EP 024: Interview Betty Dannewitz

In this episode, Cara has a great conversation with self-proclaimed immersive experience designer, Betty Dannewitz. Betty’s passion is to help people become better humans and believes innovative technology has an HUGE role in making that happen.

Since this episode was recorded, she’s started her own excellent podcast, If You Ask Betty. Check it out.

Music created by Jahzzar.

Show Transcript:

North, Cara A. 0:00
Have you had a dream and you’ve just wondered how to execute it? Or do you feel like you are put on this planet to do a little bit more? Today we’re talking to someone who I met via social media, and I’m sure you will fall in love with her as quickly as we have. Her name is Betty Dannewitz, and she is the owner of If you ask Betty. On today’s episode of Instructional Redesign Podcast, we’re going to talk with Betty about a lot of different topics. We’re gonna talk about how she got to that point, maybe a little bit about her background, some of the work that she’s done an augmented reality. But a real reason that I brought Betty on today’s podcast is she really is innovative, and is a big inspiration to folks that are really scared of trying something new. So Betty, welcome so much to the Instructional Redesign podcast.

Betty Dannewitz 0:52
Thanks so much for having me. I’m excited.

North, Cara A. 0:54
Yeah, well, thank you again for being here. I guess I should introduce myself again, my name is Cara North. I am one of the hosts of Instructional Redesign podcast, stories and conversations about the modern learning experience. And like I said, I met Betty on I believe it was either LinkedIn, or Twitter and we just hit it off. I think she actually said, I think we should be friends. Is that how it happened?

Betty Dannewitz 1:18
That’s exactly how it happened yes I’m glad you recall that.

North, Cara A. 1:22
Well, it’s it’s funny because you know, you put out so much stuff on social media and you don’t know if any of it is really connecting with people. You don’t know if it’s an echo chamber, but it was great to meet Betty and actually got to meet her face to face at Devlearn in 2019. And it was it was pretty epic. So I want you all to get to know Betty a little bit better. So Betty, can you tell us a little bit about yourself? How did you get into the learning development space?

Betty Dannewitz 1:48
Sure. I am an immersive experience designer, which is a title I’ve given myself, and I’m fine with that. I have been in corporate learning and development for like 17 years. So I started out working for a financial institution as a bank teller and worked my way up in the brick and mortar, and then transitioned over into training. And there’s a longer story behind that. But anyways, I’ve been in training for 17 years learning and development, all those fancy words we want to use. I’m also a speaker, I’m a high performance coach, and content and curriculum consultant. So that’s where you’re talking about that innovation. I appreciate that wonderful comment. Wonderful compliment is a better word. I am I try to be innovative, you know, my passion, really, my mission is to help people become better humans. And I think I’m very strongly believe that innovative technology has a huge role in making that happen.

North, Cara A. 2:47
I love that. And if you again, don’t know about it, you don’t follow her on social media, one thing that I was really taken very quickly with her is just her authenticity of what she shares. So I totally get a couple of different vibes when I read what Betty puts out there. The first vibe I get is definitely like a la Rosie The Riveter, because you just get this really kind of strong female perspective from everything that she puts out. Another influence I totally get from her is kind of that nurturing coach that really has your best interest at heart. So again, if you haven’t followed her on social media, I highly recommend it. And one thing that I’m really excited about asking you, I’m sure the audience would love to know this, too, is a little bit about once you’ve been in this space for as long as that you’ve been Betty, it’s really hard to keep your skills sharp, especially if you work at an organization where your learning and development product has looked the same for multiple years. So what advice do you have to people on how to be innovative when it comes to upskilling themselves?

