Fresh Knowledge: Use It Or Lose It

Twenty years ago, when the internet was starting to become integral to business, there were plenty of people who thought trade shows could easily become obsolete. Why would anyone want to fly to a destination, stay in a hotel and walk miles around a show floor to see new products when they could just pull up a virtual trade show on their computer? It didn’t take long for people to realize that an online encounter could never replace the full and heady experience of attending a trade show. 

In the decades since, trade shows have further expanded their reign as the premier opportunity to discover fresh sources, see and learn about new products and snap up samples to take home.

The PPAI Expo is that and so much more. If you were among the thousands who attended this year’s show in January, chances are you also attended at least one education session, too. More than 125 programs were offered throughout the five-day show featuring dozens of outstanding speakers, experts and business leaders from inside and outside the industry.

The knowledge you gained in those sessions may have been invigorating and eye-opening, but now, back at work two months later, are you putting what you learned into practice? Do you even remember what you heard?   

While at Expo I spoke with industry veteran Joel Schaffer, MAS, CEO at supplier SoundLine, LLC and a former PPAI board member, who has been a popular education speaker at PPAI shows for decades. He spoke about how difficult it is for people to implement what they’ve learned when they get back to their day-to-day routine.

He told me they may leave the session totally committed and intending to act, but when they get back to work, other business priorities take over and what was learned is lost. Sound familiar? A report by Lever Learning backs up Schaffer’s comment: 80 percent of learning is wasted because people rarely transfer what they have learned in training to the workplace. 

So, you came, you listened, you learned. Now don’t lose it. Schaffer shares these useful tips to help you overcome the challenge of implementation:

  • Teach what you have learned. As soon as possible, spend some time explaining what you learned to someone else. By explaining it, the information is not only clarified in your mind, it bonds better in your memory. It’s like reading your notes out loud and taking the time to truly process the data input and how it applies to you. 
  • Have a repository for your notes, handouts and data. Know where it can be found and referenced. Data/notes must be clean and succinct. Obtain and attach any handouts.
  • Note the speaker and contact information. You will be surprised how accessible speakers will be to your later inquiries. They will also welcome your success stories and even failures. In many cases, this contact from you is their only reward.
  • Use an app such as Evernote as your information repository.
  • Create a plan for what you want to accomplish with your new knowledge and how you are going to make it happen.
  • Minimize the quantity of new learning you want to execute. Therefore, you will maximize the probability of getting something done. Less is more.
  • Prioritize what you want to accomplish with what you’ve learned by using quadrants. An image is truly worth a thousand words.
  • Write a promissory note to yourself about what you want to accomplish and put it where you can see it daily. 
  • Work first on things you need to do, not what you wish to do. It’s a triage of what you learned. For example, if your real problem is time management, put that ahead of prospecting for new business.
  • Finally, to be a better you, ask yourself how you could have been better prepared for learning so that next time you can hit the ground running.

Tina Berres Filipski is editor of PPB.