The secret skillset

Howard Gray
Dec 16, 2019 · 8 min read

Why workshops aren’t just the future of learning; they’re a key part of the future of work.

For a long time, I wondered how some people seemed to be able to connect with others so easily, speak so persuasively, and get their ideas to spread.

Did they possess magical powers? Some wizard DNA?

I also wondered why so many of us had to battle to get our message across.

Why did we get overlooked for that next big opportunity?

Why did we struggle to be seen as an expert in our field?

Many people I spoke with felt a deep-lying sense of frustrated ambition: they wanted to make a difference, be on the roster, be part of the team. They wanted to contribute. And they hated that feeling of being left on the bench, or simply not making the cut.

I felt this frustrated ambition in others, and I felt it in myself.

The Secret

Perhaps the secret of these magical beings was access to money, or the school they attended, or just raw brainpower?

It seems one of the biggest secrets to making these connections, to making a contribution, and to getting ideas to spread, lies in knowledge.

In today’s world, knowledge is one of our most valuable resources.

It’s the key to building careers, companies, and credibility.

But just having or acquiring knowledge isn’t enough. Knowledge is valuable, but it’s everywhere.

To be seen, to be noticed, to make things happen, we need to share it — and we need to share it in a way that connects with others.

The most powerful way to do this is by enabling and empowering others to make progress: by creating a place where they’re eager to learn.

The best bit? Helping others to learn is also a great way for us to learn. It’s a virtuous circle.

Learning at the zeitgeist

As the world changes faster than ever, all of us need to keep learning — and it’s becoming a big opportunity.

The online education market is projected to be worth $133 billion by 2023: individual creators are now becoming education media brands; and businesses are making huge investments into training their people in new ways.

We can see this happening everywhere:

The likes of Marques Brownlee, Marie Forleo, Scott Galloway, and John Green have built their own unique media brands largely through their ability to help others learn
Rapidly growing platforms like Masterclass blend education and entertainment; over the next 4 years PwC are investing $3bn into upskilling their people

Not only can we help others find success through learning, but we can also find success for ourselves.

As bestselling author and Wharton professor Adam Grant says:

Or, to quote legendary speaker, teacher, and salesman Zig Ziglar:

So, how can we best share our knowledge, encourage learning, and find the success we seek?

The future of learning

The future of learning is laid back, colorful, and not afraid to challenge the status quo

One of the very best ways to share knowledge, build skills, forge connections, and help ourselves and others succeed is through workshops.

Whether run in-person or online (or a bit of both), workshops are about connecting with others, applying ideas, and trying things out.

They’re about getting hands-on, experimenting, and testing out something new.

They’re about getting stuck, making breakthroughs, and seeing another way of doing things.

They’re not about sitting still obediently, listening to an expert who’s been put up on a pedestal.

They’re not one-way, and they’re not hierarchical.

They encourage us to experience something for ourselves, alongside others who want to head in the same direction.

They encourage us to do the work, and make it better.

They encourage us to encourage others, and get the encouragement we need.

In fact, workshops may just be the future of learning.

The power of workshops

Here’s what bestselling author, teacher, entrepreneur and workshop creator Seth Godin has to say about the power of workshops:

Workshops aren’t necessarily for absolutely everything and everyone, but with thoughtful design they can be utilized to support learning around all sorts of topics and ideas: from cybersecurity to calligraphy; non-violent communication to sustainability.

And the skills of creating and leading a workshop are applicable to any meeting, any learning… any interaction.

But it’s not just about workshops…

First off, these aren’t regular courses. They’re interactive.

They’re about the group, the cohort, the people going on the journey together.

And now more than ever people are yearning for deeper community, experience, and connection.

Workshops have the power to fulfill these desires.

And with workshops becoming the future of learning, there are huge opportunities opening up to people who are able to design and deliver them effectively.

The rise of the workshop creator

Being able to design and run your own workshops is a fantastic way to share your knowledge and ideas, and empower others to go out and do the same.

Workshops are also a huge lever towards becoming an authority, building a network, and unlocking success.

