“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.” This was said by Henry Ford, and he knew a thing or two about entrepreneurship.
If there’s anything I’ve learnt in my fifty years in business, it’s that there’s always more to learn. I see so many examples of entrepreneurs who make a success of their business and then think they know it all. They let go of the relentless curiosity and the very hunger which helped them get success in the first place and they replace it with what? Complacency. Self-satisfaction. Intellectual laziness.
They stop learning and they grow comfortable where they are. And then what happens? Someone hungrier and more curious, someone with more innovative ideas, someone more eager to learn, comes along and steals their business or has an even better idea than they did.
One of the defining characteristics of truly successful entrepreneurs is that they keep learning throughout their careers. Whether it’s through studying the biographies of those you admire, industry journals and magazines, through listening to podcasts, taking online courses…there’s always something new out there to be learned every single day to enhance your own performance and that of your business.
Often you can learn a great deal from industries and arenas beyond your own sphere, so it’s good to look a bit “left field” sometimes for learning and growth opportunities. Steve Jobs, for example, was as obsessed with design as he was with technology, which led to the simple and beautiful engineering and functionality of the Apple products. And as for Sir Richard Branson (famous for the Black ‘n’ Red notebooks he carries around everywhere to scribble down ideas and thoughts), he commented: “My biggest motivation? Just to keep challenging myself. I see life almost like one long university education that I never had–every day I’m learning something new.”
I’ve recently come across some podcasts that I wanted to share with you, as I’ve learnt a huge amount from them. “How I Built This” comprises a series of videos interviewing entrepreneurs who share their experiences, failures, triumphs and life lessons. They’re a masterclass in entrepreneurship, wrapped up in a half hour package that you can watch on the train or listen to in the car and I’ll guarantee you’ll learn a lot from them. From AOL to Melissa & Doug toys, from Spanx to AirBnB, from Lonely Planet to Wholefoods…these podcasts are entrepreneurial narratives told by the founders themselves and are, basically, in a nutshell, inspirational.
I’ve had so many good ideas from listening to their stories. You might too. If you want somewhere to start on your lifelong learning journey, then this is as good a place as any. Here’s the link – I’d love to hear your feedback so email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your thoughts.