10L: Giles Hearn

About Giles

Giles says: “I’ve done those online tests and I’m bang-down-the-middle left-brained/right-brained. This means I’ve brought both technical and creative abilities to everything I’ve ever done, which is mostly a blessing. So I’ve done marketing, pre-sales, design, software development, customer support, UX & UI, data analysis, graphics, art, photography, video production, music production, voiceovers, and copywriting. I’m crap at maths though, and I wouldn’t last half an hour in politics.”

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

I try to make people interested in stuff that will help them learn and perform better at work. Hmm, thinking about that now – would my gravestone inscription say, “Here lies Giles Hearn. He tried.”?

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?

I couldn’t name a favourite; there have been so many. Whether it was that conversation on the night bus with a homeless guy, the time I first walked out on stage at Glastonbury, or the moment of quiet self-reflection as I stood at the edge of the Sahara. Each experience taught me that, even though there is so much ‘out there’ that I will never know, I should never stop trying to discover it. 

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

I don’t think the L&D industry is any worse at this than others, but we do like our slogans and buzzwords. “Learning in the flow of work”; “building a learning culture”; “up-skilling and re-skilling” These terms enter our consciousness and eventually become so over-used and commoditised that they lose all their original power. And many of them don’t describe any novel concepts; they’re just re-labelling the same things we’ve all been doing for decades. As a marketer, I’ve used such phrases myself; only recently have I begun to take a step back and think about alternative ways to communicate the ideas.

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)? 

Not having to trudge through rush-hour traffic 5 days a week is a definite improvement! And anything that has the potential to reduce pollution and greenhouse gas is a good thing.

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 the office vibe, the bantz, and the ideas that seem to spring up out of nowhere when you’re physically with a group of like-minded people. Teams and Zoom are great, but they do have a tendency to filter out spontaneity. Plus, all those micro-expressions, pheromones, and unuttered nuances that we humans subconsciously process during conversation are mostly lost.

Will it return? Well, some research has shown that, despite being dubbed ‘digital natives’, Gen-Z show a preference for face-to-face communication. So as more of them enter the workforce, this may accelerate ‘The Great Return’ to the office. That said, there’s also a burgeoning movement around DAOs (Decentralized Autonomous Organisations) which are welcoming employees wherever they are in the world – with nothing more than an Internet connection. So it’s anyone’s guess really.

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)?

Actually, I think other industries and professions should steal from us. L&D is full of people who are incredibly passionate, creative, and human-centred. I mean, it’s our job to help people learn! If learning is the lifelong process of adapting to change, then the most important job on the planet is empowering people how to learn. We have that job. We have the potential to change people’s lives. Who wouldn’t want that?

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

Well, we have quite a few visionaries at the LPI already, but it would be good to have someone who could really tell us what the future holds – because they come from there. So Marty McFly would be a pretty cool addition to the team.

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

It would have to be the realisation that I can only have so many things on the go. I’m a bit of a detail fanatic, so I get annoyed with myself if I put something out with a typo or mistake, knowing full well that I would have easily spotted it if I had just spent a little more time. So, big takeaway there is…step away from the laptop, put the phone on mute, go for a short walk, then come back with fresh eyes and ears.

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

My Android phone.

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?
A starry nighttime sky
It’s a big world and an even bigger universe. Explore. Discover. Learn.
Where can we find you?

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