Establishing a Habit of Learning

In 5 Steps

Establishing a Habit of Learning

5 Ideas for Supporting Employee Learning

to Empower Your Learners

5 Ideas for Supporting Employee Learning

6 Ways to Learn When Your Interests Are Always Changing

6 Ways to Learn When Your Interests Are Always Changing
Never, Ever Give Up

“You can chase your dreams at any age; you’re never too old.”

Those were the words uttered from the swollen mouth of 64-year old Diana Nyad as she stumbled out of the ocean and into the record books after a grueling 53-hour swim in 2013.

The span between Cuba and Florida is an elusive stretch of water: 110 miles through the home sharks, the volatile Gulf Stream, and the most venomous creature in the ocean, the box jellyfish. No wonder those 110 miles have sent the greatest swimmers in the world packing since 1950. It wasn’t until 1997 that Susie Maroney finally made it from shore to shore. But even then, the accomplishment came with an asterisk: she did it with the safety of a shark cage.

Fast forward to 2010. Diana Nyad was determined to do Susie one better: she wanted to be the first to complete the swim without a cage.

Record-Breaking Beginnings

In 1978, Nyad was at the top of her game. Three years earlier she broke the record for the fastest swim around Manhattan Island by almost a full hour. Now she was going for the elusive Cuba to Florida swim. Though she swam inside the safety of a shark cage, the barreling waves and jellyfish stings became too much. Her team realized it was a lost cause and got her out of the water.

Then, just a year later, at the age of 30, she broke the open-ocean world record (102 miles) by swimming from the Bahamas to Florida. And she did it without a shark cage. After securing that major accomplishment, she decided to hang up her swim cap (or whatever you do with swim caps). Nyad had officially retired from swimming.

Just Keep Swimming

 It wasn’t until her mother died almost 30 years later—shortly before Nyad’s 60th birthday—that she began to reevaluate her life goals. She didn’t want to accept that her life had already been summed up. That’s when she decided to awaken her long-dormant dream of swimming from Cuba to Florida.

After intense training, Nyad was ready to go for broke. In 2011 her dream was cut short after just 29 hours in the water. A severe asthma attack, chills, and dehydration ultimately became too much to push through. She thought her dream was over. Little did she know she would still have to give it three more tries.

Her next attempt was only six weeks later. Things seemed to be going better than they had previously until she felt a pain like she was “dipped in hot burning oil,” and her “body [was] in flames.” A swarm of the deadly box jellyfish had attacked her. An EMT from her team jumped in to help but got stung in the process and had to get back in the boat. After what had to be an unbelievably excruciating experience treading water until the pain dissipated enough to endure, she continued swimming. Not long after, she was attacked again. At this point, she was on the verge of losing her life. The crew had to pull her from the water in order to save her.

Not deterred in the least, Nyad set out again a year later. She wasn’t going to lose to a jellyfish. This time she wore a protective mask, but the jellyfish again proved to be a formidable foe. The tentacles had found the only exposed spot on her face, her mouth. Still able to swim, Nyad pushed on. However, during this attempt, the heavens proved to be the most problematic. A massive storm circled overhead and churned the ocean waters. Nyad was stubborn and opted to continue through the storm. It wasn’t until lightning threatened the safety of her crew that she relented and got in the boat.

Fifth Time’s The Charm

In spite of endurance experts, neurologists, and even her own crew telling her it was impossible, Nyad stayed focused. She was not going to be conquered again.

She enlisted the help of the leading expert in box jellyfish and created a mask that would protect her entire face. The mask had a mouthpiece with two bite plates to defend her mouth from jellyfish tentacles. However, the mouthpiece wasn’t perfect, and she swallowed a lot of ocean water because of it. The salt made her throat swell and upset her stomach causing her to vomit. Which is pretty annoying when you’re trying to swim 110 miles, but at least it was better than dying from jellyfish stings.

At night, the crew couldn’t use lights because light attracts sharks and jellyfish. In the pitch black of night, Nyad’s crew relied only on the sound of her arms slapping the water to know she was still there. In those lonely, dark hours, she would sing songs to herself to keep her mind occupied.

Nyad was in the water for 53 hours straight. When she finally reached the shore, physically exhausted and elated at finally realizing her goal, she had three things to say to the crowd that had gathered:

1. Never, ever give up.
2. You can chase your dreams at any age; you’re never too old.
3. It looks like the most solitary endeavor in the world, but it’s a team.


Nyad’s words are a fresh reminder that no hour of our life should be wasted, and that no one can accomplish anything great alone.

