Last year was a little hectic for Arts Psychology student Stephen Robinson. On top of his full-time studies, he spent 2015 researching, mastering and documenting 52 skills in just 52 weeks.
The skills ranged from practical – #50) How to Build an App: Drop Da Mic – to adventurous and bold, like – #10) How to do a Barrel Roll in a Plane – to downright silly – #39) How to Play a Recorder on Top of a 6088 Meter Mountain.
Stephen tackled big skills and small skills, and did things that were completely outside of his comfort zone. He overcame his fear of the backflip, fulfilled a dream of singing on stage, learnt how to pole dance, figured out how to survive in the jungle and spent a month building a Rube Goldberg machine to celebrate it all.
The idea for 52 Skillz came to Stephen in the fall of 2014, as he entered his fourth year of Psychology in the Faculty of Arts.
As a full-time student with a part-time job, it was easy for Stephen to put off pursuing any extra-curricular goals – but that left him in a creative rut.
“There were so many things I wanted to do and skills I wanted to learn, but I never followed through with them,” he explained.
“It honestly came down to a love of learning and a fear that if I didn’t do it now, I never would.”
So, Stephen wrote a list of 52 skills he’d always wanted to learn and started a vlog about it.
By posting the project in a public forum, Stephen purposely cultivated a community that could help support and motivate him through the year. “Sometimes I think the simple act of speaking your goal out loud to someone can create a feeling of urgency and accountability that can motivate you through any project,” he said.
And it worked.
He completed every skill on his 52 Skillz list, and along the way he discovered even more about himself, and his personal learning process.
“The whole project has shown me a lot about how I learn, it really showed me that learning through doing and having someone show you in person is the best method for me.”
“I also had to do so much networking and because I was forced to become more comfortable with it – now in a 400 student classroom I have no problem speaking up or asking someone to be note-buddies – and it’s so helpful and powerful,” he said.
Those networking skills will be extremely valuable as Stephen moves forward with 52 Skillz: Season 2 and his other passion – working at UAlberta’s eHUB and managing his own entrepreneurial pursuits – after he graduates this year.
“One of the greatest things I got out of my psychology degree is how to work with, connect, manage and lead people,” he said. “And 52 Skillz has kind of added to that and opened my mind up to how I can inspire and influence the people around me.”
As for Season 2 of 52 Skillz – Stephen, a self-described Zombie-apocalypse nerd, just completed an ambitious and bloody eight-week intensive on How to Become a Zombie Survival Expert.
The series is both practical (should the dead actually rise one day) and of course, entertaining.
If you want to learn the best hand-to-hand combat moves to evade the walking dead, how to hot-wire a car or what you should actually pack in that Zombie apocalypse bug-out bag you secretly have stashed in your closet – this 10-episode 52 Skillz series is for you.
Next up on the Skillz docket: Becoming a Modern Gentleman. Stephen says this series is still in the works, but could include such gems as: How to Salsa, How to Cook One Meal Really Well and How to Tie a Bow-Tie while Skiing Down a Mountain.
Watch for the next installment on Stephen’s blog and in the meantime, we suggest brushing up on the truly essential Zombie survival skills with our favourite episode: How to Shoot a Toboggan Riding Zombie.