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Learning through Experience

How can we learn from the experience we have to create a future that we want? This is the realm that much of Dr. Heidi Brooks’s work explores. As we navigate through life, she invites us to cultivate the capacity to learn through experience, and to apply the wisdom gained to co-create a future that is worth fighting for.

In season one of the Learning through Experience Podcast, Dr. Heidi Brooks focused on one of the most impactful ways to learn through experience: learning with mentors. She spoke with some of her mentors and they reflected on what brought them to where they are today in their own work, life, and play.

But in a podcast that proposes that learning can not only happen through conventional exposure to concepts and theories but also through what we experience in life, this second season is all about the HOW.

How do we learn through our own experience?

Dr. Heidi Brooks talks to artists, authors, professors, and even yoga instructors about four practices you can lean on to learn through experience. These four practices are: How to challenge your perspective, how to stretch yourself and build range, how to direct your own learning, and finally, the importance of reflection.

I hope you follow along and join us for season two of Learning Through Experience.

Learning through Experience show art

Heidi Brooks

Senior Lecturer in Organizational Behavior
Heidi Brooks

Heidi Brooks teaches and advises on the subject of everyday leadership: the everyday micro-moments of impact that shape our lived experiences. Creating more courageous communities—especially within organizations—is a particular passion of hers. Dr. Brooks specializes in large-scale culture change projects focused on individual and collective leadership effectiveness in organizations.

Interpersonal Dynamics, the MBA elective she has taught for 15 years, is one of the courses most in demand at Yale School of Management. Dr. Brooks pioneered the Everyday Leadership course at SOM, where she first taught the Principles of Everyday Leadership. She has also taught Emotional Intelligence, Power & Politics, Managing Teams and Groups, and Coaching Skills for Managers. Dr. Brooks received her doctorate in psychology from the University of California at Berkeley and a bachelor’s degree from Brown University. She is a lifelong experiential learner; you can find her as a student in classrooms as far-ranging as improvisational theater and immersion language lessons.


  • Podcast
    Season 2
    Episode 3
    Duration 53:02

    Learning through The Extended Mind

    Since this season of the podcast is all about the HOW of learning through experience, I wanted to talk to Annie Murphy Paul who basically wrote the book on learning outside the brain.

    She’s the author of several books, and I love to talk with people after they have had a chance to learn through the experience of their book being out in the world. In this episode, we focus on The Extended Mind: The Power of Thinking Outside the Brain. Her book challenges the perspective that brain-bound cognition is the best way to learn.

    There are so many great nuggets in this book and in this conversation with Annie. She adds quite a bit to the conversation about HOW to extend our learning capacity beyond the brain. The brain evolved for survival in a very different era to the one we live in today, and the tasks our brains evolved to solve are so different from the tasks we are expected to do now. To more fully utilize our learning potential, we can extend the mind by utilizing the body, physical spaces, relationships with other people, and material objects.

    Key Topics:

    00:45 Challenging our perspective regarding social and emotional learning: As children, we are encouraged to learn from and through our environment. However, we are expected to put this kind of learning aside as we get older;

    07:05 The limitations of the human brain: Understanding that the brain evolved for survival in a different era is crucial to changing the education system and preparing students for the modern world;

    09:58 Bringing the body into learning: Moving the body to build range and enhance our cognitive abilities;

    17:34 Restoring our attentional resources: We have a finite supply of attention, we can restore this by spending time in outdoor spaces;

    24:41 Designing interior spaces to support effective thinking: We can use certain objects, symbols, and signs to extend our thinking, evoke a certain version of ourselves, and direct our learning;

    33:34 Extending our thinking through experiencing people: Learning again as adults how to experience people around us as an individual and as a group.

    Additional Resources from Annie:

    Book: The Extended Mind: The Power of Thinking Outside the Brain by Annie Murphy Paul


    Linkedin: Annie Murphy Paul

  • Podcast
    Episode 2
    Duration 24:19

    The Power of Art to Cultivate Joy

    I love how art can take us on a journey to another way of seeing things. And, I don’t think I’m alone in thinking that the human condition is a little rough and rocky these days — so I feel drawn to opportunities to cultivate joy.

    In my role as Chair of the Art Committee at Yale School of Management, I have the chance to impact the space through the iconography on the walls. I wanted to do something real and uplifting. Then I met Clara Nartey and experienced her work. I am delighted to welcome her to this podcast so others can hear about her perspective and process.

    In this episode, we speak about art as a reflective practice, the impact of art on education, and the power of art to encourage discussion and change minds. Clara encourages us to explore art as a means of reflection and a way to navigate difficult topics and conversations that we may have otherwise avoided.

    The Joy of Living Exhibit at the Yale School of Management is a permanent exhibit by artist Clara Nartey. Clara is a textile artist and former management consultant, her exhibit at Yale is a reflection of her experience of the pandemic, and it has become a part of the context and fabric of the experience of this building.

    Key Topics:

    04:10 Finding your way through experience: Challenging our perspective around difficult experiences and allowing them to become learning opportunities that lead us to courageous leaps.

    10:02 The journey of becoming an artist: Learning through and from opportunities as they come to you in life, stretching and building range from them.

    14:50 Creativity and self-reflection during the pandemic: Reflecting on what life means and creating art and joy from that place of reflection.

    17:25 Art as a reflective practice: Being in a relationship with the creative process, directing your learning, and letting the work speak to you and evolve.

    19:19 The power of art to change minds: There is a stretching of mind, heart, and spirit that happens through perceiving human issues through the arts.

    Learn more:

    See Clara Nartey’s Collections on her website.

