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Adapter’s Advantage: Episode 15
Jon Tota, Entrepreneur and Podcaster
Corporate training must be more agile to meet the demands of a new generation of employees. Technology is evolving to give learners choices and create a better workforce. Entrepreneur, producer, and podcast host Jon Tota discusses the pros and cons of user-generated content, insights for improving user adoption, just-in-time training, and how AI will drive the next generation of learning solutions.
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Welcome to Adapter’s Advantage, breakthrough moments that lead to success. Our podcast brings you insider stories of the moments that mattered, turning points on the sometimes rocky road to success. Here’s your host, Mark Magnacca, president and co-founder of Allego, the workforce training and readiness platform built for distributed teams.
Mark Magnacca (00:24):
Hi, I’m Mark Magnacca. Today, my guest is Jon Tota. Jon began his career in the financial services business as a technology trainer for a firm called PaineWebber and UBS, before co-founding Edulence in 2002 and creating Knowledgelink, which is one of the first subscription-based online training services. Under Jon’s leadership, the team at Edulence innovated the LMS model and scaled Knowledgelink to serve several hundred thousand users in multiple different verticals.
In 2020, Edulence was acquired by eLearning Brothers to make Knowledgelink the LXP platform for one of the most trusted brands in the learning and development space. Jon now leads LXP product design for the company and serves as a thought leader and educator, learning experience design and video learning strategies. Jon, welcome to the Adapter’s Advantage podcast.
Jon Tota (01:22):
Mark, thank you for having me. It’s great to be here.
Mark Magnacca (01:25):
Well, there’s so much to cover, but let’s start off just with all that I’ve described in your introduction there. How do you answer the question when you meet someone for the first time and they say, “Jon Tota, what do you do?”
Jon Tota (01:39):
For the bulk of my career when I look back on it, I’ve really served this role as a business analyst. I think that’s probably the truest form of what I’ve been over these years, is working between our clients, the users of our application and our engineering team to make sure that we were always innovating the product, moving it in a direction that would serve the clients the best way possible. I was never an engineer myself. I didn’t code and build the application.
I always did a little bit of sales, but I really spent most of my time in that role of working between our customers and the product team and really making sure that we were meeting all their requirements along the way. Today, that’s morphed a little bit in my new role where I’m essentially like a product advocate where I’m working with the sales team and the customer success team. Making sure that they are explaining the vision for the product the right way and helping educate our customers so they know how to use it.
Mark Magnacca (02:37):
Jon, as I’ve gotten to know you, as I listen to that answer, two words that would come to mind as I would call out what I’ll call your unique ability, it’s synthesizing and translation. I know one of the things that’s so critical in the financial services industry, in particular in the life insurance space, where I know Edulence really was focused, is this capacity to understand the needs of what someone in financial service is trying to say. Then being able to translate that over from a technical specification standpoint. Sometimes there’s a big gap in that arena.
One of the things that I want to start with regarding Edulence was that you were one of the first online video training platforms, which is obviously something of great interest to me. Coincidentally, for our listeners, you and I were working in a parallel universe. You were in the life insurance industry and working with some of the same clients that I was working with in a slightly different capacity. My question is, what caused you to start in that industry and build this company, Edulence? Then, what was the biggest lesson you learned from growing that company?
Jon Tota (03:51):
Yeah. It’s fun looking back now at the genesis of Edulence and how we got started. As you were saying, I started in financial services. I was actually … Out of school I wanted to be a screenwriter. I started writing and waiting tables. My family was all on Wall Street, and my father kept saying, “When are you coming? When are you coming?” At some point you got to come to Wall Street, right? You can’t stay away for too long. When I realized that my writing career wasn’t taking off, I took a job with my dad at PaineWebber, but I didn’t want to be on the sales side.
I didn’t want to be a stock broker, and this was back in the mid-90s. I said, “But I love technology.” I’d never really been trained in it, but I would love to learn. Back then, the technology was all LAN and WAN networking because nothing was internet-powered. At that time, it was really all mainframe technology, and I was fascinated by it. I loved that aspect of helping advisors leverage the technology and use it to create efficiencies in their business model. Then for me, I was always on the investment side of the business coming from PaineWebber.