Betty Dannewitz 3:53
So I, you may not like my answer, although you set it up quite nicely, but I’m obsessed with LinkedIn, I just obsessed with it, and I own that, right?! I will own that till the day I die. You know, I have a day job that I love. And it keeps me sort of in that corporate L&D space where I get to facilitate on a fairly regular basis, I design learning, I get to play with technology, you know, my role there includes sort of seeing out new technologies and seeing if they fit for the business that we support. But I’m also researching and reading all the time. So I’m out there on LinkedIn looking for articles, especially for people like you Cara or people out there like that are trying to blaze the trail and spread out great information because I don’t know if you’ve figured this out yet, but our industry has a lot of noise. And, I don’t mean that in a negative way, because everybody’s talking about something. And so it’s sometimes it’s hard to kind of parse through all that and find the good nuggets of great information. So I love collecting information and then sort of finding another way to apply it. So I read a lot, right? Or at least I Audible a lot for sure. I love Audible. So reading, researching, talking to people, I mean, networking is my superpower. And so I love connecting with people and asking them, I love to ask people about their story. Because I think there’s, there’s so much we can learn just by understanding how somebody got to where they are. And, I love to ask them about what they’re working on when I like if I’m on the phone with you and I asked you about your what projects you’re working on. You don’t have to give me the high level this person doesn’t really care because I really do like I want to know what you’re doing because I’m probably going to ask you five or six more questions to get more details, not because I’m trying to steal industry secrets, but just because I’m trying to understand what kind of cool stuff is happening out there in the industry. So I guess the short answer is I read, I research, I talk to a lot of people I stay connected.

North, Cara A. 5:58
I can 100% confirm what she just said is true. When it comes to her asking you those questions on the phone, never forget the first time that Betty and I had a phone conversation. She did ask me, Hey, what’s your background? And hey, what are you working on? And it was so again, authentic and genuine. I didn’t feel like she was trying to do anything nefarious, I really did feel like she cared about me as an individual. So I love that you shared that with the audience, because it is very true. She does do that. Now. Side question. You mentioned LinkedIn. I have to admit, I’m on LinkedIn a lot now. But my main bread and butter for a long time was Twitter. And I still obviously use Twitter. But I have switched a lot to LinkedIn because I am getting kind of better engagement on that. What would you say to somebody who’s scared to kind of share their stuff on LinkedIn? How would you recommend them get started so they don’t contribute to that noise that you spoke of.

Betty Dannewitz 6:58
We’ll start by following people that are giving content that’s valuable and pay attention to that. And then go out there and make sure you are commenting, liking, sharing stuff. If you feel like you have something to add, add in your comments because you’ll start to get a feel for what is it that’s really valuable to people. If you’re paying attention to what’s happening, get involved in the conversations, and it just sort of add your two cents, and people will respond to your two cents in fact, I find that people respond more to comments than posts.

North, Cara A. 7:33
Again, I appreciate you giving those suggestions. I think they’re rock solid suggestions and very actionable. If people do want to go ahead and get started on LinkedIn. What I’d like to do now is pivot and talk a little bit about If You Ask Betty, before I asked a little bit about kind of your goals about it, I just again like to take a moment to compliment if you haven’t seen her If You Ask Betty, different posts and questions. You need to take a look at it. Your branding is amazing. It looks just like you, which is like so amazing. How did you come up with kind of the concept of the branding around If You Ask Betty?

Betty Dannewitz 8:11
Well, that’s great question. So if the name if you ask Betty, I’ve actually had I bought that domain six or seven years ago, it was a lonely little blog site that got very little traffic. But really, I needed a place as I was starting to write. And so I needed a place to park my blogs and you can find all my archive blogs out there. They are not related to L&D just FYI, they are quite, quite literally about the most random smattering of information you could ever find. So just that’s just a warning. But so I had the name and was thinking about starting this this coaching business. I’ve had people tell me for years that I should do this, and I want it I know that all great brands have Awesome logo or something like that. And I also know in a mildly obsessed with the idea of characters. And I know that this is not something that we talk about too much anymore because I think probably the mid 2000s we kind of hit a stride with everybody talking about how much characters make a difference. But when you look into things like marketing, and even just brand recognition, its characters, I went out on Fiverr. And I love to tell this story because I went out on Fiverr and I found people that drew cartoonish like faces and I wanted something that had sort of a 50s vibe, and Rosie the Riveter vibe, which I love that you said that earlier because she’s, I mean, if she was a real person, she’d be like a huge mentor to me if she was real. Anyways, went on to Fiverr and I found this guy in Sri Lanka, which by the way, is halfway around the world. And I sent him a picture of me holding a cup of coffee. And he sent back that logo. I was so excited. I couldn’t even stand it. Like I was so excited that it looked just like me, he captured the smirk. Which by the way, when you look through any of my pictures on social media, that’s a standard for me because when I smile, I look like I’m, you know, half drunk or half asleep one of the two. So the smirk is just better for everybody all around. So, so yeah, so that’s kind of what happened. And it’s really just for my love of characters. I wanted to sort of create one of myself and put it out there capturing the things that are most important to me smirking and coffee, obviously.

