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Learning the Important Lessons

By Steve Guglielmo

Learning is always something that interested me. I’m fascinated to hear what “learning style” people prefer (for me, I’m definitely a visual learner) and to hear about important lessons that people learned along the way. At the Emerging Leaders Conference that MHEDA and MHI hosted in Chicago on July 30, I had the opportunity to facilitate a round-table discussion. There were two questions that our table discussed that prompted the most lively discussions. They were “what is the single most important piece of advice you received during your career?” and “Tell us about your most memorable client experience, good or bad, and how you learned from it.”

The more time I spend talking to people in our industry, the more I realize that “learning” goes beyond committing product specs to memory. It has just as much to do with experiences. Learning from mistakes, learning from successes and most importantly learning by doing.

This issue has a lot to do with learning and education. This year, MHEDA debuted a new Learning Management System that had been years in the making. This LMS, discussed on page 68, is an online tool that provides members with a way to train employees and track their progress. It is interactive and blends several different learning styles together by incorporating videos, webinars, reading and presentations into each “Career Track.” And to ensure that the information is being retained, there is comprehensive testing for each module.

Also in this issue, I had the chance to interview Carolyn Perez and Clayton Hatten from Texas A&M University about their summer internship at Sunbelt Industrial Trucks. They discussed, at length, the value that they got out of doing a summer-long internship in our industry. Though they had been exposed to material handling through their Industrial Distribution class work, they both got to experience, first-hand the joys and pitfalls of working in sales. Neither Carolyn or Clayton had practical industry experience before this summer and the internship at Sunbelt reinforced each of their desires to work in sales. They also got real-world knowledge and experiences to draw from in their core classes in their major.

Education really is one of the core tenets of MHEDA. Consistently, member companies have told us that our educational offerings, from Convention and other live conferences to MHEDA University, are one of the primary reasons they joined and remain MHEDA members.

Recently, I was having a conversation with MHEDA Board Member Mike Vaughan about an idea he had for a column. He asked if I remembered the book “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten,” by Robert Fulghum. I knew of the book but hadn’t actually read it cover to cover, but it is chock full of important life lessons that can’t be taught out of a textbook. Some quotes that I thought were poignant are: “It doesn’t matter what you say you believe – it only matters what you do,” “It wasn’t in books. It wasn’t in church. What I needed to know was out there in the world,” “The grass is not, in fact, greener on the other side of the fence. No, not at all. Fences have nothing to do with it. The grass is greenest where it is watered. When crossing over fences, carry water with you and tend the grass wherever you may be.”

We all have lessons that we learned from our time in material handling. Chances are, the lesson is fairly universal, but the experience is the story. We’d love to hear your lesson and how you learned it for a new feature that we will be starting on TheMhedaJournal.org. If you have a lesson and a story that you would like to share email me at sguglielmo@naylor.com.