I’d met my co-founder at the time who his whole family was in life insurance, so he knew the life insurance business inside and out. He was building local networks for stockbrokers in my office. I met him there and he said, “Hey man, when you’re ready to leave your dad, why don’t you come and partner up with me and we’ll start doing computer consulting together.” I did that a couple of years later and we started building networks for … My space was building it for independent brokerage firms and at that time it was a lot of day trading operations because I knew all of the Bloomberg systems and First Call and Reuters.
I would put those systems in and he was working on the life insurance side, building local networks for insurance agencies. Yeah. I really started to get more focused on the life insurance space, even though that was really my partner’s field because they just had a much greater emphasis on education. We spent so much of our time teaching people how to use the technology and educating them. That was always … In the life insurance side, as you know, education was their upper hand.
Mark Magnacca (06:20):
Jon Tota (06:20):
They wanted to get more educated, and on the investment side, it was all about recruiting. How can we recruit more brokers and get more brokers in the door? For us, at Edulence we really focused more moving in that direction. I mean, we were originally a technology training company before Edulence and then we started Edulence back in 2002, as you mentioned. We were doing a lot … I know you too, a lot with Guardian Life Insurance. They were one of our first clients. Working for agencies and for the company directly.
I remember back in, I think it was probably 2000/2001, the CIO at Guardian said, “We love what you guys are doing with adoption training for client relation managers.” At the time it was specifically easy data that they were using. My partner was brilliant with adoption strategies and it was two of us that could do it. We couldn’t handle a national contract and so we decided … I said I was a screenwriter and I studied video production in school. I said to my partner, “Well, listen, you have all this great knowledge.
Let’s go in the back of our office and I will put you on a green screen and we’ll shoot a bunch of videos and you don’t have to leave the office.” And we-
Mark Magnacca (07:37):
Like what we’re doing right now.
Jon Tota (07:39):
I know, right?
Mark Magnacca (07:40):
All these years later.
Jon Tota (07:41):
I was like … But back then you had to burn them on to CD-ROMs, or it might’ve been DVDs at that time. I think it still might’ve been CD-ROM based training. I said, “We’ll burn them onto CD-ROMs, and then sell them back to the insurance companies.” Well, then we started looking at the numbers it would have cost to burn all those disks and ship them. At that time we had this crazy idea of saying, “Well, it’d be much cheaper if we just put it online and we just let these guys watch it through the internet.”
Which now you’re talking about 2002 when we started building this. Not a good idea at all. The internet was not ready. Yeah. I remember those early days of showing it to insurance companies, they loved the training. They loved the idea, but man, it just rebuffered and rebuffered while you were sweating through the whole demo. I’m like, “No, it’ll catch back up. It’ll come back.” Yeah. That was the early stages for us.
Mark Magnacca (08:35):
What’s the big thing you learned going from that startup as the company matured as it relates to the learning process?
Jon Tota (08:44):
I think about this a lot because as you know, we just recently closed on the acquisition of the company. I think for us, if you look back, we pivoted the entire application at least three, maybe four major times. It was really looking at our clients. Again, going back to me being a business analyst by trade, looking at our clients the way they wanted to use the technology, where the shortcomings were. Really, I think our willingness to throw away one version of the application and rebuild from scratch, sometimes overlapping at pretty substantial cost.
Building a new version that was making no money for us while everyone was still on the old one, but knowing that you just had to throw away the old version and jump. We went to a full cloud-based SaaS model long before any of these large companies were comfortable with it, but we knew that it was just the only cost-effective way for us to keep moving everybody forward, rather than building a custom solution for one company and then rebuilding it and rebuilding it.
Yeah. I think just that willingness to listen to customers and be open to changing the application pretty dramatically when we needed to.
