The Journey of the Curious Upsider

The journey of curiosity and learning at Upside Learning

“I think, at a child’s birth, if a mother could ask a fairy godmother to endow it with the most useful gift, that gift would be curiosity.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

The human brain is wired to be curious about the purpose of almost everything that exists. Curiosity is the foundation of purposeful action and mindful thinking. But is there a curiosity phase? Do we know when it occurs? Truth be told, curiosity is a continuous process, and it occurs unconsciously through day-to-day activities, all day, every day – at work, play, and most importantly, while learning.

In pursuit of nurturing curiosity, Upside Learning embarked on a learning journey in October 2020, when the world was exploring newer avenues to thrive amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. The first pit stop on our journey was a company-wide subscription to LinkedIn Learning. The use of this platform was initiated solely by the urge for curiosity and not for any assigned mandatory learning. We have come a long way since then. The road ahead of us is competitive and challenging, but it is always good to reflect on the progress we have made.

In 2021, we introduced the Curiosity campaign with the Upside Curiosity Box being shipped to the home of every Upsider (during the lockdown phase) to build ‘curiosity’ for the campaign. It contained:

  • a letter from Upside Learning’s Founder and CEO – Amit Garg that spoke about why curiosity matters
  • a passport to LinkedIn Learning
  • a couple of hand sanitizers
  • a couple of masks with the text ‘Learning is like Breathing’ printed, and
  • a few chocolates
Collection of Curiosity Boosters: Letter on the Importance of Curiosity, LinkedIn Learning Passport, Sanitizers, Masks with 'Learning is like Breathing' Text, and Delicious Chocolates

An online event was also conducted that encouraged people to sign up, achieving 90% activation within two weeks! Additionally, we launched monthly wellness and other inspired challenges.

Shortly after that, Upside Learning was certified as a Great Place to Work by Great Place to Work® Institute (India) for the second year in a row. We scored a brilliant 78 on the TRUST INDEX© Score which was 6 points up from the preceding year’s score. We scored more than the average of India’s Top 50 Great Mid-size Workplaces on some more parameters. While that was great news, it indicated our people reverting with feedback to create more training opportunities. This year made it a hat-trick win!

Our goal at Upside was to make learning relevant, to make learning ‘stick’, fully recognizing that providing a library of content wasn’t enough. So we encouraged discussions between managers and their team members on the challenges faced in doing their current jobs well. That was the first stage of initiating curiosity about what worked and what needed to be worked on, which led to some well-directed and better-aligned learning opportunities.

Around that time, Founder of Global Curiosity Institute, Stefaan van Hooydonk 范汇东, launched a beta program for organizations – a survey to map their curiosity levels. Everyone at Upside Learning participated in the survey that brilliantly revealed insights about the team. The survey was followed by workshops that highlighted areas we could focus on to enhance curiosity levels, which we have made an effort to include in our initiatives.

A major takeaway was also the need to create a rewards and recognition system within the organization to encourage curiosity. On that note, our first-ever Annual Curiosity and Learning Awards were announced in March 2022. After extensive discussions with the team managers, the following award categories were finalized and rolled out:

  • Protashing Managers: Managers who have been people motivators
  • Seekhe Jee Jaan Se: Employees who passionately keep learning
  • Jigyasu Jodidaar: Employees who are curious and keen to learn – generally ask relevant questions
  • Gyaan Ki Dukaan: Employees who are experts in their work and are happy to share their knowledge with others to help them learn and perform better
  • Learning Se Action Tak: Employees who learn enthusiastically and bring that knowledge to their work
  • Vikas Mein Madadgaar Managers: Managers who actively support their team’s learning and development

The first award ceremony saw many deserving winners (some glimpses of the fun celebration below). We are sure there is going to be a longer list of deserving recipients as we tread forward on our journey.

Recognition and Celebration: Diverse Awards for Upside Learning Team's Curiosity, Learning, and Growth Achievements

Entering the second year of the Curiosity campaign, we initiated the #UpsideLearningHour, where the whole Upside Learning team dedicates an hour every week to learning – where no meetings are allowed and Upsiders are free to learn what they want, helping them upskill and reskill to develop their skillset. Some catch up on learning activities discussed with their managers, while others indulge in reflection and blue sky thinking. Either way, the purpose of learning and being curious is served.

Year 1 was exhilarating and satisfactory, while Year 2, so far, is proving to be a year of progress and achievement. We have renewed our subscription to LinkedIn Learning and are leveraging its features like curation, campaigns, and skills to our best. While learning is a continuous process, we are also learning to be more curious every day – to question, to find solutions, and be better than we were yesterday. We are learning to #GoBeyond.

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