Letters, we get letters

A couple of days ago I was scouring the web, looking at other people’s books, papers, and programs to help people learn to learn. It’s pretty lean pickings. But I was impressed with the slick sign-up approach and first emails that arrive before you get to the course/link list/planning forms that you’ve just bought. The marketing outshines the reality.

I realized that the email I send out welcoming someone to the Aha Project was truly ho-hum. I fooled around with the formatting and ended up with something much more attractive.



Tomorrow I’m going to dig through the documentation and become a Chimp master. It will be a critical skill for following up with Aha! folks. I have already programmed letters to go out 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 weeks after purchase. They may become the Aha service.

I need to find out how much I can customize this puppy.




Started the day with a yoga session. Attaboy! This has to become my next habit.

Everything’s cool except this came in from the person who’s doing the cover and layout of the book:

Antony was been taken ill at the weekend and won’t be available for the rest of the week. I can only apologise for any trouble this has caused you. We are only a small team and this has had a severe impact upon our productivity.

I understand if you need to get this project finished quickly and in that case I can give you a refund so that you can find another provider. If you are able to wait until next week to pick this up that is also no problem. Just let me know what you prefer.

Lesson: when dealing with unknown subcontractors, best to have a Plan B in mind.

I’m almost through reading The Body Keeps the Score. The author seems to have been involved with every therapy imaginable. The book’s a smorgasbord of therapies. I’m most intrigued with EMDR for no one seems to know how it works. I wonder if you couldn’t have DIY EMDR on the computer screen.


Watching myself learn. Voyeurs welcome. I’m working out loud.

I have tens of thousands of words to write about the Aha! Project. Rather than write a treatise, I put new ideas into emails and private blog holding tanks. I write the words when I need them. Talking with a person in mail makes it easier to keep track of what’s what. Or to explore a new environment. For example, this riff from my last outbound email:

You three are good guys of the loose-knit L&D leadership community of practice. (I think the L&D uber-community is real although it defies traditional boundaries and is often electronic.) I want to pay back the community with this DIY learning project. As it stands, the book’s a piece of crap. But it has good bones and aggressively incorporating feedback can make it a truly effective way to change behavior a couple of years hence.
Dozens of people are reviewing the manuscript. I’m looking for organizations that haven’t done squat in the realm of informal learning. (They haven’t known what to do!) To ease their guilt over having done nothing for a top KPA and agenda item, organizations might carpet-bomb their staff, dropping thousands of copies on Aka! on their desks. Participants join the community and touch base with potential co-learners. Or something more directive.
I don’t know where my project is headed. It’s funded out of my pocket. It’s just me. Part-time. It’s an experiment. Wouldn’t it be cool if people were more enlightened, self-driven learners?
I recall the time in the book where I began a presentation saying, “I’m glad to be here because I’m really looking forward to hearing what I have to say.”
I’m practicing the story in different situations.
I dashed out a four-slide presentation to use for the healthcare opportunity. That PowerPoint will morph into a mind-blowing capability statement in short order.
July 28. I need to provide implementation advice for an organization that wants to roll out Aha! for corporate change. Now I have no choice but to develop an admin guide and implementation plan.

Two types of knowledge


Explicit Knowledge

#1 is explicit knowledge. By definition, explicit knowledge can be captured in words. It’s the facts. Answers on Jeopardy.

Retention of explicit knowledge is easily measured and graded and for that reason it’s where tests focus, over-simplified or not. We grade recent recall, but people have forgotten 90% of what they learned before they have the opportunity to apply it.

A wide variety of jobs rely on the look-up, transfer, and interpretation of explicit knowledge. They are being replaced by algorithms. This is not where you’ll create value in the future; that takes a human touch.

Some people (managers, consultants, teachers) mistakenly think that learning explicit knowledge is all there is to it because fact are the focus of schooling. A Silicon Valley engineer once told me that knowledge was simply “the stuff we haven’t figured out how to put into words or an algorithm.” The poor fellow didn’t appreciate the richness of life or the fact that somethings are too awesome to ever be reduced to words.

Tacit Knowledge

#2 is tacit knowledge. It’s about really doing it. It’s what separates a chef from a home cook following recipes. Tacit knowledge can’t be captured in a book. It calls forth judgments, emotions, and complexities that you only absorb through experience. Tacit knowledge doesn’t simply inform you, it makes you a better person.