Mark Magnacca (10:00):
Jon, that’s such a great example, as you were saying, and I couldn’t help, but think about watching Marc Randolph, who’s one of the co-founders with Reed Hastings of Netflix, talk about the same thing, where they had built up this infrastructure around the DVD business. They’d learned so much about the U.S. mail, right? I don’t know if you remember, but at one point they actually broke it into two services, the DVD, and that was a disaster, right?
Jon Tota (10:24):
Mark Magnacca (10:25):
What I’m hearing in what you’re saying, which is so highly correlated with successful entrepreneurs, and part of the reason we call this Adapter’s Advantage, is that notion of adaptability. Of not taking it personally, because the thing that you’re working on, you’re realizing it’s obsolete or it’s going to be obsolete before everyone else does. Rather than wait until your customers are telling you that, you’re getting ahead of it.
They may not be ready for cloud-based SaaS software yet, but the fact that you’re moving in that direction and staying ahead of them, that’s a big part of the leadership, confidence and direction that entrepreneurs bring to the equation. I think it’s often missed. It takes a lot of innovation for Steve Jobs to be able to say, “Oh, the whole world loves this thing called Blackberry.” They love those little keys and no one’s complaining about it. No one’s saying, “I hate this.”
Still, he’s saying, “Yeah, but there’s got to be a better way to do this without having to type.” Let’s talk about your new company though, Syntax + Motion, because in classic entrepreneurial fashion, there’s no moss that’s been growing here. You just literally sold the last company. When did you start Syntax + Motion?
Jon Tota (11:40):
Yeah. We started that back in 2016, but really under the same umbrella. Edulence from the beginning, we really funded the development of the Knowledgelink application with custom work because the subscription product wasn’t generating enough revenue from the beginning. We would build custom applications. We would produce custom online courses, video production. We’d do that for all of our large clients while we were building up the subscriber base.
Over time that subscriber base in Knowledgelink became significant enough that it covered all the costs and we didn’t need to do all the production work anymore, but I loved it. I came from a production background. I was a writer. Originally I always wanted to be a screenwriter. Just out of the joy of it, I always wanted to produce content. Also, as the application scaled, as you know, the creative side goes out the door a little bit in your product when you scale your user base so large that all of the feature requests are coming from your user population.
Your great idea you come up with in the middle of the night, doesn’t actually make it into the pipeline.
Mark Magnacca (12:57):
Yes. I know that feeling.
Jon Tota (12:59):
I know. They look at you like you’re crazy. I said, “I want to get back to producing content.” I always loved doing it. I had an eye on … We had raised money. We’d done just a private round of friends and family round when we originally got started. We had always had the plan that there needed to be an exit at some point for Knowledgelink. What investors were really interested in was the software, the subscription software side of the business.
I started to build … In a lot of ways, Syntax + Motion was my exit plan, is that I knew that I wanted to get into production, developing content and also separating that from the-
Mark Magnacca (12:59):
I got ya.
Jon Tota (13:37):
… the subscription side of the business. Started it while I was still running Edulence, but really Edulence was my priority and the main driver of everything, but knowing that we wanted to develop original content, we wanted to build more online courses and do some thought leadership as well. So Syntax + Motion … And then the name was really from everything that we do is a combination of code on the web and video. Syntax for code and motion for video.
Mark Magnacca (14:09):
Jon Tota (14:09):
It’s the combination of what our expertise is. Yeah. Now, Syntax + Motion, we produce online courses for thought leaders, experts, training companies who want to build courses and sell them to large companies, which has always been our niche. We produce quite a bit of our own original content, which for me, is my passion play. Getting back to my roots as a screenwriter.
Mark Magnacca (14:37):
The screenwriting is going to happen, right?
Jon Tota (14:39):
One way or another, man. It’s like-
Mark Magnacca (14:42):
Yeah. We’re going to get to that because you’re doing some cool, original stuff. I do want to ask though, Jon, in this post-pandemic era that we’ll call this period of time, I’ve got to imagine that there are more and more people who are realizing that they need some help to do exactly what you’ve described, particularly at larger companies.
