Last year, Aaron Skonnard, president and CEO of Pluralsight, shared how the idea of lifelong learning could, in the long run, create better employees in this Entrepreneur article. “I am a big believer that fostering ongoing learning in the workplace not only results in a pleasant and energizing work environment but a successful one with top-performing employees who aren’t afraid to question the status quo and work together to seek the truth during difficult situations.”
Even Abraham Lincoln was quoted once saying he didn’t think much of a man “who is not wiser today than he was yesterday.” If your company hasn’t yet procured a training budget, or a weekly educational component, like Aaron’s article suggests, what do you do? How do you become wiser today than you were yesterday?
As a personal objective last quarter, I chose to dedicate a few hours each month to learn something new about the PR industry.
Below are ways that I’ve found to intentionally stay up-to-date and to learn something new:
Read New News
One of the questions we ask interviewees when they’re applying for a position at the Bradford Group is, “Where do you get your news?” Ask yourself this question. Hint: It’s not a good sign if you can’t name at least a few reputable sources. Committing 20 minutes a day to read the news in a publication that you normally wouldn’t read might spark your interest on a new topic or trend. Don’t have the time? Download an industry podcast or a TedTalk and listen in the car. Changing up your routine and the information you’re consuming could lead to a fresh perspective or new discovery.
Cozy up with Innovative Companies
Set up a Google Alert or a similar service to alert you when other great companies are mentioned in the news. Are they doing something special in the marketplace? Are they creating new trends? Follow your fellow innovators on social media and read the books published by their company leaders. The best way to keep learning is to stay up to speed on emerging trends and the companies that are making use of them.
In his Tennessean column on learning, Andy Bailey, business coach and founder of Petra Coach, spoke on the importance of this. In his example, Andy wrote about a recent conference presentation that noted how the tech industry completely changes every 18 months. For companies that wanted to stay ahead of the trends, they had to constantly look towards the upcoming year and a half.
The best way to keep learning is to stay up to speed on emerging trends and the companies that are making use of them.
Learning from the influencers in your community and/or industry is instrumental in professional development. Identify these people and follow them. Read what they publish, reply to their tweets and watch the content they produce, even if it’s not directly correlated with your industry.
As a side note, the Bradford Group offers a free service to interested businesses or organizations that want to discover the major social media players in your industry. To get a custom list of 50 Twitter accounts for you to follow and engage with, click the button to the right of this post.
Buy a Book
There are hundreds of “Must Read” lists for any given industry. Start keeping a book on hand to read between small tasks, during lunch or while you’re waiting for a call. Even if you read for just a few hours every month, you will finish more books – and learn more – than if you had not. To get you started, Forbes has shared Bill Gates’ personal summer reading list. What’s one thing you do to learn something new?
Photo credit to Simon Cocks