Laid off? Shifting from Earning to Learning

A good chunk of the world has been effectively put on pause and millions of people have been laid off due to no fault of their own. I have first-hand experience with what unemployment is like and how to battle through it and want to take the time to share some of my thoughts.

First off, I want you to realize that this is not your fault. Second, as challenging as this may get, I want you to realize that this is not a permanent situation. Your job right now is to find way to endure and move forward while we all work together to battle and defeat Covid-19. This is a mental game and there are some tools you can use to increase your odd of winning.

Your normal routine is out the window and you’ve likely been spending the last month or so trying to find a new rhythm that works. If you are at home and happen to have a family, then you’ll likely have a full house, which can be a challenge in and of itself.

I’m going to tell you first-hand that you’ll need to be on the lookout for two very powerful enemies. These are depression and despair. Not just in you, but in your family members and friends. Early detection and prevention are important.

Depression can set in when we feel like we’ve lost control of our lives and things are slipping away on us. I want you to take this to heart, you are valuable and matter regardless of your employment situation. You need to find ways to focus on things you can control and let go of the things you can’t.

Now let’s talk about despair. Despair shows up when you start having the sense that nothing you are doing is having any effect. Here’s what I’ve learned through experience. Even though it may seem to you that you’re not having an impact, quite often you are, you are just not picking up on it and there is usually a delay between your actions and the effect they have. If there is anything good we can learn from Covid-19 it’s a lesson on how interconnected and dependant we are on each other. You need us, and we need you.

So now let’s get into the main content I want to share in this post. It comes down to focusing on the things you can control and one of them is how you decide to use some of your new-found time. Since my background is in teaching and learning, this is where I think I can help you the most.

It’s going to be really tough right now finding work for a lot of people. I’m not saying you shouldn’t keep an eye out and by all means, if you see something come up it doesn’t hurt to apply. You can set up a routine to check for opportunities, but I can tell you for experience, you can become obsessive in your search, so try not to go overboard.

I’ve always held the motto that if I’m not earning, I’m learning. So this is what I propose. With a chunk of the free time you have, I want you to focus on learning and improving yourself. These tough times will end and when they do, I want you to be ready to seize the opportunities that are coming and maybe even make the jump into a new career. Also, keeping focused and busy working towards an objective is a very potent way to head depression off at the pass!

Now, if your situation is like millions of others out there, money is tight right now, so let’s talk about some low-cost ways to supercharge your learning.

Hands down, online learning is going to be your best friend. Let’s have a look at some great starting points. Remember, most of these have free or low-cost options and they can all be done online, at your own pace and have short videos you can watch and rewatch as you see fit. If this is your first time doing online learning, it’s going to be quite a bit different than traditional learning and if you give it a chance, I think you actually learn to really like it.

I also want you to change the mindset that education only counts if you get a degree, certificate or diploma. All learning is relevant and more and more top tier employers are de-emphasizing formal degrees and acknowledging alternative learning paths.


Coursera offers hundreds of free courses give you access to on-demand video lectures, homework exercises, and community discussion forums. Paid courses provide additional quizzes and projects as well as a shareable Course Certificate upon completion.


Except for professional education courses, there is no cost for taking edX courses when you enroll in the audit track, which does not offer certificates or provide graded assignments. However, if you want to be able to earn a verified certificate for a course and complete assignment, there is a fee that will vary depending on the course. The fees for the verified track usually range between $50 USD and $300 USD.


Udemy offers a smorgasbord of free or very-low cost courses and have frequent flash sales. You can take a course on just about anything form this site.


Khan Academy

While Khan Academy started out with a focus on math education for kids, you can find high quality, interactive content on science, engineering, computing and arts in the humanities and more!


Udacity began as an experiment in online learning, when Stanford instructors Sebastian Thrun and Peter Norvig elected to offer their “Introduction to Artificial Intelligence” course online to anyone, for free. Over 160,000 students in more than 190 countries enrolled.  Udacity has continued to grow and add to their technology and computer science-based offerings. Check out their interesting Nanodegree programs that currently have discounted prices for those facing economic challenges due to Covid-19. is a fantastic site for those of you out there looking to upgrade your computer, software or business skills. Outside of these core subject areas, you can learn about things like photography, painting, animation, music production and even learn to play the guitar! first month is free and I’d recommend you check if your local library to see if they have partnered with to give you free access. Make sure you check out the many learning paths Lynda has created that could help you shift into a totally new career when the time is right!

