Rainn Wilson Talks Soft Skills Training And More With Tim Ferriss

Rainn Wilson Tim Ferriss

Let me start with full disclosure: I am a big Tim Ferriss fan, and have been since The 4-Hour Workweek. As I see it, he is the ultimate learning and development professional. Every single podcast he releases is a 2+ hour soft skills learning experience. And his other show “The Tim Ferriss Experiment” will blow your mind. One recent podcast is an interview with Rainn Wilson, the actor who plays Dwight on the popular TV show The Office. And while all of the Tim Ferriss interviews are educational, this one hits a few topics that interest me currently.

If you think podcasting is stupid, I will encourage you to start your podcast journey by subscribing to The Tim Ferriss Show. If you are adamant about not becoming a podcast listener then hit up this link and I’ll point you to the segment times that I refer too.

Learning and Teaching with Games and Play

I often refer to A Theory of Fun when discussing play and learning, and will continue to do so. And so it’s always fun to hear successful professionals discussing the positive effects of play. At 29mins Rainn discusses some acting exercises for non-actors.

They discuss the idea of getting out of your own head and learning to not be so rigid in your thinking. The discussion moves into some fun exercises and improv games that can help. This left me thinking that more learning professionals need to get out of their own heads. There is such an overwhelming tendency for people in our industry to follow “rules” “templates” “formats” “methods” and “models”. We should practice more play in our work and see what happens. I think it would help move our industry further forward than any new method, model, or theory, will ever be able to do.

I love that he mentions how playing like a kid can be so freeing. And how play isn’t always just random goofiness and “wheeeeeeee” all the time. And that sometimes kids play and they are serious, and sometimes they play and are competitive. A lot of this is also covered in A Theory of Fun.

Founder of Soul Pancake

My favorite Soul Pancake show is Kid President. And I had no idea Rainn Wilson was behind the Soul Pancake media business and Youtube channel. It’s a great place to learn about video, and to find inspiration on storytelling, and video production methods for telling a good story.

At one point in the conversation Rainn discusses some exercises that he runs with his staff at Soul Pancake. Listening to Rainn talk about the sexy nostril game reminded me a lot of watching my son learn comedy improv. I think more people should practice improv. In a way, there is a very strong connection between improvisational acting and training simulations. Think about that for a while.

Virtues and Soft Skills Training

Tim always asks his guests to name a book that they love to give as a gift. Rainn discusses The Family Virtues Guide by Linda Popov. Their discussion of teaching virtues to kids got me thinking about virtues in our industry. This is what we would call soft skills training. Our industry struggles with it in organizations. And so it’s great to hear other professionals talking about how important character traits are, and how they can be trained with practical exercises.

There is a lot in this podcast. And I would love to hear if you made some connections to your work. Listen to it twice and then let me know what you think @Litmos or in the comments below.