The Value You Can Create with What you Know

I wrote an article recently about how technology is revolutionizing higher ed and the two main themes I touched upon are:

  1. the importance of learning to learn — the ability to make sense of things, to find out, research, and think through topics, bodies of knowledge, etc. should be a lifelong companion
  2. the reality that learning happens everywhere — not just in the classroom; learning by example, deliberate practice, and learning by doing are all up there

Learning for the sake of checking the box, though it may net good grades and a degree is not helpful anymore. Because it is the value you create with what you know that matters.

In how to get a job at Google#, Laszlo Bock, head of talent, says "Your college degree is not a proxy anymore for having the skills or traits to do any job." What Google values is the ability to learn things and solve problems.

Liberal Arts are phenomenally important, because they teach you how to do the two points above really well, if you let them. I am probably biased here, since that is my degree, though from a university that dates back to 1088. So I will loosely quote something that my mentor and first CEO once told me about education:

You can always learn information and technical subjects. Learning how to think, now that is the mind opening, hard part.

Attitude and vision are harder to learn. You need to be good at learning, which also means acquiring the ability to unlearn a few things, or not hold onto them too tightly.

What’s Bock's best advice for job interviews? (and we are constantly doing them every day in our jobs as well)

“What you want to do is say: ‘Here’s the attribute I’m going to demonstrate; here’s the story demonstrating it; here’s how that story demonstrated that attribute.’ ” And here is how it can create value.

“Most people in an interview don’t make explicit their thought process behind how or why they did something and, even if they are able to come up with a compelling story, they are unable to explain their thought processs.”

Process is a good start. Building and doing something to exemplify and demonstrate it are even better. Though he's onto something with the ability to articulate that story well.


Valeria is an experienced listener. She designs service and product experiences to help businesses rediscover the value of promises and its effects on relationships and culture. She is also frequent speaker at conferences and companies on a variety of topics. Book her to speak here.

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