In a TEDWomen talk from 2013, Nyad had the following to say about her accomplishment:

“It wasn’t so much about the athletic accomplishment. It wasn’t the ego of ‘I want to be the first,’ that’s always there and it’s undeniable. It was deeper. It was ‘how much life is there left?’ Let’s face it; we’re all on a one-way street. What are we going to do as we go forward to have no regrets looking back?”

What are you going to do to move forward with no regrets?

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Humble beginnings, unflinching determination, and a dog named Butkus.

Most people have seen the 1976 film, Rocky—which took home three Academy Awards including best picture. Even if you haven’t seen it, it’s likely you have seen at least one of the myriad training montages mimicking the original montage from the film. Though the film has resonated with millions of people, the story of the man behind it all, Sylvester Stallone, is just as moving.

While enduring a rough childhood with his younger brother Frank, Stallone found himself in a high school for troubled youth. After that he bounced around to two different colleges and eventually dropped out to pursue acting.

As is the fate of many aspiring actors, Stallone had a rough time landing anything substantial. To support himself while he pursued his dream, he bounced around doing odd jobs and even took a role in an adult film.

In 1974 he had a small stroke of luck co-starring in The Lords of Flatbush. However, the film wasn’t much of a success, and Stallone became frustrated by his seemingly endless stream of rejections. Fueled by his frustration and the fact that he was teetering on the edge of poverty, Stallone decided to focus more of his time on writing screenplays.

It was during this time that Stallone came up with the concept for Rocky. In 1975, lowly boxer, Chuck Wepner, stepped into the ring with The Greatest, Muhammad Ali. Wepner was physically outmatched but mentally prepared. Wepner took hit after hit for all 15 rounds—ultimately succumbing to a TKO in the final round. Stallone watched the whole fight play out. He was mesmerized and inspired by Wepner’s determination.

”I was watching the fight in a movie theater, and I said to myself, ‘Let’s talk about stifled ambition and broken dreams and people who sit on the curb looking at their dreams go down the drain.’ I thought about it for a month. That’s what I call my inspiration stage. Then I let it incubate for 10 months.”

After his self-appointed incubation stage, Stallone got to work. Stallone wrote the entire first draft of the Rocky screenplay in just 3 1/2 days.

“I’d get up at 6 A.M. and write it by hand, with a Bic pen on lined notebook sheets of paper. Then my wife, Sasha, would type it. She kept saying, ‘You’ve gotta do it, you’ve gotta do it. Push it, Sly, go for broke.”’

Once his writing was finished, Stallone began shopping his new screenplay around. He knew he had a hot story when he began fielding six-figure offers.

He turned the first offer down because the producers wanted a big-name actor to play the role. Stallone was adamant about playing the role of Rocky, and to him not being able to star in his film was a deal breaker. It was his way or bust.

To give a little depth into the magnitude of his decision, at the time his wife was pregnant, and he had next to nothing in the bank. Eventually he was offered up to $265,000—still with the caveat that he couldn’t play the lead.

He turned that down too.

While he waited for a producer that would work with him, he began to make sacrifices in other areas of his life. In what had to be one his lowest points, Stallone sold his bullmastiff, Butkus, to a perfect stranger. He tied the dog up at a store with a sign that said “100 bucks”. He got $50 for him.

Ironically, Stallone finally sold the screenplay not a week later to two producers who would let him star in the film. He sold it for much less than he had been offered before, but he got a 10% stake in the earnings. He immediately tracked down the guy who bought his dog. The guy gave him the business and had no intention of selling the dog back. Stallone eventually had to pay $3000 to get ol’ Butkus back. Fun fact: both Butkus and the guy who almost didn’t sell the dog back appeared in the film.

Looking back, Stallone says he never would have settled for the money without the leading role:

”I never would have sold it. I told my wife that I’d rather bury it in the back yard and let the caterpillars play ‘Rocky.’ I would have hated myself for selling out, the way we hate most people for selling out. My wife agreed, and said she’d be willing to move to a trailer in the middle of a swamp if need be.”

Though the movie was shot in 28 days with a budget of only $1 million, the film brought in over $117 million in the domestic box office. From his humble beginnings to his first big hit, Stallone went on to become the only man alive with a No. 1 box-office hit in five consecutive decades.

Stallone had a dream and an unyielding desire to achieve it. Unrelenting in his determination not to sell out, he eventually found himself at the top of Hollywood. You can tell a lot about a person who can turn down a large sum of money while struggling to even put food on the table. But Stallone knew he was more than just a writer: he was a star.