Jon Tota (15:04):
Yeah. What we’ve really seen now … And I’m seeing [inaudible 00:15:08] eLearning Brothers acquired Knowledgelink and so I’m still working with them. You’ve seen the interest in platforms like Knowledgelink has obviously gone through the roof. I’m sure you’re seeing it with your product as well. Companies who were on the fence, “Well, we got to do this at some point, but we only have a couple of hundred people, not a couple thousand, so we can get by.” Now, they’re realizing that even if you had 50 people, you need a virtual learning platform in one form or another.
The thing that I’ve noticed, and this plays to where the space we’re in now, is that the people who didn’t develop content are in a tough spot right now, because it’s difficult to go into a studio and shoot video or to have a crew come on site into your location and produce video. The people who had the foresight to produce content, they may not have released it yet, but they’re very happy that they actually produced content, they’re ahead of the game. Quite a bit of the content that we’re producing now is audio-based.
We do a lot of podcast productions, scripted audio fiction, voiceover work with screen simulations, because right now, that’s the kind of content people can easily create. I love what you can do with audio, because you can create a really immersive experience with the technology today that you couldn’t do even a few years ago.
Mark Magnacca (16:34):
Yeah. In particular, I want to ask you about that. I’m going to come back to some of the original program you have and the unique elements, really the auditory unique elements because there may be some applications for that concept with some of our listeners. Before I do that, I want to talk about an article that you wrote recently in Training Magazine. It was just about the concept of just-in-time learning, which is a concept near and dear for me, because it’s really a fundamental precept within our whole framework.
One of the things you talked about in the article, Jon, was this notion of the problem with what I’ll call traditional mandatory based training versus the notion of giving people choices. Can you describe why is it that this notion of giving people options and choices versus the mandatory model is so important today?
Jon Tota (17:29):
Yeah. I just gave a … This is my current talk that I do now in the industry. I just gave it. As I was preparing, I realized that for the last three years, I’ve been giving this talk with National Speakers Association and in the training industry, talking about the skill set economy. My concept with that was that we built our LMS business, and like everybody, on this idea that it was all about managing content. It was really administrator-driven and it was this new world. We got into it.
Everyone said, “Well, we have everything on disk or we have it on VHS tapes or in some physical format and we need to manage it when we deliver it online and make sure it’s being reported on, and then it’s compliant because we’re in financial services even more so.” Then time has just evolved. Technology has come to a whole new level and this generation wants to participate more in the content. I was giving this talk for years now, not knowing that it was the direction everyone was going with this whole learning experience model.
The skill set economy for me was that if you can show a new hire or any employee at your company, that there’s a specific learning path for them, that’s going to move them forward on their career track to get them where they want to be professionally and personally, then they’re going to electively jump in and engage with that content. You don’t need to manage it. You don’t need to require it, enroll them in it and force them through that path.
They’re going to want to do it because it’s moving them along on the path that they want for their career. When I-
Mark Magnacca (19:12):
That in and of itself, Jon, is a paradigm shift in many HR departments around the country, around the world for that matter.
Jon Tota (19:19):
Yes. Now it’s the buzz of LXP, but that’s just marketing buzz in a lot of ways. The idea of just saying that people want to have ownership in their career direction. They want to know, particularly this generation, they’re pretty savvy and they know their LinkedIn profile is their resume. I had one of my young employees in the new company, I asked her. She was right out of school, 22 years old. I said, “What do you want to get out of your job? What are you looking for?”
She’s like, “I want to be known as an expert on LinkedIn.” I thought, “Wow, that’s interesting.” What can we do to move you along?” All that you’re doing with the technology now is saying, “Okay. How can we evolve the technology so that the individual knows that they have some say in that path and that they will electively move through it?” Again, it goes back to my roots. I always was an adoption trainer. Everything for me is about, how do you drive technology adoption?
How do you get people to want to do online training and not be forced to do it? That’s the essence of user adoption. Yeah. That’s, to me, the genesis of all that. Obviously it’s morphed quite a bit with new technology today.
