As a mentor for one of our customer experience associate teams, Sue Kinderknecht helps new employees learn the job and coaches everyone to be their best.

One of the training tools available to our teams is AdaptiveU, an online video platform we created ourselves. On AdaptiveU, employees new and old can review processes and study some of our more complicated accounts. They can also learn new skills by watching videos about everything from technology to good communication to the scrum method of agile working.

On AdaptiveU, Sue discovered TED, the series of talks on “Ideas Worth Sharing” from the events of the same name. “I had heard of TED,” she says, “but I didn’t watch the videos until AdaptiveU. Now I watch them whenever I can, and I find them really fascinating.”

 

TEDx Plano

Recently, Sue learned that less than an hour away from her home, in Plano, Texas, people were organizing a TEDx event. TEDx is a local event series modeled on TED. She decided to go, and AnswerConnect was happy to sponsor her ticket. Since the event was on a Saturday night, Sue and her husband decided to splurge and stay in a hotel to make a weekend out of it. “The thing that really attracted me was the theme, IF,” she says. The event encouraged attendees to ask, “what if one thing were different?”

 

Learning as a core value

TEDx Plano’s theme was right up our alley. We try to encourage our team members to ask questions, think big, and to always be learning. We aren’t trying to be a bunch of know-it-alls, but we’d love to be learn-it-alls—people committed to lifelong learning.

Asking “what if”

TEDx Plano featured several speakers addressing a variety of topics, from health to the arts to cities. For Sue, two talks stood out. The first, by Vinnie Minchillo, was about marketing. What are you really selling, he asked. “Advertisers use hope and fear to motivate us to buy things, to spend money, to spend time,” Sue explains. What if, Minchillo asked in his talk, we used hope more than fear in these marketing messages?

Sue says she was a little surprised by how much she enjoyed the talk by a local high school student, Varsha Appaji. The teenager described her studies of South Indian classical music and how it has taught her about how music builds empathy.

Though the music she studies is highly structured and requires tremendous discipline to master, Sue says, “she was trying to demonstrate that no matter how narrow something is, there’s always wiggle room, way for you to improvise and have an unexpected outcome.”

 

Stay curious

Even the lobby at TEDx was full of new ideas, Sue says. At the event sponsor tables, she learned how doctors at nearby children’s hospitals use 3D printers to create replicas of young patients’ hearts. The models help physicians explain to parents what exactly is wrong with their child’s heart and how they can fix it.

Another sponsor demonstrated how its software platform for data analysis could predict when airplane engine parts will fail, months in advance. “I don’t really have a lot of things that need to be analyzed,” Sue says, “but it was really cool.”

Sue says the key to being a learn-it-all, whether at TEDx or elsewhere, is to be curious. “You’ve got to be willing to walk up and say, ‘I know nothing about this, tell me about it,’” she says. “I enjoyed the whole thing,” she says. “It was really well done. I was so interested, and it entertained me. I would do it again in a heartbeat.”

 

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