Did you learn something new today?

By: Christine D'Angelo
Corporate Employee Communications

Discover the benefits of learning new things and take the 30 Day Challenge.

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Did you learn something new today?

Henry Ford once said, “anyone who keeps learning stays young.”

Throughout my career, I’ve had the good fortune to work with and learn from many wise, talented professionals. Some colleagues shared their technical knowledge or helpful productivity tips and many offered sage advice. One mentor’s memorable suggestion came in the form of a challenge — try to learn at least one new thing every single day.

Every day? That sounds like a tremendous amount of work and dedication.

Who even has the time?

There are 1,440 minutes in every day. With roughly 480 of those minutes allotted for sleeping, that leaves us with 960 minutes for working, playing, cooking, socializing, cleaning, shopping and, if Ford is correct, attempting to “stay young.”

Is it realistic to learn one new thing every day in those 960 minutes? That depends. If we’re talking about learning a new skill, the current consensus is it takes around 20 hours of your time. If you want to master that skill, many say it takes at least 10,000 hours of deliberate practice.

But what about picking up one new tidbit of information each day — learning a new term, a new recipe, a new concept? As an avid “Googler,” I seek out answers and information regularly, but can I really learn something new every single day and is it worth the time?

The benefits of continued learning.

There are plenty of obvious advantages to learning. Knowledge can help you become a better conversationalist, make you a stronger trivia team member and it also can help you advance in your career. According to one survey, 54% of employees said it’s essential they get training and develop new skills throughout their career to keep up with the changes in the workplace. Continuing to develop your talents means you stay relevant to your current employer. It also helps you become more adaptable and more marketable in a job search.

Continued learning also creates a sense of accomplishment. According to Vanessa King, positive psychology expert at Action for Happiness, “Learning can help us build confidence and a sense of self-efficacy. It can also be a way of connecting with others. As human beings, we have a natural desire to learn and progress.”

Did you know that continued learning is also good for your brain? According to Dr. Kathryn Papp, neuropsychologist and instructor in neurology at Harvard Medical School, “Cognitive and social engagement have been shown to be protective against cognitive decline, whereas hearing loss, depression and social isolation are associated with cognitive decline.”

The Global Council on Brain Health, an independent collaborative of scientists, health professionals, scholars and policy experts from around the world, agreed that stimulating your brain through various intellectual activities (e.g. practicing yoga, taking a photography class, gardening, learning a new language, volunteering, etc.) provides benefits for adults’ brain health and can impact how well your brain functions.

So, learning new things is a good thing for my career, can help build my confidence, will give me more to talk about and is good for my brain? Yes, please! Sign me up.

Where to start?

One thing you will learn rather quickly from an internet search is that there is a seemingly unlimited amount of resources to choose from for self-learning. There are articles, websites, apps and podcasts to help begin and guide your learning journey.

While researching this article, a colleague challenged me to put my money where my mouth is and document my own self-learning. To keep myself honest, for 30 days, I’ll take a moment each evening to reflect on something new I learned that day.

For those interested in starting their own challenge, I’ll share some of the tools and resources I find helpful and some brief thoughts on them.

“Learning something new is fun.”
—Alex Trebek

Day 1: I wanted to start my learning exercise with something fun, so I downloaded the Popcorn Trivia app for my phone. I didn’t retain much from my three-part ‘Bring It On’ trivia session, but noticed I missed answers to questions I actually knew because I was a little too quick. I’ll take that bit of self-reflection as a lesson learned.

Day 2: Found out today what a Spotted Lanterfly is and what I’m supposed to do if I come across one. ? (If you live in the northeastern U.S., it’s worth reading about.)

Day 3: I went down a complete garden rabbit hole today trying to learn about the Morning Glory Vines overtaking the fence of our new home. Apparently, some view these invaders as a thing of beauty and others a complete and utter nuisance. I fall someplace in the middle but anticipate a lot of time and effort in keeping their growth manageable.

Day 4: Switching gears today. It’s been a while since I spent significant time in Adobe Premiere Pro. While it’s been somewhat like riding a bike, some of the keyboard shortcuts have changed and others I just don’t remember. Option + delete to ripple delete is a definite time-saver I plan to remember.

Day 5: I’ve been casually in search of a beach cruiser bike since last summer, when bikes were somewhat impossible to find. I read there was a delay due to the pandemic but assumed the supply would eventually catch up to the demand. Since I still can’t find one in the box stores near me, I decided to do a little research. “Some industry estimates project it will be 2023 before inventory gets back to normal levels.” Yikes! I guess I may be walking around the neighborhood a bit longer.

Day 6: I learned today about misophonia and misokinesia. What started as a conversation with a friend about sound sensitivity quickly turned into a class on these two conditions. Fascinating stuff!

Day 7: How to make a natural vinegar weed killer: "A general recipe is one cup of salt, one tablespoon of dish soap, and one gallon of vinegar," says Eva Reutinger, a horticultural consultant. ? (Not saying this is in any way related to Day three’s research…)

Day 8: You would probably not guess this looking in my closet but there was a time, as a teenager, that I devoured the contents of fashion magazines, especially anything to do with Chanel. Seeing “Chanel-esque” tweed jackets popping up all over the place, I couldn’t remember the name for the style (it’s bouclé). That started a search that led me to the history of the boucle jacket and Chanel’s use of tweed.

Day 9: Maybe I was inspired by reading about Coco Chanel yesterday, but I signed into my Duolingo account today for the first time in almost a year. I downloaded the app for my phone in 2016 and made some progress in the French course but am back to basics again. J'apprends le français.

Day 10: I spent a good amount of time today looking for local newspapers currently in circulation. I admittedly discover most breaking news online but, having learned a bit about local journalism and storytelling in college from the late journalist Tom Bigler, I am always drawn to and appreciative of news I can physically hold and dive into.

