Always Be Learning

Twenty-two days into 2018, I’ve finally come up with my theme for the year. I rarely make resolutions; instead, I pick a theme—sometimes a word, sometimes a phrase—to use as my North Star for one trip around the sun. Whatever the theme, it can’t be plucked out of a hat; It has to resonate deeply for me.

At the end of last year, I took time to introspect, to ask what really moves me right now? And the answer was: I don’t know. Sometimes life is like that—we’re in an “in-between” space.  I tried to introspect harder. A few good ideas came to mind but they didn’t stick. So I let go and trusted that it would come to me in its own time.

And  now…I’ve fixed upon one that kept creeping up in different forms and forums. I’m taking that old sales proverb “always be closing” and twisting it into what really drives me: learning.

My theme for 2018 is…Always be Learning.

It’s similar to the theme I chose the year I launched my consulting practice, which was to be uncomfortable as possible as often as possible. I knew I’d have to be to have a chance at making my business a success. It worked so well, I kept the same theme for the next four years. Years later, my business is thriving (no pun intended) so I can heartily recommend that one. I tried so many new things and had experiences I’m sure I wouldn’t have otherwise.

After a while, I got tired of failing soooo much and being really bad at things and I decided to focus a bit more and polish the stone. Again, I’m happy I did. It feels good to when you master things. This year’s theme blends the best of both of those, I think. Whether I’m trying something new or doing something I’ve done before, I want to be intentional about learning from the experience. I want to be intentional about learning certain things as well. So this year, I will make a few resolutions, both personal and professional, that focus my mind on what I want to learn this year.

I am finally—finally—excited about 2018, and I hope you are, too. Happy New Year!


What Really Encourages (and Discourages) Learning

Are you leading in a way that encourages or discourages learning? How open are you (really) to learning?

Mindset by Carol DweckI went to an offsite meeting for WOMEN Unlimited recently and was given a book that was absolutely the right book at the right time for me.

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D. is not a new release so I can’t believe I hadn’t heard of it before. It is truly transformational.  And it’s based on research, which I find refreshing. There are a lot of books out there based on upon little more than anecdotes and sound bites but Professor Dweck’s is based on decades of research. Her conclusions provide such clarity, you’ll say “So that’s why…”

In short, her research shows that we develop a mindset that falls somewhere on a continuum from “growth” to “fixed” and the impact that has on our willingness to grow and achieve over the long term is incredible. As a leader, what impact do you think the willingness of your team members to grow has on your organization? On their careers? On you?

I highly recommend this book if you are interested in how you can get out of your own way, and others, and reignite that spark of learning required to achieve long-term success.

To get a taste of what’s in Professor Dweck’s book, here’s a presentation she gave at Stanford: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=isHM1rEd3GE


Recommended Reading – Networking

There are a number of books that I find myself regularly recommending to clients, friends, acquaintances and so on…I just find them so universally of value that I end up mentioning them quite frequently.  As such, I realized that I really should share them with you. In this post, I’ll start with my top two on networking:

The Fine Art of Small Talk by Debra Fine

This book is a must for people who are terrified of networking.  In addition to the play on words in its title, the content is quite engaging.  I love this book for two reasons: first, because it is practical – full of specific, tangible examples of what one might say in various situations; and second, because it is written from the point of view of someone who is not a natural at all of this networking stuff but learned.  Because she had to learn it step-by-step, she can, and does, explain it clearly.  Not all the examples will fit for all people, but there are so many, you are sure to find some that work for you.  This book, I have actually mentioned in a previous blog but it bears repeating.

Click to see this book on Amazon:
The Fine Art of Small Talk: How To Start a Conversation, Keep It Going, Build Networking Skills — and Leave a Positive Impression!

Make Your Contacts Count by Anne Baber and Lynne Waymon

Looking at networking from a different angle, this book illustrates the strategy around networking. With no strategy behind it, your networking may be enjoyable but could result in many wasted opportunities. That was my situation several years back, before this book was recommended to me by a colleague whose networking skills I admire. Now, I love being in a position to help others and I love it when they ask me. In return, I don’t hesitate to ask for what I need because I know we are in it together. Don’t look back with regret at what you “could have” done – apply these concepts and enjoy the effects of building long-lasting, mutually beneficial relationships.

Click to see this book on Amazon:
Make Your Contacts Count: Networking Know-how for Business And Career Success

Both of these books are relatively short, easy reads. If you add at least one business book to your summer reading list, consider these.  What are some of your most recommended business books?  Comment on this post to share your recommendations with other readers!