TOBY NEWMAN is a Manager of Learning & Development at HERE Technologies. He develops and sustains a learning culture within this global organization of just under 10,000 people. He also provides advice and support on the many different aspects of the Learning Culture through his side project as The Neverending Learner.

In this interview, we talk about how to create a culture of learning in an organization where people don’t wait for learning to happen to them. But instead, seek out opportunities to satisfy their curiosities. And he also gives great tips for improving how we learn from each other online. 

(Find Toby on LinkedIn, TEDx, and The Neverending Learner YouTube channel)


Subscribe to the Collaboration Superpowers Podcast on iTunesStitcher or Spotify.


Toby’s tips for learning and working remotely:

  • Make your online presentations interactive: one way is to use annotation. Think of ways that you can help people learn.
  • After recording an online presentation, think of the people who will be watching it later. What will be useful to your audience? Don’t just post a copy of the recording. Break the webinar into smaller pieces (“micro learning”) and tease out the important stuff (for example, people won’t want to watch random people annotating on a screen).
  • Be flexible in your skills and how you approach work/projects so that you are ready for anything.
  • Don’t wait for learning to happen to you. Be a pro-active self-developer. If you want to learn you can find endless places to do that: MOOCs, books, blogs, videos, classrooms, etc.
  • Recommended reading: Sapiens and Homo Deus.
  • There are 3 elements of creating a learning culture: be curious and create self developed learners, change mindsets from training to facilitating, and promote peer-to-peer sharing.
  • You can’t make people be self learners. But you can give them the environment to be curious and guidance for finding information.


Podcast production by Podcast Monster

Graphic design by Alfred Boland

Sign up for the Collaboration Superpowers newsletter (yellow)


More resources

189 – Be Dedicated To Online Learning With Bhavneet Chahal

169 – Modern Leadership In The Virtual World

210 – Set Your People Up to Win

232 – Getting To Know Your Global Team

156 – Superpower Hour: Remote Team Management

195 – Be A Leader Worth Following

Original transcript

Lisette:  Great so now we’re live welcome everybody to this remote interview. My name is Lisette and I’m interviewing people in companies doing great things remotely. And today on the line all the way from Eindhoven in the Netherlands I’ve got Toby Newman. You are a lead of learning and development at HERE Technologies and you support a global organization of just under ten thousand people in learning and development. So we’re going to talk about that in a bit and all kinds of things you’ve also got a personal work hobby slash project called the Never Ending Learner.

Toby Newman:  Yeah, in Dutch they call it a side hustle. I always find that’s very weird because I’m like I’m not hustling for because as you could probably tell from the accent. I’m not Dutch, kind of a born and bred Londoner. So that kind of hustle sounds a bit kind of blue, but-

Lisette:  Right alright, so side hustle projects, yeah, on the same vein of learning and we’re really going to dive deeply into that today. But let’s start with the first question. What does your virtual office look like? And what do you need to get your work done?

Toby Newman:  So, let me just show you a little bit. So this is at the moment, this is the office. So we’re based in Eindhoven, our office is a traditional office but more and more, we’re more working remotely. So I have my office at home as well. We, in a sense, can work anywhere because we have VPN, we have all our work on the cloud. So it’s kind of sad in a good way and obviously to follow your hints and tips about working remotely, but technically I can work anywhere.

Lisette:  Okay, and so when would you work at your home office versus at the traditional office?

Toby Newman:  So I’d say my first kind of real taste of remote working was at my previous company where I was first moved over to the Netherlands. I didn’t know anybody. I was a bit kind of shy going into the office because I didn’t really know. So I worked pretty much a year and a half at home because I was traveling a lot as well. And, but at that time, it was very much set up that most people work from the office. So it was a very lonely experience. Now with the company I’m working for now, HERE technologies were set up before virtual, not necessarily at home, but virtual working. So we have WebEx teams, we have Cisco basically everything Cisco has, we have Yammer, we have all the SharePoint sites. So basically anything you can think of to easily collaborate, and obviously, with working with yourself, we were looking at some more virtual tools to make it a bit easier. But my general experience at the moment is I go to the office because my boss is also at the office and we chat a lot. And I’d say more and more I feel comfortable working at home. If I was to give you a percentage, maybe at the moment, it’s still 75%.

Lisette:  At the office.

Toby Newman:  Yeah, 75% at the office.

Lisette:  Okay, so but you can switch back and forth. And is that the case for anybody working at HERE? Or is it just certain groups of people depends on your manager, what does

Toby Newman:  Depends on your manager, I would say more than teams, a lot of teams are flexible. So more and more of our teams are highly dispersed. So you would have everybody working wherever they are in the globe. So it doesn’t matter if you’re working from the office if your whole team is in Chicago, Mumbai, Berlin, etc. We’re actually starting some interesting projects in Mumbai where we actually have about four and a half thousand people all in one location. And they’re actually working on remote working for them. Because you would think, well, that’s the big time you would work together. But because of the time it takes, if you’ve ever been to Mumbai, but it’s, I love the traffic over there. It is crazy, but it’s amazingly busy. And it takes them like an hour and a half to go from one side of the town. So they’re actually looking at remote working not because of the remoteness of their work, but because of the time it takes to get to work and back is actually not effective. So it’s different, the end result is that the same but the reason for doing it is different.

