Washington State legalized marijuana for recreational use in 2012. A pot shop recently opened a few miles down the road, and over the weekend I decided to see what all the hubbub was about. My experience at Uncle Ike’s Pot Shop brought to mind several keys to effective learning experiences.
- Self-directed learning works… sometimes. Having never tried marijuana (contrary to what the FBI thinks… but that’s a whole other blog post), I felt a little anxious and extremely out of place as I walked into the store. I was relieved to see both clerks talking with other customers, so I figured I could just browse a bit and educate myself.
The problem was that I had so little knowledge about what I was looking at, I had no idea what the numbers or words on the labels meant. I had no idea what the difference was between a little baggy that had a little clump of weed, and a differently-labeled and differently-priced but no less little baggy of another little clump of weed.
Lesson for L&D professionals: While on-demand, self-directed learning can be an important and cost-effective element of any comprehensive talent development strategy, even the smartest, highest potential employees may need some human guidance every once in a while. Pairing employees up with a mentor to help create a foundation of knowledge upon which to build when it comes to self-directed learning can be essential.
- Dude, back off on the buzz words and snobby insider language. When I got to the front of the line, the clerk asked how he could help me. I confessed I had no idea what I was looking at. He told me that there were basically two kinds of marijuana in stock right now: _________ and __________. I can’t for the life of me remember what words he used. They were big and fancy and I’d never heard them before.
I asked him what those words meant. He explained that _________ basically meant that it provided a “deep, chill, stoned feel to kick back and relax,” while __________ offered more of a “lighter, creative stoned feel for the daytime.”
Lesson for L&D professionals: Know your audience, and when necessary lose the industry jargon and sophisticated terminology. Your audience will be impressed by how much they learn from you, not the size of the words you use.
- A mentor doesn’t have to love his role as a mentor… but it would be a lot cooler if he did! I was kind of excited to learn more about what I was looking at behind the counter. The closest I’d ever come to imbibing in The Weed was probably when I watched Dazed and Confused. However, the clerks were closer in personality to Ben Stein’s character in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off than Matthew McConaughey’s in Dazed and Confused. They were strictly business, and if I didn’t ask the right questions, I wasn’t going to get many answers.
Lesson for L&D professionals: Sometimes an employee doesn’t need formal training – classroom training, elearning, etc – they just need a mentor to show them the ropes. Simply pairing an employee up with someone who loves your business or who really loves your product isn’t enough; the mentor needs to love working with people and love teaching. Sometimes those qualities are innate and sometimes they’re taught, but those qualities are always crucial for a positive mentor/mentee experience.
In the end, I suppose I did learn a little bit, including the fact I was in way over my head, with no foundation of knowledge upon which to build or make an informed decision. Maybe I need to watch Dazed and Confused again before I head back to Uncle Ike’s.