And the moral of the story, in the words of Stallone himself (speaking on the film in an interview from 1976) is:

“If nothing else comes out of that film in the way of awards and accolades, it will still show that an unknown quantity, a totally unmarketable person, can produce a diamond in the rough, a gem.


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There is a legend of a Persian king who asked his wise men to come up with a sentence that would offer him good counsel in all times and situations. According to the legend they provided him with a ring, inscribed with the words “This too shall pass.” With this simple phrase, the king would be comforted in bad times, and humbled in good times.

This advice is great counsel that is often forgotten. In my experience, most people have a tendency to project their current situation into the future indefinitely. When things are bad, we feel they will never improve and when they are good, we tend to believe we have it made from here on out. This may seem like a relatively innocuous quirk of human nature, but its effects can be debilitating.

The Bad Times Don’t Last

My junior year of college, I almost dropped one of my majors (I dual-majored). I had had it up to here with Political Science. I was bored with my classes and my research and, as a consequence, I wasn’t performing up to my standards. I figured this meant that studying or working in political science would always be boring and unfulfilling, so I could see no reason to keep with it. I can’t remember what kept me from quitting (it was probably aversion to the idea of starting over with a new major) but ultimately I did stick it through, which is good because I quickly returned to loving the subject matter.

I had confused a mood for something bigger, and forgotten that it would pass. Things get better and then they get worse and then they get better again. Our interest in subject matters waxes and wanes. In our bad times we often forget this. We believe things will persist in their current state in perpetuity, which can cause us to abandon things that ultimately bring us happiness.

The Good Times Don’t Last

Additionally, the delusion that things will always be great can also be damaging. In the book Engineering Happiness, authors Rakesh Sarin and Manel Baucells define happiness as reality minus expectations. Happiness can be lowered just as much by inflated expectations as by a poor experience. When we start into a particularly interesting field we often fail to account for the fact that it will not always remain so all the time.

I was talking with a friend who works in the field and for the exact company that he had always dreamed of. Unfortunately, he has recently been feeling a sort of boredom and malaise at work. He asked me, “What do you do when you’re bored with your dream job?” I couldn’t think of an answer on the spot, but the more I think about it, I think my answer would be “You keep working. Things will get better.”

The Best Advice For Any Situation


Making Grounded Decisions

My mom likes to tell a story about going through a tough time when she was a teen. She can’t remember what she was sad about but something had set her off and she was crying her eyes out in her room. My grandpa with his usual wit and Irish wisdom poked his head through the door and said “It’s just weather of the soul, honey.” He understood that it would pass.

When making career and education decisions, it is important to make decisions based on the things that never or rarely change, rather than the weather. The one question I always try to ask myself before making a decision is “Did I feel this way one month ago? If not, what has changed?” Always gut check yourself before making a big decision to make sure you’re not making a long-term decision based on a short-term mood because, after all, this too shall pass.


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Innovation is a lot like learning. It works best when it’s just part of how you work . Here’s how BP shifted its learning culture, practices and infrastructure from courses to resources.

The Challenge:

In 2011, BP’s Director of Learning Innovation and Technology, Nick Shackleton-Jones, noticed that the energy giant’s onboarding program — which revolved around eight hours of e-learning courses — wasn’t actually getting new hires integrated into the company. Many felt “thrown in the deep end,” and very few completed the modules. One group told him that only 15% of what they knew came from formal training. So he started to explore how people really learn. His conclusion? “People aren’t data squirrels. They don’t work by hoarding knowledge. Rather, they look for guidance when they need it.”

The Innovation:

That realization changed everything. In 2012, BP began approaching its new employee onboarding in some radical new ways:

First, BP stopped developing conventional e-learning. “No one goes out and searches for an e-learning course,” Shackleton-Jones explains. “People go out and search for useful web sites and videos.” So he and his team started to replace courses with new kinds of resources designed to help people get up to speed more successfully, in specific moments of need — for example, step-by-step how-to guides, articles, videos featuring advice from BP employees and executives, and games, infographics and animations. A simple checklist ended up being the most popular content in the induction process.

Second, BP bypassed their LMS. Shackleton-Jones and his team wanted the solutions they came up with to be, “solutions that people choose to use …indistinguishable in quality from the best that our people see every day in their lives as consumers.” So BP designed and built an open, user-friendly portal, Discover BP, to make the content and the experience, “as simple as possible and as accessible as possible.” And they did it with a team that included marketing professionals, social media specialists, user experience designers, and digital agencies and game design studios — not just established e-learning vendors.

