Learning & Development: A Recap of BackstageIT’s Recent Sessions
We’ve had many “Learning & Development” sessions for the last half a year. From refining communication and workplace organization to nurturing mental well-being and speech skills, we’ve discovered a lot of information, so we thought we could share it in an article, just in case someone could find it interesting.
Hey there, fellow learners! At BackstageIT, we’re all about the adventure of learning, and our “Learning & Development” series is where the magic happens. We’ve had the privilege of hosting some incredible speakers who’ve inspired, enlightened, and fired up our team members.
Ready to learn? Here’s a compact summary of all the sessions we’ve had so far:
1. Financial Planning with Vlad Calus
Our journey began with an eye-opening session by Vlad Calus, co-founder of Planable and the brains behind the “Minimalistu” project. Vlad helped us discover the world of financial planning, focusing on the importance of achieving financial independence and making long-term investments.
He simplified the complex world of Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs) and shared his knowledge on the platforms he used to start his journey toward financial freedom.
We learned more about Interactive Brokers, a simple platform we can use to start investing, and a very interesting tool, called Nerd Wallet Calculator, which can help us visualize our investments, long-term.
Vlad’s presentation captivated everybody since not a lot of people knew about this topic that much, leaving us eager to start our own paths to financial independence.
2. Getting Things Done with Sander Geels
Our General Director, Sander Geels, took the stage to lead a session on the importance of being 100% present during meetings and tasks.
He addressed a common struggle that many face, both in their professional and personal lives – lack of concentration. This is important not only for the quality of the work we provide but for ourselves as well, because lack of concentration can bring a lot of anxiety and overthinking.
He shared his experience with staying organized, advocating for the use of personalized tools, such as Google Calendar, and Remember The Milk. Also, he highlighted the importance of task prioritization.
This session not only inspired us but also laid the foundation for our Mental Health Awareness Month program, which was held in May.
3. Coping with Stress in a Modern World with Andrei Eșanu
In a world that seems to be perpetually accelerating, coping with stress is a challenge we all face on a daily basis.
As part of our Mental Health Awareness Month, we hosted a session on “Coping with Stress in a Modern World,” featuring Andrei Eșanu, a training specialist and national consultant in mental health.
The session was designed to equip our employees with practical strategies to reduce stress, build resilience, and strike a healthier work-life balance. The funniest part is that most of us know about those strategies, and some of us are already implementing them in real life. Strategies like breathing exercises, the ABC Model, The 4 steps of Refraiming, etc.
First, we learned that there are three types of stress: Positive, Tolerable, and Toxic. You can see below how they are characterized, but an important thing to understand is that these types are very subjective to everyone.
Then we had an exercise, called Wheel of Life, which you can try at home. Basically, you highlight each aspect of your life from 1-10, and you have an overview of how is your life. The goal is to have a working wheel, meaning it should look like a circle in order to function properly.
Andrei’s presentation allowed us to explore and discuss in-depth techniques aimed at improving overall well-being, and also, at the end of the session, ask for guidance on what to do in particular personal situations of stress, which he gladly answered.
4. Mastering Public Speaking with Veronica Coberman
Public speaking is a skill that often strikes fear into the hearts of many, but Veronica Coberman, mentor in diction and public speaking, made the prospect seem both approachable and exciting.
In her session on “Mastering Public Speaking,” Veronica shared a lot of practical tips, strategies, and insights.
Her presentation covered an array of topics, including managing stage fright, structuring effective presentations, enhancing vocal delivery with accents on the important points of the speech, and creating meaningful connections with the audience.
One of the most valuable things from this session was the simple structures on which we can make speeches based on. They allow us to always remember what we are talking about and not deviate from the subject. These are:
- When presenting yourself, you can choose two structures:
- You can mention something simple – something useful – and something captivating.
- Or you can mention something from your past – something from your present – and something from your future.
- When discussing a subject in front of an audience, you can choose these structures:
- Remember the problem – talk about the solution – explain the benefit
- Remember the problem – explain argument 1 – explain argument 2, and so on.
! An important thing to remember is that stage fright is a normal body reaction to a stressful situation and can be alleviated with proper practice and preparation.
5. Implementing Clean Architecture with Mihai
For our fifth Learning & Development session, one of our colleagues, Mihai, took the stage as the speaker, and he absolutely rocked it!
Firstly, he shared that the main source of inspiration for this session was the book “Clean Architecture” by Robert C. Martin. The book basically explains how you can dramatically improve developer productivity throughout the life of any software system, just by applying the rules of software architecture.
The presentation covered how their team has improved their backend application by using Clean Architecture, to make it more flexible and easier to manage, and they did it by:
– understanding the problem
– making the decision to refactor into parallel functionality
– drawing boundaries around the sub-domains
– drawing boundaries between the architectural layers
– understanding and implementing the Dependency Inversion Principle
– writing tests, usually ahead of the implementations (TDD)
– implementing the Core Domain Layer (business entities, rules, and use cases) using primarily the Dependency Inversion Principle, Inversion of Control Pattern, and other principles and patterns
– implementing the Core Domain’s needs in the infrastructure layer
Overall, it was an interesting session that left some of us curious to learn more about this subject. Others left the session motivated to implement it within their projects.
6. Effective Communication with Roman Gluck
The last, but not the least speaker for our sessions was Roman Gluck with the topic – “Communication Bottlenecks”, and let us tell you, it was the reminder that everyone needs once in a while.
A study by David Grossman reported in “The Cost of Poor Communications” stated that a survey of 400 companies with 100,000 employees each cited an average loss per company of $62.4 million per year due to inadequate communication to and between employees. Crazy, right?
One interesting point we thought we would share is what to take into consideration when talking to someone in the work environment, to avoid conflict, aside from verbal and nonverbal communication.
Here are some of them:
– Experiences that this person had throughout his life. A lot of experiences (such as traveling and interacting with different nationalities) tend to make a person more open-minded and have a lot of general knowledge, which can make the conversation more productive and interesting, and vice versa.
– Emotions. You have to take into consideration how is the person feeling, before having a conversation with him/her. Did the person come to work feeling stressed? Is he in a bad mood? Or otherwise, is he feeling excited about something? Their emotions directly impact how the information will be perceived.
– Information. Make sure that the person has access to all the information that will be discussed between both of you so that he/she can be prepared for the meeting or conversation you’re going to have, and minimize the stress factor.
– State of body. Is the person overall feeling ok? How is her/his environment at home? All these things can impact the person’s productivity or the whole work day. And knowing this, you can understand how better to approach the person, without being rude or conflictual.
Also, in the era of working from home and remote working, one important thing to understand is how you are perceived when communicating online. Based on Dr. Albert Mehrabian’s rule, the visual part makes the most of the communication (see below the diagram), and since online communication is based mostly on communicating via emails and messages, we need to be careful about how our words are perceived by our interlocutor.
The cherry on top was the Q&A session. Some of us shared some real-life work situations, and after Roman answered them all, together we shared our own opinions on how we would act in those situations.
Are you still here? Good! We hope this article has been as interesting as it was for us to write. The information above may be obvious to some of you, but even if it seems to be simple, it’s just as simple to forget it, so it’s always good to be reminded of it.