A consultant from Calgary was in town working with one of our clients. As the marketing arm of this organization I was interviewed by the consultant. After asking a bunch of topical questions to what the organization was going through he then asked me a rather interesting question I thought;
“How are you staying current?”
How are you staying current? I’d never been asked that before. Well not in that context, I’m sure I’ve questioned my age and opinion’s relevance more and more over the past year. But every now and then I get a little too preachy and the coach in me comes out. It’s a bad habit I’m trying to stop.
The question at hand, “how are you staying current?” is a wonderful thought experiment. You ask yourself, “what IS current?”, “how would one stay current?”, “what’s the number one sign someone isn’t “staying current”?” I’m pretty sure he was wondering whether or not I was a growth or fixed mindset person. You know, someone who believes in the future and is bettering ones’ self. The growth mindset allows you to improve no matter what. If you have a growth mindset you’re probably staying current in a number of specific ways.
I’m definitely a growth mindset person. Growth mindset people never have to worry about a job, they’ll always be valuable because they can learn as they go. Reminded me of a podcast with an eerie subtext called: How Safe Is Your Job.
It’s worth a listen.
Jim Barron puts the peak of piano-making at 1905 when they made 400,000 pianos.
In 1914, piano sales totalled $56 million. That was more than double the sales of phonographs. Now in 1919, just five years later, sales of record players hit $158 million. Radio soon eclipsed that. By World War I, pianos were no longer an essential element of every living room.
Piano companies are making about 30,000 acoustic pianos a year now, they made 32,000 in 2013. That’s about 8 percent what they made at their peak in 1905.
Some of the stats they were citing were startling. Put into perspective what we need to focus on; positive change. The only guarantee we have in the future is that it’s going to change.
Reading posts on Facebook or Twitter is easy, scrolling through Snapchat or Instagram rarely makes you a better person. Bouncing from blog post to blog post is not a tried and true method of actually learning a topic. You have to get intimate with a topic, read several books on it, listen to a few podcasts on it, try your idea out some how and report back how it went. We live in a culture where it’s okay to be superficially educated by “the news” whether that by at 6 o’clock on TV or via Facebook. Either way you’re not helping yourself. Sure you may be “staying current” on what the editor of the news wishes you to know or even worse, whatever your friends on Facebook are sharing. But what is that actually doing for your brain?
As Timothy Ferriss wrote in the Four Hour Work Week, don’t watch the news, use it as something to drum up conversation when meeting with people. “Hey Bob, I haven’t seen the news in a month! Too dam busy! Anything interesting you’ve come across?” Then you only find out the most important news, filtered by the people you meet with regularly. Brilliant strategy!
There’s very little learning going on when ingesting the news. Learning happens when your brain takes in stories or interesting content that you can’t just forget. I’m a big fan of books. You can go on Amazon and see what people have rated any book that has been published. You can listen to podcasts, you can watch more documentaries, you can go to more lectures, you can write more, paint more, create more, do something more! If you dedicate yourself to your art, there’s no telling how far you can take it.
What’s your knowledge strategy? How are you learning faster than everyone else?
What’s your knowledge strategy? How on you staying on top of what’s new? Do you find yourself lost in a lot of conversations? You may have an information deficiency problem. Learning begins with committing to a greater cause, a stretch goal (a BHAG!) that centres all your learning around. You have to determine a knowledge strategy because right now someone younger than you is learning faster than you. It’s not just knowledge, you need to put that knowledge into practice so it turns into wisdom. Giving your team a chance to use what they’re learning as they go to test theories and throwout assumptions is a smart way to train your team to A.B.T. (always be testing!).
The companies that learn the fastest will win (hat tip to Eric Reis for that one!).
You must develop a knowledge strategy because right now someone younger than you is learning faster than you. If you can’t do your job faster then you did yesterday someone younger than you will. This isn’t a fair race, it’s a rat race, every person for them selves. Learn as fast as you can or ignore this at your own peril.
Figure out a way to learn from the next generation
Being around a younger generation keeps you fresh. You learn all the slang, current euphemisms, and everything else in between when you interact with high school students (the same goes for University students but I think a better opinion is from a grade 12 student). Students in highschool are smart enough to know they need ambition but not smart enough yet to understand how delusional their ideas are. That’s precisely why they’re going to succeed. Not only succeed, I think there’s a generation of creators coming up that will put every generation of man kind to shame. Think about it.
We’ve never been this smart, we’ve never had this opportunity, our world is now your oyster.
Go create history.