Libraries, Lynda, LinkedIn and Learning

As I sat in a We Work Unbound session this past Friday, I got some knowledge dropped on me that was so intriguing, I woke up early on Saturday morning and drove to my local library so I could get my check-out privileges back.


Here it is. If you are a resident of just about any county in Minnesota, and you have a library card, you also have access to, the online learning home of over 6,000 courses for free. Yep, free.

No matter what your current gig calls for, you should always be feeding your brain. Not only to cover off “just in case” but to get your mind right for whatever your day brings. Getting outside of what is warm and cozy for you and pushing on should be a muscle in continual practice. Which is why I found myself in a conference room with people not from my company to occupy the same space for most of a random Friday (again, see We Work Unbound).

As our host, Melanie Hohertz (@Hohertz3) was establishing the baseline for LinkedIn profiles, she casually mentions this deal. If you’re not familiar: started in 1995 by Lynda Weinman as a way to support her books and the classes she taught. It has grown to a massive learning enterprise, which led to a LinkedIn acquisition back in 2015.

The critical bit here is two-fold. Libraries remain as awesome in 2017 as they were when Andrew Carnegie was building over 1,600 of them here in the US at the turn of the previous century. Libraries are important public spaces, especially as public spaces are becoming more rare. This leaves libraries as Donald Barclay states, “…perhaps the last remaining indoor public spaces where an individual can remain from opening until closing without needing any reason to be there and without having to spend any money.”


The second critical piece: maintaining skills and learning new ones is on me. Can’t put that on my boss or my company. I gotta show up and learn. is going to help me do that.

My first stop, my friend Steve Nguyen’s (@espnguyen) Lynda course, “Getting Work Done in #Office365.” This is a course that runs just under two hours and was co-authored with Steve Somers (@ricksteve) on being more productive using Microsoft’s Office 365 platform.

Time to feed my brain.

Yammer Meetup: Recap from Minneapolis

As the snow fell, I knew it might impact folk’s ability to get downtown Minneapolis for our Yammer meetup. The first snow of the season can throw a “hard no” into your desire to drive anywhere. Cortana might as well said, “Estimated time to your destination is…never.” While I am sure it crossed the minds of some, the twenty-eight or so Yammer users who braved the drive found themselves alongside some of the most inquisitive and helpful group of social collaborators I know.


A diverse crowd of users, the group included mature social collaborators and some that were just getting their networks off the ground. A good mix to be sure. This meetup was structured around the simple, informal idea of crowd-sourcing the asking and answering of  Yammer questions while enjoying the very best of Chino Latino‘s fusion food menu. As guests arrived, my co-host Steve Nguyen (@espnguyen) and I pointed to the two whiteboards in the back and asked them to take a moment to jot a question down or to tell us about a Yamwin they’ve had.


Once we reached critical mass, questions and answers started flowing. While Steve and I were in our official capacity of co-hosts, we really felt the room was full of co-hosts. Great thing about Yammerites, much like a lot of the Microsoft eco-system, people were more than willing to offer insights and not afraid to ask questions.

Like they often do, questions ranged from granular security functionality to broad, baseline social networking questions like, “How do I engage my leaders in Yammer?” I always dig this question because, doing social means being social and the responses reflected that. Here are some of my favorites.

  1. Find a part of the business strategy that really matters to the leader and seeing if Yammer can help in its execution.
  2. Get to know the leader’s administrative assistant. They can help get you access but they have to know you first.
  3. Encourage the leader to take pictures during their next site or plant visit and teach them how to upload to Yammer.


I haven’t been in a public forum on Yammer without these two questions:

  1. Yammer is still not dead, right? Tough one to control my eye roll on. Some folks just want to hear the answer. The roadmap and commitment on this one is clear. Why I think this is worth mentioning: I love to ask, “where did you hear that?” without putting people on the spot, I am just always curious. Inevitably, the response is something like, “I heard it from this guy…I don’t know where he heard it.” A lesson of this Yammer meetup and meetups in general, don’t presume people know what you know and answer their questions sincerely and best you can.
  2. Teams and Yammer, what to use when? One of my favorites. Steve walked us through this with the fairly well-known analogy, “Inner loops and Outer loops.” What was fascinating about the discussion on this night was since the Ignite conference, our audience of Yammer pro’s, had begun to develop stories, and company-fitting analogies of their own. These analogies were very much in the spirit of Inner loop/Outer loop, but customized to match company culture and therefore more likely to resonate with their users.

While we didn’t get to all the questions, the night came to a close after a good many chunks of Yammer wisdom were passed among the attendees. There was that familiar vibe of Yammer helps business when business engages and as our guests walked into the wintry night, they had a few more stories to share back at the office.