Learn by Teaching

This podcast audio served as the source for the blog post “Want to Learn It? Teach It.”

The transcript was rewritten to produce the blog post, which is the cornerstone of the Shortcut Content system.

Shayla: Welcome to the Shortcut Content Podcast. I’m talking with founder Dave Young today. And, Dave, why do you think the best way to learn is by teaching?

Dave: Several times in my life, I’ve been in a position where I’ve been asked to teach something that I really didn’t know all that much about. It’s always a challenge and it’s always a challenge that pays off in really pretty good dividends. I’ll tell you one story. I used to work for a community college and I helped with their marketing and I helped with recruiting for vocational programs and one of the guys that worked their ran a testing center. And so, I’ve always been a little bit of a computer geek, I guess. Not programming, but I understand applications and so I had a spreadsheet application back in 1986, Lotus 123 and then I learned Microsoft Excel and so I always had a version of Excel that I played around with and kept spreadsheets on and kept track of some things. And through this relationship with this guy at the college that ran the testing center, he said, “Hey, they have a certification program in Excel and when they come out with a new test, they have to validate the test by having x number of people take the test. So if you want to take the test, I’ve got free versions of it, if you want to do that. I said, sure.

And so if you take the Microsoft Excel beta test and you actually pass it, you’ll get the certification for free. So I knew enough to figure out how to pass the test. And it was because of my background in knowing a lot of basic things about Excel. But I would never have considered myself an expert. But I got the certification. And then the college said, “You know what? Our teacher that was teaching Microsoft Excel isn’t going to be available for the next class. Are you interested in teaching it?” And I thought, well, I’m probably not qualified to teach it, but it’s taught out of a text book and here’s today’s lesson and we all as a class follow from step one through step twenty by the end of the day. So basically, in that case, I learned Excel at the same pass as my students learned Excel. I learned it by teaching it.

A month ago, here in Tucson, where I live, I gave a talk on podcasting. Now, I’ve been doing this business for about five years and we use a version of podcasting for source material that we create for people. And that’s just because we do it in audio. When we first started the company, we were throwing the audio away and just handing you back written words that you could post as blog posts. And we finally decided, well, let’s put a little music at the beginning and end and let’s create a podcast episode out of this. And so, over the years, I’ve learned a little bit about podcasting and when somebody asked me to teach it, I said, “Sure, I need to learn a little bit more.” But that’s the best way to learn is by just saying, you know what, I’m going to teach people how to do this. And so at the very core of what we do in Shortcut Content, it’s about telling your stories, sharing your expertise, and teaching people what it is that you’ve learned in the course of running your business. And so when you actually stand in front of a camera or sit down in front of a microphone and explain to people what you do for a living and how you solve problems for your customers and the kinds of things that you see when you’re out in the field, you’re teaching people. You’re using that moment to actually show them that you do know what you’re doing and you can actually teach them a little bit about it. And I think that’s one of the most exciting things about what we do here at Shortcut Content, because you’ll end up teaching people what you know, but you’ll actually become better at doing it and better at knowing it, because you’re able to explain it, because you had to sit down and explain it to us.

Shayla: So if you want to know anything more about what Dave’s talked about today, all you have to do is go to ShortcutContent.com. If you have any questions, reach out to him today. Thanks, Dave.

Dave: Thank you.