The cavnessHR podcast – A talk with Lauren Waldman
Go to the bottom of the Show Notes for cavnessHR affiliates and resources.
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Social Media links for Lauren Below!!
LinkedIn: Lauren Waldman
Below is Lauren’s book recommendations:
“Phantoms in the Brain? by Ramachandran
Below is the links to purchase the books on Amazon.
For anybody who is listening, you can reach me on my website at www.learningpirate.com and I would love to offer people a 45-minute call with me, consultation, so they can talk to me about what their learning initiatives are – maybe they're struggling with the problem and design. I think it's part of my job; I did the hard work, everyone, I did all the studies on the neuroscience so that I can pass this on. So it's my absolute pleasure that you can reach me either through my website, I'm on Twitter at @LearningPirate or you can reach me directly by e-mail – firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jason: Hello and welcome to the cavnessHR Podcast. I’m your host, Jason Cavness. Today’s podcast is brought to you by Audible. Get a free audiobook download and a 30-day free trial at www.audibletrial.com/cavnessHR. Audible has over 180,000 titles to choose from for your iPhone, Android, Kindle and MP3 player. Our guest today is Lauren Waldman. Lauren, are you ready to be great today?
Jason: Lauren is a curiosity seeker with a deep desire to learn, share, help and laugh. From Lauren’s start as a certified international teacher of language, to her ever-growing collection of degrees, certificates and professional accolades, it’s her infectious ability to bring people into her world of curiosity and possibility, which has gained her success. A trainer, designer, facilitator, speaker, mentor, coach, and self-proclaimed pirate, she takes you on your own guided learning journey. Lauren creates with you, epic learning adventures and solutions, drawing on her 16 years of professional experiences that span the globe, industries, on land and at sea, and even sometimes in the air. She taps into the science, and fun of learning, while maintaining a sharp approach with intense dedication to the success of others. Her current focus in the studies of neuroscience and how the brain learns, has played an eminent role in helping individuals and corporations navigate through the creations of what she calls learning legacies. These studies have also given rise to the strategies relevant to the confusions and challenges of the current cross generational workforce. Lauren is a CTDP (Certified Training and Development Professional), has certifications in the fundamentals of neuroscience from Harvard, has recently completed a certificate in medical neuroscience from Duke, is a Designated Communication Coach and Trainer, and is an advisory board member of the NCCA (National Communication Coaching Association of Canada). Lauren, how are you doing all that stuff?
Lauren: I don't know. The more interviews I do, I'm thinking, “how do I consolidate that so it doesn't sound so intense?” The fact is, I'm a lifelong learner and I think to be in my profession you have to be. So I’ll have to find some way to sum that up a little bit, a shorter way.
Jason: So, Lauren, tell us about why you think of yourself as a self-proclaimed pirate. How did that come about?
Lauren: It’s interesting. So the pirate comes from sort of two parts of my life. One, from the fact that I think I've always been a bit of a rascal. When I was really little – and there was a photo of this (I have to dig this up one day) – I took my dad's car, and I was only about five years old, and I had my sister sitting beside me as my co-captain. So that was my first commandeering mission. But this whole pirate theme that comes into the work that I do really has to tap into the fact that learning has to do with enjoyment and fun; and if you get to know me. Those words pretty much describe who I am. I know that, by age and by number, I'm one thing, by attitude and behavior, I'm definitely the other. So it's a good match of the two.
Jason: So, this is off topic but, talking about your five-year-old escapade, back when I was five or six, my grandmother was sick and I went into to my grandparents' house like, “I want to go see my grandma, I want to go see my grandma,” and they were running late so I decided to get in the car and popped the clutch and, of course, I went right into the front porch.
Lauren: So you had a little adventure of your own. So, I think one thing, when we're talking about learning, especially as adults, is we tend to, because when we get so caught up in the day to day and the stress and the frustrations and everything. We really do forget what we were like when we were those little rascals at five years old and doing those things that really enticed our curiosity and drove us into our curiosity. And that, to me, is a great part of learning throughout the ages. So that's a really crucial part for what I believe in.
Jason: Lauren, how can you tell if someone’s actually open to learning?
