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The lynda.com Story: Founders and key executives share accounts of learning, teaching, and building their company.
Company cofounders Bruce Heavin and Lynda Weinman, with CEO Eric Robison and other top executives, present the early roots, current landscape, and future vision of lynda.com. This short-form documentary covers how Lynda and Bruce's careers, relationship, and company started and evolved, and how their vision and high standards have shaped the lynda.com mission to help others.
(music playing) Bruce Heavin: I had a really big passion for art early on, and it stemmed from visiting my doctor. Every time I came he'd take a urine sample, a blood sample, and he would take a drawing sample, and it wasn't until I was about 14 or 15 years old my doctor turned around and handed me a little booklet he stapled together of all my drawings through the years and he flipped through them and he just showed me how much I've improved and I did practice a lot before I went in.
In fact, I was very passionate about it, so I just kept at it. So I got this book back and I could see my progress and it was very evident and it made me really believe in myself and it gave me the confidence that I had a way of expressing myself through energy, through drawing, and through symbolism. Tanya Staples: Having worked with Bruce for many years, what continues to amaze me is the number of new ideas he brings to the table. He is a conveyor belt of ideas.
Every day he comes to the office with new ways of thinking about things and new ways to approach things, and that really helps drive the business forward. Bruce: I studied for years. I went to Art Center College of Design. Art was really about communication, it was about getting ideas across, it was about how do you communicate to the masses, but it was really illustration, editorial illustration where I really had my true love. I just remember loving doing magazine articles and album covers.
But it was always the editorial pieces where my heart was really at. The one that didn't pay well where I got 50 bucks for a piece, because it was truly the place where I could really talk about my point of view in an article alongside the author. I always found that to be fascinating and fun and challenging. Lynda Weinman: Bruce is a very unusual person. You know, I've never met anyone like Bruce. He thinks in a different way. He sees the world differently, and he's so creative and such a big thinker that he just stimulates me all the time.
He's always challenging my ideas, sometimes, you know, in a way where he's questioning me, but most of the time in the way where he's just stimulating me to think in a new way. And I think he does that for the entire company. I think we all view Bruce as the creative genius of lynda.com. Michael Schaeman: What I love about Bruce is his passion for exceeding the expectation of the learner. Every time they view a course, he wants them to be blown away by that experience.
Bruce: It was in third grade, I guess I got in trouble a lot in class. I didn't pay much attention, had a teacher named Mrs. Spit, and years later I found out by finding an old report card, she wrote on it, "Bruce doesn't pay attention in class. He often daydreams, and Bruce can't tell fantasy from reality." I thought that was really cool and cool because it's what an entrepreneur does, it's what you do, it's--you go from an idea and you make it real.
You go from fantasy to reality, and there is something beautiful about that and making it happen. It's one thing just to dream all the time, it's another thing that to pursue it to the end, to where you can get there. And I think that's a lot of what lynda.com is about is really having these dreams of what we could do with education and teaching, and how do we--how do we go from here to here in thin air? How do we connect them? How do we connect media? How do we connect people? How do we connect students? How do we connect educators? And that's been a real fun challenge, and I enjoy that.
I enjoy seeing that happen. I enjoy seeing it come to fruition. Erik Tarkiainen: So Bruce is really the creative inspiration at the company. He is my partner in branding, he is very involved in all of the details and looking over our identity, making sure that it's authentic and consistent and true to who we are, and the great thing about working with him is at the same time that he's ensuring that consistency and that alignment in our brand, he's also pushing us to evolve and extend it and challenge ourselves.
Bruce: I think I have one of the more interesting roles at lynda.com. I actually don't exist well on a work chart. I have all these invisible dotted lines to me, I guess. But what I really enjoy doing is looking around, and I enjoy crafting the experience, and I enjoy challenging what we do. I enjoy looking at where we are moving. I enjoy listening to our customers. I enjoy looking at technology and playing with technology. I'm constantly playing with the new gadget, gizmo, camera, device, computer, it's just constantly what can we do? Can we use this? Can we push it forward? And then finally, if something just clicks, if it's actually smart, if it's actually really good and actually well thought through, that's what we act on.
That's what we move towards. We look for that little idea that moves us forward. Eric Robison: I've never seen anyone do presentations like Bruce does presentations. He's just got this genius in approach that's unlike other folks. I really enjoy my time with him. His creative background as an illustrator, I think, is so important to the company and the design of the site. He has so much influence in the look, the feel, and the branding that we've achieved here.
Michael Ninness: What's interesting about Bruce is his drive for excellence and his attention to detail and his fundamental belief that details matter. So when you think about the member experience, the site that we offer, the features that we want to build, none of us are actually satisfied with the status quo, and a lot of that is driven from Bruce's desire to always strive for better. Bruce: I kind of look at lynda.com in our business, almost like I look at a game and how do you master it? How do you economize on it? How do you make it better? How do you make the education better? How do you make the results better? I think it's one thing to say we should do more courses, it's another thing to say we should reevaluate ourselves and really look at how we're going to go change education.
That's what I'm excited about is just with all the new devices today, what we can play with, what we can see, what we can do, and where we can go. And I always, always have my ear open, my eyes open. I'm always looking around, and I'm looking to see what could change and what stays the same, because not everything has to change. But I do believe that to operate a company like this, I myself have to change, to grow with it, to learn, because I think when you're not learning, you are actually in the state of dying.
I think learning is fundamental to pushing you and your career forward.
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