10L: Tom Baragwanath

About Tom

Tom is the Global Head of Content at 360 Learning and the Founder and Host of the L&D Plus podcast.

So, what do you do dear?  Describe your work to an elderly relative. 

I lead content for 360Learning, the collaborative learning platform. We are to traditional workplace learning what YouTube is to old-school TV: social, peer-driven, and super fun.

What was your favourite learning experience (Could be work, personal, school…anything is valid)?  What were you trying to do? Why did it work so well for you?

Back in my policy days working for the New Zealand government, I had to front up to Cabinet to explain some proposed changes to Emissions Trading Scheme legislation. Having 15+ senior Ministers poring over my analysis was an incredible learning curve, if not a stressful one.

Enough already…What one thing do you wish people in your industry or profession would stop doing? (What gets your goat?)

Like all content marketers, I spend a bunch of time on LinkedIn, which is both fun and occasionally not so fun. Lately, I’ve noticed a trend of people juicing the algorithm by creating deliberately dramatic posts (for example, accusing another company of plagiarism), and while I understand where this is coming from, it’s a little tiresome. 

Same again please…What has changed for the better in your professional world as a result of COVID working practices? Should it be retained for the future (whenever that might be and whatever it might look like)? 

Since joining a remote-first company, I’ve paid a lot more attention to the way I communicate asynchronously, and my messages to people are–I hope–a lot more succinct and actionable now. I don’t think I would have started paying this kind of attention without working remotely.

From the good old days…What do you miss most about working life from the pre-COVID world? Do you think it will return? 

I miss moments of improvisational social connection in the office. This is nearly impossible to replicate in a remote setting–though we are trying. 

Theft is the sincerest form of flattery…Which part of which other industry or profession do you think we should learn from and adopt (or just steal)?

This is going to sound very self-indulgent, but content marketers should edit their copy the way poets do. Read everything aloud for rhythm, and cut everything you can possibly cut.

You know who would be great for this…Which famous person (live or historical) do you want to join your team and why?

It would be my pleasure to invite the late short fiction author Grace Paley to join the team. Her wit, intelligence, and ruthless editorial scalpel would be an absolute joy. If anyone reading this hasn’t yet discovered her work, I beg you to read Enormous Changes at the Last Minute. Wonderful wonderful stuff.

If only I had…What did you learn from your most recent mistake?

In content marketing, there is such a thing as excessive promotion within your own company. Our content team has been shipping a lot of quality stuff lately, but it’s helpful to remember that not every all of your colleagues wants to be badgered about every little thing.

There can be only one…Which one tool or piece of kit would you keep if you could only use one from now on?

This is technically two things, but I can’t live without the classic Oxford legal pad and a quality inky pen. Sometimes writing by hand is the only way to get to the heart of something.

The picture of success…Which image or picture is a good representation of how you would like to develop your practice over the next five years?

Where can we find you?
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