The road to continuous learning is not easy, especially when you can’t find the time. It’s possible that you might have a full-time job, young children to care for, a family to attend to, or you may struggle with motivation and confidence. You might also find yourself uncertain about how to get started and the areas to focus on. And when you manage to find some personal time for yourself, heck, why not have a nice glass of wine and some pizza instead?
When you do start prioritizing that inner student mindset, something inside you changes. Your overall habits and approach shift because being a student is deeper than just taking a course (although that is a great start!). It’s about proactively taking small actions every day to learn how to be a better version of yourself because at the end of the day, it’s always you vs. you.
Yin Woon Rani embodies this “student-for-life” mindset in her daily life. With over 25 years of integrated marketing experience across CPG companies and marketing agencies, Yin currently serves as the CEO at MilkPEP. MilkPEP encourages the drinking of dairy milk on behalf of U.S. milk companies – and is probably best known for the iconic Got Milk? celebrity ads. She graciously granted us an interview to discuss her approach to continuous learning. We hope that our conversation with her serves as an inspiration and offers valuable insights on how to embrace this “student-for-life” mindset.
- Can you tell us about your journey with continuous learning and how it’s helped your career?
“Learner” is my #1 strength in the Strengthfinder system which makes sense given I was raised in Singapore where education is absolutely prioritized. I am naturally curious and love to absorb information from all kinds of sources – formal and informal, friends and colleagues, and my deep TikTok obsession.
Being committed to always learning and experimenting is increasingly important in marketing today, given the pace of change in consumers’ expectations & behaviors – coupled with the pace of constant innovation in the platforms and technologies that we use to connect with our customers.
It is never dull in marketing these days, so embrace the change and the chaos as much as possible – and learn to enjoy the constant waves!
- What skills do you think are most important for professionals to learn nowadays?
I think that modern professionals need to be comfortable with both soft and hard skills to be successful, but I think soft skills often become increasingly important as you advance into leadership roles. Having mastery of your technical discipline is critical to be a real contributor to your team and business, and there’s such a wide array of technical disciplines within marketing today that you can specialize in so many different things. Being literate and comfortable with data & analytics is an increasingly important capability. However, it is also important to learn to be a T-shaped executive who has depth in an area but can succeed cross-functionally – either within integrated marketing or in dealing with other parts of the enterprise. Having strong strategic and interpersonal and communication skills becomes critical when you simply cannot be the expert in every area, so you need to be able to function in, build and lead high performance teams.
- What’s your advice for someone who wants to keep learning throughout their life but isn’t sure how to start?
I suggest tackling it both in terms of mindset and habits. You need to be pretty committed in your heart and mind about why learning matters to you – find your own motivations that allow you to prioritize it amidst a busy day and a busy life. But also try to build “atomic habits” that let you live into that intention in small achievable ways versus feeling like you have to take a big swing like going back to school, or changing jobs, or pursuing more professional certifications. All those are wonderful achievements, but there’s also power in just promising yourself that you’ll read a new article on a topic every day or that you can watch some online content once a week or you’ll grab a lunch with someone you want to understand more about once a quarter. Small bits of learning can really add up over time.
- How has having mentors helped you learn, and how can others use mentorship to grow?
I have been blessed with wonderful mentors, sponsors and friends. My rich and diverse network is a constant source of learning and provocation for me – I learned by watching my mentors in action, and asking endless questions about why and when and who…..so I’m grateful for all those who were patient enough to put up with my curiosity. I think it’s particularly important to be able to learn from others who are quite different from you, as well as having role models closer to your natural style and affinity. I really do believe there’s something to learn from anyone in your circle – so if you have a “formal” mentorship relationship with someone, that’s an amazing gift but do not neglect the opportunity to learn from other peers and senior leaders that you do not know as well. And I cannot emphasize how sponsors and peer advocates are just as critical as mentors, especially if you are from a non-majority background of some kind.
Here at Flock, our core values include independence, innovation, inspiring change, and integrity. If you require assistance with improving the integration of a learning and development program, identifying skill gaps within your functions, contemplating organizational (re)designs, or any other people-related matters, please do not hesitate to reach out to us.