Never Stop Learning

The talk in my family these days is all about school. My wife, Lisa, and I are just back from getting two of our daughters set up for another year at college. Our son has just begun his junior year of high school. And Lisa has an energetic class of 26 new kindergartners to shepherd through their first year of school.

I myself am glad I never have to worry about my GPA again, but that doesn't at all mean I’m done learning.

Because once you stop learning, you stop growing. And once you stop growing, your business is stuck.

Here are three ways I keep myself sharp:

1. Reading. It’s reported that the average CEO reads 60 books a year. I'm not quite hitting that number, but I always have at least one book I'm working my way through. The best I‘ve read lately (or, in this case, reread) is Bo Burlingham’s Small Giants. Greatest takeaway? Bigger isn’t always better. Many of us focus exclusively on growing our sales, when what we should focus on is growing our profits, growing our people, and getting better as a company.

2. Attending professional conferences. A good conference is a great investment. You get a chance to step away from the weeds and consider the bigger picture, with the guidance and support of industry leaders and a network of peers who are facing many of the same challenges you are.

This past week I spent a couple days at Aileron’s annual LIFT conference on professional management. I left with renewed focus on what they call “conscious leadership”—i.e., being present and realizing there are different ways of looking at things. I need to pay close attention to how I’m coming across to my team. People will stay at your company when they feel connected.

3. Watching, watching, watching. Do you know who I learn from everyday? Our dog, Nelly. I have family members who lavish attention upon her, always generous with carrots and belly scratches. And then I have family members who just aren’t that into her. Nelly knows this. She runs to the former and ignores the latter. Your team and your clients aren’t so different. The ones you take an interest in will take an interest in you; the ones you don’t, won’t.

Take some time this week to plan what you’ll do this year to keep learning.

See you next week!