The basic difference is that explicit knowledge adds to what you know. Tacit knowledge, on the other hand, transforms your identity. For example, you can know a lot about cooking but until you have tacit knowledge, you can’t call yourself a chef. It’s learning to know versus learning to be.

Take the phase “You can’t manage what you can’t measure.” It’s untrue. People manage what they can’t measure all the time. The higher you go in a hierarchy, the more likely you have to make decisions on the basis of incomplete information. You have to make judgment calls. You have to trust your gut feel because there are no measurements to go on. We reward senior managers highly because they have the confidence and wisdom to wing it when logic and explicit knowledge don’t provide the answers.

New York Times columnist David Brooks talks of two different sorts of personal virtues. There’s “resumé knowledge” what you know, primarily explicit knowledge. More important is “eulogy knowledge” what you’d like said at your funeral, and it’s primarily tacit. Brooks concludes “wonderful people are made, not born — the people I admired had achieved an unfakeable inner virtue, built slowly from specific moral and spiritual accomplishments.” It doesn’t get more tacit than that.

The Right Stuff


Aha! focuses on acquiring tacit knowledge from experience and conversation. It accentuates what makes us human. Challenge. Variety. Growth. Relationship-building. Judgment. Complexity. Human skills. This is where value is created. Expanding your experience is the way to get there. 

Change your work to include what you want to know and become. Whatever it takes in your organization, do something about it. Don’t let yourself stagnate. What’s good for you and good for them? Aha! shows you how to get there.

Get your copy of Aha! (in beta) for $2.99 here.

The role of tacit and explicit knowledge in the workplace by Elizabeth A. Smith

Lessons from Laura

tmlogoYesterday I reconnected with my pal Laura Overton, with whom I worked 15 years ago at SmartForce. Her company, Towards Maturity, surveys organizational learning practices. An individual organization gets an in-depth report on its Learning Landscape. They summarize results into industry reports; The Learner Voice was issued in May 2015.

Towards Maturity is a benchmarking practice that provides
authoritative research and expert consultancy services to
help assess and improve the effectiveness and consistency of
L&D performance within organisations. It leverages the data
gathered from the largest learning and development
benchmark in Europe.

From The Learner Voice #2
Nearly 20,000 learners have taken part in the Towards Maturity Learning Landscape since it started. Here are some insights from a random sample of 5,000 learners from the private sector who participated in a space of nine months:

  • 89% of learners prefer to work in collaboration with other team members
  • 70% use web searches to learn – irrespective of age
  • 42% access learning through their mobile device
  • 82% of learners like to be able to learn at their own pace
  • 44% learn for work during evenings and weekends
  • Recognition is important to over 60% of online learners

Essential or highly useful for learning what they need for the job:

1. 91% team collaboration
2. 81% manager support
3. 73% web search
4. 83% conversations / meetings
5. 67% support from mentor / coach / buddy
6. 64% formal education course
7. 55% internal company documents
8. 52% internal networks / communities
9. 50% mobile
10. 49% live online learning /
47% self-paced e-learning

75% want to be able to do their job faster and better
51% like to learn just for personal development
50% want to be eligible for promotion
47% want to obtain professional certification
41% want to be enabled to earn more money
39% want to keep up with new technology
35% want to achieve/maintain a higher certification level
35% want to increase productivity
22% want to pass an assessment
10% want to compete against colleagues for a high score

63% lack of time for self-study
40% can’t find what they need
41% find current online learning not relevant to their need
28% lack of somewhere appropriate to study
26% find learning content uninspiring
25% technology issues such as low bandwidth
22% learning objectives are not clear

Respondents appear to be talking about explicit learning only.

Aha! needs more on collaboration, web search, mobile.

Aha! feedback from advisors and reviewers

From Jos: Aha! not well connected. Can get lost in it. Didn’t know how to use it. Need guidance. Structure book in context of self-development. Adopt common chapter format: intro, model, why, so what.

Informal style is good. Book is “pure Jay.” Consider companion workbook.

Maybe collapse cast net and social into one chapter.

CONCLUSION: I need an editor to give structure and clarity to the book.

From Harold: Make it polished or don’t do it. Charge a full price because it’s a niche market. (I don’t agree because I’m in feedback collection and experimentation mode.)

From Curt: Createspace is wonderful. Great service. On demand, a cool looking hard cover can be made. Suggested I tie to my roots, 15 years of blogging and interviewing. Check Lightening Source for distribution.

