Monday, March 26, 2012

Learning from (a soon to be moving) experience

Loyal readers may be aware that this Learning Pro is about to move cities.
My brilliant and talented wife (referred to from now as B&TW) has been asked to head up a new office that her company is opening in San Francisco, and rather than let her do it without me I'm going along with her :)
My boss has already given me the OK to keep my job and do it remotely from the Bay Area so all that's left is to work out how we get there, where we live and about a million other small details.
The weekend that just passed was spent in the City by the Bay taking a look around and trying to get a feel for where we might want to live.
There were great things about the weekend and some not so great ones. My thought is to see how I can take the experience and see how it might help me in my quest to help learners and fellow Learning Pros

Lesson 1
The Improvisational approach may not always be the best one.
With a hectic travel schedule already in place for the next 2 months we took the opportunity to visit the city without being fully prepared. B&TW was out there for a solid week of meetings with the new client that is the reason we are moving. With only a vague idea of what relocation help we will be getting we waited until too late to make appointments to see places.  My improvisational approach only works when you are not reliant on other people to do things like call you back or show you places.
Learning Take Away:  Be prepared to use the approach that most suits the people you are working with.

Lesson 2
Too many new things will overwhelm you.
We were in a new city. We don't know the neighborhoods well at all (B&TW knows some and I know next to none). It would be foolish to throw yet another new factor into the mix. So signing up with Zipcar and trying to use their service for the first time may not have been my best idea. Trying to work out how something even a simple as Zipcar works on top of all the rest of the issues we were facing made us too late for one open house, barely making another and frustrated when the car just sat there and did not start in the middle of our appointment. If we had not been wet and stressed out then this might have been funny. Luckily the person at Zipcar talked us through a reset and we were on our way.
Learning Take Away: Build on current knowledge block by block.

Lesson 3
Ask for lots of opinions, but be wary of filters.
We already have friends who used to live in San Francisco and had spoken to them. As we sat down for dinner each night my B&TW would ask the servers about the city. Which neighborhoods they liked, which they lived in. We got a lot of input from them and also the various realtors we met and looked at places with. What we came to realize by Sunday afternoon is that lots of people have their own views of what makes a good place to live and what does not. Whilst their opinions are valid and right for them they may not be right for us. When visiting one neighborhood that we got a couple of recommendations for we realized that we either needed to lose 15 years from our ages or get a bunch of tattoos and piercings if we wanted to fit in.
Learning Take Away: The difference between information and knowledge is context.

Lesson 4
Use the information out there to help you
Everyone knows that it’s warmer in San Francisco in March than Chicago. So taking a look at the weather forecasts is a good idea but new vital.
Of course if Chicago has been setting records for March warmth and a Pacific storm is coming to settle over Northern California it might be worth disregarding what everybody knows and paying attention to the forecasts.
Learning Take Away: Sometimes what ‘everyone knows’ is just plain wrong! Unlearning it and learning what is right may be half the battle or more.

Happy Learning

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