It is with sadness that I announce I'm leaving TrainingZone after five and a half years as editor. I first started at Sift Media seven and a bit years ago in a different part of the business on a maternity cover contract, but after that finished and I spent some time working elsewhere gradually realising what I was missing, I was back at Sift and became editor of TZ in July 2010.
I was employed primarily for my media skills rather than for my knowledge of the training industry. That side of things was to come, and getting thrown into the L&D events schedule from the start was probably the best way to meet people and see how the different pieces of the puzzle fitted together. In many ways this has been the perfect job for me: my dad is a management consultant turned inventor; my mum taught as a university lecturer for 33 years. Not that we follow in our parents' footsteps necessarily, but this job has felt like a perfect hybrid of some of those elements - problem solving and innovation, learning and education.
But nothing lasts forever.
In my time here I've met some amazing people, both within Sift Media and also the UK's training industry. I've learned tonnes, stuff that has enlightened me and irreversibly changed the way I think and work, for the better. It seems apt to give this farewell piece a mega-listicle flavour (seeing as they are the most popular types of features we publish), so here we go.
Five things I've learned about publishing
- It's still in a state of flux. As futurist Gerd Leonhard often says, publishing is where the music industry was a decade or so ago, and new subscription models, communities and career specialisms are appearing all the time.
- Don't use proprietary media players. Just use YouTube, Vimeo, Soundcloud, Mixcloud etc. It's easier. For everyone.
- Keep abreast of social media trends. Probably the biggest change that social media has/have made to publishing is the destruction of the command and control model. Publishers need to make sure they keep using this to their advantage. Your community advocates are everywhere, ready to start a conversation with you.
- There are plenty of tools out there - use what works for you. Tech is just the facilitator, don’t get hung up on software for the sake of it.
- Be different. In the content wars of 2020, only the strong will survive.
Five things I've learned about L&D
- Events need to address the schism between the exhibition space and the conference space. There have been huge moves in recent years to provide value in the form of free sessions for delegates who only have expo tickets to events. This is great. However: brands need to stop the hard sell and work on becoming trusted knowledge partners to potential customers. Everyone wants to talk about their product, I get that, but have a chat first.
- Cherish (and learn from) the examples of companies where L&D departments are listened to by the rest of the business. These examples are still unfortunately few and far between.
- There will never be a resolution to the debate about the efficacy of NLP. I personally don’t believe in any of it, but recognising its popularity with parts of the TZ community I have published pieces over the years. Sometimes I feel a bit guilty about that.
- The L&D and HR tech market is crowded - it's hard to stand out but you have to try. Keep innovating: not just in your product but your communication too.
- If Don Taylor grew a nice bushy moustache he could easily moonlight as a David Seaman lookalike. But he’s way too busy to have time for that. (credit to my ex co-worker Craig Palmer for that observation).
Five things I've learned about business
- Working with good people is the quickest way to success and I’ve been very lucky throughout my time at Sift Media.
- If you’ve got an idea just get on and do it - don't ask anyone.
- Avoid every meeting you can apart from the absolute bare essentials.
- Most PRs don’t target their emails, so appreciate the ones that do and nurture and maintain a good relationship with them.
- Richard Branson is cited in every single case study about leadership. Stop it. Expand your case study horizons.
It'll be business as usual on TZ though - Jamie Lawrence, editor of HRZone, will be overseeing things temporarily at least and he and Fiona Tully (TZ publisher) will be on hand to make sure the site, campaigns and key projects aren't adversely affected by my departure. Many of you will already know Jamie and Fiona so you'll know you're in safe hands but here are their email details so you can get in touch:
All the best to everyone and to quote Sukh Pabial, be your best selves.
About Jon Kennard
Jon Kennard is a freelance writer and social media manager, and former editor of TrainingZone.co.uk.