“If you would be a good reader, read; if a writer, write.” Epictetus
I was filled with blogging nostalgia today as I read about George RR Martin’s transition of his blog from the LiveJournal platform to his own website. You see, LiveJournal was where I hosted my first personal blog in the early 2000s.
Over the years, for both personal and company blogs, I’ve used a variety of blogging and publishing platforms, including LiveJournal, Moveable Type, TypePad, Blogger, WordPress, and Hubspot. I’ve built my own and even had a Xanga account for a couple of months so my middle-school aged daughter and I could connect (this was back when Xanga was just getting started and most of its users were middle school and high school kids).
I’ve used these many sites because I enjoy writing. And, not surprisingly, my growth as a writer has played a significant role in my personal and professional development. Indeed, there is a clear connection over the years between my writing ability and the upward trajectory of my career.
Over more than three decades, my early academic writing and email talents have expanded into a wide variety of writing specialties — technical documentation, grant writing, RFPs and RFP responses, marketing copy, press releases, and formal corporate communication. During the same period of time, as my writing and communication skills expanded so did my professional opportunities.
Now, as an executive and employer, I see the same employee shortcomings that other employers reported in LinkedIn’s 2018 “Workplace Learning Report.” A lack of essential skills (I prefer this to “soft” skills) — strong communication (writing and verbal), problem-solving, and core technical proficiency — is the primary deficiency in today’s workplace.
Whether you’re a young college graduate, a school administrator, or a corporate executive, this essential skills gap is not easy to fix. The ultimate solutions will require a combination of essential skills focus in high school, retooling our core or general education curriculum in higher education, and redesigning in our companies.
And, as I was reminded today, a good place to begin this learning redesign is with writing.
Maybe it’s time to reimagine blogging as the new training sandbox for building the writing skills of future and current professionals.
The best way to begin is to begin. If we want our students and employees to write and communicate, we must have them practice those skills daily.
Rob Reynolds, Ph.D.
Executive Director, TEL Library