Modern Professional Learner: 22 Questions to Activate your Learnability

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Modern Professional Learner: ways and which to unlock your learning potential

“If you are looking for an example of #LOL (Learning Out Loud) and what it’d look like, look no further than this stupendous read by @rotanarotana So much to learn in that piece alone! #WOL” 

Luis Suarez

As we are heading toward the end of this year, I read the ebook ‘How to become a Modern Professional Learner’ by Jane Hart @C4LPT. It contains many questions for helping me to reflect and experiment while learning continuously.

modern professional learner learning workplace jane hart C4LPT ebook rotana ty


I pick some questions, sometimes reframed them, and share my answers. You may find them interesting.

⚡️ What is the most important reason for you to become a modern professional learner?

I share mine in this blog post: continuous learning.

Becoming a modern professional learner is imperative as:

Knowledge learned at school becomes outdated quickly.

Crafting our work and portfolio is how we stay relevant.

Taking charge of our own professional development and self-improvement depends on ourselves.

The global context is changing rapidly and daily on a societal level, environmental level and technological level.

Learning and developing 21st Century skills are core to connecting ideas, people, and actions and being involved in any project in the networked society.

🔎 What are your strengths & weaknesses in the workplace?

Are we in a strengths-based society?

Based on this scientifically proven online test by the VIA Institute @VIAstrengths I have done, here are below my top strengths:

My love of learning has always been there, but it has really jump-started since I took control of my learning journey.

My appreciation of beauty and excellence could take the shape of photography as I have wandered in art/technology exhibitions and/or travelled.

My curiosity enables me to embrace creativity and multidisciplinary and self-improve as I shift in a world of constant change.

As suggested by my learning partner and friend, Luis Suarez @elsua, I also did the StrengthsFinder Assessment brought by the Gallup Center. Strategic thinking is my top theme strength.

🚶What have you done so far to develop your skills & knowledge further?

Knowing my strengths and figuring out how to use them for which cause(s), in which promising field(s). I also keep learning via the 3E’s: Education, Experience, Exposure / Engagement.


Participating in online courses, webinars, reading books, participating in and tracking conferences, reading blogs, doing curation and sense-making, watching documentaries and movies, trendspotting & synthesizing, exploring Paris, developing 21st Century skills in using the Character (Every) Day app and enabling to learn those skills when I was involved with the startup TheNewABC.


Prototyping, doing self-assessment, reflecting via blogging and visual thinking, travelling, practising sports, volunteering. Also playing with emerging technologies.


Participating in Twitter conversations/chats, going to fair, using instant messaging, going to an in-person meeting, doing Skype call / Google Hangouts, coaching, podcasting, being mentioned/interviewed. Those are ways to share my experiences with my network and weak ties to learn and reflect together. This is how new knowledge and insights, feedbacks, gratitudes, peer support, new questions and critical thinking can emerge.

Consider learning more about the 70:20:10 or ‘Experience, Exposure, Education’ principle/lens via this blog post by Ryan Tracey @ryantracey and this blog post on that topic.

🌱 Which of the ways do you need to focus on to develop (or enhance) a growth mindset in yourself? How many do you currently believe/follow?

I put in italic the ways I believe/follow. Then, I bold the ones I need to focus on developing or enhancing a growth mindset in myself.

1. Acknowledge and embrace imperfections.
2. View challenges as opportunities.
3. Try different learning tactics.
4. Follow the research on brain plasticity.
5. Replace the word “failing” with the word “learning”.
6. Stop seeking approval.
7. Value the process over the result.
8. Cultivate a sense of purpose.
9. Celebrate growth with others.
10. Emphasise growth over speed.
11. Reward actions, not traits.
12. Redefine “genius”.
13. Portray criticism as positive.
14. Disassociate improvement from failure.
15. Provide regular opportunities for reflection.
16. Place effort before talent.
17. Highlight the relationship between learning and “brain training”.
18. Cultivate grit
19. Abandon the image.
20. Use the word “yet”.
21. Learn from other people’s mistakes.
22. Make a new goal for every goal accomplished.
23. Take risks in the company of others.
24. Think realistically about time and effort.
25. Take ownership of your attitude.

