The New Adventures of Development-Seeking Kate

I was at our Spring CLO Symposium in Miami last week, and I’ll spare the name-dropping details except for I met the man who started ESPN, a $50 billion conglomerate that’s now the fourth-most recognized brand in the world, and shook his hand, and conversed with him about hockey coverage and here’s a picture to prove it.

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Thanks to fellow editor Ladan, who took this photo without realizing it, and to Mom, who upon receiving it printed an 8×10 version.

For the record, Bill Rasmussen is one of the nicest men I’ve ever met.

But I digress.

Spring Symposium comes with a black tie gala the night before that honors the LearningElite, 60-plus organizations that offer their employees top-notch learning and development programs. I sat next to the chief learning officer for the FDIC – OK, one more name-drop — who mentioned she started a resolution to try something new every year. Last year she wanted to learn how to shoot a gun, and that snowballed into winning several marksmanship awards.

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Yes, I was sitting next to actress-turned-archer Geena Davis. I only said she was a CLO to avoid another awkward name drop.

One of the things I always ask CLOs I’m profiling is “How do you develop yourself?” I’m always fascinated by the answers. One told me he reads voraciously, from leadership manuals to John Le Carre novels. Another said he uses a self-grading system a la Martin Short to track how he’s performing both on the job and off.

I can only assume that if I profiled Suzannah, her answer would be “try something new every year and maybe win a few medals for it.”

And this got me thinking about how I develop myself. I’m not an executive at a large organization, so I really don’t have many excuses to not develop myself. Then again, I also don’t have as many opportunities. I mean, when you run a learning program, doesn’t that obligate you to participate?

(For any CLOs reading this, please participate in my LinkedIn conversation on this very topic.)

(For any non-CLOs reading this, please bare with my pandering to my professional audience.)

But anyway, I can say that reading lots of non-fiction and writing both day and night are the key to my own professional and personal growth, but that seems to be the easy way out. I like Suzannah’s method, but I feel like I can one-up her — particularly because I’m not running all learning and development programs for the FDIC (did I mention she’s an FDIC executive?). What if I tried doing something new each month?

They don’t have to be big things, and they don’t have to be spontaneous. This month, for example, I went to my first gong meditation experience (note: that’s “gong” with a “g,” not a “b”).

In October, I will be a bridesmaid in a wedding for the first time. Next month, I’m hoping to hit the salsa club in the South Loop that I learned about while discussing my love of Latin dance music with a couple colleagues. In June I might go kayaking on the Chicago River after work one day.

The possibilities are endless.

All of these are to do more than extricate myself from boredom ruts. They’re meant to build up my experience level. As a journalist, I’m always learning new things, but in the realm of work I do, I rarely do anything new. To quote Lewis Carroll in Alice in Wonderland, “If you don’t know where you are going any road can take you there.”

Stay tuned for some Adventures in Kateland.

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