Finally, BP is encouraging and empowering its workers to learn like honey bees; to engage with resources, not just consume them. That’s no easy task. “Most people come to an environment like that because of what they can take, not what they can contribute,” Shackleton-Jones says. To attract learners and inspire them to contribute, he and his team started by pollinating Discover BP with 900 videos featuring BP staff from all around the business. “We’re not just pushing stuff out,” he  points out. “We’re actually taking their expertise and their learning and bringing it to a central point where it can benefit everybody.”


The Impact:

Discover BP has has attracted 170,000+ visits and close to a million page views since it was launched, making it the most heavily used learning content at BP. In fact, its use has spread beyond new starters. Existing staff are  leveraging the resources there to move into new roles within the company, too. Just as importantly, Shackleton-Jones says, “it showed that you could do something really quite different with online learning, and that did not have to be a miserable, cheap option. It got lots of people really excited.

That, in turn, has given BP’s learning team the credibility and the confidence to invest £2m in radically overhauling the way the company develops its 25,000 business leaders and managers. The company’s new “SatNav for leadership” initiative is extending the ideas behind Discover BP with a whole new series of portals, simulations and apps inspired by Nike’s FuelBand fitness trackers. By targeting advice, information, practice, connections and feedback at major career transition points, Shackleton-Jones and his team are now aiming to reduce the time it takes to get BP’s future leaders ready for their next roles.


The Takeaways:

Here are three things you can learn from BP’s new approach to learning:

  • Be a bold, decisive leader. To lead innovation, you have to take some risks. Stop doing things that don’t make sense to make room for the ones that do. Push your team to challenge the usual conventions. Inspire them to value utility as much as instruction.
  • Put informal learning first. Start by asking people, “how can we help you do your job?” — not “what should we teach you?”. Design content and experiences that help them solve their work problems. Think more like guidebooks and less like textbooks.
  • Experiment, learn, then operationalize what works. Work with new kinds of people and different kinds of partners. Try new things. And stay agile. Learn from your mistakes and invest behind what does work to scale up your successes.


Your Turn:

BP is not a Degreed client, but we really admire their learner-first attitude, their audacity and their ability to really — truly — reinvent how learning works for their workforce. How is your L&D organization innovating?

Degreed is a next generation continuous learning platform that can help you put learners first and leverage the entire learning ecosystem. Click here to start making the shift.

No emails, large amounts of money, or begging required

Having mentors is a game changer. People can confuse “mentors” to mean learning from some old guy who speaks only in proverbs. Mentors can be anyone who has been in similar shoes before, gained experience, and can help you on your journey. Roy H. Williams had a great quote;

“A smart man makes a mistake, learns from it, and never makes that mistake again. But a wise man finds a smart man and learns from him how to avoid the mistake altogether.”

This is why professional athletes consistently reach out to veterans for advice. Mentors alone can potentially save the rising athletes years of mistakes and failures.


Veteran Hakeem Olajuwon coaching NBA Star Dwight Howard

But how do you get a mentor? And why would they want to help a random person like you?

This is the question that I’ve been trying to solve for the last three years. To my luck, I’m extremely grateful to have successful entrepreneurs like James Altucher, Tim Ferriss, and Pat Flynn as some of my mentors.

What’s my secret? Simple. I read their books. I listen to their podcasts. I consume their work.

Another illusion about mentorship is that the “mentor” has to be right by the “mentee” holding their hand. But if a mentor is someone who has been in similar shoes and is willing to help you out, aren’t books and podcasts technically a form of “mentorship”?

Take James Altucher as an example. He is a famous investor, author, and entrepreneur most known for his authentic writing style. James has over 20+ years of experience over me in areas like business, writing, and life. I’ve consumed a significant amount of James Altucher’s work including his most recent book, The Choose Yourself Guide To Wealth

That book single handedly inspired me to develop a daily practice and improve myself in four main areas of my life: Emotionally, Physically, Mentally, and Spiritually. James’ Podcast Episode 21 titled, College Is A Scam, was the tipping point for me to drop out of school. Ep. 23 with Steve Scott, an author of over 40 e-books, sparked my interest to write my first book which is up on Amazon right now! Ep. 90 with Jack Canfield, co-author of Chicken Soup for the Soul, helped me reflect on my life identify what I truly wanted in life.

What mentors can offer

When a prolific author writes a book (or appears on a podcast) and distills their knowledge into a condensed piece of art, it’s time to pay attention! I would even argue a few life-changing books would be more useful than an entire year of college classes. My favorites are:

How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie

The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph by Ryan Holiday

The Happiness of Pursuit: Finding the Quest That Will Bring Purpose to Your Life by Chris Guillebeau

On top of consuming their work, I took it a step further and started my own podcast. This gave me a chance to interview brilliant people every week including, Charlie Hoehn (Former Director of Special Projects for Tim Ferriss), Ryan Porter (Tech Entrepreneur & Youth Speaker), & Dave Fontenot (Hackathon Leader).

