You Can't Teach Me Anything


Recently I was doing a talk and in a rare moment, I was sitting at a table with some of the attendees eating lunch beforehand. Normally I roll in, start talking and then leave - rarely do I get to sit with the people I will be speaking with, but there I was. The table was full of vivacious humans sharing stories about what they do and why it matters and at one point I ask "why are you at this conference?"

Without missing a beat one of the attendees looks up from their salad and quips "I am here to do some networking but there is nothing I can be taught because I already know it."


I am sure I had the look of a Labrador Retriever when they aren't quite sure what is going on, you can't be taught? That same morning I sat with the other speakers and met a guy who was with Wordpress before it was Wordpress and he taught me some things about design, UX, UI, and some free tools that makes people's lives easier. I sat with another speaker who is an expert in micro-storytelling (think Instagram stories or Snapchat) with the ability to tell ephemeral stories that are as cared for as the largest marketing campaigns. A beginning, a middle, an end, and most importantly a point. Storytelling is contagious and learning from someone like that is something I will never pass up. That morning I read a story about the margins of the drop-shipped mattress business and before I read that, my daughter read me a story via FaceTime in Spanish and I learned the Spanish word for strawberry.

That was just one day.

The day before my mother was talking about a conference she recently attended and how frustrated she was because she expected to "learn something" that day. My mother is the definition of sage-like self-awareness, so she took a moment to think about that feeling and came to the conclusion that the speaker's job is delivering from the stage but it is up to you to find some meaning.

Which got me thinking about wonder.

The desire to be curious to know something.

The exercise of wonder turns the world around you into a classroom so it becomes impossible for you not to see things as new because you are always looking. After my talk I left so I am not sure if I was able to teach them anything new, but my hope is that they were able to learn something.

Eric HultgrenComment