Lisette:  Right. And I can imagine as lots of cities, I mean, London every time I go to London, I’m amazed at what people go through.

Toby Newman:  Oh, yeah, I mean, I mean, the strange thing is that when I came over here, and I was looking for jobs. And they said, so where do I live where I live in nine home, which is South Holland, sorry, the south of Holland because there’s a district called South Holland, and then I was looking for jobs in Amsterdam, and the Utrecht which is, if I get on the train, it’s about an hour to Utrecht an hour and a half to Amsterdam. And most people said, why? Why are you going that far? And it’s like, far, that’s

Lisette:  That’s only an hour.

Toby Newman:  Yeah, I used to live in London 12 as the crow flies, between nine and 12 miles depending on what job I was going to. And if I was lucky, it would take me an hour and a half door to door.

Lisette:  Wow.

Toby Newman:  But that’s a normal journey. But it’s I used to sling my headphones on webcast podcasts, you know, videos. I’m a big film person. So I’d see a film or a TV series, and by the time we get the other end, I’ve watched Film and it’s lovely.

Lisette:  Yeah in a way except for that it’s forced you have to do it every day

Toby Newman:  But then you make the most of it. So you know it’s going to be an hour and a half and this is before remote working so I know it’s going to be an hour and a half or let’s make the most of it whereas now especially the in the Dutch culture you probably experienced this as well as that you know, even just going to the other side of the town is quite long distance. I can imagine for your American viewers that must be absolutely crazy.

Lisette:  Yeah.

Toby Newman:  You go from state to state let alone city to city so

Lisette:  Yeah, I used to think nothing of driving from Los Angeles to San Francisco. It was a seven-hour drive if you went pretty fast. And I mean, thought nothing of it. I just did it on the weekends. You know, and here it’s unheard of.

Toby Newman:  That’s I think that’s the same as going what probably the other side of Europe,

Lisette:  Yeah you can drive through Germany or like, get to Switzerland by that amount. Yeah, so just a different mindset. Yeah, speaking of mindsets, I want to dive into what you’re doing it HERE Technology, which is your lead of learning and development, and clearly you’ve got this side hustle, the Never Ending Learner. So it’s all tied together, but you’re pretty passionate about learning and developing learning cultures. How did that start? Where did that come from?

Toby Newman:  Now, I never going to say that I don’t have unique views, like kind of like, ‘oh, I thought of that,’ and that’s definitely not in this case. For me, I would say and this is kind of, and one of the tips I talk about in my videos is I started as a traditional L&D person, so face to face and I love the classroom and you can probably tell from my kind of enthusiasm stuff, get me in front of a room and I’ll be like ‘hey, hey’ kind off, for those people that are listening. I’m throwing my hands up. It’s one of those but when I started here at HERE, I know it’s a joke that everybody uses. We started going to events, so expos in L&D because we wanted to see what’s going on in this industry. And for those who are in Europe, there’s a couple of big ones. The big one is the learning technologies in London, round the start of February every year. I know there’s a few in like in Chicago, I think in October every year. And I went along and yes, you get to hear different talks, and you walk around all the booths and stuff. But to me, the biggest thing was just seeing the vibe. First of all, seeing how many people are in L&D always astounds me, how many people are working in the L&D environment, and secondly, you get to kind of see what’s going on and see what people are doing and what general the movement is and I watched a couple of people when they started talking about this thing called the learning culture. And I was like, ‘Wow, that sounds interesting,’ and then I started reading up myself. So I was reading a few white papers, read a couple of books on it and then I started to get my own connotations of it. So there isn’t just one theory, like, we’re not like math, there’s one theory and then everybody else works on it. It’s more an idea of how you want to do it. And to me, it’s kind of evolved into this what I call keeping ahead of the curve. So you talk about industries and especially technology industries moving so fast. And I’m not one of these people that kind of loves numbers and loves graphs and stuff. But I know that there are two graphs that I kind of use quite often. First of all, is the Moore’s Law curve, which is the exponential growth of technology? I think it’s every, it used to be every 18 months technology quadruples, or the speed of the I think it was the speed of processes 

Lisette:  Yeah.

Toby Newman:  But you could kind of equate that to other things in technology. And then you’ve got the learning bill, which is basically how quickly somebody learns and becomes excellent, or at least efficient, a particular thing. And if you overlap those two, they don’t match up. So the idea is that by the time you learn something, it’s already old hat. And so this keeping ahead of the curve is a kind of an explanation of how the learning culture needs to be. It needs to be, I believe, should be implemented by not just companies, but everybody individual mindsets, company mindsets, both big and small, to enable you as individuals and as companies to keep ahead of the curve.

Lisette:  Right and so and for companies, really, I guess, for individuals and companies, the reason why You’d want to even keep ahead of the curve as one is you want to keep innovating to stay marketable, right? So I mean, you want to basically keep products that people need, so-

Toby Newman:  Yeah, I mean, you’ve got two different ways of looking at keeping ahead of the curve; you’ve got from a technology point of view of always keeping one step ahead to keep innovating. But also from a mindset point of view, in terms of learning is that if you know that companies or technologies move forward so quickly, you need to have, how do I put this in a different way, I would say that it’s rather than just keeping up to date. It’s more about the mindset of thinking, ‘I need to be flexible, I need to be flexible in my skills, I need to be flexible in how I approach work and projects. So that I am ready for anything. And that would then in, as a result, keep me ahead of the curve.’ That makes a bit more sense.

