Why I Love to Hate Professional Development

Posted on Jan 27, 2013 | Comments Off on Why I Love to Hate Professional Development

By: Kendall Wheeler

What does it mean to love to hate something? I love a clean house, but I hate scrubbing the toilet. I love eating delicious meals, but spending my time cooking and preparing food is not high on my list of fun activities. Whatever you love to hate is the necessary evil that you have to struggle through to reach happiness.

Career-wise, professional development is on the top of my love-to-hate list. Not all professional development is created equal. Some is beneficial and worth every second of my time, but other learning experiences only teach me to avoid the like in the future.

My biggest challenge with professional development is that it’s far from targeted exactly to my current needs. If you are like me, a learner, you probably think that every single opportunity to learn something new will be beneficial. Not the case.

Why I Love to Hate Professional Development

Webinars are horrible

1. Nothing is really free.
Have you ever signed up for a webinar touting that it will deliver clarity in something you know nothing about, let’s say reaching customers through the mobile Facebook application? You spend an hour of your time listening to the webinar only to exit out of the screen feeling like you didn’t learn anything applicable? Ninety-nine percent of the webinars I have participated in have been a mass sales-call with 20 minutes of industry statistics followed with a brief Q&A series where every answer begins with “Our product will help you with this because…”.

Bottom Line – Don’t tell me I need to know all about mobile Facebook because there are 604 million mobile Facebook users who are potential customers; tell me how to reach those people in the most effective way possible, with the resources I have. Talk to me about your product after you have discussed the basics of what I can do to get started.

2. Information Overload
Twenty different marketing blog email subscriptions will not make me better at my job. It will just make other people think I’m really important when I complain about my unread email count.


Bottom Line – Be choosy with what information you receive. If you are interested in learning more about search engine marketing, Google “best search engine marketing blogs” and peruse their content. Only subscribe to two or three and then evaluate if reading their blog posts is worth your time after a few weeks.

PS – If you aren’t currently subscribed to any marketing/business blogs, Seth Godin’s is a great resource.

3. Too Broad
Most professional development is broad, which can be both good and bad. It’s good because it allows the teacher/speaker/blogger/salesperson to reach as many people as possible, which can start a lot of meaningful conversations. It’s bad because I need to know what will help me succeed in connecting with customers in Lubbock, TX.

Bottom Line – Start where you are with what you know. Also, you’re not reinventing the wheel. For ideas, look at what others are doing and then brainstorm your own.

The hard-to-see beauty of professional development is that it will help you craft your own plan even if you are never given a step-by-step set of instructions.

I’m still skeptical of webinars, though.