The same goes for work. I love learning about the companies I get to work with, or understanding new marketing, measurement or communications opportunities that emerge almost on a daily basis.
Here are my five rules to ensure I never stop learning:
Make time to learn. Probably the most important rule. It's easy to get lost in the daily grind and pass on opportunities to meet new people, listen to new ideas or discover new opportunities. I probably should learn the art of saying “no” a few more times, but at the same time I know that some of the most amazing opportunities and connections have come from saying “yes.”
The same applies to reading. I am signed up probably to more email newsletters than is considered healthy. But I know that to please my discovery appetite (and excuses for procrastination), I often find real value in going through all that stuff.
Ensure that you understand how you learn best. Personally, I like learning by doing, and I am a visual thinker. This means that anybody who shows me something, instead of just talking about it, gains the upper hand with me.
If you know what kind of learner you are, make sure you brief your counterpart as such. It will make your meetings so much more productive.
Personal meetings trump conference calls. I love the face to face, when it’s much easier to concentrate and be in the moment. On a call, your email inbox or Facebook is only a mere click away. Oh, come on, tell me you haven’t virtually wandered off during a conference call or online demo?
Keep an open mind. This is kind of like a “duh.” The objective of learning is to be open to new arguments, insights and ways of doing things.
I find this the most difficult one. Nine out of 10 times, conversations turn out to be nothing more than a simple sales pitch. But every now and again, I stumble upon someone or something that truly represents innovation or new thinking.
When I was younger, impatience was the enemy of learning. Now it is the fact that when the conversation starts, I often think I know almost immediately what the idea or opportunity is (or isn’t, for that matter).
Throughout my life I have had to convince my brain it is worthwhile to spend 30 minutes exploring a topic even if I feel it might be not be worth it right away. And I have proven my brain wrong on quite a few occasions, when the outcome of a conversation was indeed an enrichment and not the waste of time I thought the meeting was going to be.
Do something with what you learn. This is another important one — the “closer,” if you like. Reading, listening and learning is pointless without doing, applying, sharing or implementing. Make the action point the actual point of a discovery if you see value or applicability in it. Otherwise you might just as well check your Instagram while in the meeting.