Lisette:  Oh, yeah, for sure because we don’t know what’s going to happen in life and you can’t, you can’t plan on keeping in this in the same direction, because inevitably things are going to change the way technology changes, things work, the work culture changes.

Toby Newman:  Exactly I saw a report, I think it was last week that said that they believe that around 35% of all jobs will go due to automation. But then 85% of the jobs that are going to be I believe, was in 2035 or 2050 somewhere around there will be brand new, as in, they’re not even a job now.

Lisette:  Right.

Toby Newman:  So, the opportunity, so the risk is there, the scariness is there but also the opportunity is, is amazing of what potential is there. I mean, I always use the example of the Industrial Revolution, that when the delayed or the automatic ladle came along everybody thought that everybody would go out of business and there’d be no jobs. But then people were turned away from using the loom, not the ladle the loom, things called the Jenny and became mechanics to learn how to fix them. Same with the horses, if you go back to the even earlier, everybody thought that you can’t get rid of horses. And then the cars came along again I don’t mean to kill off. I mean the famous quote was from Ford and they asked him, what you see is the… ‘Why aren’t you asking your customers what they want?’ And he said, ‘well, if I asked my customers what they want, they’d want faster horses.’ 

Lisette:  Right?

Toby Newman:  Not new cars.

Lisette:  Right, indeed.

Toby Newman:  So I kind of diverged in these now but it’s

Lisette:  But it’s an interesting point because of people are afraid of their jobs being taken away by artificial intelligence or robots. I’m just saying, well, it’s actually the boring jobs that are being taken away.

Toby Newman:  It’s the job you don’t want to do.

Lisette:  Right? It’s the stuff you don’t want to do anyway. And maybe there’ll be way more interesting things that come along which I’m sure of. I mean, when I went to, I feel older now that I’d say it this way, but when I went to college, what I’m doing today didn’t exist when I was in school. There was not even a way to study this. I mean, maybe I could have got into radio or something. I don’t know but you know, the podcast wasn’t there yet. So what would… what is a bad learning environment at a company? I don’t know if you could paint that picture for people.

Toby Newman:  I don’t think that’s, I don’t think that is such thing as bad learning. I’d say less effective is probably a better way of thinking about it.

Lisette:  Okay, so yeah, what are people doing when they’re doing it wrong?

Toby Newman:  Yeah, that’s such a, it’s a good question. I think let me kind of answer it in a slightly different, I feel like I’m going to be a politician here. I’ll answer it by answering a different question.

Lisette:  Fine don’t worry.

Toby Newman:  To me, it’s the mindset of learning traditionally has been waiting for learning to happen to you. So you’re waiting for a training or somebody like me to come along and say, ‘right, everybody, we’re going to train this.’ And that’s necessarily a bad thing to happen because a lot of companies you have to do that you have to wait until the trainer gives you the information. But in this day and age, there is so much information and resources out there on many different topics that you can go out and find the information I’ve interviewed many leaders, especially in our own company and out of our company about self-development. And there is a running theme is every big leader, big leader’s terrible way of saying but every leader the first thing they talk about is self-development. You hear people saying, ‘I read three books a day, I keep up to date, I have you Google Alerts,’ and all these different ways of doing it. But in a sense, what links them all together is that they don’t wait. And I think if you go back to kind of what is bad learning, bad learning is waiting for learning to hit you, is you go out and find it. So we’ve talked before about MOOCs, massive open online courses, they are open to everybody in anybody. If you want it you can find that you can find free stuff, and not illegally. It’s all legal, articles, books, eBooks, all these kinds of things. Yeah, exactly YouTube is turning into a massive field of a useful knowledge rather than watching a cat play a piano.

Lisette:  I mean, we have a garden where we didn’t know any of the plants because we inherited the garden from the previous owner and it required… there were some things like an apple tree that we had a great tree that we have, we learned how to trim it and take care of it all from YouTube videos. I mean, it’s a silly example but it does show that you can go out like you know, here’s something we needed knowledge you have to cut apple trees in a particular way. Otherwise, you ruin the tree and wow, there’s YouTube with our apple tree, our brand of apple tree, our climate and somebody speaking our language telling us how to cut it. It’s pretty amazing.

Toby Newman:  Exactly and then I suppose the bad version of that would be you paying somebody to do it and you know, a lot of people say but you know, that grows economies and all that kind of stuff. But it is a different world that we’re living in, it’s a different economy. It’s a you know a much more speedy economy I don’t know if that’s the right way of putting it but is that and again I don’t mean to diverged into different things but you see a lot of people talking about we should you know we shouldn’t lose these traditions and that tradition but things move on, the world changes. There are going to be new traditions that people don’t want to lose. I’m going to plug a book, not my book. I can never remember to pronounce his name is from Israel, but his first book was Sapiens his second book was Homo Deus, and it’s an absolute world changer. If you want to know about kind of where the future is going, potentially and it’s…I was reading it half like kind of interesting and half in bewilderment. It’s a fascinating book, I’d highly recommend it to anybody and everybody,

Lisette:  I’ll put it in the show notes.

