I was recently asked to give a presentation on what students can do/learn so they can keep up with the ever-changing landscape of business and marketing today. As I was preparing the material to deliver, I quickly realized that my counsel wasn’t just for today’s students. It’s what all of us, whether we are a student or seasoned professional, need to be doing to stay current in this never static environment that we all exist in.
Recognize that your employer is not going to invest in your continuing growth. You need to do it for yourself: I’m not saying you won’t have the opportunity to attend a conference or take a class, but the reality is, no company can afford to provide as much continuing education as we need.
We have to be motivated to keep learning on our own or we will very quickly fall behind and once that happens, it’s tough to catch up. Regular consumption of podcasts, webinars, books, blogs, TED talks or whatever method works for you is critical.
Consume information wisely and quickly: We’ve all done it. You click on one online article and next thing you know, an hour has passed and you are far away from where you started. Today’s information overload can bury us in a blink if we’re not careful. We definitely need to consume information every day but we need to have a plan.
Use tools that help you sort and filter all the information out there to find what you need to keep up. An RSS Feed reader (I like Feedly) is an easy way to sort through huge volumes of data. You can also use customizable news apps like Flipboard to aggregate the latest news in the categories that matter most to your industry and career.
Learn to teach, write to learn: The linear nature of mentorships is evolving into a new model. We old dogs have a lot to learn from our younger, digital-native co-workers and we still have a few things to teach as well. When you know you’re going to be teaching others, you learn at a different level.
One of the best ways to teach is to write. As you do your research and fact checking, you will learn even more. A side benefit is that your writing skills will get stronger as well.
Be productive at the start: Most days, the distractions win. We rarely get as much done as we’d like, simply because of the interruptions and constant distractions that bombard us throughout the day.
But if you start your day in relative quiet and get the most pressing of your work done before you log into email, walk into a meeting or take that first call – you’ll feel less rushed and frenetic. If you include some of your media/information consumption into that morning routine, you’ll also feel more plugged into what’s going on in the world.
Surround yourself with other learners and thinkers: You can’t possibly learn it all. And even tougher – you can’t see it all from every angle. You need to create your own tribe of people who will share freely, encourage you, hold you accountable, challenge you and cheer you on.
Very few professionals make the time to create this sort of mastermind group of their own. But I can tell you from personal experience, it’s a safe place to admit you don’t know something, to ask someone you trust to hold you accountable to a goal or just to compare notes/experiences.
The world is not going to slow down. If anything, the speed of change is just going to accelerate even more. If we don’t master these habits now and develop this ability to keep learning and evolving – to keep up – we may never catch up.