North, Cara A. 10:26
I think you also had a nice analogy for our learning experiences, right? Because you’re so spot on about the characters and how characters are memorable and they’re sticky. And even just thinking about how we could transcend and think about different characters in our learning experiences. I love talking about something that Mike Taylor built eons ago about compliance training about phishing, and instead of it being the same old song and dance about, here’s this information, don’t get phished. He built this character named Shady Grady that really kind of spun around and explained why people do it. They do it because it’s hard to get caught. They do it because it’s easy to get your information. And I still remember that. And I can’t even remember when he showed me that it was several years ago. And I still remember Shady Grady. I remember like what the guy looks like. So I love that you mentioned characters because I do think that’s something that we can take into kind of our learning and development toolkit if we haven’t already put it put it in there. Going back to If You Ask Betty, what are some of your goals and what was kind of your reasons for kicking that off?

Betty Dannewitz 11:36
So If You Ask Betty is all about professional coaching and content review, right? So it’s it’s a way for me to take the 17 years of experience and use it to help others get better at what they do. So my goal really is to coach high performing learning professionals so that they can deliver the greatest value and it sounds like a tagline because it is like that’s I had to really kind of get very clear on what it is that I wanted to do. And that’s exactly it. You know, I’m personally I’m certified and deeply steeped in emotional intelligence, Crucial Conversations. And of course, like just the business of life, right as an l&d professional, so I wanted to help other people in those spaces. So that’s kind of the goals is to is to help them deliver their greatest value.

North, Cara A. 12:22
Just a little spoiler alert. If you dig through the Ask Betty Thursdays, you may find a question that yours truly put in there not saying which one it is, but there is one that I I put out there and of course, Betty slayed the answer. And I really appreciated her feedback on that. So thank you.

Betty Dannewitz 12:41
Thanks for the question. Um,

North, Cara A. 12:43
Oh, yeah, totally. I mean, if somebody is given out free advice, why wouldn’t I want to?

Betty Dannewitz 12:49
Right, exactly.

North, Cara A. 12:52
All right, going back to kind of the L&D bucket, what are some things that people can do if they’re looking to kind of break in this space? So what are some tips that you have for someone just getting into this profession? And I’m telling you, I don’t know about you, Betty, but I hear from these people all the time. There’s a ton of them out there!

Betty Dannewitz 13:10
There is I get this question a lot. And so I’m really happy to answer this one because I know exactly what to say. To start with, you know, if you want to get into learning and development, even folks that are trying to transition from K through 12 into corporate learning, or higher higher education into corporate learning, I still they still ask me these questions and and the first thing I’d say is to start with you take every single opportunity that you have to speak in front of people, you know, you have to get really comfortable with that. And then, you know, as you as you’re doing that, start following some really great examples out there. So I’m a name drop. Now you’re ready, here comes so Train like a champion blog is an awesome quick hit resource. It’s put out by Endurance Learning and, you know, follow people like endurance Learning, GP Strategies follow people like Cara North. You guys have heard of her before. I think Jonathan Hill, Jonathan Hill is an awesome follow on LinkedIn. Tim Slade, follow the Elearning Guild so so just start following these people. And again, use LinkedIn as that sort of direct resource right to your brain. One great thing about LinkedIn is it’s it’s got less noise than Facebook or Instagram. I mean, you’re not. LinkedIn is typically not competing with cat videos, or the latest news broadcast, not usually if it is somebody fussing at the person about them and telling them to get it off LinkedIn. So and I appreciate that I’m not the officer, but I still appreciate it. Like I want to see good content that my the people that around me are posting because they feel like it’s valuable. So follow some great examples. And then that’ll kind of start to give you a feel for the industry as a whole. Right? So the leaders that I’ve mentioned, they’re not going to steer you wrong. You’re going to make sure you have valuable content. And another thing I often say is join the local ATD chapter, there’s probably an ATD chapter somewhere near you. And it’s good to just sort of start that in person networking with people in your, in this field around you. I’ve gone to several local ATD events and met people that are not in learning and development but thinking about it or people that are in talent management, and want to understand a little bit more about the training side of things. The biggest piece of advice though, that I would give, I mean, those things are all good ways to get started. But the biggest piece is get yourself a mentor or a coach and just ask questions, right bounce ideas off of them, really explore if this is something that you want to do. You know, and then jump in, go for it.