Mark Magnacca (20:30):
Well, as you’re talking about that, Jon, I’m thinking about the show that I’m sure you’ve seen called The Social Dilemma on Netflix. What I’m realizing is that everything you just described is almost a natural process. It’s really the way, in the early days of YouTube it evolved and you were interested in the topic and in many ways it was a useful. I know for myself, it was super useful that Amazon said, “Oh, Mark, you liked this book by Malcolm Gladwell. You might like this other book by Malcolm Gladwell.”
I ended up buying the book, because I said, “Yeah, I do. This is terrific stuff.” What I recognize is that in the learning world that there wasn’t a lot of that going on. Now I think what’s happened in the social media thing, it’s gone so far the other way that it’s like everything’s being tuned all the time. Not necessarily for you to develop as an employee, or for you to develop as a person, but simply to get your eyeballs engaged to look at ads, right?
Which coincidentally is really what the television model was 50 years before that. It was the same thing without AI tuning it in the background.
Jon Tota (21:40):
Yeah. I think when you look at learning, our space of learning specifically, this is the danger that starts to enter into this model, is that you are creating a model that can create even more noise, because now you’re saying, “Okay. Now this elective path, let’s take it one step further and allow people to modify the path, to curate content, to bring it in from the outside into an internal system and evolve it.”
I think that’s where there’s got to be some boundaries and there’s got to be some structure to it because all of a sudden this can create as much noise as you start to see online in a lot of ways it, and it becomes a detractor as much as it originally was the real adoption driver.
Mark Magnacca (22:27):
Exactly. You talked about the real goal of corporate training is to create a better workforce, where I was going with that is that I believe that can only really happen if you can keep people learning and coming back for more, because they want to come back for more. I think a lot of people don’t realize that the job that you described of being in the business of driving adoption, people don’t realize that’s a thing that you need people to think about.
My question is, what’s the biggest thing you’ve learned as it relates to getting, I’ll use the word salespeople in general, to be interested in the content so that they want to come back and learn more?
Jon Tota (23:11):
I would say even before all of this talk today, which is about people saying, “Okay. A learner is going to want to contribute to the learning path. They’re going to want to pull stuff in from the outside and add to a learning path.” I think that’s still a work in progress. There’s not enough data on that to see that people are really going to engage. It’s a nice theory that a user is going to say, “Wow, I want to grab stuff from TED or from some blog post and add it to the learning path.”
I think it’s a nice theory. I don’t know that it’s truly been tested that people are going to do that. Now, I’ve been running learning programs, applications for 20 plus years for insurance companies, banks and investment firms, for financial advisors. I would say largely, they don’t want to do that. They expect that the training department is going to do that. That’s why we pay them all that money to find the right stuff for us. I think the training departments like to some extent to control it, to have some boundaries on it.
I think that where we have to go from an adoption perspective, is that … I always come back and say it’s really about making it part of in the flow of work. I think that’s a little bit … That just-in-time training article, it’s a little bit about that too, is that for me, it’s got to also be just-in-time training in the flow of work and specifically designed at the right moment to be what they need. Traditionally, one of our largest clients had this Hoopis Performance Network, which you probably know from-
Mark Magnacca (24:50):
Sure. I do.
Jon Tota (24:52):
They’ve been on-
Mark Magnacca (24:52):
Harry Hoopis, right?
Jon Tota (24:53):
Yeah. Harry. Harry was one of our … I think he might’ve been the second community on Knowledgelink. They’ve been on the platform for a really long time. From the very beginning, Harry created this session called Phone Buddy, which was essentially just these little post-its that in a session … It was little post-its that you click on them and it was objection handling for an insurance agent that they could pull up on their phone while they were either doing a call or waiting to go into a call.
Click on the objection, it would flip over and show you how to handle it, right? Just old school objection handling. You would have done it on flashcards before, right?
Mark Magnacca (25:29):
Sure. But using technology to scale it.