Toby Newman:  And it’s coming in Dutch.

Lisette:  Ah, for those definitely for my a couple, hundred Dutch listeners out there. Okay, so then let’s talk about what a good, like how would you create… If you are giving advice to somebody who wanted to create a better learning culture in their companies? How would you, what would you say? What are some of the things to think about?

Toby Newman:  Well, first of all, have a look at my YouTube channel.

Lisette:  For sure, really, and I will be linking that into the show notes as well.

Toby Newman:  I mean, I’ve only just started it and there’s a few things on there but-

Lisette:  Disclaimer, disclaimer for those listening. I know Toby personally, I can tell you that it’s valuable information, so-

Toby Newman:  If I was to break it down nice and simply, and there’s what I try and do with most people is that there are three elements to a learning culture, that kind of any Individual, any company big or small, can take irrespective of platforms. And I know we’ve chatted about this in the past and stuff and we can talk about again. But in essence, you’ve got self-developed learners. That’s the absolute kind of key principle. And one of those key things is all about being curious. Now Lisette I know we’ve talked on many times, and you’ve come on to our spark sessions, and what we do in HERE is have sessions where we bring in experts like yourself Lisette to spark people into being curious about different elements and then allow them to be self-developed because you can’t tell somebody go be self-developed. You’ve got to give them the space. You got to give them… allow them to find their passion, and their own way, etc. So that’s the first thing self-developed self-determination. The second pillar is all about the company themselves but more importantly, the trainers is to change their mindset into being from trainers to facilitators. One of the things I talk about in my videos is that I hate the word training, is I’ve actually trying to drop the word training from everything I do. It should be learning, or development, or both. Because we’re not training people anymore, we’re helping them develop, we’re helping them learn, and we’re facilitating other experts. So subject matter experts into it. If we go back to this kind of keeping ahead of the curve, it’s impossible. And I think you’ll probably agree with me here to for people like us to keep ahead of all the information I can imagine in the virtual world. There are so many things going on, you can keep an idea about it, but you can’t be the expert in all areas and the same for me with it, whether it be soft skills is maybe the one exception you can kind of keep because they’re quite generic but technical training, tools process and stuff, it’s easier to go find the experts give them a better consultancy in a bit of guidance. And then let them be the voice and you just guide them into the right audience, so that’s kind of the second pillar. The third pillar is all about peer to peer sharing. We’ve recently used a platform called Key Point, which I believe is a fantastic tool, but it’s just me, I just love the way they do it. They’re not a video knowledge learning sharing platform. So they’re not an LMS it’s basically YouTube but in house, but it allows anybody to create a video and then anybody to watch it. And again, I don’t want to plug too many platforms. I know you use a lot of different platforms. But for me, the one thing I’ve loved about Key Point is its search engine searches within videos, not just tied and descriptions, so you can really get to the heart of the matter. So that’s the type of my love using but the idea is it’s knowledge sharing. And that could just be, you have a social group that you talk, you allow people to allow their voice to be heard. And that’s all it is, is allowing individuals to say, ‘hey, I’ve got this new idea, or I’ve got this new way of doing the process.’ And you just let them have their voice. You don’t pass them through filters and pass them to you give them the trust, to let them do it. Some people say that’s a risk. I believe it’s a risk worth taking.

Lisette:  And I mean, you mean you have a global organization that you’re working with, has anybody ever abused the system? Yeah, they uploaded videos that were inappropriate, or I mean, I don’t even know

Toby Newman:  I mean not at the moment. I mean, we obviously put in as many not restrictions, we put in as many as much training as possible. We have, you know, like diversity training and those kinds of trainings to make sure that they don’t try not to do in the first place. Obviously, you have HR and your managers keeping an eye, so if you know, they’re a bit of a bad egg, then you kind of, you know hopefully stop them from doing that kind of thing. But we also have processes in place where there’s, we can flag inappropriate stuff and going back to the automation, we use machine learning and AI to identify where problems could be, and that gets automatically flagged. So to give you an example, if we have a particular ISO process that cannot be broken, because that’s what ISO say that’s the process and you get some breaks spot coming and going, ‘I’ve got a great idea instead of doing that you can do this.’ It’s great but there, but you can’t miss, you can’t yeah, there’s a process for a reason. Then we would have automatic flags that pop up to say and then get people, get pinged to say, you know, this process, there’s a video that about this process, we’re not sure what’s in it. We just know that it’s linked, please review it, and then they can review it and take it down.

Lisette:  Right.

Toby Newman:  So there’s, there’s ways to mitigate the risk. 

Lisette:  Indeed, and it seems like there I mean, you know there’s bad consequences for risk or when people do inappropriate things, but it’s so rare that I ever hear of it actually happening. I mean, I know it happens, and sometimes there’s pranks gone wrong, or jokes gone wrong, and you know, that kind of a thing. But for the most part, people are genuinely there to learn.

