I would recognise Baker Street from anywhere in the world. The L’Ulivo restaurant that used to be on the right, after the exit from the tube station. Then a nail salon, and just across the street, people queuing at the entrance to the Sherlock Holmes Museum. Next, the Volunteer pub, in its green camouflage colours.
And then, further down the road, that red brick building, with an emblematic blue and red logo. I can see myself walking towards it, for nearly two years, my head full of dreams and inside me that feeling of happiness at what I was experiencing.
When I arrived at London Business School in my EMBA programme, little did I know what impact the school and its buzzing community of professors, students and alumni would have on me. I was a bit of an introvert, with a certain discomfort around small talk, but nevertheless the proud holder of a degree in psychology and a decade of experience in insurance and healthcare. To take the next step in my career in management, I thought it was time to swap my psychology books for some business training.
I came to LBS to get business education.
I never dreamed that what I would get from LBS was, first and foremost, people education.
During my 15 months at the school, I learned about marketing, finance and entrepreneurship. I had discussions with professors and classmates. I travelled to Dubai and Beijing, worked on international projects, attended events with distinguished speakers.
But the thing that had the biggest impact on me by far was the community: a global, bright, thriving group of students and alumni, meeting, learning together, giving back, creating opportunities. Slowly, I overcame my shyness and I began to build connections, to share, to speak in public, to understand how to spark conversations with people I did not know. Not only that, but I learned to enjoy it.
This new skill of connecting globally with people created comfort and well-being, which turned out to have a profound impact on how I learn and, as a result, on what I do today.
Today, I run my company, I teach at business schools and universities, and I help entrepreneurs develop their ideas through a not-for-profit that I co-founded. The skill I use most in my work, by far, is learning.
And I don’t mean learning in the way I would learn photography or coding, or some facts about economy or finance. I mean consciously becoming better at the learning process itself: learning how to learn.
Here are some thoughts about what I learned about learning :
1. Learning happens when we trust.
As long as I can build connections with people and see the world through their eyes, it does not matter what I do not know – I will learn, from them. As long as I can build trust, I can learn anything I choose to. It is as if trust and openness are prerequisites for learning.
2. Learning happens when we realise people around us have the answer – or elements of it.
I talk through all major decisions with friends, family and business partners. I talk with them even if I know beforehand what I will decide. An example I can think of is learning a language: A big part of it is believing that the people surrounding us know everything there is to know.
It is by listening carefully that we end up speaking the language fluently.
3. Learning happens when we are inspired.
I have been lucky to meet some inspiring and determined people at different stages of my life. The fact that I run my company today and enjoy my work so much is a direct consequence of having met them and having been able to listen to their stories.
4. Learning happens when we realise there is no choice but to keep learning.
When I meet fellow alumni, regardless of when they attended the school or what programme they did, we click almost instantaneously, no matter our respective ages, professions or mother tongues. It feels that we have something in common.
Maybe it’s the passion for learning.
Thank you for reading, dear reader. I will be back when I have more to share.
In the meantime, are you learning?