Learning Through Engagement: 5 Life Lessons

The best way to learn is to stay engaged. My twin girls are in 7th grade and this year, they have a class called Democracy. Timing couldn’t be better on that topic! At dinner, my wife and I try to engage their interest by talking about something entertaining….let me think…the presidential election? Yes, we do dare to venture into that space and banks-blog-quote_10_17_16the conversation is outstanding.

My girls can talk about the candidates, the issues and the parties. The Democracy class is a homerun. They have learned a great deal – not just about the candidates, but about the spirit and process of democracy. (It doesn’t hurt that mom grew up in Washington, D.C., where politics and government is a way of life.)

My girls do not realize they are learning at dinner. To them, conversation is just that – conversation. As adults, we understand that most of our learning happens through experiences or conversations. Recently, I participated in a powerful conversation – and I wanted to share it with you.

Find life lessons in each experience

I was honored to be part of a distinguished group of industry experts and thought leaders, organized by the Roubini Thoughtlab. We had a ton of interesting conversations and debates throughout 2016; it was an excellent opportunity to form new relationships and gain a fresh perspective. Those conversations  led to a global research study, the result of which is a thought leadership piece, Wealth and Asset Management 2021: Preparing for Transformative Change.

I encourage all of you to take a look at the paper. While the focus is wealth and asset management, the reality is that many of the trends are prevalent in life in general, as we face unprecedented change all around us. But I learned so much by being engaged in this conversation and process and I wanted to share some simple life lessons that I took away as a result:

  1. Not everyone sees the world the same way. Even though I and the other participants are part of the same industry, our views of how we see trends impacting us and what we think the right response may be are very different. The divergent thought drove greater clarity for me.
  2. Listening is a lost skill. I know I am a talker. In this process, some of the topics and conversations were not in my area of expertise, but still I wanted to participate. So I would join the call or meeting to listen to others. I spent that time listening to their logic and approach. I learned I lot, not just through what they said, but how they analyzed an issue.
  3. Research is fascinating because you are not fixated on solving; you are focused on understanding. I think a leader’s orientation towards understanding can generate better problem solving. Patience is key. Spend some time understanding what is really going on around you.
  4. Change is everywhere. Not just industry change, but organizational change. There is constant evolution in how people work. There were a variety of roles and organizations engaged in these conversations, and I began to realize plenty of firms are experimenting with organizational structure and role responsibility.
  5. Converting research to meaningful stories is an art. Doing research is one thing; writing a summary of what you learned is a lot harder. Roubini Thoughtlab did a particularly great job with this. They also packaged it up in a consumable way for all readers in today’s time-crunched world, creating a meaningful executive summary to give readers the “CliffsNotes” version, along with the full report.

So what’s my advice? Stay engaged – if you do, the learning has no end.

Want to learn more about what’s in the Roubini paper? Join the conversation on Twitter, today, October 18th at noon ET.  Details and instructions on how to participate