Process design and facilitation, the two underpinning elements of workshop creation, are now key competencies in the modern world of work.

And the skills you develop through this work aren’t getting automated any time soon:

  • The ability to teach and explain.
  • To communicate ideas; to persuade and influence.
  • To guide a group through uncertainty, and know which path to take when the going gets tough.
  • To see and hear everyone present; to create the space for the invisible to appear.
  • To take the lead; to perform when it matters.
  • To light up a room;
  • And step out of the spotlight when it matters most

These skills — creativity, emotional intelligence, managing people, co-ordinating with others — are among those ranked by the World Economic Forum as the most valuable for 2020’s world of work.

Those who are able to explain, facilitate, create — they’ll be the people in the middle. They’ll move to the center of new ideas, networks, and opportunity.

The workshop creators will be able to level up all kinds of products, services, and experiences: whether team meetings or company off-sites; skill-building sessions or product marketing campaigns; curating a live event or moderating a panel; launching an accelerator or incubating a new idea; pitching the client or closing that fundraising round.

These skills that move us to the middle can feel elusive, but they’re not exclusive: they’re for individual contributors and managers; entrepreneurs and freelancers; consultants and career changers; leaders and starters.

They’re for you.

This isn’t death by PowerPoint.

Learning how to do this kind of work usually meant signing up to corporate training classes that are nearly always dull, dated and uninspiring, or going in deep and qualifying as a teacher.

image via Unsplash

If you’re a busy professional or entrepreneur looking to level up and make a difference, neither of these options made much sense.

Then there’s the prospect of going out and designing and running your own sessions… live, for real, for actual humans? It may feel a little daunting.

There’s so much to think about:

  • How can I get people to understand this idea?
  • What if the slides don’t work?
  • How do I build a genuine connection with people?
  • What if everyone in the room is an expert?
  • What if I forget what to say?

Knowing how to do this work can feel like it’s overwhelming, too time-consuming, or just not a good fit.

And that was how it used to be. It probably wasn’t for you.

But not anymore.

You don’t need to quit your job, change careers, or dig a hole into your savings to be able to do this.

You don’t need to sit through months and months of passive instruction either.

The reality is you really can build the skills to design and run workshops that are engaging and inspiring: to be able to teach, communicate, lead, manage, guide, perform, and persuade.

These are skills that can truly transform the way you do your work.


Time to go beyond

So, the workshop goes way beyond the workshop.

It’s a place for us to join a scene. It’s a place we can create our own scene, and bring others along.

Austin Kleon’s Scenius Diagram

It’s a place for us to do the work. To improve it, and to share it.

The workshop is where we can build our skills, support others, and share our expertise and ideas.

It’s where we can level up ourselves and our teammates, or even create a new business of our own.

The thing is, there’s never really been a place for people like us who want to get better — who want to create the environments for ourselves and others to do great work.

Until now.


Workshop Creator is a 4-week interactive program (yes, a workshop!) that will change how you think about, develop, and present your work, and how you connect with others.

After 30 days you’ll be able to:

  • Design a powerful and scaleable workshop or short course format you can apply to in-person, online or blended sessions
  • Use the key principles of learning design so you can easily break down and compellingly convey almost any concept
  • Transform your content and ideas into a wide range of delivery styles and interactive exercises
  • Effectively use a variety of teaching formats so you can connect with every member of a group
  • Develop your own unique presenting and story-crafting style so you can stand out from the field
  • Utilize some of the key elements of effective facilitation so you can lead, guide and support a group of peers, teammates, clients, or customers

You’ll build a whole range of transferrable, future proof skills: design, persuasion, storytelling, facilitation, coaching, and leadership.

You’ll get support from our team of coaches and facilitators.

And you’ll meet the others who are also on the journey.

If you’re ready, we’d love for you to come and join us.

You can learn more and reserve your spot here >


Originally published at https://howardgray.net on December 16, 2019.

Howard Gray

Written by

Adventures in entertainment, education and entrepreneurial endeavours. I’m an educator, coach and project builder based in NYC.

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