Lauren: If they're open to learning, they show up. I've been doing this for a really long time and one thing that I say in my sessions now is that everyone’s attended a learning session and I've looked at an audience before where you can look at their faces and you can just see that in their mind they're going, “ugh, training; I don't want to be here, I've been forced to be here.” That's one thing I think is really important – is learning isn't something that you can be forced into doing. The brain automatically already goes into the mode of, “you know what, I don't need to learn something new, I'm happy with what I know,” so it's already resistant to that and that's a part of our brain that sort of deals with our emotional capacities. But you can't reach everyone all the time. But, for me, now, at this stage, is if you're sitting there, it’s because you want to be there. I think almost every training session that I start now it's if you don't want to be here, that's okay – just sneak out, that's totally fine.
Jason: Lauren, why is curiosity so important and then why do so many of us lose curiosity as we get older?
Lauren: If you think about how children explore their worlds; and I spend a lot of time with kids, with friends’ kids. Just watching them as they learn in their environment. The curiosity is incredibly important, especially to the learning brain. No matter what age you are, because the environment becomes an association that the brain makes to the learning. So for any of my L and D people out there who want a really good design tip is, when you are designing something that requires an environmental shift. Try to recreate the environment as closely as you can to the learning because what that allows the brain to do is to grab more places to make associations with. So that's where the curiosity comes from. The other side of that is, for so many years we were telling people, “chase your passion, chase your passion.” I'm passionate about a lot of things. But I don't follow, necessarily, up on them; I don't go to read upon them, I don't go to do that. For me, chasing your curiosity is really the goal. Once I started my studies on the brain, it became the rabbit hole for me – I couldn't stop, because I was so curious. I’ve learned one thing, to go, “whoa, wait, how does that affect this thing and why does that do this,” everything. So you're chasing this curiosity and that's why I refer to learning as an adventure because you're always finding your treasure.
Jason: One thing I’ve always been curious about is like you’re sitting down doing something and the out of nowhere a memory comes, then a second and third and fourth, and by the time you get too memory five, it has nothing to do with the first memory. I’ve always been curious about how is that all connected, how does that all happen.
Lauren: Memory is a really interesting thing that we're still learning so much about. I'm just going to put a caveat here to say I have studied neuroscience, I have my certifications in general science, I'm not a neuroscientist. I do it specifically for my career in the L and D – but when it comes to memory, I think what people don't understand is that memory doesn't hold itself in just one place, it holds itself in multiple places across the brain. Now, there is where you’ve got your long-term storage, and that’s in your hippocampus, but memory does play a part in different pieces. For example, like you were saying, maybe you've heard some music or maybe you've smelled something and it just instantly brought you back to somewhere and it's because memory gets stored in all those different parts of cortex and that's why one thing can stimulate the other.
Jason: Okay. So Lauren, is there a limit to the amount of people that you coach or mentor?
Lauren: That's funny, I was writing about that this morning; I've got three brilliant, young entrepreneurs who I'm playing mentor to right now and I really strongly believe that this is also part in creating the legacies that we leave behind is what do we pass on of our knowledge. But one thing that I didn't consider. Which I've now learned so much about, is it's a wonderful way to bridge the gaps within organizations. Because, currently, we've got about four, sometimes five, different generations working in the workplace right now and it's causing so much of a conundrum with people. When you really think about it, whether or not you really love your family or not, if you had to go to work with your grandmother and your dad and your sister and your cousin. There's going to be some tensions there. So it's a matter of how do we use mentorship as a way to bridge those gaps and learn across the generations as opposed to being confused or frustrated by them.
Jason: Lauren, is there a certain industry a certain size of business that you prefer to work with?
Lauren: I find that that keeps shifting. Currently, I really like working with small to medium sized industries. I came from a very corporate environment. I've worked with companies that have 350,000 and plus employees globally and it's not that there can't be impact, the impact on those, when it comes to creating a learning map and a learning legacy. It's going to take a substantial much more time than it would for a small to medium sized enterprise just getting started. It doesn't mean it can't be done, it just means you have to chip away at it a little bit by little bit until you can actually reach the whole company. When it comes to the small to medium size, I think that, if they're looking at – and I was asking a young entrepreneur the other day, I said, “have you written your business plan?” and they said, “yeah, just about done,” and I said, “well, did you include learning in that?” For every person that I've asked that, the answer's always been “no.” So that's why I feel the necessity to get to the smaller businesses now and say, “listen, we've seen what the issues have been for the past 25 to 50 years of business because when you lose people and you lose their knowledge. It impacts your business; so why don't we put this in right from the very beginning so that we're not making the same mistakes of the past.”
