How to Productively Show Off What You've Learned

You love learning. So much so that you realize you may be over-consuming and under-executing what you've picked up. Modern Mentor shares her favorite strategies for productively showcasing what you've learned—so you look great and are delivering value to clients, colleagues, and customers.

Rachel Cooke
4-minute read
Episode #695
The Quick And Dirty

Showing off what you learned is an act of generosity as much as it is a demonstration of your personal growth. Here are some strategies you can use today.

  1. Host a lunch and learn
  2. Run experiments
  3. Share on socials
  4. Volunteer for a project
If you’re anything like me, you’re a sucker for development—personal, professional… if it nourishes my mind I’m all in. 
But also, if you’re anything like me, you may have a tendency to overconsume and under-execute. I keep a journal of running bits and bites I pick up as I listen, read, take online courses, talk to mentors, etc. I’m a wealth of knowledge and information. Which may fill a journal, but won’t move me forward. 
Learning can be addictive. It feels productive, but sometimes it’s the very thing holding us back. We think “I couldn’t possibly do X or apply for Y job until I learn more.” It’s a game your mind is playing with you. You know plenty. Now go do.
My solution? I proactively schedule days, hours, moments, or interactions in which I intentionally take action on an insight or idea I’ve added to my collection.
There are so many ways to do this. Today I’ll share a few I love, that work whether you work independently as I do or if you’re part of a team or organization. These are all ways to put your learning to good use, benefitting your personal brand while also delivering value to clients and/or your organization.

1. Host a lunch and learn

One super simple way to action your insight is to host a lunch-and-learn (or a free webinar or topical discussion—call it what you will). 
In my world, I spent a few months in 2021 really diving into all the research around the Great Resignation. As a leadership consultant, I had dozens of clients who were concerned not just about retaining their top talent, but keeping them engaged, committed, and well both physically and emotionally. 
I went into student mode. I was listening to podcasts, reading research, and talking to colleagues whose expertise was growing alongside mine. And after a few months, I felt pretty knowledgeable on all things talent retention and engagement.
So I hosted an open conversation, inviting about 25 Human Resources professionals from a variety of industries to come together for a discussion on the topic. I summarized for them what I had learned and shared how I was applying these lessons in client organizations. Then, I opened the floor for a collaborative discussion, inviting questions from attendees, personal experiences, and other ideas worth sharing.
This strategy served to position me not just as a subject matter expert, but also as a generous connector and an educator—all while delivering value to all who attended.
So your turn. What have you learned in recent months? Maybe you’ve brushed up on a technical program or have explored new ways of engaging with customers or you’ve discovered some new communication tactics that have been serving you.
How might you share your knowledge with those around you so that you look great while delivering value?

2. Run experiments

In the early days of the pandemic, as all my workshops were moving online, I had a lot to learn about virtual platforms. So I started reading blogs and writing down tools, tactics, and features. And I ended up with a list miles long. 
I needed to put these into practice with my clients… but I was afraid of messing something up in front of a big audience.
What I needed was a space for experimentation. So I started hosting virtual family meetings. My husband and kids (and often my uninvited but very opinionated dog) would all log on and I’d run test workshops. I’d experiment with whiteboards and breakouts and chats and word clouds—and I learned a ton.
This strategy gives you the confidence—and experience—to know you can bring your newfound knowledge to the masses in a way that will deliver value. 
Maybe you’ve learned some new sales strategies you’d love to test. But a real-life prospect may be a risky place to start. Can you role play your ideas with a colleague or even a past, trusted customer who’d offer you feedback to serve you going forward?

3. Share on socials

As your wealth of knowledge on a topic begins to grow, be sure to share that wealth! 
Likely there are others in your network who may not have the time or inclination to consume all the content, but who could benefit from some high-level insights or takeaways you’re now in a position to share.
So start posting your thought leadership on social media. You can create your own posts or share an article you loved. But be sure to highlight your insights and takeaways—what about this article spoke to you and why?
Further, use hashtags and tag colleagues or even your boss to draw greater attention to your generosity. 
Posting consistently with a handful of hashtags starts to position you as a subject matter expert, so don’t be shy. By sharing what you’ve learned—and more importantly what conclusions you’ve drawn from this learning—you position yourself as a generous source of knowledge. How could that not serve to move you forward?

4. Volunteer for a project 

Find a piece of work that could benefit from your skills or knowledge. 
If you’ve brushed up on your project management skills, is there a big, hairy project that seems to be spinning its wheels? Maybe you can offer to advice the team.
Maybe you’ve taken a business writing course and you could volunteer to start a team newsletter or polish some content on the intranet.
Or you’ve taken some leadership courses and now you’re ready to ask if you might manage an intern or help onboard some new hires.
You’re looking for opportunities where you’ll have fun playing with new skills and the organization or the customer will feel the added value of what you’ve delivered. You’ll be the hero. And don’t we all want to be the hero?

About the Author

Rachel Cooke

Rachel Cooke is a leadership and workplace expert who holds her M.A. in Organizational Psychology from Columbia University. Founder of Lead Above Noise, she has been named a top 100 Leadership Speaker by Inc. Magazine and has been featured in Fast Company, The Huffington Post, and many more.