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By Colleen Wheeler | Tuesday, May 22, 2012

This week’s Featured Five: Training beyond the tools

The content team at lynda.com strives to create courses that continuously help you learn the key technological tools that you need to get your job done, and we certainly aim to make sure you have the best and most up-to-date information on how to use your tools of choice, from Aperture to ZBrush. Over the last several months, we’ve also been working to include more big-picture training that focuses on best practices, core concepts, and widely applicable skills that aim to help everyone, including those who may already be more well-versed in tools and techniques, take their work and skill-set to the next level.

For this week’s collection of featured free movies, I’ve picked a few tutorials that demonstrate this kind of conceptual, ‘beyond the tools’ approach. Although some of these video examples live within courses that are centered around a particular application, don’t be distracted, or deterred, by the application context—these videos all aim to give you foundational information that will prepare you to work thoughtfully before you ever touch the keyboard, and will stay with you long after you’ve stepped away from your computer.

What sorts of larger, more conceptual skills are you looking to develop? If you have suggestions or ideas about ‘beyond the tools’ training you’d like to see, please share them in the comments section below.

1. Finding and capturing a good photo In this excerpt from our Foundations of Photography: Composition course, Ben Long shares his thoughts on where to find good photos. You’ll find that the answer, if your mind and eyes are open, might be ‘anywhere.’

2. Understanding color as a signifier In this movie from chapter one of the Photoshop for Designers: Color course, Nigel French takes a birds-eye-view approach to discuss the significance, meaning, and changeability of different colors, including discussion of the connotation of colors, and how there is no such thing as an absolute color. Before you think about how to apply color to your design in Photoshop, you may take some time to consider why a particular color is right for your message.

3. Refining a concept In this excerpt from Digital Creature Creation in ZBrush, Photoshop, and Maya, Ryan Kittleson shares his practical advice for sketching and experimenting with sketches to make even the most whimsical of creatures. In this video you’ll see how Ryan approaches his doodling process, why he recommends creating lots of types of creatures to give yourself a variety of options, and what character analysis questions he asks himself to get to just the right design for a project, long before he ever launches an application.

4. Focusing and working to make yourself irreplaceable You might be the office wizz with Photoshop, Word, or Excel, but are you spending your time working on the activities that make you valuable? In this excerpt from Dave Crenshaw‘s Invaluable course, Invaluable: Making Yourself Irreplaceable, you’ll get an introduction to Dave’s system for identifying how best to employ your time and energy at work.

5. Web form structure, and considerations taken when designing In this excerpt from Luke Wroblewski‘s Web Form Design Best Practices course, you’ll get some big-picture advice on how to think about your web form’s structure, and what considerations you should keep in mind when designing forms for the web. In this video, Luke discusses the fundamentals of sequential, non-linear, and in-context forms, and why you might choose one over the other:

In this blog we talk about color, recognizing photography opportunities, the conceptual sketching process, web form design, and how to make yourself an invaluable asset to your team. These core concepts are just the tip of the iceberg—what sorts of larger, more conceptual skills are you looking to develop? If you have suggestions or ideas about ‘beyond the tools’ training you’d like to see, we’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.

By Dave Crenshaw | Sunday, February 12, 2012

Tell us about your career—what motivates you?

I’m particularly excited to help you take the next step in your journey to becoming invaluable to your industry in 2012. Once you’ve determined your passion, skills, and most valuable activities, the logical next step is to apply this knowledge to develop your business savvy.

Since the release of our first course, Invaluable: Unlocking Your Abilities, I’ve been inspired by the feedback we’ve received. It makes my day when I hear about ways that we’ve helped you succeed!

Our lynda.com courses are a massive team effort and we’re constantly refining the message in order to deliver what we believe is the best possible learning experience.

In order to make our courses the best they can be, and to serve you better as individuals, I’d like to hear from you. I’d appreciate anything you have to offer. To give you some ideas, here are some questions I’d love to get your thoughts on as you go about unlocking your abilities and developing your savvy:

  1. What are the biggest challenges in your career right now?
  2. What do you love about your current job? What do you hate about it?
  3. What motivates you at work every day?
  4. How entrepreneurial are you? Are you considering breaking out on your own?
  5. What keeps you awake at night about your work?
  6. What would you like to change about your professional future?

I’ll be monitoring this blog post and replying directly to your comments, so please, be as specific as you’re willing to be. I look forward to hearing from you!

Interested in more? • The full Invaluable: Developing Your Business SavvycourseAll business courses on lynda.com

Suggested courses to watch next:Time Management FundamentalsCreating an Effective ResumeProject Management FundamentalsInvaluable: Unlocking Your Abilities

By Jolie Miller | Thursday, February 09, 2012

Developing your business savvy to become an invaluable team member

Have you ever wished you knew the keys to excelling at your job, understanding your market, or connecting meaningfully with your customers? In our second course in the Invaluable series, Invaluable: Developing Your Business Savvy, Dave Crenshaw teaches you how to become a student of your company, your market, and your customers.

Business savvy is surely something we all intend to develop as we go about our daily jobs. But in the bustle of heavy workloads and demanding responsibilities, it’s sometimes easy to lose sight of the things that define long term excellence, customer connections, and a clear picture of the market.

For example, how would you answer the following questions?

  1. What does my company want from me?
  2. Where is my company headed, and how do I fit with its direction?
  3. What’s happening in my field, and how does that affect me?
  4. What’s my competition up to?
  5. Who is my customer, and how can I serve that customer?

When I took some time to ponder these questions, I was pleasantly surprised by the volume of insights I gleaned in a short amount of time. Whether you’re beginning a new career or hoping to grow in your current role, you’ll find that Invaluable: Developing Your Business Savvy is full of practical tips to help you explore questions like these.

The quest to become an invaluable professional is one that’s full of self-discovery, tough questions, and big rewards. Please let us know how you’re enjoying your journey in the comments section.

By Jolie Miller | Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Becoming an invaluable asset: new five-part professional development series

We’re excited to kick off a five-part professional development series this week designed to help you cultivate the traits of an invaluable professional. With the help of author and business coach Dave Crenshaw, we built the series around five tangible goals: developing your abilities, becoming a student of your profession, focusing on the activities that bring high value to your company, improving your professional networking, and positioning yourself as a leading expert. Whether you’re an entrepreneur or a new hire, this series is designed to help you unearth your full potential to contribute, innovate, and add value to your organization—right away and in the future.

The first segment of Dave Crenshaw’s Invaluable series, Invaluable: Unlocking Your Abilities, focuses on putting together a personal action plan that allows you to harness your natural talents, match your job responsibilities to those talents, and assess your performance. With an overarching focus on self-improvement, Dave shows how to develop yourself so that you can provide genuine and ongoing value to your organization.

Why not make 2012 the year you become the asset your organization can’t live without? Leave us a comment and let us know your aspirations for the coming year.

For more on Dave Crenshaw’s Invaluable series, watch out for these four upcoming installments:

February: Invaluable: Developing Your Business Savvy March: Invaluable: Making Yourself Irreplaceable April: Invaluable: Building Professional ConnectionsMay: Invaluable: Becoming a Leading Authority

Interested in more? • The full Invaluable: Unlocking Your Abilities course on lynda.com • All business courses on lynda.com • All courses from Dave Crenshaw on lynda.com

Suggested courses to watch next:Creating an Effective RésuméEffective MeetingsTime Management FundamentalsLinkedIn Essential Training

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