Toby Newman:  It’s about the root cause and a lot of L&D people always talk about finding the root cause because they’ll come to you and say ‘I need training,’ and you go, ‘do you? Probably not.’ she needs something else but you think you need training and so if somebody’s doing malicious stuff on an open platform that could happen on, you know, we could have Yammer, which is kind of written conversational tool, you can have it on there. And we’ve had instances where our CEO has written something on Yammer and somebody replied, either as a joke or because they don’t like what they just heard, and replied in a not so friendly way and that gets dealt with. But the underlying cause is that maybe they weren’t engaged, maybe the communication wasn’t done properly. There is nobody wants… I strongly believe at least nobody wants to be bad, nobody wants to bad mouth other people. It’s just you’re, you’re put in a situation, your culture, your environment, means that that’s your only way out, that’s what you feel is the only way out.

Lisette:  Yeah.

Toby Newman:  You might just be that that person who was frustrated because his manager or her manager wasn’t hearing that person. So that’s why they took to Yammer

Lisette:  Or it’s 37 degrees outside and everybody’s… the temperature are charted and-

Toby Newman:  Or just got dumped by their girlfriends or worse you know, there is so many things that could happen. And so the risk is when you have these open platforms is that people can snap and abuse them. But they’re few and far between and you can’t stop the majority just because of one or two not idiots but the one or two people that abuse it.

Lisette:  Right, so let’s go back to creating learning culture and companies. So we’ve got our three pillars are self-developed learners going from training to facilitation, and then peer to peer sharing, so those are sort of the three underlying structures in that, and I want to sort of break it down a little bit more. So in terms of self-developed learners, there are some people who are curious and some people who are not curious. I mean, like, for instance, my husband, we took these personality tests and he like curiosity went off the charts for him. And I do notice it now more than I know that about him. But like, every time we walk by something, he’s like, oh, I wonder how that’s built, or I wonder the way it is.’ It’s not everybody. So there are there are people out there that have higher levels of curiosity than others, or people who like learning more than others.

Toby Newman:  But if I use your example, I can imagine that if there was a new let’s say, I know some company announced a new tool that allows you to bigger hologram

Lisette:  Oh yeah I’m all over it.

Toby Newman:  You’d be like ‘yeah,’ and your husband would be like ‘ah God.’

Lisette:  The best wedding anniversary, there’s a hologram.

Toby Newman:  Yeah exactly and as I mentioned your husband is going ‘what a hologram?’ and your thinking ‘Star Trek,’ and then you’re thinking, ‘oh, we could do this and do that,’ and, to me that says, that’s all about finding your passion. So it’s going back to kind of what I originally said, you can’t make people be self-developed, you give them and I kind of like talking about building a house. You can either build a house for somebody and go ‘there you go, there’s your house,’ or you can give them a plot of land. You can give them a solid foundation, you can give them some guidance about how to build a wall was and probably more importantly, how to build a roof and go ‘knock yourself out.’ And the great thing is, is that I mean, like I know, they do that in the Netherlands quite a lot. They kind of build these kinds of open plan houses where you can pretty much do whatever you want internally is it on the outside, it’s nice and uniforms. So from an organizational point of view, everybody’s in line, everybody is kind of aiming to the same targets because everything looks beautiful. Take Amsterdam, most of the houses are very symmetry kind of thing. They’re all the same, so canals can go into the boats can go up and down and people can get to work and work and stuff. But if you go into any one of those houses, every single one is different, and it’s because they allowed their own curiosity in their own kind of way they feel to be set free. And that’s what I’m talking about. It’s not saying you should be self-developed. It’s you give them the environment, to be curious. And I strongly believe people will take that and in the right direction.

Lisette:  Yeah and I like that. I like that view and great analogy, actually a great metaphor. So how would you then make an environment to enhance curiosity like that? What are some of the things you’ve done it HERE?

Toby Newman:  Some of the things that we’ve we were doing, I’d say it’s not a finished product, but in any way means it’s always going to be an ongoing thing. So the first thing is what we talked about these spark sessions. So it’s a lot of people in the industry called the nudge training, where and I refer to it as like, you have tugboats, you get these massive liners that can move very slowly. And then you have these little tug boats kind of just nudging them in the right direction. So they’re going, but they’re going to just kind of drift in the right way. So, we have not trainings, but we have talks, very similar to TED Talks, TEDx talks, where we get people that are passionate, just like yourself Lisette, that talk about an area and that we hope them will then spark people’s curiosity to go off and find their information, so that’s one thing we do. Another thing is that we have a lot of resources available, and easily available. So we’ve bought in what used to be is now LinkedIn Learning. So every HERE employee has LinkedIn learning free access to tens of thousands of content from every single topic you can think of but it’s, it is generic, it’s not bespoke. We had we give them access to MOOCs, these massive open online courses, so Coursera, edX, Udemy, to name just a few. We don’t have them built into the system, but we have them resource so we can say go and find these things. If it’s a particular topic, say of product management, we have resources, we have articles, we have books, all points in them in that so that’s easy to find, we have these what we call one-stop shops. So basically, if you want to find everything you need to know about product management, you can jump into this SharePoint site, and it will have links to LinkedIn learning will have links to MOOCs who have links to articles, links to books, links to the social platform. So Yammer so they can see what conversations are going on links to our internal stuff. So all our roadmaps and all that kind of stuff. So they’ve got it all in one place. So it makes it easy for somebody to be curious, without having to spend hours finding all the information. So I can imagine you’re on your website, your tips and tricks, you must have spent a long time putting that together. But for me to go on to it. It’s nice and simple.

