Geri Stengel

 
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Entrepreneurs and Nonprofit Execs Have Style, Learning Style That Is


I talked a bit about learning styles in my recent blog,"A Successful Entrepreneur is a Student Entrepreneur."Let's take a deeper look at that; it's important. To be successful, an entrepreneur or nonprofit leader must keep up with technology, trends, economic fluctuations, etc.

Learning Style, Entrepreneurs, adult learners, nonprofit leaders, effective learning,There are lots of ways to get the information we need: classes, webinars, books, magazines, networking groups, mentors, coaches, and conversations around the water cooler. So much information, so many ways to get it! How can you make the most of your "learning" time?

By knowing your learning style. We each have our own. 
 
Some of us learn best by seeing, others by hearing, others by doing. Some people may need information presented in more than one way in order to take it in, or in different ways depending on the content. For example, many of us "get" numeric information better when it is presented visually, with charts and graphs, rather than as a list of numbers.
  
Learning styles are defined in many ways. The simplest is the hearing-seeing-doing classification I just mentioned. Other classifications take into account how well you relate to people; musicality; speaking skill; spatial ability; and mathematical ability.
 
The bottom line on all of them is: What parts of your brain are most active?
 
That is, of course, a simplified explanation but it gets us to the point: Figure out what excites your brain and you'll be able to choose options that help you learn more ... and more quickly.
 
Why spend money on a hard-cover book when you learn best by listening to books on your MP3 player? Will you learn more if you listen to music while you study or in the silence of a library? Do you absorb information better through an online class during which you can fidget and stretch as much as you like? Or do you need to be in a classroom where you can see and respond to other people?
 
Effective learners - which means effective entrepreneurs and leaders - know their own style and make it work for them.
 
It's easy to find your style. Websites (search on "learning styles") offer free tests to help you. Some sites have long, written explanations and tests; others use graphs and pictures. Most offer tips and tools to maximize learning for a given style. (Tactile learners, use that highlighter!) Which site will be useful to you depends on - you guessed it - your learning style!
 
I'll give you a few sites to get started. For the most variety on a single page, Google images for "learning style" wins the prize. It also has links to websites with classifications, tests, and tips. 
 
For a questionnaire to get you started, try the one from North Carolina State University. 
 
The Learning DisabilitiesPride website has clear explanations and useful tips for all styles. 
 
Take one or more of these free tests. Check out the tools and tips. If you find a site that you particularly like, let us know. And let us know if figuring out your style changes how you go about learning. Are you going to focus more on webinars and less on magazines? Add music to your workspace? Work standing up? What tips or tools were most surprising or useful?