You can learn ANYTHING from the BEST people in the industry for less than the cost of your next lunch at Chipotle. Podcasts are free (including starting your own). YouTube is free. Quora, Reddit, or any blog on the internet is free. Online college courses are free! Scott Young got an MIT education at the comfort of his own home. He also made a bunch of MIT students incredibly envious from the amount of money and time he saved. Books are dirt cheap, especially on Kindle. Online Courses are embarrassingly affordable (most are free). Make the world your classroom and keep track of your learning with Degreed!

To say that James Altucher and other mentors had a big impact on me is a huge understatement. Although I never met James, Tim Ferriss, or Pat Flynn in person, their mentorship has been one of the biggest factors in accelerating my learning.

If you want to have your own high-class mentors, start with these three basic steps:

1. Go find 3 people in your space that you admire and want to learn from

2. Consume their work: Books, Podcasts (See if they have been interviewed on other podcasts), Courses, Blogs, Video.

3. Use their advice and take ACTION
Bonus step: Send your new mentors an email telling them how much they have changed your life. They will seriously appreciate you, trust me.


Tam is a speaker, entrepreneur, and podcast host. He writes regularly to his exclusive newsletter at Outside Of The Classroom, hacking the education that school never gave you. You just learned about career planning and personal development, click here to track this article on degreed.

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Photo Source: James Altucher

The following is a tale that some have called one of the most daring rides in history. While Paul Revere’s midnight ride is better known thanks to the words of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Jack Jouett’s midnight ride was absolutely more difficult. Jouett’s story is not only a story of being in the right place at the right time but also a story of taking action.

We can’t will ourselves into situations like Jouett’s, where we are in the right place at the right time. But if and when we do find ourselves in those circumstances, we must make sure we have sufficiently prepared ourselves so that we don’t just sit by idly, afraid that we might fail if we try. Jack Jouett’s experience is a refreshing example of someone with great determination who was ready to act when it mattered most.

The Backstory

Jack Jouett was a captain in the Virginia militia stationed in the Charlottesville area. On the night of June 3, 1781, Jouett was sleeping soundly on the lawn in front of the Cuckoo Tavern. Sometime late that night, the rustle of horsemen drew him out of his slumber. He awoke to find a hefty unit of White Coats: a notorious regiment of British Dragoons led by Colonel Banastre Tarleton. Right time, right place.

Quick Thinking

Jouett was an astute son of a gun, and he quickly anticipated the intentions of the White Coats. Jouett knew that Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry and a slew of other notorious rebels were meeting just 40 miles up the road in Charlottesville at the Virginia General Assembly. At the time, Virginia hadn’t seen much in the way of battle, so most of the able-bodied men were up north with General George Washington. The remaining men in Virginia only added up to a small militia who were not sufficiently equipped to put up a fight against the White Coats.

Jouett knew that if he didn’t take charge and outpace the White Coats to the General Assembly, Tarleton and his men would have an easy victory in Charlottesville. The ride would be extremely risky and very likely impossible.

When Paul Revere mounted his horse in Boston headed toward Lexington, he had roughly 10-12 miles ahead of him on established roads. Jouett had to ride four-times the distance of Revere and he had to do it on rough, Virginia back roads! Assuming Tarleton had advance scouts on the main road to Charlottesville, Jouett couldn’t risk taking the main road at any point of his ride. His only option was to try and beat the White Coats to Charlottesville through the dark, overgrown Virginia backwoods.

In a quote by Virginia Dabney, the difficult obstacles that lay before Jouett were described in eye-opening detail:

“The unfrequented pathway over which this horseman set out on his all-night journey can only be imagined. His progress was greatly impeded by matted undergrowth, tangled bush, overhanging vines and gullies…his face was cruelly lashed by tree limbs as he rode forward and scars said to have remained the rest of his life were the result of lacerations sustained from these low-hanging branches.”

Photo Finish

Though seemingly insurmountable obstacles lay before Jouett, his determination edged him out over the White Coats. He made it to Jefferson’s Monticello home just as the dawn light painted the Virginia landscape. By the time Jefferson and the few Virginia legislators staying at his home made it out, the White Coats weren’t far behind. Once Jouett had alerted Jefferson, he mounted his horse again—bruised, bloody, and exhausted—and rode into Charlottesville to alert the rest of the Virginia Assemblymen.