Lisette:  Yeah, the art of creating something simple for people to find the information that they need. Right.

Toby Newman:  Exactly what we’re trying to in one of the ways we’re doing it. And the other way is to create videos and creates, I suppose videos, interviews if getting leaders getting SMEs to get their knowledge and meet, show people how important it is to be self-developed, how they did it, because a lot of people learn by seeing what other people have done not by doing it themselves. And so there’s many different ways that we try and get people to be curious. Now, I hope that kind of answers your question.

Lisette:  Yeah, I think it’s really good. So I’ve written down that you host these nudge trainings on various topics, and you do these every month,

Toby Newman:  The spark sessions are at least every month.

Lisette:  Yeah, okay, least every month, you’ve got easily available resources. So really a big resource library where you’re pointing people in the right direction, MOOCs, these massive online courses, and then videos and interviews that you supply people on various subjects. So it sounds like there’s a lot of resources available. Now, before we started, we were talking about how a lot of companies buy these huge platforms where you can-

Toby Newman:  Yeah learning experience platforms.

Lisette:  Right and I think I like cross knowledge is maybe one of them and I don’t know what some of the other popular

Toby Newman:  You’ve got Cornerstone is basically the biggest and baddest of the lot. But they’re more traditional LMS is learning management system. The next generation is called LXPs learning experience platforms, and what they do, so and LMS I call it a dumping ground. I know it’s not a dumping ground, but I kind of, you know, it’s simply a place where learning takes place. So you put your, for those who are in L&D know, what a SCORM file is, is basically an E learning module that allows you to interact with it and links and all that kind of stuff. So there is, basically you can take an E-learning and kind of that’s about it, an LXP not only allows you to do the learning, but it incorporates machine learning, so chatbots will kind of pop up and say, ‘oh, you’ve taken this course. So you’ll probably like this course and your colleague in your same level likes this, you also might be like this,’ well also things like it will come up and say, ‘I see you took a learning last week, was it good? Did you enjoy it? What did you ask from it?’ It’s, it’s not an interactive, but its reminders, and then it will embed the social learning element of it. So I strongly believe that you actually learn more from the social elements rather than from natural knowledge itself, because it’s actually taking information from other people. And it then it brings in MOOCs in different areas where it’s like an umbrella of experiments, and very much personal and bespoke to you. But getting back to your point in terms of kind of what you why these platforms are about, is, I’m not saying they’re bad. So I want to kind of start over saying they’re not bad thing. It’s just I believe that people who buy them are buying them too early. And again, I don’t mean any disrespect to anybody that’s bought because they are very expensive, and they’re very useful. But one thing they don’t help with, or at least can’t help as detailed with is the mindset. You need to get the mindset, right first is the kind of pillars that we’ve been talking about. And once you get that in place, the platform is then a lovely add on. It’s a lovely place then to organize all your thoughts and everything. But you can’t just and this is a mistake so many companies make is they release a new platform and go, ‘yay, we’ve got this,’ and then it kind of falls apart. I’m going to give you an example of, of our company, not saying they made a mistake. But when we released Yammer, we had nothing like it before that, we didn’t have any time where you could communicate with each other online, it was emails, and that was it. So they launched and said ‘look great, we’ve got this lovely new platform.’ And they kind of did a bit of training. But what they missed was that why are we doing this? Why do you need this kind of element? And giving like a going back to that kind of house analogy is that they just gave us the house and said, ‘there you go,’ and it didn’t kind of say, ‘well, here are some walls, here is the roof, here’s the foundation here where you could put your rooms, here’s some ideas. Now let’s kind of help each other. They just kind of left people to it. And what we found is that a lot of people don’t use Yammer in this company. A lot of people have either turned it off or just very sparingly use it, because they’re just, it’s not being, you know what I mean? It’s not being built into their habits.

Lisette:  Yeah, well, they don’t know why it’s supposed to help them in some ways, right? Like,

Toby Newman:  Yeah they just see it as another tool, another way for a company to tell you what you’re doing wrong.

Lisette:  Right, right. Right. But if people are already used to working, the way they’re working, even if it’s clunky, even if it’s a little bit painful. It’s still I mean, you see this all the time in conference rooms with spider phones still, right? It’s like it works, its way better than nothing. It’s better than not communicating, it’s better than not having that person in the meeting. But man, it could be so much better.

