Interview with Learning Experts Jim Stovall and Ray Hull
We were lucky enough to get a few minutes with Jim and Ray to talk about their upcoming book The Art of Learning and Self Development: Your Competitive Edge.

jimstovall-personJim Stovall has been a national champion Olympic weightlifter, the President of the Emmy Award-winning Narrative Television Network, and a highly sought after author and platform speaker. He is the author of the best selling book, The Ultimate Gift, which is now a major motion picture starring James Garner and Abigail Breslin.

Steve Forbes, president and CEO of Forbes magazine, says, “Jim Stovall is one of the most extraordinary men of our era.”

For his work in making television accessible to our nation’s 13 million blind and visually impaired people, The President’s Committee on Equal Opportunity selected Jim Stovall as the Entrepreneur of the Year. He was also chosen as the International Humanitarian of the Year, joining Jimmy Carter, Nancy Reagan, and Mother Teresa as recipients of this honor.

Ray H. Hull, PhD is Professor of Communication Sciences and Disorders, College of Health rayhull-personProfessions at Wichita State University, Wichita, Kansas. Dr. Hull possesses the PhD in Neurosciences from the University of Denver and University of Colorado School of Medicine, and possesses a Master of Arts degree in Communication and Disorders of Communication, University of South Dakota, and a B.A. degree in Forensics, Drama, and Mass Communication, McPherson College. He is Fellow of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association and Fellow of the American Academy of Audiology

He has given over 600 presentations at conferences and conventions across the U.S., Canada, Europe, and South America with accolades, and is a sought after motivational speaker on the topic of The Art of Communication. He has published over 60 scientific articles, and published 19 books plus two novels all by major publishing companies.

He received the Distinguished Professor Award at Wichita State University by the University chapter of Mortar Board. He was also awarded the Wichita State University College of Education Teaching Award for Excellence in Teaching and the Emery Lindquist Faculty Award for Scholarship and Teaching. He was awarded the Public Health Service Award, U.S. Public Health Service, PHS, DHSS for significant service to PHS, Region VIII for research and service on behalf of older adults. He was awarded the 2001 and the 2006 Professor Incentive Award, Wichita State University. In 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007, and 2013 he was named to Who’s Who Among America’s Educators. In 2009, he received the President's Distinguished Service Award at Wichita State University. He was awarded the Dolores, Etta and Sidney Rodenberg Award for Excellence in Teaching by the WSU College of Health Professions, 2015.

He is or has been Advisor/Consultant to the most Federal Agencies in DC that govern human services funding, and Advisor on Accessibility for the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., among other distinguished assignments.

Hello Jim and Ray, thank you for stopping by Activia’s Expert Insights section. Could you tell us a little bit about yourself for our readers?

Jim: I was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where I still make my home today. As a young man, it was my goal to be an NFL football player, but during a routine physical, I was diagnosed with a condition that would cause me to lose my sight. I finished my athletic career as an Olympic weightlifter and then lost my sight completely by age 29. At that point, I launched a company called the Narrative Television Network which makes movies and television accessible to millions of blind people throughout America and around the world. I have written over 40 books, and seven of them have been turned into movies. I appreciate this opportunity to communicate with you and your readers about The Art of Learning.

Ray: I was born on one of our farms in central Kansas, and attended a two-room rural school in a conservative Mennonite community. I was a severe stutterer, and my stuttering lasted through high school, college and beyond. I extinguished it by entering every speaking competition and every stage play and musical comedy I could land! Since then I have given over 600 well received conference and convention presentations around the U.S. and other countries on The Art of Communication, authored 19 books plus two novels, possess a PhD in Neuroscience, have received many coveted awards for scholarship and university teaching, am an Advisor to most Federal agencies in Washington, D.C., and the Smithsonian Institution. I am most pleased to co-author The Art of Learning with my colleague and friend Jim Stovall.

What drew you to writing a book about How to Learn?

Learning is the most important element of success. Here in the 21st century, we get paid for what we know as opposed to our ancestors who got paid for what they did; therefore, knowing how to learn efficiently and effectively is critical to reaching our goals. Learning, we feel, should be thought of as an adventure—a life-long adventure that can lead learners to achieve goals that they perhaps never thought were possible!

Both of your careers involve teaching people did this help when writing a book about learning and self-development?

I believe the training I do in corporate and arena events combined with the teaching Dr. Hull does in a university setting positions us well to discuss all aspects of lifelong learning. After 30+ years of university teaching, one learns the ins and outs of how people learn. The variables of learning styles demonstrated by my students has given me great insights on what it takes to instil a desire to learn.

Who is this book aimed at and how will it help them?

The Art of Learning can help anyone at any phase of life. Whether they’re a student, a career-minded professional, or a retired person, readers will benefit from knowing how to learn and even do it better.

With all the books on How to learn already published – what is unique about The Art of Learning and Self- Development: Your Competitive Edge?

The Art of Learning is unique because it combines my practical experience in the corporate and business arena with Dr. Hull’s clinical understanding borne out of his experience as a university professor. Further, this book goes beyond other books on learning. Other books primarily concentrate on various styles of learning. Our book delves into how learning takes place, what is required of our central nervous system that allows people to learn, cognitive factors in learning, the joy and adventure of life-long learning, and other interesting topics that go beyond other books on learning.

When writing this book did either of you learn anything new about learning that you didn’t know before?

theartoflearning-bookI learned a lot while writing this book about learning and about myself. Probably the biggest takeaway for me is the fact that we must control and structure our learning opportunities after graduating from our formal education. Very few adults have a systematic program for learning. If we structured our “mental fitness” the way many people with exercise plans structure their “physical fitness,” we would all be more productive and successful. That is essential. After completing their formal education, many people feel, “Well—That’s over. Now, I can put away the books and get to work!” That attitude is a mistake. We cannot stop learning if we want to advance in our careers and our life. Learning should be a continuous life-long adventure that helps us to grow and expand our knowledge.

Could you summarise The Art of Learning & Self- Development: Your Competitive Edge?

The Art of Learning is, quite simply, an owner’s manual for your mind. It will teach you how to learn and how to teach those around you so you can succeed in every area of life.

Finally, is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

The Art of Learning can be combined with our previous titles The Art of Communication, The Art of Presentation, and The Art of Productivity to create a total success curriculum.

Jim and Ray’s book, The Art of Learning and Self-Development: Your Competitive Edge is available on Amazon.