The Voice of the Underdog®
Have you ever noticed that interior designers never finish designing their own homes? Their homes could be featured in the finest design magazines and still there would be more to do. The same could be said of car enthusiasts who tinker for years on the same hunk of metal trying to restore it to its former glory. Always one part away. A few Saturdays from being done.
Foodies constantly tweak their recipes with a touch of this and a pinch of that. Fitness gurus invent new diets, change up their training regimens, and do yoga at four different temperatures to find the optimal way to transform their bodies. For musicians, the next song, the next night, the next gig always promises to be better than the one before.
So why is it that in our professional lives, the same isn’t true? We get our degrees. Do an internship. Get a job and then for a lot of us … we’re good. No more reading. No more studying. No more learning unless absolutely necessary. Why is that?
Whether it’s personal or professional, people who lean into a lifetime of learning have two key things in common – first, they have a passion for what they’re studying and second, they are intentional about the time and energy they put into learning.
When we’re passionate about something – something we enjoy, something we love, something that inspires us – our natural inclination is to want to know more. We want to maximize whatever greatness lies in that passion. When something fascinates us, as much as we might rationally want to walk away, we can’t.
Think of your last creative project. Art, music, writing. Whatever. How long did you spend working on it? How meticulous were you in the detail? How painful was it to stop and pivot to something responsible? Leonardo DaVinci said, “Art is never finished. Only abandoned.” Now stop for a minute and consider your profession. What aspects of your business really get your motor running? What fascinates you about what you do? Surely there’s something. The first step to loving learning is to find that thing that holds your attention.
Once you identify what lights you up, the second step is being intentional about the time you spend learning about it. For most of us, nothing is real until it goes in the calendar and learning is no different. It seems obvious that scheduling time to get better at what you’ll spend 40 years doing should be non-negotiable. But sadly, it’s not. When was the last time you put “study” on your calendar?
Because this is important to me, I now have 90 minutes a day in my calendar set aside for reading. 30 minutes in the morning and an hour before I go to bed. I used to have a problem “finding” the time to read and study. You probably do, too. That’s why I decided to schedule it. Try putting time in your calendar and, I promise, you will come to cherish it. Honor it. Protect it. And then watch it improve everything around you.
Even when we’re committed to learning, the thought of where to start can be overwhelming. It’s estimated there are as many as a million books published in the U.S. every year. I know. That doesn’t make the overwhelm any better. But this will:
In the last year, I have come across two extraordinary websites that have made learning fun again for me. They’re engaging, they’re current, and unlike other leadership programs I’ve attended, or sent my colleagues to for thousands of dollars, you can enjoy these two for about $200 a year each.
At our company, we have a standing offer to pay for any member of our staff who wants to join either site and as people are leaning in, we’re seeing new sparks of inquisitive energy and creativity all over the agency. Granted, we’re just getting started but even after a few months, synapses are firing, people are excited, and our culture that already valued learning, is fully engaged.
It’s my hope these will do the same for you!
“Masterclass” is one of those incredible ideas somebody should have come up with years ago, but major kudos to the visionaries who pulled it together. For $99 a class, or $180 a year for unlimited access, you can take “Master Classes” with titans from the creative arts, sports, and business.
In advertising and marketing alone, whether you want to be better in presentations, be more creative, or make better commercials, imagine the impact even one of these classes could have on you and your staff.
And that’s not even half of them!
Each Masterclass is taught through a series of easily digestible video lessons, workbooks, and interactive classrooms. The quality of the video production and materials is outstanding and done in a way that allows you to come and go over time, or sit down and power through a class over a weekend. New courses are added all the time and once you purchase a class you have lifetime access to the content. This is learning you will look forward to!
For some time, Malcolm Gladwell, Daniel Pink, Susan Cain, and Adam Grant have been significant authors and thought leaders in the realm of business leadership, marketing, and success. Now, the four have teamed up to create “The Next Big Idea Club.”
NBIC is a members-only subscription service that ships out two of the year’s best nonfiction books in the areas of psychology, business, happiness, and productivity each quarter with access to additional video content, bonus course materials, and an online forum where you can discuss content with the authors and other members.
In addition to the two books the club sends you every month, your membership also pays for an identical set of books that’s sent to kids in under-developed communities around the country.
As I’m writing this, the first shipment of books is literally on the way, so it’s not too late to jump in. Unlike Masterclass, which feels like the ideal format for individual study, NBIC provides a great platform for small groups or management teams within your company to jump into significant, relevant learning together.
“WISDOM IS NOT A PRODUCT OF SCHOOLING BUT OF THE LIFELONG ATTEMPT TO ACQUIRE IT.”
MIKE SULLIVAN is the president at LOOMIS, the country’s leading challenger brand advertising agency. For more about challenger branding, subscribe to our blog BARK! The Voice of the Underdog
We challenge underdog brands to think differently. We help them find their voice, and urge them to blaze new trails to make sure they stand out from the pack. Whether you need an agency of record or support on a project, we are here to help you win.