Toby Newman:   Yeah. And that the key thing is a bounce. Like, so I believe in social learning and I would kind of like I would beg my company to get similar kinds of tools if we didn’t have them. But one of the things that I would need to do is take me out of the equation and think, well, what does the average Joe needs? And why is it good for them? Because when I try to say that the mindset, it’s very hard for somebody that is already got the mindset to think of people that don’t, and I always put the leaders have this struggle in general, not particularly here, but I think in general, people that are already self-developed people that already have that mindset of this is a good thing, struggle, or wonder why the company is struggling or other people are struggling? And they say, ‘oh, you know, like, there’s loads of information out there.’ But what they don’t realize is that you have to kind of give a lot of people a better structure, a bit of kind of why the why you should be doing it, how you doing it. And then kind of let them find their own route. It’s a struggle with that, I think, and it’s not anything leaders doing wrong. It’s just you talk to a leader and they say do ‘how important is self-development?’ ‘Oh God is so important, and I do all the time.’ And then you ask them, so how do you make other people self-developed? And they go, ‘ah they just should be.’

Lisette:  Won’t they do it.

Toby Newman:  Yeah, exactly, I do it its easy. Like yeah, I find it easy.

Lisette:  But another mindset. Yeah, yeah and also people are busy with their jobs. So yeah, so there’s like, ‘hey, I’ve got my work that I’ve got to get done. And you want me to be this learner and you want me to know all the tools and I’m supposed to innovate, like, now I got to go pick my kids up. ‘

Toby Newman:  It’s such an important point because part of the learning culture is basically saying, ‘we’re not going to give you the training, you have to find out yourself.,’ but then a lot of people, like I said, busy people already got all their day work. And then we’re saying, in between all that, go off and do a MOOC for an hour and a half

Lisette:  Or come to this spark session and listen to this expert and they’re like ‘oh man I’ve got this task list.’

Toby Newman:  Exactly my priorities. Like I had a conversation with my colleagues yesterday about Toastmasters. It’s a great organization if your listeners haven’t heard of it, it allows a safe space for people to practice both their presentation skills but also their feedback skills because they’re both is important. And which we were talking about a Toastmasters event. And one of the things Toastmasters have done as they’ve gone online. So it used to be that to progress through the Toastmasters peers, you had a book, and you actually had to kind of physically read the book. Now it’s all online and it kind of you say, if you want to watch the E-learning, knock yourself out. And one of my colleagues said I don’t have the time. I’ve got meetings to do and all that kind of stuff. And I just turned around to me, I was a bit annoyed, I must admit and I said, ‘so you prioritize your work over your learning?’ He said, ‘no, no, I’m I’ve done at the time.’ It’s like if you felt development your self-development was important you’d prioritize that. Its true mean, I’m-

Lisette:  And we all have the same number of hours in the day.

Toby Newman:  Exactly I mean I’m a recent father. And I must admit it’s been a bit of a struggle, my wife and I know we’ve had a bit of a struggle in terms of not health or anything, but just kind of getting into the rhythm of being a father and stuff. And she quite rightly said you because I’m used to maybe it’s a London thing of like, just you, you work. You just work and work and work until the products done. In the Netherlands, it’s very much you work at five and you go and that was a struggle for me. And she said, ‘it’s all about your priorities. What do you prioritize your work, or your new family,’ and like, ‘you got a good point.’

Lisette:  When you put it that way?

Toby Newman:  I never thought of it as prioritize I just thought it’s like I’m doing work but now that you know that since she told me that I’m like, you’re absolutely right. So now, I like do stuff, but not necessarily at five o’clock, but I kind of now I consciously make that difference. I know. I mean, I could talk for hours about I have a new kind of training that I do about habit breaking and conscious and unconscious and stuff, but I won’t go into it. But watch this space for my first kind of my next call.

Lisette:  Yeah I’ll be linking to the YouTube channel where people can subscribe. And we’re definitely running out of time but I want to ask you one more thing. No, it’s jam-packed. I have a whole notebook full of notes here. But I want to talk about virtual trainings because as part of the spark session, you taught me a few things about how to do trainings online that make them more engaging. So I wanted to know because I still see To this day, all the webinars that I attend, it’s just a voice and some slides and the slides are full of bullet points with like eight-point font and basically the speaker is just reading me a slide for an hour. Yeah, and you know, and usually if I sign up for a webinar, I’m watching it live but if I were watching a video I two and a half times, you know, like Let’s get this party started, I got things to do. And it’s just sort of the wrong way of doing online trading. So we do, what can we do?

Toby Newman:  So I mean, again, I could talk for hours and hours, but to keep

Lisette:  You’ve got two minutes,

Toby Newman:    Very simply, first of all, it’s putting engagement into E-learning Virtual Learning webinars for the benefit of the viewer, not because you want somebody to learn something, so I actually don’t like gamification, I actually hate it, because it’s, it turns trainers into laziness. And I get a lot of stick for that and I know there’s going to be a lot of people get our as you know, because to me, is that all gamification does is make a training. So there’s your training, you add in a bit of quiz or something, and that’s supposed to make the training better. One you just make this bit better and more engaging than you don’t need this bit. So the things you can do to make it better make it interactive. So like we sat down and work through your talk. And so we things like you remove slides, have it, some of it that just you and remove the slides, turn on annotation. I think Zoom does annotation. I think not sure if it does.

Lisette:  Yeah, it does.

