to your network and say, “I’m going to work on this.” If it’s something personal, you don’t want to put it on there. If it’s something that you feel comfortable, “I’m setting a certain goal for myself and I want to apply this thing.” Try it out in your network. When you do that, other people hold you accountable. Someone else in your network will say, “That thing that you said you were going to try to do, how’s that going?” That helps you out.

What’s your take about learning in groups? I know that companies are starting to try to encourage their employees to learn more. You mentioned enterprise people, larger companies are giving those training for older employees, especially if they’re onboarding new employees. They are giving different promotions at different jobs. Smaller companies that are not so immune to learning and this is something new to them, what’s your take on going to the conference room, opening one of those courses and sitting 5 to 6 people at a table and learning together?

There’s less value in a whole bunch of people in a conference room watching a video like they’re watching a movie without talking to each other. The beauty of how online learning works, and this has been the case in a lot of our customers who are in universities, a lot of schools buy our subscriptions and then provide their students access to all of our video content where a teacher will say, “For homework, watch these five movies.” In the class the next day, they discuss what they’ve learned and have an active discussion about it. The expectation is that people already watched this stuff beforehand and I find that incredibly valuable. A lot of people call it a flip classroom model. In the business world, we refer to what is blended training.

You set a certain goal. I do this with my team all the time. I know that a lot of other places do it and we say, “We want to work on X, Y and Z. We want to provide better feedback to people in a great way.” What we ended up doing is we take 3 or 4 videos, we assign it to people and they can watch it on their own time, whatever works for them. We sit down in a conference room when we talk about what we’ve learned. One of the amazing things that you learn about this in emotional intelligence is you can have the same words spoken by somebody and two people will hear it in two completely different ways and getting the perspective from others is great. More so, it allows you to discuss how you might want to go about implementing that and get feedback from other people. That idea of blended training is huge. I know a lot of organizations use learning that way where they do that flip model, where we watched the videos beforehand and then discuss it afterward.

This is going to be something that I’m going to apply to our organization. We’re huge about learning. We have a program called The Book of Initiative where we pay $50 for every book you read. Not everybody is a reader, but even if they have to submit the things they learned from the book and the whole company is reading that quick overview. It changes the conversation at the water cooler as we call it. With the video learning and courses online and stuff like that, it’s a new medium where even people that are not great readers or they don’t have the time to read a full book. They could consume content bite-size. Even with the timing and where you want to go with the training. For all the readers, the concept of blended training is very valuable because the person is thinking for themselves, but they’re repeating it and reviewing it with the team to see what have we taken out of it.

I want to go back to what I said at the beginning, where I want to speak a little bit about the culture. This is where I want to educate a few of our readers. Most of them are leaders of companies, business owners and leaders within companies and even employees. You worked for a company, Lynda. You moved on to work for a company called LinkedIn and it is acquired by Microsoft. Obviously, they are different cultures. Share with us how much of an effect does the swapping cultures, maybe it didn’t affect or it did affect in positive and negative anyway. Let’s say we’re planning. Most companies are planning goals in 2020. What is it that you could learn from those larger organizations, how they approach a goal, a challenge, a way of doing business when they have that level of responsibility that we, as small business owners, could learn from?

There is a good story in connection from Lynda to LinkedIn and Microsoft. At Lynda, we were small. We were more of a startup. We had a lot of people who are incredibly talented at what they did. They were hired because they were great at what they did. Lynda, herself, attracted an incredible amount of talent. We were all passionate about learning. We wanted to make education be interesting, what would always drive us at Lynda, and it still does. That’s part of the culture that still drives us in terms of what content we create. We create learning content that people want to watch. A lot of times, people at organizations are required to watch or have to watch training content that their company tells them by compliance, for example. We always wanted to say, “We want to create the content that people want to watch.” We love it when people choose us over Netflix or watching something on YouTube.

Is Netflix your competition?

There is a whole world of competition that’s out there. I always say that in an attention economy, people who are reading this blog, you’re choosing to read it over reading to something else or doing something else with your time. In that world, one of the things, because we’re a subscription-based service, what matters most is that you’re continuously getting value out of our library of content where you’re accessing on a regular basis. Our goal is not to sell you one course or sell you one book. At all times, we were rewarded by what we did and we were all very high performers. We had a team of managers by necessity. Somebody had to decide if you’re going to get a raise next year. Someone had to give you your annual review. There were certain administrative things that needed to happen. Even people who are managers were people doing a lot of things that also on the side, manage other people.

