To help you stay competitive in the business world, we asked 11 founders, CEOs and other professionals about the learning habits they adopted as students. From trusting their core convictions to solving problems from unconventional angles, these experts share the practices that have kept them updated and ahead in their fields.
- Trust Your Core Convictions
- Attend Industry-Related Events Regularly
- Embrace Continuous Learning
- Adopt Pen-and-Paper Approach
- Read The Wall Street Journal Daily
- Follow Industry Disruptions
- Dedicate a “Power Hour” to Learning
- Engage in Critical Reflection
- Participate Actively in Webinars
- Use Flashcards for Study and Preparation
- Solve Problems from an Unconventional Angle
Trust Your Core Convictions
Know thyself... These two words helped me form my success habits more than anything else to keep me on top in business. You have to be strong at your core so you can stand in your conviction in your work, sales and leadership. You have to know what you want, be willing to stand up for it, do whatever it takes to be the best to make it happen and be willing to stand in the fire for it unafraid.
There will always be people trying to define you, challenge you, tear you down, anger you and stop you from doing things your way. You have a gift only you can bring! A passion, a specific purpose that you are here to serve and only YOU know what it is. I always ask myself, "Is this in alignment with who I am?" when I am challenged to change.
If not, then I only trust myself and make my decisions based on what my core says... even when others think I am crazy. The only crazy thing is not trusting yourself! Then, and only then, will you face defeat! Remember, you know yourself; now trust you!
Attend Industry-Related Events Regularly
A learning habit adopted during my time as a student was regularly attending industry-related events, workshops and networking sessions.
These activities allowed for staying updated with the latest trends, innovations and best practices in the business world. Engaging with professionals and experts in the field provided valuable insights and expanded knowledge beyond the classroom. This habit has been instrumental in maintaining competitiveness in the business world post-graduation.
Embrace Continuous Learning
Never stop learning. Be a "student of life," and look at everything that happens as an opportunity to learn something new. For example, when I submit a proposal and do not win, I try to find out what I could do to improve my chances next time. It has become a learning opportunity for me.
If you are asked to do something and you do not know how, find a way to learn it. Take a course, watch a YouTube video, ask someone who is an expert, Google it, team up with another colleague, or just dive in. I use this philosophy as a way to expand my business and be able to offer more programs to my customers.
Adopt Pen-and-Paper Approach
One learning habit we adopted as students, which continues to keep us updated and competitive in the business world, is the traditional pen-and-paper approach. Despite the digital age, jotting down key points during webinars, podcasts, or while reading articles helps in better retention and comprehension of new concepts.
This practice ensures that we thoroughly understand and can apply the latest strategies in the ever-evolving landscape. If you're aiming to stay ahead, remember the value of writing things down. In a world buzzing with information, clarity comes with quiet reflection.
Read The Wall Street Journal Daily
In one of the very first finance classes I ever took, the professor was shockingly candid. He told the class that we would learn more about finance reading The Wall Street Journal every day than we would from taking his course.
It was a somewhat tongue-in-cheek statement, but he did strongly encourage everyone in the class to sign up for The Wall Street Journal using a student subscription and read at least a handful of articles every day. His point was that it is important to stay up-to-date with macroeconomic and financial issues on a global scale, as these matters trickle down into everyday business.
I took his advice and signed up for a cheap student account with WSJ that day, a subscription I still have. I read The Wall Street Journal online every morning, and even if I don’t have time to read every article, it does keep me abreast of important financial issues. I feel like it was one of the best pieces of advice I got while still in school.
Follow Industry Disruptions
As a student, I cultivated a habit of following industry disruptions, which has served me well in the business world. During my MBA, I had a professor who emphasized the importance of this practice.
I remember vividly when Uber disrupted the taxi industry in 2011. I tracked this transformation keenly, writing a term paper about the shift. This practice has stayed with me. In my digital marketing agency, I consistently monitor emerging trends and technologies, ensuring we stay competitive. An instance that stands out is when chatbots were first introduced. I noticed their potential early, incorporated them into our services, and we saw a notable improvement in lead generation and ROI. This practice of tracking disruptions has helped me stay ahead in the ever-evolving digital world.
Dedicate a “Power Hour” to Learning
As a financial advisor, I've always been a voracious reader. But the habit I cultivated in my student days, which I fondly call "The Power Hour," has been my secret weapon in the fast-paced business world. Every morning, before the sun peeks over the horizon, I dedicate an hour to learning something new. It's like my morning coffee, but for the brain. I dive into the latest financial reports, devour economic analyses and dissect market trends.
This ritual is my daily dose of intellectual adrenaline, keeping me sharp and ahead of the curve. It's like being a surfer, riding the wave of knowledge, while others are still waxing their boards on the beach. "The Power Hour" isn't just a learning habit, it's a lifestyle choice that has kept me competitive in the ever-evolving financial landscape.
Engage in Critical Reflection
In college, I learned a lot by asking "why." This approach helped me a lot when I studied coding and DevOps. Instead of just fixing errors, I tried to understand why they happened to prevent them in the future.
During a particularly challenging phase of developing Codebase, the data we were serving was slower than expected. Instead of simply tuning the database, I reflected on the issue, dug into our data structures and realized the database design was causing the bottleneck. After reassessing and modifying the design, I achieved significantly improved performance.
Critical reflection, I've found, is most beneficial for problem-solvers and strategic thinkers. It allows for continuous growth by challenging assumptions and building a deeper understanding.
Participate Actively in Webinars
As a student, it was a habit to participate and test knowledge regularly. In the competitive world, this practice continues by actively engaging in webinars, where industry experts share insights that can be applied in work at TechNews180. Embracing continuous learning can significantly enhance knowledge retention and skill.
Use Flashcards for Study and Preparation
I used to love making flashcards to study for any test or to prep for a presentation, and that habit followed me into my professional career. It's essential to review and rehearse before we do anything significant. We need fast methods for hammering the essentials into our brains for long-term retention, and the best way to do that is through repeated exposure and practice.
Flashcards make repetition easy and cater to people with short attention spans and average ones. There's inherently only so much information you can fit on a card, so you have to choose wisely and aim to make the most impact with the information you group together.
Whether I am studying for a presentation to a client and want to ensure I remember the key points, or if I'm prospecting new clients or stakeholders and want to nail that first impression, flashcards are timeless, easy to use and understand, and help us remember better through straightforward repetition.
Solve Problems from An Unconventional Angles
A lifelong practice I adopted from my student days, which has proven invaluable, is emphasizing problem-solving. I recall countless late-night study sessions grappling with complex marketing case studies.
One, in particular, involved an established retail store struggling to connect with a younger audience. While most of my peers focused on typical strategies like social media campaigns, I delved deeper, examining alternative platforms. That's when I discovered the power of SMS marketing. Its high open rate and personal touch intrigued me.
So, I devised an innovative SMS campaign that the professor loved and from which the retailer could have benefited. Today, this habit of digging deeper and solving problems from unconventional angles keeps me ahead in the ever-evolving digital marketing landscape.
The Eller graduate experience comes in many forms, including five MBA programs, 12 specialized master’s degrees and many more options for concentrations, specializations, dual degrees and certificates.
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