Ten notes, reflections, comments, praises, suggestions, and items on the Aha! Book:

  1. Quotes from Socrates and Aristotle are amazing. They were people just like us. Learning just like us. Reflecting just like us. Prompts one to think about what people were trying to learn back then and from whom they were actually learning. And whether they discussed their educations and at branded universities like Academos. And just who was competing with Academos…and who was expanding access beyond the elites out there.
  2. Plog—as I said in Skype, keep working on this idea. It could be your key contribution. See final book I recommend below. It relates well to it. You might review that book and add it to your notions on plogging for personal growth and development.
  3. I found the table on pp. 128-129 very useful and related to my own work but it needs a title or label. It might also need a paragraph or two of Jay’s stories or stories you collect after or before it.
  4. Similarly, I really liked the list of noncollege degree holders on page 38. Might you add a story or two of one of these people?
  5. I also resonated with the idea of writing a personal obituary and I plan to use that in the fall instead of having my creativity class write an object obit.
  6. See page 133. I think Ward Cunningham developed the notion of the wiki more than 12 years ago. More like 21 years: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ward_Cunningham
  7. I would not end with “Get your boss on board.” Seems odd for a book about personal empowerment and taking learning responsibility to not really mention one’s boss anywhere and all of a sudden stick that in and yet not really talking much about the boss in that section (from what I can tell). I suggest you move it or rewrite it or expand it or delete it.
  8. Related to that…the templates for meetings are great…but I would either move them up or place in an appendix. Unless you described or introduced them more or embellished them with the stories that you are to collect.
  9. As you know, scales like the grit scale (or happiness scale) or growth mindset checklists make your book/ideas more interactive for the reader. Might you recap them at the end of the book in an appendix?

Tonight I ended #lrnchat by giving away 25 copies of Aha! to anyone who wrote me. I’ve got six inquiries thus far. I will write them tonight, ask for feedback, suggestions on who to talk with to launch Aha! If you love it, you know where Twitter is and we’d love any publicity you might provide. Tweet. #aha_project

I mention free Review Copies on Facebook and picked up three more reviewers.

Just waiting for feedback, and why ask for it if you’re not going to use it, slows the project down. This should give me time to locate an editor. Things are going forward as planned.

Dick Webster suggests I add this: [Do what your believe is needed,] it’s always easier to ask forgiveness than … to get permission (Grace Murray Hopper, 1906–1992: Rear Admiral, USN, retired. Pioneering computer scientist, first woman Admiral).

Also, mention that you can print it at a copy shop.

  1. “Current edition / version:” From URL <http://www.ahasite.com/>

“The revised printed Aha! will be released in early August. I suggest you wait for it if you like the feel of paper. If you’re impatient, you can purchase the current hardcopy book for $12. It’s edgy beta.”

Useful, as MS is continually updated, to offer print version as “just-in-time” printout of the current edition? Believe some on-line printers offer MS updating with most current version as customer’s order is received.

  1. MS notes
  2. 11 – add “Intelligence” and “Discovery” to contents
  3. 12 – add “science and learning” to contents
  4. 14 – add def. for Plog at first use: “Personal Progress Blog” (p. 17). Same for other initialisms and acronyms throughout. Add all to Glossary.
  5. 16 – blank page. Omit?
  6. 17 – Harvard data repeated – needed? “… subjects for the record.” Useful to say so if those matters are PLOG entries.
  7. 18 – “It’s the seat of reflection, [and the basis for putting your learning to work in your life – on-the-job, building a career, and achieving the goals you have for yourself and your loved ones]”  Useful to add to link “learning” (too often a school requirement) with the real world of knowledge work?

Re Plog: useful to discuss privacy and security of Plog site you recommend? Useful to ask the critic team to “take the recommended medicine” and set up their Plogs?

