25 Jun 2012
I don’t always have the pleasure of working on projects where I get a chance to learn something new. This isn’t tied to freelancing. I remember it was like that with every single one of my previous employers. It’s just a simple truth that not every project is innovative or challenging.
That doesn’t diminish my desire to learn. In fact, it probably makes me more inclined to try a new technique or software, if only to stimulate my creativity. But if the project doesn’t require it, I find it hard to justify a higher project cost or longer timeline just so I can learn something new.
This is why I write. This is why I co-host EE Podcast. This is why I give presentations.
Whether it was writing for my blog, a publication or even a book, I never started with all the knowledge I ultimately shared. The process of writing is how I learned (and even mastered) subjects. Researching, creating examples, finding ways to convey information simply … this process of teaching someone else teaches me first.
It’s even more true with the EE Podcast. The subjects we cover are frequently those I have little to no experience with, and the guests we interview are far more experienced with ExpressionEngine than I am. And I like it that way. It’s like playing a sport with someone better than you: it makes you better. All the research and prep we do for each episode, combined with the actual interviews, give me at least four dedicated hours a month of focused EE education.
Giving a presentation, too, is a learning experience. Of course assembling the deck and talking points reinforces my knowledge, but it’s the attendees who teach me the most. After presentations, I always get great questions from attendees, and I particularly love the ones I can't answer. These give me a broader perspective of my topic, as well as a reason to learn more about the subject for next time.
All of this, plus my client work, means I’m ridiculously busy most of the time. Yet, for me, it is worth it on so many levels. Writing, podcasting and presenting has helped me build my reputation and are, basically, my main avenues for marketing myself. Sometimes I even get paid for it (woo!). But most of all, I pursue these endeavors as a means to satisfy my personal desire to learn and to do my job better and faster.