A Quick-Start Guide to Self-Service Learning

UPDATED: August 15, 2019
PUBLISHED: August 15, 2019
Self Service Learning
“In times of change, learners inherit the Earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.” –Eric Hoffer

We are now in an era of self-service learning. No longer can we wait for learning and development opportunities to be handed to us from above. We must decide to serve ourselves and level up every single day.

About two years ago, the CEO of AT&T, Randall Stephenson, made a big splash when he charged his employees to spend hours per week—outside of their 40 hours—on self-service learning. He said, “People who do not spend five to 10 hours a week in online learning, will obsolete themselves with the technology.”

His message to employees was that they must now begin to see themselves as the owners of their ongoing learning and development. This advice isn’t just for employees of big tech companies—it’s for everyone. Changes in technology affect the entire marketplace—which touches each and every working person.

The great news is there are more free and low-cost ways to engage in self-service learning than ever before.

  • You can not only check out physical books with a library card now, but you can download apps like Libby and rent audiobooks straight to your phone—without ever stepping foot into the library.
  • There are more than 700,000 active podcasts available right now and more than 29 million podcast episodes. The vast majority of these are free!
  • An app called Smartly delivers business classes directly to your phone. They even offer their own MBA programs.
  • An app called Instaread provides summaries of books you can listen to or read in just 15 minutes.

To launch self-service learning for yourself, start with just 15 minutes per day. That 15 minutes per day can start with a five-minute podcast, a five-minute audiobook and five minutes of writing in your journal about what you learned.

That learning compounds over time—days become weeks, weeks become months, months become years—and builds into something meaningful over time. Suddenly, you find yourself in the future you created by serving yourself with the best learning day by day.

For example, as a speaker, talent got me in the door, but it was not enough to scale my career to new heights. I had to take it upon myself to hire a coach. I had to learn how to write a book. I had to figure out what tweeting was all about. It didn’t happen overnight. Conversation by conversation, step by step, I did those learning reps every day. Over time, that learning compounded and built into a career I could never have dreamed of.

That’s true for the most successful people I know. There are no overnight successes—only hard-won, compounded learning that becomes visible over time.

Here is a quick-start guide to self-service learning:

1. Identify which learning objectives are most crucial for you to learn right now. 

2. Pinpoint 1-3 resources you can access TODAY.

3. Spend 15 minutes each day working through those resources.

4. Repeat.

Related: How to Use the Classroom Mindset to Experience Significant Change

Simon T. Bailey is an international speaker, writer and personal transformation strategist. He is the author of Shift Your Brilliance: Harness the Power of You, Inc., and Be the SPARK: Five Platinum Service Principles for Creating Customers for Life. When he’s not working, he enjoys rooting for the Buffalo Bills (his hometown team).