Jon Tota (25:31):
Right, and doing it inside of a platform. Even a year ago, I ran a report. Now, that session, that Phone Buddy that was Harry’s brain child that I always made fun of because I’m like, “Aw, man, the Phone Buddy, who’s going to use that?” It is still in the top … Now there are 70,000/80,000 courses in Knowledgelink. It’s still in the top 10 every month.
Mark Magnacca (25:54):
Wow. Wow, now-
Jon Tota (25:55):
People love it.
Mark Magnacca (25:56):
Jon, to me, you just hit the nail on the head. I didn’t know that piece. I knew that Hoopis had used your platform. I didn’t know that it was in the top 10 of 70,000 courses. It’s not surprising to me. For our listeners, I want to just thread a needle here. What you just described is for those of you who don’t know, Harry Hoopis and other members of his family are highly regarded as among the most successful insurance agents in a particular element or particular segment of the business.
The reason this is important, Jon, from my perspective is that our belief system … And you’re the one who has the technical background in this. Our belief system is that one of the things that makes content compelling in a professional setting, which by the way is different than me having a flat tire and needing to go on YouTube to figure out how to fix it, right? There’s a different urgency in that regard.
One of the biggest problems that has existed in the past is that if it was the marketing department with the best of intentions, or even the training department with the best of intentions, trying to do Phone Buddy, but you’re not Harry Hoopis. It’s Harry Hoopis, his expertise is the thing that really brings it to life and creates that magic. What we are saying, and our whole philosophy is based on, look, you have Harry Hoopis in the accounting department and you have Harry Hoopis in the sales organization and you have Harry Hoopis in different elements.
Our whole framework is, look, training departments, sales enablement, your job isn’t to be Harry Hoopis, if you use the acting metaphor, going back to your screen writing days, we’re saying that the job of sales enablement or training or sales execution, your job is to be a director like Francis Ford Coppola. Your job is to find the actors who can play those roles in The Godfather. You still have to have a skill set to be able to figure out who’s the right person who’s credible in this area?
Jon Tota (28:01):
A hundred percent. I think what you’re explaining is something that we built into Knowledgelink from the beginning. It’s interesting, it was originally called … And we weren’t very good at naming things back then, The Financial Services Training Portal. That was the original name, but the theory-
Mark Magnacca (28:19):
FNTP, right? FNTP.
Jon Tota (28:20):
Yes. Yeah. It was an excellent name. Yeah. The concept for it when we drew it all up was an aggregate model, that as an insurance agent, you would come in and you choose the companies, because like you know, in our business that you’re going to sell with three different companies.
Mark Magnacca (28:37):
Jon Tota (28:37):
What companies do you sell for? Which associations do you belong to? Which software products do you use? Then the system worked great. It came back and it would say, “Okay. Based on your profile, here’s all the content we would recommend from our different providers.” We built that back in 2002, when no one really had this idea of an aggregate model. Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough relationships in the industry back then to fill out that library. The technology was there, but the content buckets were empty.
We didn’t have enough of the content. The people we did have didn’t yet have their content in digital format. We were just a little too early. Then when I met-
Mark Magnacca (28:37):
A little early.
Jon Tota (29:20):
Yeah. Then I met Harry and his partner, Joey Davenport, who’s the president of Hoopis Performance Network. We met them at a LAMP conference. It goes back probably now like 2006, maybe 2007. Harry did have those relationships across the industry. He had the brand name. We already built the technology and we said, “Listen.” Exactly like you say, “You’re the expert. You guys are trainers.” Joey and Harry were expert trainers and they had that field expertise, but they weren’t the best in branding.
They weren’t the best in social media when that came and all the different stuff, or CRM. They really went out and said, “Okay. Well, we’re going to use our name and our connections and we’ll build that aggregate library inside of Knowledgelink.” Our original tagline didn’t last for very long, but you’ll appreciate this. It was from the field for the field. That was-
Mark Magnacca (30:18):
I love it. No. I mean, we could use that today, that exact tagline. What do you believe the next generation of learning solutions is going to become? What do you think will be different as we look back, say three years from now on what will happen over the next three years as it relates to how people learn at work?
