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Who starts a newsletter in 2023?!
You're a trailblazer, and we see you.
Good news! If you’re reading this, you’re probably one of the first. It’s January 2023 and we’ve decided to start a newsletter.
In doing so, we’re following in the footsteps of giants: King Charles I wrote a newsletter in 1649, debating his upcoming execution (he was against it); Allen Ginsberg used the mimeograph in 1955 to get around a mainstream press reluctant to publish material with a focus on sex, drugs and and spirituality.
Why are we doing it?
Well, since we started The Mind Tools L&D Podcast back in May 2016, we’ve spoken to over 200 L&D practitioners, consultants and authors - spending 30-40 minutes each week discussing work, performance and learning. For us, it’s been the best professional deveopment we could ever imagine: learning from smart people who are more experienced than we are, and who are generous enough to share.
This newsletter is an opportunity for us to reflect on those conversations, while also sharing our own insights into the L&D industry and its ever-evolving concerns.
What’s in it for you?
Each Monday, we’ll be taking turns to share short musings, podcast insights, a piece of research we found useful and links to stuff we think you’ll enjoy.
We hope you’re excited to get in on the ground floor, and we can’t thank you enough for joining us!
— Ross Dickie and Ross Garner
🎧 On the podcast
In our first podcast of the year, we made a bombshell claim: L&D professionals are becoming more effective.
This is not the rhetoric we tend to hear at conferences and online, but the researchers behind our annual Learning Performance Benchmark joined Ross D to discuss their latest results, with Anna Barnett sharing that:
‘This year the thing that we’re most excited about is how positive the data is looking… What we’re seeing is the score we use (what we call our ‘Index’) to track the health and impact of the L&D industry has actually gone up quite a bit this year… This year’s report is going to really try and unpack why things are looking more positive, and how can we celebrate those achievements?’
To find out why, listen to the discussion here:
📖 Deep dive
In the famous ‘Marshmallow Experiment’, children are presented with a treat and told that they can have a second one if they can wait 15 minutes without eating it. For years, we were told that this test of willpower could predict longterm life outcomes, but that might not be the case.
A 2018 paper from Watts, Duncan and Quan found that:
This bivariate correlation was only half the size of those reported in the original studies and was reduced by two thirds in the presence of controls for family background, early cognitive ability, and the home environment.
In essence, the ability of a child to delay gratification has less to do with willpower and more to do with their socio economic background.
There’s a nice write-up of the study available from The Atlantic, and the paper is online at: Watts, T. W., Duncan, G. J., & Quan, H. (2018). Revisiting the marshmallow test: A conceptual replication investigating links between early delay of gratification and later outcomes. Psychological science, 29(7), 1159-1177.
👹 Missing links
While putting this first edition together, I stumbled across an article in Wired about the history of newsletters. The article ends with a warning: ‘Newsletters were corporatized once before, and they could be once again’. It then invites readers to subscribe to the Wired newsletter. Made me chuckle!
If you haven’t yet tried out ChatGPT, prepare to be blown away. So far this chat bot has helped me write podcast show notes, come up with newsletter topics, and discover a recipe for a steak and avocado wrap. Delicious! In this podcast, Exponent hosts Ben and James discuss its likely impact on the future of white collar work.
And for more on the future of AI, check out this Twitter thread from Ammaar Reshi, who used a combination of AI tools to write and publish a children’s book in just one weekend. The process is fascinating, the response from the publishing community is pure outrage. What’s your take?
🧐 And finally…
If you haven’t already watched this Rock, Paper, Scissors simulation, you’re missing out. Not since the battle of Helm’s Deep have I been so gripped.
Or just hit reply to this email!