North, Cara A. 15:49
Great advice and very solid and I did not pay her extra for the name drop on me and just putting that out there. Question about the mentor and coach who’s I think that’s a great great way for folks to get started, how do you start that relationship? Isn’t it just where just to send somebody a message? Hey, will you be my mentor?

Betty Dannewitz 16:07
Well, for most people, yes. For me, I, again, super power here. I personally love to do the introduction call. So I might find somebody that I think they’re, you know, they’re they’re posting valuable content, I think we actually would have something to talk about. And so then I will send them a message and I’ll say, Hey, you know, I’ve really appreciated your posts. I would love to hear your story. Do you have some time to chat? Because here’s the thing. People love to tell their story. They love to talk about themselves, even though they say that they don’t they really do because they’re the expert on themselves. And you know, as well as I do that, when you start speaking about something that you really know about, you’re comfortable and excited, right? So people love to tell their story and I personally I love to hear it. I love to collect that information in the most non stalker way possible. So start with that ask people to tell you their story or ask them about their background. If they post about a project, like I know Jonathan Hill does a great job of posting his e learning stuff. You know, if you wanted to learn more about that, say, Hey, I would love to just ask you a few questions about what it is that you’re working on. I haven’t met a person yet who wasn’t open to that. So I think that I think that’s a great way to start. And then once you have that relationship with them, if you find that you feel they would be a good mentor, sometimes you just let them mentor you. And you don’t you don’t necessarily have to give it a definition. I find that people are afraid of that word. Sometimes especially they feel like like, if you if it like if, if you were to say I’m your mentor, like what I feel like oh, that that puts an extra responsibility on me. So sometimes mentoring is just really a natural thing that comes out of relationships.

North, Cara A. 17:54
Again, great advice about getting people to talk about kind of where they’re at how they got into Because that’s how you can kind of make those personal connections with people and to Betty’s point about people, not maybe not wanting to give that information. If somebody shoots you down, you probably don’t want that person to be your mentor, or coach anyway. So they’re doing you a favor. So don’t take that to heart. Don’t let it bother you just say thank you and move on. So all right. Another thing about Betty, Betty is just super talented all around. But one thing that I’ve noticed about Betty is in the L&D space, she really is kind of a pioneer of augmented reality. She’s had a lot of cool projects that she’s worked on in that space. Can you tell us a little bit more about what you’ve done in augmented reality and maybe some tips if people are wanting to get started in that space?

Betty Dannewitz 18:44
Sure. Sure. So we adopted AR at the the financial company that I worked for, and we’ve had really great success for it with it. So AR is a great way to bridge the gap between how we learn at home and how we learned at work, right? So how do we learn at home? Like if you need to learn how to do something? What do you usually do Cara?

North, Cara A. 19:08
I go to Google.

