5 lessons on learning from international dancing sensation ‘Where the hell is Matt?’

As I’ve recently been working in Turkey, traveling is on my brain.  Hence the focus on international learning and specifically lessons on learning from international dance sensation Matt, of ‘Where the Hell is Matt’ fame.

If this makes no sense to you then I’m tempted to ask ‘where the hell have you been?’ but that would be rude.  A quick tally of his video hits is 50 million plus.  Instead a quick recap:

  • Matt is a young guy who essentially does a dance that looks suspiciously like a cross between a drunken, dancing leprechaun and a head bobbing pigeon
  • that is to say, he’s unrefined in his dancing – it’s not a particular asset of his
  • where he shines is dancing the world over and videoing folks joining in
  • if this still sounds dubious and odd to you see the second video for more information, it’s a clip of his gratitude dance

Okay, now that we’re all on the same dance stage so to speak, how the hell did Matt get people to dance with him?  Glad you asked.  That’s the gist of a talk he gave (which you can view in the video directly below).

I was curious as to how he did it from a learning & development point of view.  Here’s how in 5 simple lessons:

  1. He turned a perceived weakness (can’t dance) into a strength – he didn’t posit himself as a professional.  Far from it.  He was approachable and graciously welcomed people to join him.
    • Lesson for T&D specialists: focus on how to make learning accessible, inclusive and non-threatening.  Know that everyone’s a teacher and everyone’s a learner.
  2. Simple – he didn’t use any fancy tech.  The basic concept was simple and easy to explain (not to mention demonstrate).
    • Lesson for T&D specialists: make things simple without being simplistic.  The former is appealing and makes for good retention, the latter is patronizing.
  3. Unique twist – he put his own spin on something simple, dancing worldwide with all sorts of people in all sorts of places, places that many people dream of traveling to.
    • Lesson for T&D specialists: put your own unique twist on things.  Create surprise, lay the groundwork for engagement, use humour strategically, be creative.
  4. Social – he did it with people, with different people, in groups.
    • Lesson for T&D specialists: the power of group learning cannot be underestimated.  1:1 coaching is helpful but my heart and passion lie with groups.  You never know what to expect and there’s magic in group dynamics.
  5. Organized – he had systems to support him.  People could go to a sign up page if they wanted him to come to their city.  This data went into helpful spreadsheets.
    • Lesson for T&D specialists: ‘systems are good’.  Repeat after me ‘systems are good’.  They help you get organized, save time and create more time to focus on creating engaging, creative learning opportunities.

Learning comes in all shapes and sizes, even a leprechaun looking, pigeon dancing, global phenomena.

Here’s how he did it in his own words.

See Matt dance


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