When we were acquired by LinkedIn, LinkedIn’s number one operating priority is talent and that’s what they always talk about. I never fully understood it until I was at LinkedIn for a while. Everything that you do is always focused on the team. How is team working? What is the team doing? Are we hiring the best people? Are we taking care of the best people that we’re hiring? There’s a lot of focus on, what does it mean to be a manager at a company? This is above and beyond leadership, but I invested in trying to find ways to make my employees successful. That takes a lot of work. It’s hard to do and I’ve embraced that idea. That was amazing. I got to see what happens when you start investing in people, forget about the work that they’re doing. It’s not measuring only what people do, but at LinkedIn, we have a huge culture on how you do it.

It’s one thing for someone to get all their work done. It’s one thing for someone to do that in a very generous way to help other people. That is something that is very pervasive at LinkedIn because we focus so much on the importance of people and talent. That was a huge part of the shift of culture that we have. LinkedIn has a great culture. There’s a lot of stuff online. I would recommend people do a Google search for Jeff Weiner company culture and there’s a lot of information about what our values are and how we operate. I want to provide a little bit of an insight into my own focus, myself, as a person who leads a team. My team is about 50 people. My main focus is less on what I do every day. It’s more about how do I help my team be successful and thinking about their careers? How do I help them be successful? That’s a huge part of investing in that.

At Microsoft, Satya has been instrumental in thinking about the development of culture. As I said, I’m like a growth mindset. He has shifted people. Microsoft used to be a company that would focus on trying to make cool technology and Satya has helped them shift the idea on how to create technology that makes people look cool. It’s more focused on the customer than on what is that you’re building. Build something to help somebody, don’t build something just because it’s a cool product. I will say, though that at least in the couple of years that we’ve been acquired by Microsoft, you wouldn’t know it walking through the halls of LinkedIn that we are owned by Microsoft. We are a wholly-owned subsidiary. We still have our own branding. We’re known as LinkedIn. You don’t see anywhere on the LinkedIn website that we’re already a company owned by Microsoft or anything like that. That’s by design and a lot of the culture that Microsoft is inherited or borrowed from LinkedIn. That has been a good story for us.

As far as when it comes to responsibility, in your case, with that amount of people using LinkedIn Learning, you have a responsibility for educating the next generation of entrepreneurs.

It’s something that we take very seriously. Something that is awesome that LinkedIn holds very high and close to the chest is the idea of trust. Especially in a world of technology, trust is important to us. From our perspective, we always feel that we earn the trust of our learners every day. We need to create content that people find value in. There are massive organizations and governments that subscribed to LinkedIn Learning. That means we are helping teach people to be the future of the infrastructure of how countries are going to be run, how people are coming in and showing up to work every single day across almost any field that’s out there. We do feel a tremendous amount of responsibility to make sure that we are teaching the right things and we hope that our learners keep us honest on that one.

LinkedIn Learning: Something that is awesome that LinkedIn holds very high and close to the chest is the idea of trust.

Let’s close with the four rapid-fire questions. Number one, the book that changed your life?

Carol Dweck’s Mindset.

Number two, a piece of advice you got that you’ll never forget?

What got you here won’t get you there.

Number three, anything you wish you could go back and do differently?

I would not want to go back.

Number four and the last question, what’s still on your bucket list to achieve?

I love to travel. There are still many places in the world I have yet to go to. It’s traveling.

Mordy, thank you so much for joining us. I know your time is valuable and that is why in the name of our readers, we will forever be grateful for sharing some of your time with us.

It is my pleasure. Thank you so much.

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Guest Bio
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Mordy Golding

As Director of Content for LinkedIn Learning, Mordy leads a team of talented subject matter experts and well-networked industry thought leaders to create and maintain a vast library of high-quality learning content, primarily in the form of on-demand, online, video-based courses.

He defines the strategy for what topics the library covers, who LinkedIn uses to teach those topics, and what specific courses are required. He also performs an in-depth analysis of learning behavior, shares insights that help my peers drive meaningful growth, develop strategies to reach wider audiences, and helps to drive innovation and effectiveness in online learning.

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