Betty Dannewitz 19:09
You Google it, right? We GTs. We Google it, we would go to YouTube or we Google and then go to YouTube. Right? We use our device to learn what we need to learn to do the things that we need to do at home. And so for me, if we really want to connect engage learners, we need to start using that same way. I mean, how many times have you sat down to do a compliance e learning? And you’re like, while you’re doing it, you’re checking Facebook, or you’re looking on Instagram, or your Oh, I want to Google that and you’re googling something, right? Because that device, whether we like it or not, it is a part of us. It’s part of what we do now. So it’s important that we bridge that gap. So what you know what we want to do is we want to open up the learners interest in learning. But here’s what here’s what we found out. As we started creating this AR, it forced us as an L&D team to think differently. So, you know, that’s where brand new creativity and innovation came from was we brought in this new technology. And we used it in a very simple way. I work for a financial company. So we used it to promote pieces of our training that were non proprietary, and largely aimed at new hires, because it was a great place to start. And that’s all we had to do. We just had to get started. And I think a lot of times, that’s what keeps people back from, from doing things with AR or VR, anything like that. So your question about how can people get started with it? So first of all, connect with me because I’d love to help you. And then there’s a couple of things that I would definitely recommend. If we were chatting about this, you know, first of all, you got to spend some time really thinking about what you can do with AR so really think get really clear on your vision for how to use it in your learning organization. Or in your business if you’re if you’re an individual, if you’re individual, proprietor, sole proprietor. So really get clear on that. Because what you don’t want to do is get started and then you’re going, then you’re, you know, oh, well, we could do this, or we could do that. And then guess what happens? Nothing. Right? So think about what you can what you know what it is that you really would like to do, and then start making a list of the things that you can do. And I say it that way, because we started out and we were like, well, because we’re a financial company. And we, you know, in most AR is in the cloud, you know, and we’re still terrified of the cloud, right? We’re like, Okay, well, we can’t do this. And we can’t do that. And I remember we’re sitting in a discussion I said, Hold on, guys, stop. Let’s stop. Let’s not think about what we can’t do. Let’s just focus on what we can do. And you know, that list was three times as long as what we couldn’t do. We were just, we were just had the wrong mindset. We were just too busy thinking not that you shouldn’t be risk minded. But we were too busy thinking only about risk, rather than what is it that we could actually do with this technology. So think about what you can do with it, then just get started. I mean, I’m a huge Zappar fan. Because it’s easy, and it’s relatively cheap. And what I love is that they give you like five zaps for free to give it a try. So you can prototype things without having to make any financial commitment. So it kind of that will allow you to start you know, building and creating AR, I’m not a developer, I don’t know how to code. It’s not on my list. It’s not on my development plan if you know what I mean. Like that’s not something I’m after personally, and I’m able to create AR and Zappar with no problem. So I would definitely do that start prototyping and then start talking about it like we’ve been talking about, like socialize and things on LinkedIn. Talk about AR socialize it like it’s your j-o-b right and, and and keep learning about It and that will help you sort of open up new ideas and new ways that you can use it.

North, Cara A. 23:05
Great advice. Again, it’s like it’s your job to give advice, right? That about the what you can do and say what you can’t do. I really think flipping that mindset and flipping that paradigm, a lot of times, especially if you’re trying something new in an organization, is the information that really can kind of help you jump that wall that you might be facing in, you know, trying something new. I think that’s great. Another tip that I’ll add on top of the augmented reality is, each year the Elearning guild has a reality 360 conference that I know you’ve attended that before. Anytime you can look at any of those resources or follow the back channel or even attend that conference. I’m sure you could probably get a whole lot more information about this and even virtual reality.

Betty Dannewitz 23:51
Absolutely great conference.

North, Cara A. 23:53
Well, Betty again, this has been fantastic. I really hope people’s been able to take away some inspiration from it. Again, your spunk that you have when it comes to trying new things. Just your experience and just how authentic you are and how you want to help others. I do think that that is so, so critical. And something that I’ve been trying to do more in the last couple of years is really be in a position to pay it forward because so many people have helped me get to where I am, even though again, I just feel like I’m kind of very low person on the totem pole. I do know that there are a lot of people that are just getting started and I feel compelled to help them I know you certainly have that same mindset.

Betty Dannewitz 24:34
Yes, we are. We are copacetic in that way.

North, Cara A. 24:36
Yes. So where can people find you? They want to connect with you.

Betty Dannewitz 24:41
So LinkedIn is Betty Dannewitz. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat are all under If You Ask Betty. All one word lowercase, although I’m sure would find it if you did it any other way. You can email me if you askbetty@gmail.com Im seeing a theme, I think you are. You can check out my website for details on if you ask Betty. And that is that ifyouaskBetty.com shocking. Yeah. So you know, and don’t be afraid, like reach out. I would love to have a conversation. If coffees involved, I’ll be there early type of thing. I’m in the Detroit area. So if somebody is local and wants to get together, I’m up for that, too. Thanks for having me, Cara.

North, Cara A. 25:27
Oh, my gosh. Thanks again for joining me today. And again, challenge to the listeners. Think about what you can do. Think about how you can try something new. Think about how you can help your fellow L&d professional think about how you can help someone brand new. Take strides. take inspiration from Betty and reach out to her and connect with her because you need her in your network. So thanks for listening to the Instructional Redesign podcast. Have a great day.