Music & Technology, Upgrading Your Skills & a Lifetime of Learning

When I started my career in sales, I listened to a set of audio tapes by Brian Tracy called “The Psychology of Selling.” A statistic that he cited really startled me. In the audio tape (cassette actually, this was 1995) he claimed that 90% of the sales tapes, books, CDs, etc. were purchased by 10% of the salespeople. Just the fact that salespeople are looking to upgrade their skills tells me a lot about their attitude. Perhaps they will find a gem of information in those materials that will actually lead to a sale. Regardless, I like a person who is always looking to improve and get an edge on the competition.

When I advanced in my career to a position where I had the opportunity to interview prospective employees, I always asked the question, “What books, CDs, or seminars had you read or attended that you found helpful in your career or self-development efforts?” The answers weren’t particularly important. Sometimes I got an idea for something to add to my own library, but the important thing is that they had an answer. ANY answer.

That brings us to the story of Mrs. Abby Nyhof of Mission, SD. Yesterday, she posted this message on Twitter:  

“RT @mrsnyhof: Referenced #MusEdChat in a job interview today! The admins seemed impressed 🙂 <- PS I got the job!”

First of all, congratulations to Mrs. Nyhof. #MusEdChat, for those who might not be aware is what as known as a “hashtag” on Twitter that allows like-minded people (in this case, music educators and those with an interest in music education) to search for content of interest. There’s also a dedicated time in which a live Music Education Chat takes place where those interested in Music Education tweet for one hour a week.

I suspect that those who interviewed her were intrigued by the fact that she might have insights on music education from her twitter activity. I suspect that what impressed them the most is just the fact that she chose to seek out information that would keep her teaching skills sharp and give her an edge.

A university music professor once told me that the average music conservatory could run by candlelight and that most hadn’t changed much in the last 150 years. With the integration of technology and the decline of major record labels in the era of the “self-sufficient” artist, the game is changing.

I’m often stunned by people who haven’t done anything in 20 years to diversify or upgrade their skills and complain when their company has a layoff and they are lost in the job market. Everyone should consider themselves self-employed these days, and you’re simply renting your services to a company or directly to the customer.

Kudos to Mrs. Nyhof. Dedicate yourself to a lifetime of continuous learning as she did, and you will become recession-proof.

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