Are we learning to earn or earning to learn?

Last week I went to an event organised by Tricia Hartley (@Tricia_CFL), CEO of the Campaign for Learning charity, hosted by Pearson. The gathering attracted HR and CSR leaders from UK businesses that are passionate about learning, including Channel4, Futjitsu, and British Gas. The purpose of the event was to share ideas and stories of achievements and discuss the on-going national UK Learning at Work week initiative, which is all about pushing learning across organisations.Lord Jim Knight (@jimpknight) came on stage and told us about the first thing he’d learnt from his first job as a theatre performer, when he was a child. During his speech, I couldn’t but tick on the “earning and learning, learning and earning” catchy sentence he put together. While I see the connection, my question was: are we actually learning to earn (more) or earning to learn (more)? This reminded me of the legend my first business mentor told me: “There are two Goddesses that reside in the heart of every human being. The Goddess of Knowledge – Sarasvati, and the Goddess of Wealth – Lakshmi. Most people spend their life chasing the goddess of wealth, whereas she is the most difficult to catch. What they usually don’t know, is that she is extremely jealous. As a result, the more you grow your learning and seek the Goddess of Knowledge, the more chances you’ll have that the goddess of wealth will follow you by jealousy!So many ways to learn… do you know them all?My mentor’s point was that one should never stop learning. Promoting learning might sound cliché to you, like promoting the fact that practising sports can help you stay fit. However, many professionals are missing opportunities to learn every day. HR representatives are often faced with complaints such as “I don’t have time to go to that training” and “I’m not suggested enough training classroom events”, as well as cost control measures. The movement for learning is meant to highlight that there are many ways to learn. Open learning programmes, learning from your colleagues, focusing your internet searches, internal wikipedias (we have one we named “Coltepedia”), etc. As professionals, we aspire to grow and become (better) leaders. “The moment you stop learning, you stop leading”! (Rick Warren).At Colt we are pioneers of this learning movement. We grew the initiative from a successful Learning at Work day in 2012, to a Learning at Work week last year, delivering over 4,000 hours of learning for thousands of employees across 17 countries. This June, we’re introducing the Learning and Communities month, where everyone is invited to join learning sessions focused on essential knowledge that can help us grow as individuals while supporting our intent to become an amazing business. These include sessions on “changing mindsets”, the evolution of our Voice business, and outputs from our Innovation and Prototyping visionary teams. Why learning “and communities”?At the same time, our campaign includes volunteering opportunities, because we believe that when you volunteer as a team – refurbishing a charity’s playground or giving consultancy to a charity’s managing staff – you learn from it, while helping your local community! In cities like Amsterdam we’re inviting children from a local school for a data centre tour, addressing the need to bridge the gap between schools and businesses. In London, one of our teams is going to our charity partner’s gardens, Coram’s, to support their activities for vulnerable children. Another team is booked to visit a classroom for a day for a workshop with children via Inspire! Many of our Execs are giving video conferences explaining our business and market environment, reaching our people across Europe and India. There’s even a few fun ad hoc ones like a “learn how to Dj in 15 min” session! I trust this will be a month full of learning! To read more about Colt’s Corporate Responsibility, visit If you want to know what kind of learner you are: Reflector, theorist, activist, pragmatist, have a look on the Campaign for learning portal.

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