Jon Tota (30:41):
I think the big change is going to be in the area of artificial intelligence, learning AI, because it’s so close. The technology’s there. As you know, we’re in the same industry, managers don’t need more work to do. They don’t need more … What we’ve created now with all of these platforms is they’re getting more training content coming in, more that they have to review, more that they have to give feedback on.
So this promise of a more intelligent learning platform that can start checking off some of the boxes for a manager, giving the feedback to users, moving them along that path and learning and getting better at it because of the data that’s been collected through the hundreds of thousands or millions of users that are coming through a platform. I think that’s going to be the big push forward. You think about this first wave of curation, which everyone’s excited about, is this ability for users to bring content into a platform.
I think that’s nice, but the machine-generated curation, the curation like you’re talking about where, because you read this book and you bought this, we think you might like these three things. To the point where your learning path can learn the way that you learn, the types of content that work better for you, Mark, versus me, and then start suggesting and giving you feedback without a manager having to do it manually.
That’s where I think we’ve got to go and that’s where I think the technology is there to some extent, but it needs a certain amount of data before it can be intelligent enough to make those recommendations. Technically is possible today in the platform where the platform is learning the way that you like to consume content, what media formats work for you versus me, the pace that I go through it, the giving feedback automated to some extent so the managers don’t have to keep logging in and moving you along that path.
To me, I think that is the future of all these learning platforms. So much now with LXP is about user-curated and generated content. I think that’s all well and good, but when we can get to this next level where there’s enough data in the platform that the machine learning can get to that next level and start making those recommendations, curating content for you because it knows how you learn differently than me, I think that’s our next wave.
Again, it’s probably two or three years down the road, not because the technology is not there, but there’s not enough data yet because it requires a certain amount of a data set so that it can start to recommend content. I think it’s to the point where you mentioned earlier that you go on Amazon and you just expect that if I read these three books, you know the next three to recommend to me.
Mark Magnacca (33:44):
Jon Tota (33:45):
Mark Magnacca (33:46):
Jon Tota (33:46):
That’s what we all expect.
Mark Magnacca (33:49):
By the way, that part of it is terrific, it really is. It does save time and there’s very few people that have that encyclopedic knowledge that they can know, this is the next book you should read based on those other two. In that context, the technology really is amazing. Then turns out, when you don’t have that AI, you just need a friend like Dave Will, who can do it manually.
Jon Tota (34:11):
Exactly. Yeah. There’ll always be a place for manual curation, right?
Mark Magnacca (34:15):
Jon, if people want to learn more about Syntax + Motion and learn a little bit more about what you’re doing and your podcast, by the way, what’s the best way for them to do that?
Jon Tota (34:26):
Yeah. Everything for me is on our show site, which is learninglifeshow.com. Learning Life with Jon Tota is the podcast show. It’s on all the major platforms so you can find it anywhere. We release a new episode every week, but learninglifeshow.com has our thought leadership, whitepapers, eBooks. We give away a lot of free online courses and all of our episodes are up there. Yeah. I think if you want to learn anything more about us, obviously I’m pretty active on LinkedIn.
That’s probably the best platform to find me on, but learninglifeshow.com and syntaxandmotion.com also. Yeah. I think the most entertaining place to follow me would be through Learning Life.
Mark Magnacca (35:16):
Well, and the best part about going to that website, you can also hear about some of the original content that Jon and his team are doing. I’m going to leave with that comment that we didn’t talk about it, but you need to check out some of the short-form content that they are creating, because it’s very compelling. If you want to hear about creative uses of audio that most people don’t think of, this’ll be a great place to start.
Jon, it’s always great to meet a kindred spirit like you, and especially be able to do it in this format of the podcast. Thanks for being part of this. I very much look forward to continuing our conversation.
Jon Tota (35:55):
Awesome. Thanks for having me, Mark. This was a lot of fun.
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