Jason: Lauren, what advice do you have for someone who's looking to bring on a coach?
Lauren: I think the first thing is to really understand what your goals and objectives are – really, really nail those down. Interestingly enough, I overheard a young lady who I wound up helping get a coach who was having a conversation with somebody. She was very frustrated because it wasn't aligned properly to what she was after. So that, let's say, is so crucial is understanding what your objectives are and where the alignment is and it's not necessarily that you're going to be looking for people who ten to fifteen more experience. We've often thought that you have to have all that more experience to be a coach but what we have to recognize is everybody’s brain is different because we all have different experiences. So a coach can be anyone from a different perspective or a different industry or could be very specified. So when I'm coaching somebody, my first question to ask them is, “well, what are your actual goals and objectives because maybe I'm not the coach for you.”
Jason: Lauren, are you open to coaching people worldwide or are you focused on the Toronto area?
Lauren: I’m always open. I think worldwide, definitely; if you look at my sort of history of where I've worked. It's pretty much been worldwide and winding up on a cruise ship working there pretty much solidified my global presence.
Jason: Lauren, can you talk about a time you were successful in the past, what you learned and what we can learn from this?
Lauren: One of the best stories of what I think is my personal success when it comes to my profession does actually come from the cruise ships. Working on a cruise ship, it's very difficult, it was definitely one of the most operationally challenging roles I have ever had in my career because you're working on a moving city that doesn't sleep, essentially. One of the biggest successes was implementing a cross-training program within the ship. Now, I'm going to explain that a little bit. The ship itself, like I said, it runs like a little city, and within the ship. We have our own HR departments and all the other divisions within them. We've got the housekeeping, we've got the bar, dining all of the different divisions – and it was a matter of we had people who wanted to switch roles within the same environment. So maybe you had somebody who was in the galley who decided, “you know what, I’d really like to be in the dining room and I’d really like to train for that.” Royal Caribbean did a wonderful job of coming up with a cross training program that I would implement on the ship and worked with some of the wonderful supervisors and managers to put these people through cross training. So that they were getting the skills and experiences that they needed while they were on board so that when those positions did come up, they can internally apply for them and stay within the same environment. To me, that's a wonderful success because for my particular role as training officer. I would be on the ship for four months at a time and then I would be off for two months. Pprobably, the best success I would have is seeing someone who I had put through the cross training program and, when I leave for vacation. Is in one uniform but when I come back from vacation he's in the new uniform and he's working out in the crew master officer’s vest. I couldn't have asked for more success than that. I think is the equivalent of sending your children off to school for the first day – you just have this immense amount of pride.
Jason: Lauren, can you talk about a time you failed, what you learned from this and what we can learn?
Lauren: I feel like failure is part of learning and I have put together design plans that I thought were going to knock this out of the park and it's going to be really great and they've just bombed. It's something that you wouldn't have known until you went ahead and implemented it. I'm strong believer when it comes to learning is that we need to value our failures. I think there's not one person out there who can’t say that, “of course, we failed in some ways in one shape or another.” I think that's also part about building a legacy. I'm writing a book, currently, which on the personal side of things. It's a book called Dear Alice and it was supposed to be a sort of a forebook to any children I might have in the future, and it documents all of my monumental failures growing up. In the hopes that I can pass those on, because everyone's going to make their own failures, everyone’s going to make their own mistakes. But here, here's mine, try to learn from those and don't do those again. Like, maybe don't steal your mom's car when you're 15.
Jason: Lauren, tell us something about yourself that most people don't know – your close friends, close family know but most people that work with you day to day don't know this about you.
Lauren: I feel like I’m a bit of a Jack-of-all trades. I have had so many different jobs just growing up and into my career and I've worked with so many different industries. I think that if I was to start listing things off, you would go, “what haven't you done at this point?” From a dental assistant to working in a pizza place, various dog-walking jobs, just the most random of all experiences. Most people don't know the sort of the lengths of everything that I’ve done. One thing, when I was very young, I was a musical prodigy That’s probably something that most people don't know. So I started playing the piano when I was three, and I remember by four and a half in junior kindergarten. I would be sitting there at the piano in the classroom entertaining the kids with Sesame Street theme songs. I was a big hit back then.
Jason: That's interesting. So you just lost interest in the piano or do you still play once in a while?
