The months of August and September are often associated with “Back To School. The hard reality is education doesn’t magically stop when you close your textbooks and walk across the stage to receive your diploma. Learning is a lifelong process and continuing education is an important part of professional growth and mental fitness.
As Sharon Lauby, a seasoned HR consultant, observed during her attendance at this year’s Great Place to Work conference, a top concern of today’s CEO is the “speed of change.” Individuals at all levels of an organization who want to keep their skills sharp and current will invest in personal and professional development throughout their careers.
We asked the members of the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) to share with our readers the recent books, people, programs, conferences, or coursework that made the biggest impact on them this last year. What investments have they made in their learning journey that helped them keep up with changing times?
Attending Conferences and Industry Events
You’re never too busy (or too experienced) to learn more — and the key is to find what challenges you, and can enrich you. For instance, I continue to find value in attending conferences and industry events. This not only helps me continue my education, but also takes me outside my daily bubble of influence to generate new ideas and strategies for improvement.
Developing a Strong Reading Habit
I only recently started a serious reading habit. But it’s changed my outlook so much that I have to recommend it to everyone. Books are one of the most affordable investments you can make into understanding someone’s experience. So, I recommend The Effective Executive by Peter Drucker as a great classic. Tim Ferriss’ The 4-Hour Workweek is also perfect for entrepreneurs.
Integrating Development Into Weekly Meetings
We integrate professional development into our weekly meetings so our recruiters remain up-to-date on the latest recruiting trends and information. This keeps our team ahead of the curve.
Finding Managers Who Are Doers
The best way to keep up is to stay tactical. For example, in software development, it’s normally the front-line developers who know which new frameworks are more powerful or easier to use. By the time a big company manager hears about this at a conference, it’s already outdated. The best engineering managers I’ve known are all still doers.
Setting Aside Funds for Employees to Invest in Their Development
This year, we decided to take a new approach to professional development by allocating an annual budget to each employee to be used at their own discretion. It made sense to give our employees autonomy in allocating those funds because we trust they are the best people to decide which resources, courses and tools will help them do their best work.
Joining Specialty Facebook Groups
There are numerous Facebook groups dedicated to growth, marketing and operations. These Facebook groups contain an outstanding number of business experts sharing ideas and discussing groundbreaking growth techniques. Be in a virtual space where you will never be the smartest person in the room.
Listening to Podcasts
I think podcasts are the perfect medium for continued education and keeping up with the times. Each day, on my way to and from work, I’ll listen to a podcast. A few of my favorites: “Waking Up” by Sam Harris, “StartUp” and “How I Built This.”
Reading the Abundance Insider
Peter Diamandis, co-founder of Singularity University, has a weekly email newsletter called The Abundance Insider that lists the week’s most game-changing tech developments, from AI detecting autism in infants to flying drone taxis. It’s my favorite way to stay on top of the latest trends and gives a glimpse of what the future might bring.
One investment that really only involves your time is utilizing various webinars related to small-business ownership. They are available on topics like social media marketing, how to start a business, email marketing and public relations, among many others. They’re also good because you can watch them when you have time, which is perfect for a busy entrepreneur.
Studying Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
The world is changing, and artificial intelligence is going to be as prevalent as electricity in our lives. Therefore, it’s critical as business leaders to understand how AI works and how to incorporate it into our businesses. I’ve taken both online and in-person courses on AI and machine learning in order to understand applied business AI.
Signing Up for Membership Newsletters
I’ve started signing up for membership newsletters to save me time researching current industry trends. Since I’m a WordPress developer, one of my favorite newsletters is Post Status. Time is precious, so receiving a concise email in a nice format is much appreciated. I also enjoy the community and the help we offer each other on the Slack channel.
Keeping Up With the News
By keeping up with the news, you’ll be able to get an idea of how your business may be affected by certain events, whether it’s locally, regionally, nationally or even globally. This depends on the type of product and service you’re offering, but even your affiliate businesses can be affected by events happening around the world. It’s important to stay up to date.