Learning and Leadership in the Metaverse With Spencer Holt

“[The Metaverse] is not one that you should ignore. It needs to be in your journey. At some point, it might not be today, but if you ignore it, you're going to be behind.” — Spencer Holt
thought leadership
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April 1, 2022
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4 minutes
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Spencer Holt
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The Touchcast Team
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Spencer Holt is the co-founder and Chief Learning Officer at the Global Leader Group, after spending 18 years at AstraZeneca, where he was the Head of the Commercial Learning Innovation Centre. Spencer has a Ph.D. in Leadership Development from the University of Nevada-Las Vegas and hosts his own podcast, Small Things Make A Big Difference.

Spencer joined us recently on the .metaverse podcast to discuss how the metaverse could be utilized for learning, the power of empathy in sales, and the three foundational truths for leadership. Check out the key takeaways from this week’s episode:

Learning In The Metaverse

"One of the stats, that I'm just amazed at, is that employees that have gone into the metaverse or into virtual reality are 4 times more focused during their learning than in e-learning."

The reality of today is that learners are more distracted than they've ever been.

How many devices do you have at your fingertips right now? My guess is someone's got an iPhone, an iPad, a computer, a TV screen. What we found in my own research is every one that sits down to learn or is on a Zoom call. They have already 3 screens attached to them. So you're already competing for their attention.

And if you don't provide an immersive experience that helps them filter out the noise and helps them forget about their phone or forget about their email, then you never fully get them immersed in what they're trying to learn. And they become distracted.

One of the stats, that I'm just amazed at, is that employees that have gone into the metaverse or into virtual reality are 4 times more focused during their learning than in e-learning. And they were even 1.5 times more focused than in the classroom. What the metaverse allows you to do, when you're gaming and stimulated, it does something to the brain. The synopsis, the endorphins — it grabs you more than what e-learning can do. And at times even what happens in the class.

What Leaders Need To Know About the Metaverse

Any learning function or organization that says, “oh, we're going to ignore the metaverse.”

This is not one that you should ignore. It needs to be in your journey. At some point, it might not be today, but if you ignore it, you're going to be behind.

Empathy In the Metaverse

"The data suggested that not only were the people that experienced that emotionally impacted by it, but when they were in front of the customers, they were more effective in the way that they communicated to the customer because of the emotional impact of the training that they went through."

We started an experiment and the experiment was how do you help our sales representatives understand what a patient feels like when they get a disease with heart failure or COPD?

When we first started to do this, we didn't use any technology. We would send people a kit and they would breathe through a straw and see how it feels if they could only breathe so many seconds beats per minute.

And what we found out was that when our people could understand the journey of the patient, they were more empathetic. They were more energized to be more proactive in finding the right solutions for patients. That actually took a long time and it was very expensive.

So we thought, was there a way to create this using technology? An experience where people could feel what the patient was going to feel. And so that's where we really start to experiment with virtual routing and we did it with a heart failure patient.

We sent out virtual reality headsets. You'd be inside and you would see everything. It was a very emotional, visceral, experience from getting a phone call, to having your hands swell up, to not being able to walk through the park.

And the data suggested that not only were the people that experienced that emotionally impacted by it, but when they were in front of the customers, they were more effective in the way that they communicated to the customer because of the emotional impact of the training that they went through.

Leadership In the Metaverse

"At the core of our human nature, we all just want to belong to something greater than just ourselves."

There are three foundational truths to leadership. How would you, in the metaverse, help leaders — not only to understand what are the core values of what they're leading to, because if you think about it, core values are what dictate your daily actions but how do you have alignment? You need to understand what are your core values as a leader and how are you leading a team.

The second one is soulful curiosity. How do we help our leaders understand that there's probably a different way to look at the problems that they are facing and the solutions that they're trying to solve for? You recognize that as a leader, as I become more soulfully curious, and that I don't have all the answers and that there are different lenses to look at.

And then the third foundational truth to leadership is that belonging matters. That when at the core of our human nature, we all just want to belong to something greater than just ourselves.

How does that matter? How does that change us to lead differently? And if you could do that in the metaverse, you would probably come up with some really unique conversations.

You can listen to the .metaverse podcast on all podcast platforms, including Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and Anchor.

Be sure to subscribe to our podcast and find more metaverse content by visiting touchcast.com/metaverse.

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