🏊🏼‍ How much time will you commit to continuous planned learning? When will you do this?

In no particular order, within a week and/or on Saturday, I learn via one activity or many ones that last:

  • 5 to 15 minutes if I engage in Twitter conversations, dig and share digital content with my POV or not.
  • 20 to 60 minutes if I dive into a book via Kindle or on a paperback version.
  • Less than 1 hour or a little more if I go to a conference/fair for a workshop for hearing and notetaking / synthesizing a talk/keynote/roundtable or going to an in-person meeting do a Skype call / Google + Hangout.
  • 1 hour or a little bit more if I practise sports such as swimming to noticing patterns on laps, lap time, strokes, turns, and even the quality of my sleep when I rest), or go to an art exhibition or any places I don’t know yet in Paris.

✍️ What do you learn today? Which tool for your own work journal?

I use Google Keep’s note that I named ‘What I learn today. Then I write down my learnings. It could be feedback, peer support, advice, conversation, a share or recommendation of a book/video/photo/audio etc… (you named it!) to/from someone or something.

This way of doing is inspired by a suggestion from the online course ‘The Science of Happiness‘ facilitators.

🔎 Which power searching tips improve your search results?

I did years ago an online course by Google: Power Searching with Google, and more recently, another one by Google Data News Lab on using Google tools for reporting and storytelling. I use mainly ‘phase string’ and ‘operators’ to improve my search results and other practices and techniques I have learned via the Inbound courses of the HubSpot Academy.

🔎 Which Google tricks are useful for you?

Using Google to get definitions. Doing so as well via a Chrome extension on my browser. Using Google as a calculator, using Google to get the weather forecast. Asking Google a question. Doing so via laptop as well via Google Home.

🔎 How do you identify the reliability & validity of the sources you use?

In an era of constant knowledge flows, it is a choice to be willing to jump into them, become and be a deep water swimmer and a critical thinker. It also matters how to swim in social flows, as Howard Rheingold (@hrheingold) shares. As insight patternist and sense-maker, we may have those responsibilities.

🚶 Which of the productivity suggestions do you use?

This extract below is in the ebook. I put in green the suggestions I have experimented with. In blue, I added some thoughts.

“When it comes to productivity in the workplace, John Rampton suggests the following 15 ways to increase productivity at work. Read the article to find out more about each one. 

1. Track and limit how much time you’re spending on tasks. 
2. Take regular breaks.

Doing so via a daily walk, savouring a cup of tea or coffee.

3. Set self-imposed deadlines. 
4. Follow the “two-minute rule.
5. say no to meetings. 
6. Hold standing meetings. 

Doing so if I have a video/audio call via Skype / Google Hangouts. I use the K2-Laptop Stand Portable, Foldable & Height Adjustable: a tool for my standing desk anywhere.

7. Quit multitasking. 

My reminder for this is this quote: “Keep moving forward. One step at a time.” — Unknown 
8. Take advantage of your commute.

I often keep learning when I am on the go. If I wait for my train/bus/subway/tramway, I may read the contents I saved via Instapaper. While commuting, I may also hear a business/music / scientific podcast. I take notes on my Moleskine if I hear insights and practical advice. It is a great way to keep up with industries, emerging practices and ideas.

9. Give up on the illusion of perfection.

10. Take exercise breaks. 

Doing so via swimming weekly.

11. Be proactive, not reactive.

12. Turn off notifications. 

Done that on devices I use. Engaging or not when it is meaningful and timely to do so, and when time allows, you are ready to do so.

13. Work in 90-minute intervals.

14. Give yourself something nice to look at.

Trying to do so weekly at least once: exploring a new spot in Paris, observing nature, patterns, colours, going to an art/technology exhibition.

