Hi there. I'm Justyna, the latest newbie at Tribal Impact.
I joined the company back in September 2019 to take on a new, fascinating role that involves driving learning and enablement of all of our tribe members - our employees, contractors and clients.
In this article, I will attempt to answer the following question – what does one need to do to step out of their comfort zone and embark on a new learning journey?
It’s a question that I feel each one of us will have to find a strong answer for ourselves if we want to be successful in this ever-changing, technology-driven and human-role-refining world that we now live.
This blog is based on the lessons learnt from finding my own answer to this question.
From Newbie To Expert
Before I get into detail, I want to tell you a personal story.
7.5 years ago, I joined a Yorkshire-based digital marketing agency as their search engine advertising strategist. My initial responsibilities included running pay-per-click advertising campaigns on Google’s search results page for a variety of multinational clients.
I truly enjoyed my job.
I loved data and was amazed by how many decisions, based purely on numbers, I could make using this method of marketing.
However, being an owner of a very curious mind, I was also eager to explore advertising options on the other search engines.
At the same time, I was investing a lot of my private time in improving my English language skills, attending public speaking classes and self-development courses (Tony Robbins’ ginormous 50 hours in 4 days course being one of them).
I wasn’t a confident communicator and wanted to discover how to become one.
Little did I know that this curiosity and hunger to learn new things would lead me to becoming a world-known specialist in the advertising options offered by Yandex, the second most popular search engine in the Eastern Europe.
Back in 2013, this globally-recognised, AI-focused tech company chose the small agency that I worked for as their only worldwide training partner.
I was completely amazed when this happened!
I showed so much interest and excitement about this project that, as a result, a quick decision was made to ‘ship me’ to Yandex’s Moscow headquarters in order to receive training from their product managers.
I then went back to the UK, tested all the newly gained knowledge on several campaigns that we managed for our customers and…asked for more training!
5 months and hundreds of phone calls/meetings later, we launched a 3-day-long, global training program. Myself and two of my colleagues were appointed as the official trainers.
What followed still blows my mind when I think about it.
I spent the next 6 years travelling around the world teaching digital marketing professionals from the top global brands and agencies on how to run successful campaigns on Yandex. I often stood in front of the top minds from the industry questioning who I was to tell them how to work.
But the more I did it, the more confident I felt that the knowledge that I was sharing was of value.
This experience turned out to be the most outstanding and humbling journey I could have wished for at the time.. It allowed me to grow both professionally and personally to levels I didn’t even imagine were possible. Especially if you consider that, at the beginning, I was terrified of public speaking.
Based on this amazing chance that I was given, whether I was teaching in USA, China, Turkey or Dubai I wanted to make sure that my main message to all the students was the same - keep learning! Keep expanding your own, unique, internal bank of knowledge! Don’t just attend a course and assume that is the end of your learning journey - implement the knowledge gained as soon as possible, keep practising and testing it in real-life scenarios and keep growing your expertise.
Because when you do, when you commit yourself to living in a constant development mode some really outstanding things can happen in your life.
Joining The Learning And Development Field
Seeing the growth of the businesses that we taught and many professional transformations of the learners, who decided to apply the principles that I was preaching, has opened my eyes super wide to the importance of learning and development field.
I became a true believer of the view that dedication to continuous learning was what made a few stand out from thousands of people claiming to be an expert in your field.
Based on this, I have started getting involved in more learning and development projects such as developing public speaking, know-how sharing and employee development courses for our employees.
As one of the results of these efforts, I saw 15 people from my previous company gathering courage to present their knowledge at external and often international conferences.
The longer I did it, the more I understood that empowering employees through learning experiences to do greater things then they ever thought they could, had to be the main way to substantially grow business.
Tribal Impact’s Vision And Me
Tribal Impact with their mission to put people in front of company’s logos through employee advocacy and social selling programs shares very similar values to mine, therefore I was very intrigued about the option to join this company when the opportunity suddenly arose.
I knew that their long-term vision was strong and went beyond achieving the success of their own business.
This part was very attractive for me.
However, I also knew this meant some challenges, the most profound one being moving from a position of expert in my field to becoming a newbie.
Don’t get me wrong - I wasn’t totally new to the social media or learning and development but I had almost no formal knowledge on any of these subjects.
So, back to the question that I started this article with - what does one need to do to step out of their comfort zone and embark on a new learning journey?
The answer is this: Reflect deeply on your personal reasons behind this change.
Stepping out of your comfort zone can often feel very uncomfortable, painful and risky and I certainly experienced all of those feelings.
It wouldn't be a lie if I told you that before committing to my new employment, I felt pretty intimidated by my lack of knowledge!
I knew that a lot of effort had to be put in, in order for me to contribute positively to such successful and driven company.
I also knew that I couldn’t miss this opportunity!
In order to manage my own actions and emotions effectively, I started by asking myself another question that I'd asked myself many times in the past before doing something very important yet big and challenging.
The same question that I'd asked every single person I trained during the past few years at the beginning of their training course.
‘Why Are You Doing This?’
What's the reason, the real driver behind your actions that will keep you going when a lot of effort will be required?
What picture of the future will keep you focused and motivated?
I knew that in order for me to kick in the new and effective learning process I had to dig deep.
I went back to thinking about:
- which events drove me to this change
- why I decided to drop my area of expertise and pick this new one
- how did it all align with my values
- and what I was trying to achieve.
I contemplated on the vision of my future and the believes that would motivate and empower me to keep going when things would get tough.
I reread some of the articles that I wrote on LinkedIn over the past 15 months and the notes in my personal journal. I also attended another Tony Robbins’ event and once again started reading Simon Sinek’s very inspiring ‘Start with Why’ book.
On top of this, I bought professional coaching sessions and took time off between my last and new employments.
Phew! A lot of effort, right? ;)
‘So, did it work?’- you may wonder.
Going through this whole process made me realise what I really wanted to do at this stage of my life. I realised that my new personal mission was to give back to the world by empowering people to dare to try new things.
To give individuals opportunities to gain new knowledge.
Just like I was able to gain.
To create learning experiences where they could find their voice.
Just like I was able to find.
To enable them to show their ideas to the world.
Just like I was able to show mine.
And through all of this, make them feel more alive, brave and effective at work.
Yeah, you got it – just as I felt!
A big and exciting journey with beautiful people is ahead of me and deep down I hope that it will drive me and my new colleagues to wonderful experiences full of opportunities to help others find theirs.
I hope to one day meet you on this new learning journey, my fellow traveller. But first, please consider spending some time on discovering your ‘why’ behind your actions.
Somehow knowing it makes everything much easier!