Toby Newman:    It does, cool. So WebEx doesn’t know a lot. I think GoToeeting, I think all of the tools, do annotation but learn how to use annotations. So it allows you to kind of draw circles around things, and we use

Lisette:  Everybody can right? Like every attendee can, so for instance, so that everybody can visualize this. We had an opening slide that said, ‘hey, we’re going to be starting the session in five minutes, or whatever the time was, please say hello. Using the annotation and people went nuts. Oh, it was crazy. People had various languages, they’ve drawn other people’s pictures. I mean, I was amazed at how many people were actually paying attention and you something and doing something creative.

Toby Newman:  Yeah. And I must say, I’m not going to take credit for by inventing that. But what I’ve done and gone back to your question about how did I get these ideas is that I basically went to these events, but I went to other webinars, and basically watch them and go, I like that bit on Nick it and I’m going to use that but also adapt it. So they use annotation a different way, I got all, but if I use it, and I could do it this way, and I could do it that way. So you kind of build on those ideas. So that’s kind of one way is to make it more engaging, not just by putting in a poll or something, but think of different ways that you can make it and maybe think of like, how would I do this face to face? And what could that look like in a virtual environment? So I think we talked about the fact that icebreakers in an in a face to face event you get somebody standing up and doing an icebreaker, you can still do that virtually and one of the things I do is I do hand gestures. So if I want to do an icebreaker with you, sorry, I want you to say ‘hello, where are you from?’ And give me a hand gesture. Not a rude one, but a hand gesture. And it could be like I’ve done that… and then we’ll do is you-

Lisette:  Yeah like-

Toby Newman:  Yeah, yeah, everybody recreates that, and you get everybody kind of doing weird things. I’ve seen you’re like part of virtual parties and stuff, where you put on music and dance, there’s many different ways you can do it. But the only other thing I wanted to add to that is you mentioned about the videos afterwards, the recordings afterwards. And this is one thing that I’ve tried to get more and more these companies to do is that rather than just take a webinar, as a standard recording, and then dump it on a site somewhere and go, there you go, is nothing worse than listening to other people fumble around, saying ‘hello is my audio on,’ and doing interactive exercises when you’re not there. It is the worst thing in the world and this is what I do. Exactly it’s like, gosh, I’m sitting there for five minutes waiting for somebody to draw a picture, which is great if you’re actually drawing it, but I don’t care. Right so with your videos, I think ours was about an hour long. I then spent a better time cutting up the videos, cutting out the annotation areas, because that doesn’t matter to an online person and making it nuggets or some people who the microlearning we call them nuggets doesn’t matter. If you’re breaking it up and you’re thinking, what would be useful now to the recorded audience to my non-live audience because it there’s two different audiences they’re asking me that would be the most my kind of last point is to think not just to your laziness or my laziness as a trainer is what’s useful for my learner, my audience and then pitch to them.

Lisette:  Brilliant, brilliant way to end this, which is one of the things that I learned from Zig Ziglar. Was it whenever you’re making sales or whenever you’re doing something for something, you have to listen to WII FM radio?

Toby Newman:  Yeah I will tune in to WII-

Lisette:  Yeah. But it’s really because when you say something like join my webinar, nobody cares about your webinar, what they care about is what are you going to get when you join the webinars? So you can say like twenty tips for better virtual learning, and not join my webinar. I mean, that’s so you always have to speak and what’s in it for them.

Toby Newman:  In fact when I was advertising yours to our in house audience it’s like ‘come join Lisette.’ They’re like who?

Lisette:  Yeah who’s Lisette?

Toby Newman:  But it’s like, you ever wanted to… what tools are out there for virtual learning? You wonder, ever wondered how you can improve your experience with your highly diverse colleagues like, Oh, yeah and so if you want to find more, come join us.

Lisette:  Right.

Toby Newman:   I think I learned that God I must have done that about fifteen years ago I heard and I thought that just clicked me and from evermore I’ve always said, tune into WII FM.

Lisette:  Yeah, it’s I only heard it a few years ago, but I wish I had heard it fifteen years ago because it’s helped my marketing in a significant-

Toby Newman:  Again I never thought I’d come up with these things. It’s always just I’ve found-

Lisette:  Yeah, that’s, that’s-

Toby Newman:  It’s like a new dance move.

Lisette:  Yeah, totally. We could come up with a new dance, so for those who are listening, we’re doing-

Toby Newman:  Stupid things.

Lisette:  Because it’s more fun, virtual. Okay, so I’ve kept you on way too long already. But thank you so much for all the information you’ve given today. One final question is if people want to learn more about you, what’s the best way to find you?

Toby Newman:  LinkedIn easiest way, I think it’s like you LinkedIn/theneverendinglearner. So

Lisette:  And I’ll link to it in the show notes also. So people who are listening, don’t worry. It’s all there but yeah, definitely link.

Toby Newman:  Yeah there’s a link to my TEDx talk on there. There’s a link to my YouTube videos. If you want to see me on YouTube, it’s just a never-ending learner. If you Google search that, that will come up as well, so yeah.

Lisette:  Yeah, great, so we’ll make that easy to find. Thank you so much for your time and your knowledge. I really appreciate it. Until next time, everybody, be powerful.

Toby Newman:  Thank you very much.


Work Together Anywhere Workshop by Collaboration Superpowers


Get access to our complete virtual team icebreakers to jazz up your next online meeting or workshop!

Success! Check your inbox to download your virtual icebreakers!