The Dangerous Middle

The Dangerous Middle

I’ve been thinking about “the middle” lately. Not the TV show – though I do enjoy that on the occasions I am able to watch it – but rather that average space in which too many organizations tend to find themselves. A place where it is very difficult to truly stand out and have an impact.

I often make the point when talking about Alan Weiss’ Accelerant Curve that too many organizations have a lot of “stuff” in the middle of the curve and don’t do nearly enough on either end. And they are feeling it in the attrition of sales and members.

In any case, with this type of thinking bouncing around in my mind I stumbled across a piece from one of my old newsletters and – even after a gap of a few years – it still resonated with me. I decided to replay it here in the hopes that it will resonate with you as well. Here you go:

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What is the Learning Economy?

Start with the individual terms:


Here’s how I define it:

the lifelong process of transforming information and experience into knowledge, skills, behaviors, and attitudes. (from A Definition of Learning)


I had to piece together Merriam-Webster and Oxford to get a definition that I felt was truly accurate:

a system of “interaction and exchange” (M-W) that governs the “the wealth and resources of a country or region, especially in terms of the production and consumption of goods and services.” (Oxford)

Interconnected System - Learning EconomyLearning is a process. An economy is a system. Both are dynamic and evolving; both never “end” in any meaningful sense.

In a Learning Economy, the process of learning is the fundamental driver of the system. Learning fuels innovation; it fuels change; it enables participants in the system to adapt so that they can sustain wealth and create new wealth.

Without learning, the system atrophies.

You could argue that every successful economy is a learning economy – and you would be right. What is different now, though, is the sheer speed, scope, and scale of learning – and, by extension, change – that is possible.

Technology – in the broadest sense – has made this possible. And learning continues to drive the advancement of technology. Both knock down economic barriers and borders.

A flywheel effect. A virtuous – or is it vicious? – circle.

That is the Learning Economy.


P.S. – What the Learning Economy is relates directly to what the Learning Revolution is.

Educational Content Marketing with the Learning Revolutionary’s Toolbox

Essential Tools for the Web Educator and Educational Content Marketer

Essential Tools for the Educational Content Marketer

I’ve suggested before that succeeding with content marketing is not necessarily easy – especially as more and more people jump on the bandwagon.  One key to making it work is to create truly useful content, and for my money, that usually means educational content.

To help give you a leg up on doing just that, I’ve released The Learning Revolutionary’s Toolbox from behind the e-mail sign-up wall. You can just click to download – no e-mail address or credit card required.

Free Download - Learning Revolutionary's Toolbox

In the Toolbox, you will find a range of tools to help you with creating and distributing educational content, whether strictly for marketing purposes or as a way of generating revenue.

Either way, if you find it useful, I’d be truly grateful if you would share this page with others by clicking any or or all of the social buttons at the bottom of this post, blogging about it, e-mailing, or however you choose. (Yes, I’m trying to practice what I preach.)



P.S. – Why not also grab the first chapter of Leading the Learning Revolution for free while you’re here and also set yourself up to get occasional, high-value updates from me on strategic thinking to fuel your life and business? Just sign up below (You can, of course, unsubscribe at any time, and I absolutely, positively will not share your contact info with anyone.)

Purpose, Strategy, Learning

In my day-to-day work I focus a great deal on concepts like strategy and learning at the organizational and market levels. Over time, I have also become increasingly interested in how these concepts, in combination with an overall sense of purpose, apply at the personal level.

“Strategy,” in particular, is intriguing at the personal level. We hear a lot about “purpose” – there are many books and whole movements based on it – and we increasingly here admonitions to be lifelong learners. (I’ve done my share of preaching about lifelong learning.)

But we hear much less about strategy. What does it mean to live life “strategically?” I plan to come back to the question a good bit over the coming months – I think it is essential for being a successful leader, teacher, and entrepreneur – but for the time being I’ll offer up the simple framework below to illustrate the intersection of purpose, strategy, and learning. This, for me, captures the essence of living life deliberately and intentionally.

Purpose Strategy Learning

 The three circles might be summed up as:

  • Purpose – the why, the driving force
  • Strategy – the what, the objective
  • Learning – the how, the ability to grow and adapt

If you have strategy and learning with no real purpose your progress will be slowed – if not killed entirely – by a lack of motivation.

If you have purpose and learning with no strategy, you may grow, but in mostly random and unfocused ways. (There is, of course, a place for this kind of serendipitous growth, but you probably don’t want it to be your primary way of approaching life or business.)

If you have strategy and purpose with no learning, you will not be able to adapt and change in appropriate ways over time.

The best place to be is “centered,” with an optimal blend of purpose, strategy, and learning. This, of course, applies as much to businesses as much as to individuals. And, of course, it is both easy to say and hard to do in both instances.



5 Tips for Cultivating Your Writing Habit

Writing in Notebook

Do you want to connect with an audience, have influence, sell, establish yourself as an authority, or grow your own business? (Or all of the above?) If you do, there is one skill that is arguably more important than any other you can possess.

You guessed it: the ability to write.

Even with the huge range of choices we now have for creating and consuming content, the written word is still at the core of the vast majority of our communication. We post it, Tweet it, use it to script out speeches, marketing campaigns, videos, games, and any number of personal profiles we share across the Web.  Search engines use it to find us – or not. We comment, and are commented upon.

Given how powerful writing is, it pays to cultivate it as a habit. Pondering that thought, it occurred to me as I was practicing my own writing habit this morning that I should revisit and share some of what I have written on the topic before. So, what follows is an excerpt (slightly adapted) from Leading the Learning Revolution: The Expert’s Guide to Capitalizing on the Exploding Lifelong Education Market. It’s from a section called “Writing It Together” in Chapter 7 of the book, “Cultivating the Content-Context Habit.”

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The answer is yes

 McEwan Atonement QuoteI am in the midst of Ian McEwan’s Atonement – a long overdue read – and I was struck by the following passage relatively early in the book. It unfolds inside the mind of Briony, the precocious 13-year old girl at the center of the story, and reflects her developing realization of the difficulties of being who she is and relating to an entire world of people around her – particularly her family, in this case – who are also busy being who they are:

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The Learning Revolution is …

Photo of raised fists for the Learning Revolution

We hear the word "learning" and our knee jerk, often unconscious reaction is to think "education." But, in reality, learning is not primarily about education. Indeed, formal, teacher-led educational experiences account for only about five percent of Continue Reading »

The Content Marketing Danger Zone – and How to Manage It

Danger Zone Sign

Concepts like "content marketing" and "curation" are finally going mainstream - which means it's time to beware. In this post, I explore why content marketing should be a key part of your marketing mix, but also how it can lead you down the road Continue Reading »

The Learning Revolution Hits Manhattan

Cobb-Houle Barns & Noble Manhattan

There's an interesting story behind the photo to the left. A friend - actually one of the people I mention in the acknowledgements to Leading the Learning Revolution - went into a Barnes & Noble in Manhattan to buy copies of a new book, and he Continue Reading »

MOOCs Hit Close to Home – UNC Chapel Hill Signs On with Coursera

Coursera Map Showing University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Coursera, the massive open online course (MOOC) company with roots at Stanford University, had already snagged my undergraduate alma mater, the University of Virgina. And Duke, just down the road, is also on its list. Yesterday the Chapel Hill News Continue Reading »