15. Minimize interruptions (to the best of your ability)”

In addition to those productivity suggestions, I also share in this blog post on the convergence of connectedness:

New ways of working and health are related and interesting. Topics such as remote work, sitting and standing desk, walkability, wearable technologies and connected lifespaces caught my attention. Deep-tech are also emergingacross many industries.

(…) With personal data and new habits, for instance, drinking more water, sleeping better with the help of a bedtime calculator, working remotely via a standing desk and in public lifespaces, walking at least 10 minutes per day, swimming at least one time per week, people could notice and become more mindful, healthier and more productive. I am trying these habits myself and starting to see some improvements.

😉 Why did you hire me?

Extracted from the ebook:

“Evie Harrison offers 8 questions you should ask your boss to get ahead. Take a look at these 8 questions and select a few to ask your own manager. The questions you choose will depend upon where you are in the relationship so although they are noted below, you should take a look at the article for further information on the context, and how they will help you understand your manager. (…) 7. Why did you hire me? Write up your observations in your Work Journal, as well as what you have learned from your manager that influences the way you will interact with him or her in the future.”

As I am transitioning and open to exploring the possibilities, I pay attention to behaviours and actions from people and organizations that are described below:

“The basics of a personalized candidate experience

There’s a mix to find between human and automation and it’s understandable that automation can prevail until the enterprise decides to interview the candidate, but there are some basics no one should forget ;

1) Personalize

2) Show attention, care

3) Have a relational approach

4) Adopt long-term thinking.” — Bertand Duperrin @bduperrin

I would also do some digging through research and conversations to see if the organization and its people are focusing on:

1. Meaningful professional engagement.

2. Having a societal, business and/or environmental impact. 

3. Collective growth and personal development. 

4. Working smarter with #noemail

Hear great suggestions and insights from my learning partner, Luis Suarez @elsua, in this short video on how to embrace distributed work across different timezones and cultures.

🚶 What takes you out of your comfort zone & help you build new skills?

When I was involved with the startup ‘TheNewABC‘ as co-founder and COO, I didn’t know how to:

  • Develop products digitally and remotely in and with teams and an ecosystem of co-creators.
  • Build, nurture and maintain relationships via social channels and collaborative tools with prospects, customers, ambassadors and possible partners, and move them.

I was just thrown in the deep. I observed some practices and behaviours to develop, reflect, and iterate on advice and practices and what works and what doesn’t. It was truly about embracing not knowing, learning by doing and iterating.  I also had the chance to learn and practice together approaches we used through online resources and conversations such as:

As shared in this post, I also think that it could also be about going beyond one method, approach, framework, a process like systems thinking, design thinking or any approach. However, I wonder these days if it is really about mixing up different approaches for shaping our own cornucopia.

🚶 What are your own teamwork skills? What do you need to work on?

Extracted from the ebook:

“Take this exercise. You will need to think of teams of which you are or were a part. Once you have answered all the questions, you will see the scores for each of the types of roles people play in groups. What did this exercise tell you about your own teamwork skills? What do you need to work on?”

After doing the online exercise, here is my score per role:

Evaluator 5
Ideas Person 6
Leader 4
Compromiser 5
Summarizer 7
Recorder 7
Encourager 7

The webpage for doing the exercise contains a description of the role people can play in meetings. Here are my thoughts per role:


I tend to think critically before making a decision. I often ask: what are the (other) possibilities? Ideas Person

As I love learning and connecting the dots, I see myself as an idea person.

I also like to suggest: why don’t we consider doing it this way?


I also believe that identifying/using our uniqueness and skills is how we matter.


“It is all about the deep, meaningful connection @rotanarotana” — @marciamarcia” as shared in my post.

Summarizer / clarifier and recorder

It is about building on each other’s ideas while co-creating and adding value.

I also learned that writing down answers to questions such as: why, what, who, where, when, how, and identifying the context and the benefits of a project or action can help summarize and clarify what has been said, thought and felt during a meeting. Then, after sleeping on the answers for a while, they can be revisited and iterated if needed.