  1. 22 blank. Needed? Or, is each chapter to begin on a right-hand page?
  2. 23, ff. – “Chapter 3” – numbered chapters help show the books organization. Also numbering the 75 DIY resources as they appear. Useful to no. boxed six key points for chapter?
  3. 24 – 10K hours, 10 years is recipe for “excellence.” Does mastery = excellence? Would linking them make sense, e.g., “Take your choice: master or excellence. The point is continual improvement of what makes sense to you.” Good place to introduce the “build on your strengths, strength-finder assessment tool, and related resources? [noted on p. 30]
  4. 25 – Grit score to Plog. Add re repeating the Grit assessment in three / four / six months to see what changes your efforts have made?
  5. 27 – Do “JDI” side headings i.d. the 75 “ideas and tools”?  If so, nos. added for reference will help.
  6. 28 – JDI add? “Or both [Popova and Dweck] if you a gung-ho learner on the trail of “greater grit.”
  7. 29 – Are five “self-analysis exercises” in the 75 DIYs? If so, useful to i.d. and no.
  8. 29 – “… on my Plog.” Links in pdf file do not work. Useful for the critic team if URLs are provided for info., testing, feedback? Author’s self-revelation commendable!
  9. 31 – @ “JDI:” “Reflect on your signature skills.” “Reflect” sounds airy-fairy to some people. Useful to add action def. in Glossary and discuss at first use above, p. __? “Thinking about, considering what you know or believe about a topic, issue, or other matter. Making informed judgements about a situation, after thoughtful assessment of the factors involved.” Or some such link with action learning? Maybe helpful re “human self-reflection:” URL <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_self-reflection>.
  10. 33 – typo “Motivates ….” Are key words also in Glossary? URL for Hagel’s … Manifesto?
  11. 35 – Woops: URL useful even though the Manifesto is shown?
  12. 38 – Is Bobby Fischer not in the alpha order on purpose?
  13. 39 – Useful to expand on need for college if you want to try learning on your own after high school? Makes parents crazy, can also save a ton of $$. One useful URL is <http://www.uncollege.org/>. They encourage a “gap year” after H.S.
  14. 40 – JDI #__?

… more anon.



  1. Glossary in book is short and useful. Many more entries at URL <http://www.jaycross.com/wp/glossary/>. Useful to add items to book MS?
  2. Jay Cross publications: Impressive list at URL <http://www.jaycross.com/wp/12757-2/>. Useful to make reference to pertinent writings in book MS? Add key JC writings to book bibliography?



Notes to Jay, via eMail – because feedback link would not “Send” on my computer. (That is probably because Google advises me that my version of Safari is no longer supported. Computer upgrade in process.)

Re Book cover: “Jay Cross’ collection of resources for “JDI Learning” (Just Do It!) rockets thinking, planning, and action into the future. If you’re up for new views and ideas and tools – get onboard [or] join us on the journey.”

Manuscript (MS) comments:

  1. How about “75 ideas and tools for working smarter.”
  2. Or “75 DIY resources for working smarter.”
  3. Or, if an acronym fits: “… for working BEFFER – Better, Easier, Faster, FunnER.”
  4. Or, BEFFERS: – Better, Easier, Faster, Funner and SmartER.”
  5. Orange on sky blue works for me.
  6. Believe it would be useful to no. ways / tools, 1 – 75, in the Contents and text – for easier reference, discussion, etc.”

-end, i.e., beginning of feedback for “AHA!” manuscript (MS)


I’ve put guidance to an editor here

7/28. A reader is 30 pages into Aha! but didn’t realize he should go to Ahasite for links.

Richard suggests dropping the number from the title. Sounds like schlock.



When I was an Army officer (yes, it’s true), the protocol was that if you had a troop do 20 push-ups as a punishment, you dropped to the drop and did 20, too. It was sort an extreme practice-what-you-preach thing. Likewise, I don’t feel I can ask others to maintain a frequent Plog if I don’t do so myself.

I’ve been learning little technical things, just trying to get ready for beta-testing and sales. This morning I hooked up my sales plug-in and mail chimp. Now I have to figure out how to send mail. And set up automatic customer service letters. I’ve also continued to get used to MS Word and Photoshop. The iMac in the lab can’t get a wifi signal, so I’m working on that, too. Also figured out how to send review copies.

In the meantime, I’ve been neglecting news and developments, putting all my time into Aha!

My more general learning is working with freelancers. I’ve got a guy in the UK working on page design, formatting, and the cover. I said I was happy with my existing cover; it just needed tweaks. Existing cover:


This morning I received two alternative designs:

Aha-Cover ahacover2

So I’m getting a lesson in vendor management. I thought I’d been clear.

On another note, I started the day with 30 minutes of yoga. It’s a good onramp for the morning.

I’ve begun reaching out to my community. Getting advice from experts and asking for introductions and help with publicity. I naturally shy away from making phone calls, preferring the written media. However, in this case I must go face-to-face to get the word out.