Pluralsight's Heather Zynczak: the importance of having a learner's mindset

Patrick Campbell Nov 24 2020

I’ve got two planks strapped to your feet. I’m not sure of the exact temperature but judging by the rigidity of my beard at this point, I’m sure it’s somewhere around freezing. I’ve got my jacket  zipped up tight and while I was wise enough to buy a helmet, I’m starting to regret not investing in knee pads, elbow pads, and frankly just a giant bubble to wrap around me as I go down this mountain. If I make one wrong turn here, or have a little bit of an unexpected bump there, it could result in a pretty painful emergency room trip.


 

This was my first ski experience after moving and opening ProfitWell’s West Coast office in Utah. And I was definitely regretting not investing in lessons. Eventually I got those lessons and stuck to the bunny hills—at least for now—I’m new, don’t make fun of me. And fortunately it’s not like next season I’m going to have to relearn everything or skiing last season will somehow have become obsolete. 

The rest of the world isn’t like that though—especially in technology. Certain skills require consistent education, and it doesn’t help that the skills gap is ever broadening. According to the GE Global Innovation Barometer of 2018, three in four global executives believe that a lack of skills is an issue facing their industry. Sixty-four percent said that this problem is restricting their ability to innovate (an increase from 56 percent in 2014). Fortunately, this is a problem that Heather Zynczak, a Silicon Slopes resident here in Utah, knows about all too well. From the beginning of her career to where she is now as the CMO of Pluralsight, she has helped cultivate a learner’s mindset in order to keep her education and the education of millions above the pace of innovation.

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Here we summarize the main takeaways for you to implement or hand off to your team for implementation.

 

Key terms: 

What is a learner's mindset?:

A learner’s mindset is the belief that you have the ability to learn anything and/or improve your present skills. It’s the belief that you never stop learning. And in the ever evolving technological world that we now live in, a learner’s mindset is a must.

 

Why is having a learner's mindset important?

Having a learner’s mindset is more important than ever before. It’s the key to success in today’s world. Technology has changed the way we do nearly everything, so developing or learning new skills has become essential and even required. Without a learner’s mindset you’ll quite literally get left behind.

 

Action plan:

What to do today: 

  • Follow Heather Zynczak
  • Discuss growth and training opportunities with your exec team
  • Survey your company around how they learn, and what learning and training opportunities they're interested in.
What to do next quarter:

Begin developing and implementing a learner’s mindset culture. Develop an ongoing framework that creates easy access to learning opportunities that works around the resources available to you.

Learning is not always easy, but it should be continuous. And if you’re a corporation, investing in training and advancement opportunities for your people has an enormous ROI. Even if your resources are slim, there are opportunities everywhere. Below are a few ideas and actions in which you can begin developing a learner’s mindset culture:


  • Collaboration: Learn from each other. Some of the best teachers can be the people you work with. Create support groups specific to each department so that colleagues can discuss problems or difficulties they're facing within that workspace. By accepting that there are areas in which you lack knowledge, and taking advice from others with more expertise, you learn new or better ways of doing things. This allows you to create something superior to what you could do on your own. 

  • Unlearning: Yes, part of the learning process can sometimes be to unlearn old methods that may be holding you back. Look for new ways of understanding, so that you’re constantly challenging yourself and your beliefs, and you don’t get stuck in a pattern that doesn’t serve you anymore. 
  • Listening: Learning is more than just attending training seminars or workshops, we need to learn how to listen. Be present. 

  • Ask questions: There are no stupid questions. Really. If you don’t know the answer to something, chances are there is someone else out there with the same question. How will you learn if you don’t ask? So, ask a lot of questions.

  • Be open: When you’re open to new ideas, your worldview isn't limited or narrow. Instead, you unleash a world of opportunities and ideas.

  • Promote risk taking/embrace failure: As a leader, it’s important to let your people take risks. Even if the outcome isn't what you would've liked, you learn a lot from failure. Don’t shun failure, celebrate it—it’s a great learning opportunity.


What to do within the next year:

Continue updating and refining the learning opportunities for your organization overall. Technology is rapidly evolving, and so must your process and framework around how you offer training, education, or coaching opportunities.

Measure the value and utilize the output generated from the learning and training exercises to improve each of your department's deliverables.The better the skillset you and your organization develop, the happier and more fulfilled your people are—in turn, producing more as well as achieving a higher quality.

The success of your business is directly impacted by the investment you put into your people. 


Who should own this? 
Creating or implementing a culture begins with leadership—encourage a learner's mindset by example. However, whether you’re a corporation (big or small), a leader, or an individual contributor, a learner’s mindset is invaluable for growth and success. 



Watch the full episode

 


Coming up next week
Next week, we talk weaponizing your ego and the key to leverage with Nathan Latka. 

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By Patrick Campbell

Founder & CEO of ProfitWell, the software for helping subscription companies with their monetization and retention strategies, as well as providing free turnkey subscription financial metrics for over 20,000 companies. Prior to ProfitWell Patrick led Strategic Initiatives for Boston-based Gemvara and was an Economist at Google and the US Intelligence community.

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