I’ll start by taking a moment to talk about something I know extremely well: Marketing.
If you ask a modern marketer what is one of the biggest challenges they face, most of them will list the following: Keeping up with latest trends and technologies.
See, already today, the tech stack is endless; And more platforms are born every day. At the same time, the buying process is changing from linear to non-linear. From logical to jumpy, messy, and unpredictable.
The power has been shifted from companies to consumers as the internet serves as the ultimate catalog to self-serve and to self-educate. For us, marketers, all of this means that we have to find new and more efficient ways to cater to the customers in whatever platforms or devices they are on, at any particular time.
We have to be able to serve customers on their terms and not ours.
What’s this have to do with learning?
Simply put: If you want to stay relevant, you have to be willing to put in the work and learn whatever comes your way. And that, my friend, has been my biggest realization – Continuous learning and self-development is the key to sustainable success.
Not knowing is ok, too.
Don’t be fooled by the “read it and repeat it” concept. It is not impressive to sound like your source of knowledge is coming directly from Google or Wikipedia. There are times that Google comes in handy – but many, including myself, find it refreshing to hear someone admit, “Hey, I don’t know the answer to that, but I am willing to find out for you!”.
Don’t be afraid to admit not knowing all things. Admitting actually empowers you; It gives you the permission to move forward, to pursue the right answer by creating, testing, learning, and adapting.
Admission is power, because one day a strategy works, and tomorrow something new comes along. We are in constant flux, so to say, and there is no room to remain stagnant.
If we live in a world where information drives what we do, the information we get becomes the most important thing. The person who chooses that information has power. – Seth Godin
Curiosity is a superpower
In all this, I am glad to say that I have always had a curious mind. I just never realized how big of an advantage it gives me, until now, of course.
I never thought learning could be a superpower, but here I am, enjoying the ride of never ending self-education. It took me a while to realize my passion for learning, but today, I treat every moment and every meeting as an opportunity to listen and learn.
”Most of the successful people I have known are the ones who do more listening than talking.” ― Bernard M. Baruch
Understanding the need for learning and acting on that need are very different. Which is why I want to give a couple of ideas on how to keep on learning while being busy building a career. Here are my favorite things to do to keep me up to date with the latest tech and tactics.
I am OBSESSED with podcasts. I am also obsessed with learning from others (this requires listening… just saying).
I fill any “downtime moments” with valuable content. Podcasts are great because I can listen to an episode or two while driving from one meeting to another. Another reason why they’re so great is that they vary in length – You can choose one that fits with your travel schedule. Oh, how convenient!
When I say I read, I don’t necessarily mean books.
The Internet is filled with in-depth articles and blogs. You can become an expert on any topic by searching and consuming online materials. It is all out there for you. All you need to do is get it!
Pro tip: If you really want to be on your A-game, then choose the best magazines and content providers in your field and make sure you see their posts first. Almost all social media platforms allow you to give priority access to your newsfeed.´
I seek out exciting events and seminars. Seminars, for one, offer great content. Secondly, they offer an excellent opportunity to connect face to face with other influencers. The key is to have a clear strategy: Are you going there to learn or to connect or, perhaps, do both?
Networking can also mean active participation in various social media groups. Actively commenting and asking helps you to build a personal brand. It helps you to make your name known, and the next time you approach a prospective client, they just might remember you from a conversation you had earlier on Twitter.
I build and test on my own
I have always upheld a website or two. Fiddling with sites has allowed me to test and try all the newest tools before offering to use them in client’s project.
I’ve also learned many crucial skills by diving deep into a challenge, testing solutions, and building the final solution by myself.
For me, the best way to approach this is to read a few articles about a certain theory, like growing your blog audience. Then, I’ll just repeat and adjust the steps mentioned. Sometimes I have to reverse-engineer something. This way, I’m able to check if it actually works.
Conquering new ground boosts your confidence and, most often, you get to be the first to pitch new solutions to clients… Which leads to my next point.
I pitch beyond my comfort zone and rise to the challenge
There will be a time when you have to face a client asking you “if you can deliver” on your promise. Those are the times to take a breather and deliver a confident “absolutely” topped with a smile. To fulfill big promises might take up a bit more of your time, but what a way to grow, am I right?!
In conclusion, the sooner you consider learning as a life skill, the sooner you start finding success in whatever you do.
Just one more thing. I listed my favorite podcasts for learning below. They offer inspiration, lessons from life and, most importantly, they offer valuable information. Enjoy the short video I made for you!
PS. If you want to get to know me a bit better, visit joonasvillanen.com for more insight.