October 24, 2019


I posted years ago about the value of refreshing yourself every once in a while, comparable to the value of buying new running shoes even if you don’t think you need them

Now that I’m three weeks into my new role as CEO of LRN, I’ve had a bit of an epiphany.  It’s still true that down time between jobs helped me “sharpen the saw,” to quote Stephen Covey.  It’s also still true that spending time on outside interests like coaching baseball, playing guitar, and even a new activity of taking sculpture lessons all also help me sharpen the saw.  Conventional wisdom has it that activities like this help you open up new neural pathways and spark creativity.

But here’s my epiphany – the biggest sharpening of the saw for me is LEARNING.  (It happens that LRN is an education/learning company.  But that is beside the point.)  While I think I was an effective leader and manager through the very end at Return Path, I’m now realizing that I had gotten a bit stale the last couple of years.  There were still things for me to learn about growing a business, operating at larger and larger scale, focusing on a balance of growth and profitability instead of only focusing on growth.  But there wasn’t a ton of learning left for me to do in the industry.

All I am doing here in my first weeks at LRN is learning.  I am absorbing a ton of information.  By Thanksgiving, after 7 weeks on the job, I will have had hundreds of employee meetings and dozens of client meetings.  I am coming up to speed on the company, the industry, the adjacent spaces, the clients, the business model, and the people, all at once.  And all I can say is that I am loving every minute of it.  I am finding a level of energy, focus, and creativity that I either haven’t had in years – or that I had to push myself very hard to achieve, where now it’s coming as naturally as the sun rising in the east.

I love that I have new neural pathways opening up every day now.  And I love that they’re coming both naturally from my job and also from extracurriculars.  My earlier post closed with this, which is the thought I’ll leave you with:

We can’t completely reinvent ourselves every time we need a career pick-me-up.  But we can remember that every few months, it’s time to put on a fresh pair of running shoes and put some spring back in our steps.

It’s good to know that rapid-fire learning in-role is just another pair of metaphorical new shoes.