Day 11: I spent two hours on Tik Tok today. Yes, two hours. Believe it or not, this was actually planned research for work. (Unapologetic plug — check out Inside Verizon on social!) I’m not sure how long I need to retain the #FancyLike dance or knowledge of what happens when you freeze honey but there it is, taking up some space in my brain. ? When the sun comes down, on my side of town ? (If you know, you know.)

Day 12: Today I watched LuLaRich on Amazon Prime, a fascinating lesson about greed, the power of social media and multi-level marketing.

Day 13: When it comes to gardening for the first time, I’m not sure which has been more overwhelming – sorting through plant options at the local nursery or selecting gardening apps on my phone. I was able to identify two Norway Maple trees in our backyard using the Seek app but I have a feeling I’m just scratching the surface with these apps.

Day 14: Scrolling through TikTok this morning (Again, research for work. I promise!) and came across this video about hold music. Spent the next 30 minutes reading about Opus No. 1, trying to remember where I heard it recently and listening to other popular hold music selections.

Day 15: So, geography is truly not my strong suit. I spent a bit of time today learning about city locations in California. Let’s just say that I thought the capital of California was a bit further south than it is.

Day 16: Checked out Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day:
Fulminate means "to send forth harsh criticisms or insults."
Ex: People sure do love to “fulminate” about the fashion at the Met Gala on Twitter.

Day 17: Came across this list of resources today. I could spend hours looking at the ‘Trending How-To Articles’ on WikiHow alone.

Day 18: A map of the human brain? Science is cool.

Day 19: A while back I started researching my family tree on ancestry.com. On one side of the family, I can trace my roots back hundreds of years but on the other, only as far as my great-grandparents. Every new piece of knowledge comes with a handful of new questions. Today I found a family tree created by a not-too-distant cousin. If his information is correct, I learned the name of a great-great grandmother today.

Day 20: Who doesn’t love a morning smoothie? Learned one new recipe today but am saving the others to try in the future!

Day 21: Highly recommend my colleague Dave Boerger’s article about blockchain. I learned quite a bit and found the security aspect particularly interesting.

Day 22: I had an in-depth workshop today on the Degreed learning platform. A learning session about a learning platform… meta.

Day 23: I know everyone is probably sick of pumpkin-spiced everything, but I came across a baking hack that is pretty great for those of us trying to watch our calorie and fat intake. Pumpkin is a pretty delicious substitute for oil.

Day 24: Many years ago, I signed up for a daily email that would tell me what to wear based on the weather forecast for the day. It may seem silly but for someone who is not a morning person, it shaved some time from my morning routine. I haven’t received those emails in some time but I miss them so I decided to see if that service still exists. From a search, it seems like those services were more popular 5-10 years ago. I did find a website that might be a nice resource going forward.

Day 25: As part of my learning exercise, I’ve been listening to ‘Skimm This’, a weekly podcast by The Skimm, which “breaks down the most complicated storiesof the week and gives you the context on why they matter.” It was an ad this week, rather than the content, that brought me to some new info. I discovered an interesting project called The Happiness Lab and a podcast episode called You Can’t Always Want What You Like featuring Yale professor Dr Laurie Santos. As a daily procrastinator, I found the science behind stalling fascinating.

(Note: I am also bookmarking some articles on “flow” and positive psychologistMihály Csíkszentmihályifor later.)

Day 26: As an extension of yesterday’s daily lesson, I signed up for The Science of Well-Being, a course on Coursera also presented by Dr. Laurie Santos. The course offers “a series of challenges designed to increase your own happiness and build more productive habits.” Sounds perfect!

Day 27: I have not watched an episode of Squid Game yet but did learn about making Dalgona today. I’m not sure if I’m daring enough to give it a try but I’ve enjoyed watching all the attempts on the internet, including our own team's effort.

Day 28: I learned so much from the extraordinary women featured on today’s Women’s CoLab Launch Event. One very specific takeaway was from the Ambition Challenge Exercise with Coach Cloe Caron from The A Effect. The five things to think about to combat self-doubt were great reminders.

Day 29: Learning continues, even on vacation! In Las Vegas to celebrate my sister’s milestone birthday, we took a stroll through the Antique Mall of America. We had a fun conversation with one of the vendors, who was also originally from the east coast. In our chat, I mentioned I was born in Brooklyn. By the time we were ready to leave, he had set aside a book about Brooklyn from 1920-1957. I only made it through the first chapter that day but, on the very first page, learned that just before WWII, a Society for the Prevention of Disparaging Remarks Against Brooklyn was formed. By 1946, it claimed 40,000 members!

Day 30: On a former trip to Las Vegas, I was so mesmerized by the strong scent in the Aria lobby that I wound up doing an internet search to see if anyone had an explanation for it and have been captivated by scent marketing ever since. The conversation came up again on this trip and I was able to find the name and makeup of the scent.

Day 31 (Bonus): My biggest takeaway from these past 30 days is just how many nuggets of information I learn on a daily basis simply by looking up a bit of trivia on my phone or searching for how to do something on my computer. It seems like no matter what the subject is, there is an article, podcast or video on the topic. I have a renewed appreciation for the technology and knowledge resources available to me, and for the benefits of continued learning. My next challenge for myself will be to spend 30 minutes every day focused on developing one skill.

Take your own 30 Day Challenge to learn something new every day and make sure you tag Inside Verizon so we can follow along. Are you up for the challenge?

V Team, go to VZWeb to join the conversation

About the author:

Christine D'Angelo is a part of the Corporate Employee Communications team and contributor to the Inside Verizon social team. She is a big fan of coffee, college basketball and pop culture discussions.

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