In 1926, 145 years later, Stuart G. Gibbony, President of the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation, laid to rest any qualms about the significance of Jouett’s historic ride to Charlottesville:

“But for captain Jack Jouett’s heroic ride, there would have been no Yorktown and the Revolutionists would have been only unsuccessful rebels.”

Jouett was truly a man of honor who was motivated by a cause greater than himself. When opportunity came knocking, he gave it everything he had.

Sometimes we have the choice to ride through metaphorical, overgrown backwoods or to go back to sleep. If we choose the road less traveled, and do it for a cause greater than ourselves, we can know that it’s at least worth it to try and possibly fail than to never try at all. I hope we can all take a page from Jouett’s book and live with a little more determination and a little less fear of failure.

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“All my life I’ve looked at words as though I were seeing them for the first time.” -Ernest Hemingway


Choosing the right word is never easy. Whether you’re writing a blog post or arguing conversing with a loved one, the words you select can make or break you. They can accurately express your ideas, or they can muddle things up. And in this age of social media and other digital communication, many of our words are permanently recorded for all the world to misunderstand interpret. Yet most of us continue to pluck the first that come to mind.

With so much riding on the particular words we speak and write, it’s a good idea to reflect every now and then on their importance, their power, their quirks; to behold the myriad ways they are currently being used in society. Sometimes we need to put on our Hemingway glasses and look at words as if we’re seeing them for the first time.

Here’s an eclectic array of content from around the web that will get you thinking about words in a new way .

George Orwell and the Politics of the English Language – If you haven’t read this classic piece, now’s the time. Here are the rules about word usage that Orwell recommends:

  1. Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
  2. Never use a long word where a short one will do.
  3. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
  4. Never use the passive where you can use the active.
  5. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
  6. Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.

What is a word? – If you’re feeling brave, see what the philosophers have to say about words.

Recent Articles

What do Donald Trump and the Pope Have in Common? – Clue: they both like “big” words.

These Words Would Knock Your State Out Of the National Spelling Bee – Here’s a state-by-state rundown of the words people googled for spell check the most during the last year (Arkansas, should we be worried?). For more insight into regional word usage, check out this State-by-State Map of the most unique descriptive words used by online daters.

Musicians with the Most Diverse Vocabularies – Spoiler Alert: The winner by far is Eminem.

How do you speak American? Mostly, just make up words – If you’re a fan of made-up words, you’ll also love this fascinating book by Lizzie Skurnick.

What it’s like to write speeches for a rude, rambling and disgraced politician – Recent review of a book that some think will become a classic on political communication.

Think of “Mullet” as a 1980s Word? It’s Not. – My favorite slang for “mullet”? Kentucky waterfall.

Words jump-start vision, psychologist’s study shows. Even during the first electrical twitches of perception, words are already shaping our vision.

Twitters Knack for New Words – Much praise here for Twitter’s neological invention.

Why Is There So Much Hate for the Word “Moist”? – Finally scientists weigh in on this strange case of “moist” aversion.

Sherbet vs Sherbert – A lot of commenters have weighed in on this debate. What do you think?

Greek crisis: A reader’s guide to puns and portmanteaus

Oxford English Dictionary’s New Words – Well it’s about time that “shizzle” and “koozie” were given official status.

Reference Guides

We’re all familiar with the Oxford Dictionaries, Cambridge Dictionaries, and But sometimes we need a different set of references to guides our word searches. Here are some you should check out.

Urban Dictionary – Crowdsourced online dictionary of slang words.

Pseudo Dictionary – More crowdsourced terms.

Dictionary of American Regional English – The full panoply of American regional words, phrases, and pronunciations.

Online Etymology Dictionary – Best place to discover the origins of English words.

Metaphor Map of English – Shows the metaphorical links between different areas of meaning, and allows us to track metaphorical ways of thinking and expressing ourselves over more than a millennium.

Visual Thesaurus – Offers a floating constellation of related words. Visuwords has a similar. interface.
Acronym Finder – Find out what any acronym, abbreviation, or initialism stands for.
Eggcorn Database – Searchable database of words and phrases that came about from the mishearing or misinterpretation of other words.

All-Vowel Words – The title says it all.

All-Consonant Words – Ditto.

Blogs for Word Nerds

About Words – Best feature: weekly list of possible new words that lets users vote on them.

The Word Detective – Words and language in a humorous vein.

One Letter Words blog – Strange and unusual references from a word genius.

Word Spy – The word lover’s guide to new words.

Literal Minded – Commentary on words by a guy who takes things too literally.

Fritinancy – Names, brands, writing and language from a professional wordworker.

Pain in the English – Discusses all the gray areas of the English language. – The ultimate crossword database. A true word lover’s heaven.