    Drawing of Clara Nartey
  • Podcast
    Season 2
    Episode 1
    Duration 40:48

    What Legacy Do We Want to Leave Behind? Practices To Access The Best of You

    In this first episode of season two, I talk with Tracee Stanley about how to have an experience of yourself through skilled and intentional rest, self-inquiry, and aligned learning.

    This season is about how we learn through experience using 4 core practices: Challenging your perspective, stretching and building range, directing your learning, and reflection and inquiry. Tracee’s way of working is a deep way to learn through experience—listen to hear how our conversation touches on all four of these practices that might just change your life.

    Tracee Stanley, a yoga teacher and bestselling author who transitioned from a successful filmmaking career in Hollywood to teaching Yoga Nidra and self-inquiry, challenges conventional ideas surrounding work culture and productivity by emphasizing the need for balance, rest, and reflection so we can leave a greater legacy behind us.

    Key Topics:

    01:24 Learning through experience to honor a less conventional path: From successful Hollywood filmmaker to yoga teacher;

    08:03 Experience can offer a thread to yourself: There is a difference between knowing the self and coming into the self. Certain practices can help us peel back the layers of who we are not.

    10:17 Experience opens a door: How the experience of rest practice opened new possibilities

    16:30 Challenging your perspective: Understanding yourself, experimenting, and learning what you truly want;

    19:11 Stretching and building range: Asking questions that allow you to learn through experience and make shifts towards what you want;

    25:27 Directing your learning: Using intentional rest and the space of the liminal to capture what you already know;

    28:45 Reflecting and inquiring: What legacy do we want to leave behind? How attachment, aversion, and fear are keeping us from intentionally resting and leaving a legacy of exhaustion behind us.

    37:09 The group is more powerful than the individual: How community can help support you as you shift old patterns and learn through experience.

    Additional Resources from Tracee Stanley

    Practice: Grounding Deep Relaxation


    Books: The Luminous Self: Sacred Yogic Practices and Rituals to Remember Who You Are | Radiant Rest: Yoga Nidra for Deep Relaxation & Awakened Clarity

  • Podcast
    Season 2
    Duration 05:22

    Introducing: Season 2 of Learning Through Experience

    I’m Dr. Heidi Brooks. Last season of the podcast, Learning Through Experience, I focused on learning through the experience of mentorship and the guests were all my mentors in one way or another.

    In a podcast that lifts up that learning can not only happen through conventional exposure to concepts and theories but also through what we experience in life, the second season is all about the HOW.

    How do we learn through experience?

    I’m talking to artists, authors, professors, and even yoga instructors about four practices I decided to focus on in learning through experience.

    These four practices are: How to challenge your perspective, how to stretch yourself and build range, how to direct your own learning, and finally, the importance of reflection.

    I hope you follow along and join me for season two of Learning Through Experience.

  • Podcast
    Season 1
    Episode 10
    Duration 08:27

    A Reflection on Season 1

    Ok, Season 1 of Learning Through Experience is a wrap. (Woohoo!) I am learning a ton through the experience of podcasting- it’s much more fun and definitely more work than I expected!

    This short episode is a check-in. One of the core practices in learning through experience is reflection, so this short podcast episode is a check-in on my own learning through the experience of podcasting.

    It’s a way to share my learning in public, which feels slightly rebellious in a world that seems so committed to presenting finished products and hiding the human process.

    In this episode, I talk with a key partner and internal staff member Valerie Belanger about Season 1. We talk about what fun and ease and connection might look like in the podcast production process; learning in public, space-making and impact.

    Thanks for listening to the first season—just love your wonderful company and encouraging words. I hope you will stay subscribed and stay with me as we welcome new guests and topics in the next season, which is focused on the how we can learn through experience. Happy new year!

  • Podcast
    Season 1
    Episode 9
    Duration 26:31

    Maybe You Can Go Home Again

    I love this episode with Rhona Weinstein! It’s about coming full circle, working for what you dream about and how all people exist in context. Part of that context can include the experience of inspiring mentorship.

    Read an automated transcript of this episode.

  • Podcast
    Season 1
    Episode 8
    Duration 37:55

    The Power of Creating Learning Spaces

    I have a very clear memory of chasing Robin Rose down the hallway at college and asking her: “How can I be like you when I grow up?” I was fascinated with the way she invited people to step into learning through personal experience. Since most of my idea of learning involved lectures and assignments, this approach was refreshing and evocative. Discovering the power of learning through reflection on experience was a fundamental shift for me—and I never turned back. In this conversation, we discuss learning laboratories, the need for risk, and how leadership is, at its core, an art form.

    Read an automated transcript of this episode.

  • Podcast
    Season 1
    Episode 7
    Duration 26:01

    practice, Practice, PRACTICE

    Learning through experience is an everyday practice — as Bill Torbert knows well. In this episode, he speaks about the power of surrendering to the part of us that is quite a “numbskull.”

    Read an automated transcript of the episode.

  • Podcast
    Season 1
    Episode 6
    Duration 23:28

    How Do You Actually Notice Your Life?

    In this episode, family systems experts Phil and Carolyn Cowan talk with grace and wisdom about their process of confronting aspects of family dynamics that they experienced but did not wish to pass on. If there’s one thing you take away from our conversation, let it be this: pay attention to your story.

    Read an automated transcript of this episode.

  • Podcast
    Season 1
    Episode 5
    Duration 03:25

    A Quick Check-In

    In order to learn through experience, our doing needs a good pairing with reflective inquiry into what’s working.

    Now that we’re halfway through the first season of “Learning through Experience,” I wanted to pause and take time to walk the talk. In this “check-in” episode, I share a bit of my reflection on what I am learning through the experience of podcasting.

    Read an automated transcript.