I try to bring my energy, enthusiasm, curated and new ideas when possible for propelling teamwork.

👐 Why do you share?

To develop and nurture relationships, to make sense of our world together. Personal Meaning Ecosystem makes us interesting as we engage in networks and conversations. And doing so implies doing some homework:

“I usually begin with an open-ended inquiry. I liken this to dipping my ladle into an immense river of knowledge that’s flowing by. If I miss something, it’s not a big deal; important stuff comes by more than once. I extract general pointers and patterns from tributaries.

“The next phase is processing what I’ve found. What happens is refinement, hypothesis-testing, looking for patterns, mapping, conversation and reflecting on ideas and images that are emerging. I generally do my best synthesis while asleep. I plant an idea or just have concepts floating around in my head; overnight the boys in the back room come up with a new way of looking at things. Among the streams that feed this phase of sense-making are.”

Eventually, I turn from pulling ideas into pushing them out. I share my take on things in conversations, both in person and in social networks. I post definitive thoughts to my learn stream. That generates feedback that enables me to improve things. It’s a virtuous circle.

For me, this cycle of pull-reflect-push is my contribution to the knowledge commons that is the Web. I believe in karma. I give to the Web and the Web gives back. I always receive more than I give. In an organization, I think this process of seeking out and sharing meaning is a responsibility of enlightened social citizenship…” — Jay Cross in ‘Making Sense of the World’.

And as shared by Johnnie More (@johnniemoore) via this tweet and article:

“In a world brimming with information, knowledge is no longer power. Discernment and judgement come to the fore. We must choose wisely.”

🌌 So why & how do you grow your own professional network?

“Do you have a Personal Learning Network or PLN? In “Are we in an age of collective learning?”, Rotana Ty asks, “Are you curating smart networks?” Gideon Rosenblatt: The way we curate our connections shapes our networks in ways that affect their health and effectiveness.

This blog post discusses getting perspectives, insights and engaging in online meaningful conversations and connected knowledge networks.

🌌 Are you using Twitter strategically for professional networking?

After reading an insightful post from Venessa Miemis about her use and reflection on “How to use Twitter to build collective intelligence?” I started to change my mindset. I adopted her perspective in observing and contributing. I asked myself those questions:

  • Who is connected to which networks? 
  • Who are the people who are discussing together weekly? 
  • How do they contribute to the global brain? 
  • Do they belong to Twitter lists of mavens or novices? 
  • Who trusts who? 
  • Who influences who? 

Those questions changed everything for me. This perspective helped me make sense of networks and the world every day while I started and revisited my learning journey.

🌊 Why do you keep up to date with industry or professional trends?

As I notice, we are living in an age of emergence and ambiguity as @sahana2802 writes, and of mega shifts as @gleonhard underlines:

“Megashifts are much more than mere paradigm shifts, which usually affect only one sphere of human activity. They arrive suddenly to transform the basis and framework of entire industries and societies. Megashifts do not replace the status quo with a new normal – they unleash dynamic forces which reshape life as we know it. Megashifts radically reconfigure the age-old relationship between our past, present and future.”

In this context, I especially explore two questions:

First, what are the impacts of emerging technologies on individual and organisational and societal levels?

Which shifts can be done for embracing emergence and ambiguity?

🌊 How are you going to ensure you don’t just collect dots – but actually connect them? What process will you use?

Ways that insight patternist and sense-makers use.

🙏 How & who could you get to provide the testimonial for you?

In building my work/learning portfolio and sharing projects through my website.

🎨  How do you record your progress & reflections?

This blog and my ‘gratitudes’ page.

🎨 What does your Modern Professional Learner & Designer’s Toolkit look like?

For more, could you read this blog post on resources I use?

⚡️ And you, why and how are you becoming modern learning professional?

Learning Concierge helps and supports individuals and organisations to take responsibility for their continuous self-improvement and development. By providing personal and responsive advice mapped to best-in-class practices, individuals can find new ways to overcome workplace performance issues. Discover smarter ways of learning, get ahead, win the race.

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