NY Times Wordplay blog – Crossword blog of the New York Times.


The Allusionist – Etymological adventures with Helen Zaltzman in a fortnightly podcast ( My favorite).

A Way With Words – This NPR classic examines language through the lens of history, culture and family.

Lexicon Valley – Podcast about language pet peeves, syntax, etymology and neurolinguistics.


34 Interjections You Should Be Using

79 Common Mispronunciations

107 Regional Slang Words

83 Old Slang Phrases We Should Bring Back

11 Terms for Self-proclaimed Smartypants

Top 10 Words with Bizarre Meanings

39 incorrectly used words that can make you look bad

25 Maps that Explain the English Language

A List of Words about Words

Compendium of Lost Words

Wiki list of English portmanteaux

Most searched for words on Google

Most searched for words by NY Times readers

Palindrome List


You just learned about english, grammar, and pop culture. Get points for this article on Degreed. Catch Jedd McFatter tweeting the most powerful words possible at @ATYPICAL.

Degreed recently hosted a “BrainWeave®” discussion – on “Leveraging the New Learning Ecosystem” – at the Talent Management Exchange conference in Austin, Texas. A group of 25 L&D, talent management and leadership development executives joined us to talk about the opportunities and challenges they see in innovative, new learning solutions. Here are three things they all agreed on:

1. The new learning ecosystem is exciting, but it’s still too complicated.

Learning solutions are more diverse than ever before. There are now at least 690 LMS vendors and more than 1,200 providers of learning content – everything from live and online courses to videos, MOOCs, bootcamps, articles, books, podcasts, webinars, conferences, online communities, games and apps.

All those choices are great for learners, but they are a challenge for L&D and talent leaders. Everyone we spoke to recognizes that workers (including themselves) are embracing new learning options. Only a handful are actually putting them to work, though. Most are still trying to make sense of all these new tools.


2. Change is essential, but it’s also hard. Really hard.

Everyone agreed that learning has to be more effective, more efficient and more closely linked to job performance and career paths. But with persistently tight budgets and small staffs with limited bandwidth, nearly all of them find it difficult to try new things.

Those who have tried agreed that innovative methods and technologies don’t make L&D better, faster or cheaper all by themselves. That requires L&D professionals to think and work differently, too. Unfortunately, most said their teams don’t yet have the familiarity, capabilities or mindsets to really leverage the new ecosystem.

3. To change L&D people, you have to change the L&D people. Literally.

No one we spoke to at TME has it all figured out, but several are beginning to make good progress. In those organizations, changing the way learning and talent management operates is happening through both small, incremental evolutions and bigger, more revolutionary ideas.

Many, for example, are experimenting with novel approaches, like user-generated content, video and curation. Others are updating existing skills and hiring for new expertise — for example, experience design and web and mobile development. A few have created entirely new roles, such as marketing, product and community managers.




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Advancing in a career is an endless process of moves and countermoves. We often seek out our purpose in life through our careers and then use our career towards defining ourselves as people. One of the first questions that someone may ask upon meeting you is, “What do you do for a living?” You, then, proceed to introducing your profession, company, and possibly even provide the responsibilities that are required of you in that role.

For those of us who have been in a specific industry for many years, it may become routine to have an automatic reply when it comes to describing exactly what we do for a living. Although there are many people who are content with where they are in their career, there are many young, aspiring professionals who have not yet reached that stage. Even those who are seasoned professionals may still want more out of their career. After all, contentment never allots for growth.


Often times, we reach a career plateau when we are just not exactly where we want to be at a certain point of our lives. It is difficult to stay motivated and not get discouraged during these times. Understanding that hard work, consistency, and persistence are key elements to growth is essential towards taking that next leap into a new job or different field. It is important to keep a positive mental attitude when seeking to advance in your career. Keep in mind that it IS a process. Use these seven techniques to stay motivated when you have reached a career plateau :


1.) Put 100% into what you are currently doing, even if you don’t like doing it
Just because you aren’t fully enjoying what you are currently doing doesn’t mean you should produce less quality work. It is important to be cognizant of your professional image and still retain the integrity of what you do. The amount of effort you put into something is a reflection of yourself. Don’t let your work suffer because you are unmotivated.


2.) Seek outside opportunities for learning
Knowledge is power. There are an endless amount of resources at our disposal for us to gain further education such as books, e-books, informational seminars, and online courses and MOOCS. You can find tons of learning content on any subject in Degreed. It is never too late to learn. Enhancing your knowledge and skills is a great resume builder and it makes you a more appealing candidate.