Lauren: I definitely still play once in a while. I played up until high school so I could get some credits and I was actually very high up. I studied from the London conservatory in England and I was classically trained. But it seemed that the music aspect has always followed me in different ways. Another thing that people don't really know is that I do sing, I just don't sing very often, and I’ve kind of made it because I travel so much. I made a game, years ago, which is “Every New Country I Travel to” and I'll go to a local bar where there's a live band playing and, lo and behold. I will get up on that stage. So far, we've hit Japan and the Philippines, Mexico in December we just did, all over the world, Costa Rica, just very random places where I’ll just commandeer the stage.
Jason: That’s great. Lauren, can you tell us about someone who has helped you in the past and how they helped you?
Lauren: My mentor. I think, without the woman who I had found as my mentor. I wouldn't have discovered neurosciences or sort of made that connection between the value of that in the Learning and Development world. She lives in the States; she is an amazing woman – her name is Dr Brett Andreotta – she also studies neuroscience, has written several books. I was so inspired by her and by learning from her that when I did get into the neuroscience. I wound up quitting my job and just put a full on stop to work and did nothing but studies. Because I saw the value in it so much. So she really, really inspired me and essentially changed the course of my career.
Jason: Lauren, how long have you been involved in coaching and mentoring?
Lauren: Fifteen years. Anyone who's a natural teacher, it just naturally happens. One piece of advice that I will give to those out there who do have that natural skill to them is, one thing that I've had to learn in the hard way is there's only so much you can do before you have to sort of put a stop. So know your limitations and how much time you can give to people because, otherwise, you kind of wind up giving away too much of yours. Even though it’s for a wonderful thing, you're helping people, but don't forget to focus on your legacy as well.
Jason: Yes, that’s really great advice, Lauren. Lauren, I understand you have a book to recommend to our listeners.
Lauren: So it's going to be one of the brain books that I've read – but it's definitely one of the more interesting ones – and it's called Phantoms in the Brain and it’s by a man named Ramachandran (that’s a mouthful for you). He writes so beautifully and it's so interesting because there are a lot based on case studies about phantom limbs. Which are basically people who have suffered neurological strokes or disease who have no feeling in certain parts of their body but are so sure that they do. So it's such an interesting read but he makes it very amusing. So I think for anyone who just wants something amusing but also a little bit science-y and medical, I would definitely recommend that book.
Jason: Lauren, I also understand you have something else for our listeners.
Lauren: Yes. I am so passionate and I really do love sharing what I know to help organizations and their people out there. For anybody who is listening, you can reach me on my website at www.learningpirate.com and I would love to offer people a 45-minute call with me, consultation. So they can talk to me about what their learning initiatives are. Maybe they're struggling with the problem and design. I think it's part of my job. I did the hard work, everyone, I did all the studies on the neuroscience so that I can pass this on. So it's my absolute pleasure that you can reach me either through my website. I'm on Twitter at @LearningPirate or you can reach me directly by e-mail – email@example.com.
Jason: Thank you, Lauren, that’s very valuable. And speaking of social media, do you have any other social media platforms you can share with our listeners, either for you or your company so they can reach out to you?
Lauren: Absolutely. I think the only one that I haven't listed is I am on LinkedI. I don't have my business page up yet but you can find me by name, Lauren Waldman, and you'll see the Learning Pirate logo right away.
Jason: Thank you, Lauren. Lauren, we’ve come to the end of our talk. Can you provide any last-minute advice or wisdom on any subject you want to talk about?
Lauren: I think the best advice that I can give anybody is the same advice that I was giving myself – when you're learning something new, be patient with yourself. It can be incredibly frustrating, but don't give up. When I started my studies with Harvard. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. I'd never studied like this before, and there were those times where my brain was going, “you’re in too deep; this is just way too hard.” But just keep going because the satisfaction that comes out of that afterwards, and the curiosity that will be driven from that, it will take you so much further. So my best advice to people is keep your passions, but follow your curiosity.
Jason: That's great advice. I think most people don’t realize is that when people are successful, and go back to the past and keep going and others just stop.
Lauren: Yeah, absolutely. Don't stop, keep going.
Jason: To our listeners, all the links to Lauren’s book recommendations and her social media will be available in our show notes. Lauren, thank you very much for being our guest today, I really appreciate it. I know you're a busy person and thank you for your time.
Lauren: My absolute pleasure.
Jason: To our listeners, thank you for your time as well, and remember to be great every day.
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