I recommend you find something that’s relevant and interesting to you and start with a single course.

Unlike traditional school, you can work your way through the lessons and videos at your own pace. Some courses may have an instructor you can contact when you need to, but many may not have any instructor at all. Remember to focus on developing your skills and understanding. This is not about trying to pass a frivolous test and then immediately forgetting everything a few days later. A half an hour here and an hour there over the space of a few days or weeks and you’ll have completed your first course.

I like to keep a notebook close by when I’m working through online courses, but if you feel more comfortable typing up notes, that works too.

As you progress through your courses, don’t forget to update your resume with your newly acquired skills and celebrate your victories.

Covid-19 – You are Part of the Solution

While governments around the world struggle to deal with the virus that has shaken our world, I am inspired when I see people from all walks of life, from all nations and all ages rolling up their sleeves and making the decision to find a way to help.

Each and every one of us has something we can contribute to help us get through this global challenge and perhaps come out even stronger on the other side.

It can be easy to think that if you’re not a front-line health care professional, a scientist or government official that there is really not much you can do to help the situation, but you’d be wrong.

I’ll be honest, what’s going on in the world right now is kinda scary. I have no real reference point in my life that compares to what we are seeing now. Over the past few weeks, my family and I have been hanging out at home and doing our best to maintain social distancing and only really going out when we need groceries or for a quick walk around the block with the dog. I am thankful that going for a quick walk is even a possibility, as I know for many of you it is not. I’m also thankful that we are still able to get groceries and have food in the house.

As a leader I’ve always tried to encourage my team and myself to look for ways to be part of the solution and not stay being part of the problem. And so with this in mind, I’ve been trying to find a way that I can help out somehow with this very serious and very challenging situation we all find ourselves in right now.

I’m not an engineer, so making respirators is probably not going to be my thing (but I have seen some amazing people step up here and I salute you!). I’m not a doctor or health care professional so that’s out and I’m not a medical researcher, so I’m not likely going to be the person to develop the vaccine.

Instead of focusing on what I’m not, I took the route on looking for what I am good at and how that could apply to our current situation. For starters, I happen to know quite a bit about teaching and learning, particularly when it comes online education. I know a lot of classroom teachers out there who have little or no experience in this realm. I also know a heck of a lot of parents out there with kids at home. Like me, they want to help their kids keep learning but aren’t sure where to start. Here is a problem I can definitely help with. With this in mind, I’m starting to make posts for parents and teacher and trying to help people keep learning regardless of their current situation.

Keep in mind it’s not just the kids. A large chunk of the workforce has been laid off. I know what it’s like to be out of work and it’s really important to not let despair and depression rear their ugly heads. You don’t have control over certain aspects of your life right now, which sucks. One of the things you can do is put whatever extra time you have available to learning and developing your skills and trying your best to help out where you can. I’m going to try to help people who are out of work too. There are a lot of free resources that you can leverage online to develop your skills, and I will be doing posts that will tell you all about these soon, so stay tuned.

To finish this post off, I want you to really think about what you can do for your community and your country. We all have talents and skills that can help out and I encourage you to look at the millions of little problems that are out there and see if you can be part of the solution for even 1 of them. Each and every one of us has value and each and everyone one of us matters. If you help even 1 other person get through this, we will succeed!

Ready, set, go!

25 Educational Documentaries to Check Out on Netflix

With schools still trying to come up with a plan for educating kids remotely and online, parents have been left scrambling trying to find resources and ways to help their kids keep learning.

In an effort to help keep me own kids learning and engaged while they hang out with my wife and I at home, I have compiled a list of 25 Netflix documentaries that may be worth having a look at.

Please note that while many if not most of these may be suitable for a wide range of ages, as a parent you’ll need to the judgement call.

1. 72 Dangerous Animals

2. Pick of the Litter

3. Naledi – A Baby Elephants Tale

4. Dancing with the Birds

5. The Great Hack

6. Mission Blue

7. Unstoppable

8. A Plastic Ocean

9. Dirty Money

10. Babies

11. Our Planet

12. Explained

13. Woodstock

14. The Creative Brain

15. Diana in her own Words

16. Nova – Black Hole Apocalypse

17. Chasing Coral

18. The Mind, Explained

19. Forks over Knives

20. Inside Bill’s Brain

21. The Last Man on the Moon

22. Great British Castles

23. The Ascent of Women

24. Life in Space

25. Jane