3.) Do the research
Learn more about what you are seeking to accomplish within your career. Find out the necessary requirements for your ideal role and what you have to do in order to fulfill those requirements. Research background information on the internal processes for whichever field you are interested in and research the kind of company that you would like to work for.


4.) Learn from other professionals who are models of success
They say that imitation is the highest form of flattery. We want to get to those positions which we deem as successful. We examine the lifestyle and routine of those who are models of success in order to understand how they’ve reached that point which we someday hope to reach. Find you favorite career idol and see if they’ve published advice for productivity, progression, and creating successful careers. Even better, get a mentor in your ideal position that can be available to help share their knowledge and expertise.


5.) Network with other professionals in that field
Building your professional network is one of your strongest allies in regards to landing your dream job or breaking into a new industry. Having connections is one of the most common ways people use to advance in a career. According to a report by ABC News, 80% of jobs are obtained through networking . As you trail further down your career path, you may notice that your network of professional connections begins to overlap into other areas. One connection can lead to a life-changing opportunity (this is where tip #4 can really come into play). Try attending events like conferences, or interacting on twitter with other professionals.


6.) Set goals for yourself
Create a timeline for how and when you want to get things accomplished. Use this timeline as a way to keep yourself on track and measure your progress. Sometimes, it’s better to have a physical list of goals to have as a visual. When we read and study this list, it is stored in our mind and we are able to mentally rehearse this information. In fact, you’re 42% more likely to accomplish a goal just by writing it down.  It is important to have a clear direction on where we are going so that we can prepare for what may be in store. Here’s the science on setting better goals.


7.) Never give up
Through all the moments of trials and tribulations, it is difficult to stay positive and not give up. Give yourself time to make progress, and don’t get too discouraged even when things are not going as you had hoped. Remember, you are more than just your job title. One day, you will look back and learn from those times of hardship and you will thank yourself for pushing forward and moving toward goals. Opportunities will come as long as you continue to actively work towards receiving them.


You can find Lindsey on Twitter and LinkedIn

Not speaking up in a meeting, how I styled my hair in high school, failing to accomplish goals- these are regrets. The list can be long and vary on emotional pain levels depending on how deep we want to dig. We are humans, and being human means having experiences which can result in regret. Like fears, we all have them and my bet is it would take you less than 10 seconds to think of a few things that you regret.

While watching Kathryn Schulz’s ted talk “Don’t regret regret” she shared a statistic that rattled me, and I had to dig a little deeper to find out what was going on with what research has shown to be our number one regret in life: Our Education .

The Study

Many studies have been done on regret, yielding similar results about what we regret the most about our lives.  Neal J. Roese and Amy Summerville completed a meta-analysis of 11 different regret ranking studies to do the first integrative summary on what American’s regret most. They then set out to determine why we regret certain domains of life more than others. What’s the link?

Here’s what they found:

When we look at our lives and experiences, these are the things that we regret the most- in descending order

1. Education

2. Career

3. Romance

4. Parenting

5. The Self

6. Leisure

Screen Shot 2015-07-17 at 1.18.19 PM

For Americans, education and career make up a whopping 54% of our regrets . More than half of our regrets are a result of our career or our education. What makes us regret these things more intensely?

According to the study, the Opportunity Principle. Areas where we perceive the most opportunity to better our lives create the most regret .  Even the definition regret itself speaks to loss of opportunity

Regret: “feel sad, repentant, or disappointed over (something that has happened or been done, especially a loss or missed opportunity).”

The Opportunity

Today, education can be obtained throughout life and in many different means. With so much open access to information in the form of social media (especially YouTube), new areas of study, online schools, countless articles, and MOOCs all providing opportunities to learn and near instant access to some form of learning. You can always learn something, at any given time. This means we are living in a world where you have the constant opportunity to progress your knowledge. Furthermore, as the study states, education opens many doors for desired life outcomes;

“Education is widely recognized to be a gateway to numerous other valued consequences, from higher income to more challenging career to wider diversity of social contacts. Education is therefore a means to achieving several important ends, and any of these ends gone awry might have been avoided with more education.”

Take Action.

More than at any other time in history, we have access to education- which can lead to our desired life outcomes. Analyze your regrets. What’s on the list? What’s a goal that, if left unaccomplished, will result in regret? Write it down.

Get a game plan. The best use of our precious commodity of time is to prevent future regrets in their tracks- that means progression both in education and career. It won’t be comfortable to take action, but that’s where the magic happens. Lucille Ball once said “I’d rather regret the things I have done than regret the things I haven’t” so take a chance on learning something new and getting out of your comfort zone, before you regret it.

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