Leaders Letter Newsletter

Leaders Letter 147 – My Hour A Day Learning Experiment Explained

Dear leaders, this week I am going to dive into my hour-a-day learning experiments. 

In July (2022) London hit 40c – that’s 104f without air con, I wanted to understand why we are experiencing the extreme heat and the non British heat.
Sweaty and frustrated, I spent close to an hour learning about it and how British properties are designed to keep heat in and not let them out, in 40c that’s a problem. In 4c not so much. 

It occurred to me, I could do this daily and become way more informed and develop numerous skills. 

My 2022-2023 Quest: I then set myself on a quest of learning something new or relearning something I might be lapsing skills on for one hour per day. 

Here’s a look into my process:

Lists Help Me 

I made many lists: 

  • A list of all of the topics I was was struggling with 
  • A list of the new tech and tech themes, including the metaverse, crypto, web3, chatgpgt3/4 (hows that exploded) etc 
  • A list of areas I wanted to improve in or help others with (my notes helped me understand what people had asked me and reviewed my inbox to ensure I had everything covered)
  • A list of areas I had let lapse – fortunately with my consulting and advisory I am often closer to these than I remember
  • And a list of areas would help me with coaching offering, specifically working on my materials for execs, GM’s, CMO’s and directors of roles, this helped me to create the focus coaching system.   

Simple Goals: The learning was simple, the goal was one hour per day to get better at an item listed and make notes, frameworks and templates moving forward. 

I am currently just over 300 notes from my personal learning experiment. Some days I go over others I have to make separate notes to cover the multiple topics.

This has helped me to consume the learning, importantly for me to write it down (to know I have taken it in) and then teach or design systems. 

Time Of Day: It didn’t matter about the time, although as a morning person retention was always better in the morning and gave me energy for the day. Interestingly over my career I have noticed between 1500 and 1800 there is much more quiet time so can take advantage of these time slots too. 

Teach: If I have learnt anything, for me to know I have learned it well enough, I then look to teach it. Teach core learnings and provide context to how it applies to their work etc.   

In just over eight months what have I learnt from this quest?: 

  • An hour a day is do-able even in chunks of time versus one dedicated hour, even with a new puppy recently
  • Despite what you read online and looking at your calendar, making an hour is possible with a calendar audit and ruthless prioritisation 
  • I found commutes have helped me in bursts of learning, consider how you might incorporate this 
  • Note taking is essential, no notes = no chance to re-share or shape systems 
  • When I discover a topic or cluster, I often ensure I follow this rather than stop the learning – it’s easier to consume and easier to action 
  • Books are often great resources but I couldn’t include in 1 hour sessions as the average book is 8 hours+ long on audible and can take weeks to read 
  • Seek out experts, find experts you will want to connect with and potentially collaborate with or partner with 
  • My coaching has benefited greatly, especially creating new templates and optimising old frameworks (the ones shared on leaders letters) – my note taking framework aka the NDA framework has become popular recently  
  • My preferred method of learning is listening, podcasts are great for me, 1.2x speed is most effective (all modern day players support quicker speeds) – one learning is one input learning like listening is better versus two, video can be too many inputs (visual and audio) for us to take in. Interestingly, however, I have found some podcast are better with visuals and gestures so where applicable I watch on YouTube.
    Hint if you listen or watch podcasts as vodcasts on Youtube, speed up to 1.25x speed, this way it will remove silence and help you finish them in under 30 mins 
  • Try to understand what is fact and what is opinion, opinions are fine but being able to understand what is biased opinion and expert opinion with insights can be tricky. Learn to make notes to review especially with quoted stats and numbers 
  • Turn some learnings into presentations or videos and share to others, one presentation has resonated really well and been shared 100+ times on teams and slack  
  • The focus corporate buzzword bingo card has been updated based on 10 hours of interviews and profiles – this is currently the most popular content on the focus site and analytics shows me how it far it spreads via teams (it has also driven a number of newsletter sign ups)  
  • Being inspired daily is great for creating leaders letter newsletters, I have 11 drafted letters to complete

I have a “bias for better”, I know this approach to professional development isn’t going to for everyone, I have already had feedback it is not scalable for most parents but if a CEO I coached can do it for a month, then I know it might be something you consider. 

This week’s action to focus on: run a calendar audit and see if you can apply 30-60 minutes learning sessions daily, see if you can then share some insights and learnings and introduce a movement of development. 

Have a great week,


Danny Denhard

& Here Is The Focus Corporate Buzzword Bingo Card Mentioned