Thursday, May 31, 2012

Lunch for your Mind

I wrote a Career Ladder article “Why You Should Never Graduate” that was published in January about how learning is a lifelong pursuit.  Soon afterward I read an article on Brian Grazer in the Wall Street Journal Magazine that comes with the Saturday edition.  Mr. Grazer is a man arguably full of obsessions and compulsions, but what captured my attention was his lunch-time ritual.  Every day, he would invite an expert in some field to walk with him for half an hour and talk.  His guest would basically “download” their knowledge into Mr. Grazer.   

Here is a man at the top of his field.  He is a successful producer who has nothing to prove to anyone.  Yet, he spends his lunch walking around the block with scientists and artists.  He constantly feeds his interest in learning.  Granted, he does it in a way that is not attainable for the average person.  Jonas Salk is not going to schedule me in for a one-on-one chat as he did for Mr. Grazer. 

The point is less about getting the information in person from the best and brightest, but more about getting the learning at all.  I clipped an article from a 2010 Fortune magazine about Bill Gates’ favorite teacher.  Salman “Sal” Kahn produces You Tube tutorials on a huge variety of topics (over 1700) including algebra and biology.  They are free and they take only a short lunch break to watch. 

I bring up learning at lunch because it is hard to do your job while eating.  However, even if you are downing a sandwich at your desk, you can watch a 10 to 15 minute tutorial on your computer.  Or read a magazine.  Not one that is for your job, but one that contains information about other things in the world.  Some of my favorites include Discover, National Geographic, Mental Floss and The Economist.  One article will take only a few minutes to read. 

So give yourself something to chew on at lunch besides your sandwich.