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July 2012
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TD Magazine

Continuously Learning

Darin Hartley's passion for training grew during his military career and has evolved through a 20-year professional journey in learning and development.

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Darin Hartley

Vice President of Sales and Business Development, Intrepid Learning

Prior to his time at Intrepid, Darin Hartley managed various teams at Dell Learning during his five years at Dell Computer Corporation. He also directed the E-Learning Courseware Certification (ECC) Program for ASTD. He has authored articles for T+D, Technical & Skills Training, and WorkForce magazines; and he wrote his fourth book, 10 Steps to Successful Social Networking for Business, in 2010. He has been on the ASTD Certification Institute Board since 2011 and is currently serving as acting chairman.

You have been working in the training industry for the past two decades after earning degrees in corporate training and training management. What first piqued your interest in the field?

I enlisted in the U.S. Navy at age 17 to enter the Nuclear Power Program. It was a world-class learning experience. I spent the final year on my last ship—the USS Eisenhower (CVN-69)—in the Reactor Training Division onboarding new program participants affectionately referred to as "baby nukes." I was always pushing the envelope, developing new ways to help these sailors learn what they needed to know as quickly as possible. This is when I got the "training bug" and decided what I wanted to study and practice after the military.

How has the workplace learning profession changed during the past two decades?

There has been a tremendous amount of disruption from technological advances, changes in the economy, globalization, and macro- and micro-level forces, all of which have shaped various trends. For example, industry shifts to learning management systems, email, e-learning, knowledge management, and—the latest mega-trend—social learning have been sources of ongoing change. Gamification, another very promising model, is just around the corner. Learning professionals have had to adapt their skills and competencies nearly constantly to remain relevant.

Who has influenced you most in your career?

Typically I am drawn to people who can discern my strengths and push me to the edge of my limits. This stretching has helped me to continuously learn and stay ahead of the learning curve (pun intended). Some of these people include John Coné, former CLO at Dell Learning; Tony Bingham, president and CEO of ASTD; and Sam Herring, my current CEO.

The many clients I have worked with over the years are also some of my greatest influencers. My wife Libbie has been a life coach, support system, and my biggest fan for over 26 years, which has been invaluable.

You work closely with sales professionals. What kind of training is most effective to develop today's sales workforce?

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In the highly commoditized world of product and service sales, often the ability of the sales professional to create a thought-provoking learning experience for the client is the differentiator among similar companies. Not only must sales professionals expose the business pain, they also must educate their clients throughout the sales process.

This requires access to the correct tools and information at the right time. Training that provides such access—ideally in the professional's specific field—is needed. Also, gamification is going to be huge in this space because it helps to drive selling activities in a competitive environment.

What career development and personal development books do you recommend?

The Challenger Sale is an excellent book about the challenger sales model. Reality is Broken is phenomenal. I also read everything I can from Fast Company, as well as a variety of blogs on technology and learning. And never underestimate the power of discussions and articles from LinkedIn and other social networking sites. Finally, TED is loaded with inspirational and educational videos.

What advice would you give to a young learning and development professional who wants to rise to the executive level?

Never stop learning. Never assume you know it all. Try new things even if you fail.

When you continuously learn, you are going to make yourself indispensable to your employer and clients. You will be a better utility player—a workplace learning SEAL—who can drop into any situation and emerge victorious and ready for the next assignment.

About the Author

The Association for Talent Development (ATD) is a professional membership organization supporting those who develop the knowledge and skills of employees in organizations around the world. The ATD Staff, along with a worldwide network of volunteers work to empower professionals to develop talent in the workplace.

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