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INTERVIEW


and about what technology might do to help. And then technology was a mainframe computer! By the age of 26, I figured out


three things. I was a lousy employee – I’d been fired a couple of times for being too innovative, so I wasn’t going to be an employee. I wanted to become one of the leading thinkers in a field that wasn’t popular yet. So I looked at how technology would intersect with learning and training. I realised early on that I didn’t want


to be a consultant, selling my advice on an hourly, daily or weekly basis. So I decided to be an entrepreneur. I needed to focus on a field that wasn’t popular yet, by teaching seminars and then conferences. From 1976 until today, I’ve been doing the same thing. I also evolved in realising that my role was to be a combination of an analyst, at times a laboratory-tester of things, and then to be an advocate, a speaker, a facilitator and the like.


Who or what inspires you?


My parents, both of whom have passed. My father escaped Nazi Germany in 1938 and came to the US as an immigrant. Tat’s sort of not a good word to use these days, but he was the best of what an immigrant is – he came and learnt English and raised


I was a lousy employee – I’d been fired a couple of times for being too innovative





a family and was a social activist. My mum had been an amateur ice-skater and was a bookkeeper of the business she owned with my father. I learnt how you weave work, life and family together. Tey were not rich, they were working-class parents. Te best part is, I didn’t realise we were poor until I was about 13 because it didn’t matter. I didn’t really feel poor at 13, except that other people tried to tell me I was poor. My parents were, and continue to be, my inspiration. I love the speed of innovation. Lit- erally two days after Pokémon GO hit


12 | November 2016 |


the street, I got notes from people who had, in their basements, figured out how they might use it for learning. I’ve got no idea if they are going to get rich, but I love the fact that we have created innovation that doesn’t take a million dollars or a board of directors. Tat you can just go out and play with stuff.


What has been your lowest moment, and what your noblest hour?


My lowest moment was at university. I made the mistake, or made the success, of advocating that we had an evaluation of all our faculty and published it in a guide at the end of the semester. To me that seemed not so bad and we were going to edit, so if someone got a really bad rating we went to them. We had announced we were doing this and a faculty member called me up and said “I read your paper, can I use it in class for an example?” so I was very honoured. He came in and he ripped me


apart. Bluntly, he hated what I was doing and at the end he said “you’ll never pass my course” and that’s what you get for evaluating people! I realised there is a dignity around being an instructor. Very often we have to deal with people who aren’t going to succeed at something or who haven’t ‘got it’ yet. We make that failure feel intensely personal and permanent. It’s not. Tat was, to me, intensely damaging. One of my best experiences was


when I went up and was in the Zero G plane that trains the astronauts. It was terrifying. I got to do 12 parabolas in space and I had to take anti-nausea medicine. It was an unknown environment and I’ve never been the same since. Part of that was experience learning at the extreme.


What and when was your career turning point?


Tere have been a couple of turning points. I had an opportunity to study with a very well known psychiatrist and psychologist named Carl Rogers. I learnt from my time with him that listening is the most powerful skillset. My second turning point came at the time of the rise of the PC and I was asked by organisations such as IBM, Novell and Microsoft to help them build up what then became a


The 360 degree


“I have worked with Masie for over ten years and he never ceases to astound me with his insight and originality. Every conversation, every idea is a


provocation to think more deeply. He is totally engaged with learning at all levels and is one of the few that lives and flourishes on the leading edge.” Nigel Paine, author of The Learning Challenge


“Masie has been a leading figure in organisational learning for at least 25 years. He’s a great event organiser, but behind the showmanship lurks a keen mind, a generous spirit and amazing stamina. He is acutely


aware of the issues facing L&D and is still striving to tackle them.” Donald H Taylor, chairman, Learning and Performance Institute


“I’ve always seen Masie as the visionary leader on the major trends in learning methodology and technology. For me and our industry, Masie has been a crucial guide to all emerging trends and their impact on our organisations and society. I have enjoyed attending more than 25 of his events in the past 30 years.” Alfred Remmits, CEO, Xprtise


“What I admire most about Elliott is that he is a master disruptor and facilitator of learning. He constantly pushes us on the trends in our industry, causing us all to think about learning in a different way. He has


been a champion for our industry for as long as I can remember. He is the epitome of a life-long learner!” Bob Mosher, Learning Advocate, MASIE Center


“Masie is a punk dreamer: the song Pure Imagination by Willy Wonka perfectly captures Masie’s spirit. ‘…want to change the world, there’s nothing to it’. Second is, by disposition, he’s ‘punk’. He doesn’t


believe in expertise bur rather putting tools in the hands of doers and letting them experiment; warts and all.” Douglas Eugene Lynch, University of Southern California


“If America ever decided to have a 


CLO, it would be Masie. There is no one more associated with best practices in corporate learning, particularly in leveraging technology for more effective knowledge transfer. He is a unique individual, and the industry is lucky he chose to make it his own.” Kevin Oakes, CEO i4cp


@TrainingJournal


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