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Democratising knowledge: The apple orchard

23 September 2019 at 5:30 pm
Mike Davis
Mike Davis shares five underused but amazing tools to help you learn, connect and grow.

Mike Davis | 23 September 2019 at 5:30 pm


Democratising knowledge: The apple orchard
23 September 2019 at 5:30 pm

Mike Davis shares five underused but amazing tools to help you learn, connect and grow.

The digital present that we live in offers us the unprecedented opportunity to learn, connect and grow. Knowledge is right here for the taking and it is cheaper and more accessible than ever too. If knowledge used to be the forbidden apple; it’s now the apple orchard – there in plentitude for all to enjoy. There is a good amount of choice for everyone. 

Democratisation is defined by Google as “the action of making something accessible to everyone”. With a suggested use: the democratisation of information through technology. 

The irony is not lost on me that I’m getting this definition from a service whose explicit mission is to “organise the world’s information”! Google is unequivocal about its desire to be the modern day Great Library of Alexandria. 

Despite the grandiose mission, the web is still very much a jungle and it is hard not to feel buried in poor quality, biased and unhelpful information. 

The difficulty is no longer gaining access to information but how to identify the best apple trees in the orchard. 

To that end, I want to list some underused but amazing tools to help you learn, connect and grow:

1. Meetups

If you are interested in getting better at something, there is a good chance that there is a group of people regularly meeting near you who share this interest! 

I’m talking about Meetups first as I love how they are able to use digital technology to enable face-to-face and local group connection. 

Meetup is full of startup, entrepreneurship, networking and business development options as well as excellent book clubs. 

If you are seeking to develop a skill and learn from a good network, Meetups are a great and easily accessible option. You will also gain the opportunity to connect into other people’s networks and share resources. 

2. Webinars

A few weeks ago, I had the great opportunity to present my first webinar with Pro Bono Australia and I was impressed by how many people we were able to reach and how efficiently we were able to do it. Later, my mum asked me what a webinar was. I told her it’s like a seminar but on the web! 

We had around 250 participants dialling in from all over the world to a session on communicating social progress and theory of change. Doing this session via webinar ensured that it was entirely affordable and cost about one tenth of what it would to do in person. This is not to mention all the flight and commuting time saved and carbon emissions salvaged.

Pro Bono Australia are now running webinars regularly and I’ll certainly be logging into these given how much I enjoyed presenting. 

3. Podcasts

Did you know Australia is the third biggest consumer of podcasts on the planet behind the US and UK? They have been huge in the US for years but are finally starting to be on people’s radars locally too. If you’re looking to pick up new skills or deep-dive into a topic area or simply to be entertained, podcasts are the perfect medium. 

I was at a wedding over the weekend where a fellow guest mentioned that he had recently become obsessed with brewing craft beer. He focuses his podcast consumption on boutique craft breweries in the US and has since won a local competition for his chocolate stout beer creation!

My previous Pro Bono News article gives some advice around great local podcasts to try. I suggest trying the Pocket Casts app, which has been my favourite across both Apple and Android phones for years. It was founded by a group of Australians and was recently acquired by a large US investment group. It is now also free as of last week!

4. Audiobooks

I use Audible for this and pay about $15 per month for one credit to buy a new book each month. There is also great free native content to enjoy. Audible is great for longer car trips, daily commutes, house chores and gym sessions. They are also becoming extremely popular, with a 2019 US research study indicating that 50 per cent of Americans aged 12 and over had listened to or are currently listening to an audiobook.

I recently read Payoff by Dan Ariely, which was an excellent look at how to motivate staff, and Great Mental Models by Shane Parrish, which offers a number of useful ways to solve problems. Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport was also a great read on how to minimise digital noise and waste in our lives. 

5. Online platforms

I was prompted by a friend’s recent story of how much she loved Seth Godin’s AltMBA course to mention this as a key development option. It takes just four weeks as an intensive and costs about one tenth of a conventional MBA. The online classroom is now a viable and attractive option to accelerate learning and career progress. 

There has been an explosion in online learning platforms lately and I highly recommend checking out IDEO, Skillshare, Udemy, EDX and more to help you upskill in any areas you are seeking to develop in. It’s never been easier or more affordable to hear from global experts online, teaching you applicable and relevant skills to help you upskill and hone your areas of practice. 

Whatever apple trees you choose, and I suggest you try them all of them at one point or another, just remember: “You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.” – Zig Ziglar

Mike Davis  |  @mikedav84

Mike Davis is a for-purpose executive leader, chief podcaster at Humans of Purpose and a board director at not for profits SIMNA Ltd and L2R Dance.

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