To close out what has been an unpredictable and challenging year for all of us, I’d like to present you with a gift—one that, like many things during the Covid-19 pandemic, has taken twists and turns in the making, including a timetable that changed more than once. 2020 has been a year that has asked all of us to be adaptable and open to new ways of going about life. Case in point, the LinkedIn Learning course that the Connection Culture Group team is so pleased to share with those of you who are LinkedIn members.
How was your work impacted when the Covid-19 pandemic hit in the U.S.? We (Michael and Katie Stallard) live in the New York City area and “stay home, stay safe” restrictions quickly went into effect in mid-March and were extended and extended. All of our client trips and in-person speaking engagements were cancelled. Some conferences and workshops for clients shifted to being virtual events. Understandably, most organizations put plans on hold while they focused on immediate needs and navigating the shifting landscape of 2020. With newly available time on our hands and the encouragement of the publisher, we were able to go back into the manuscript of the 2nd edition of Connection Culture, which was in the late editing stage at that point, and address the rise in remote work and the convergence of high stress, the current loneliness epidemic and the global pandemic. The updated and expanded book was released in September.
The other major project began with a phone call in early August 2019 to explore the possibility of Michael becoming an instructor on LinkedIn Learning. We agreed on a topic and got the go-ahead that fall to begin roughing out what an hour-long course on creating a connection culture might look like using LinkedIn Learning’s format of short, focused videos to deliver the content. Scripting began in January, with a schedule of weekly deadlines. (We have so much to share about connection! How could we possibly distill it down to the requested maximum number of words for each video?) With patience and insight, our LinkedIn Learning producer, Christen Beck, guided us through the process. Then came coaching calls with Christen and our LinkedIn Learning director, Cody Joens. Scripts were finished, flights were booked for late March and we eagerly anticipated going to California to film the course in LinkedIn Learning’s studio.
And then… With the onset of the pandemic, Microsoft, LinkedIn’s parent, cancelled nonessential travel so LinkedIn Learning cancelled our trip. Strike one.
The next time slot available for our assigned film crew was early August. In the meantime, as we had done with the book, we went back into the scripts and made adjustments relevant to the changing workplace. The word came that we would need to film remotely. The “studio” would be the library in our home; the on-location crew would now be Katie, directed by the professionals in California. Boxes of equipment arrived, filled with a camera, lighting, audio and teleprompter equipment. With the guidance of the team that we could see on Zoom, we set everything up, tested it and started the “dress rehearsal” recording that would be used for the final green light to begin filming.
And then… Rain and gusts of wind from Tropical Storm Isaias swept through our Connecticut town, knocking out our power and WiFi, along with taking down several tree limbs and branches on our property. It was still dark the next day and the next. As a result, we had to postpone filming and pack everything back up. Strike two.
On the third attempt, six weeks later, we encountered several technical issues. “Opportunities for growth” became the phrase as the team trouble-shooted and problem-solved our way through each challenge. Fortunately, with the patience, knowledge and the upbeat attitudes of Christen, Cody and the rest of the production crew, at last, we completed the filming. LinkedIn Learning professionally edited the film, adding other footage, animations, quiz questions and support materials. The course went live in mid-November.
We’re pleased with the end product. “Creating a Connection Culture” provides an excellent introduction to the ideas and practices of connection culture. The collection of 17 videos of 2-4 minutes each, adding up to about one hour of overall content, is easy to watch in one sitting or you can break it up into segments.
Here is our gift to you this season: If you or your organization is not a subscriber to LinkedIn Learning, we are happy to provide you with free access to the entire course for a 24-hour period (once you click the link below, the clock starts ticking so take that into consideration). If you or your organization is a subscriber to LinkedIn Learning, you will have ongoing access to the course and you can also enter through the link below. Please note that while you do not have to be a subscriber to LinkedIn Learning, you do have to be a LinkedIn member to redeem this offer. To access the course at no cost, click the text that says “View Course for Free” at the bottom of this LinkedIn post.
With the prevalence of remote work, rising stress and greater social isolation due to the pandemic, now is an essential time to boost connection. We hope you will take the course and even help us raise awareness of the need for greater connection by passing the link on to your family members, friends and colleagues at work.
Best wishes for a healthy and happy holiday season!