CEO Corner: Learn Long and Prosper

adam_learn&growA few weeks ago I traveled to MIT for year one of the EO Entrepreneurial Masters Program. The three-year executive education program is a partnership between Entrepreneurs’ Organization and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. To say the classes, content, and instructors blew my hair back…well… that would be an understatement! The class consists of 65 passionate entrepreneurs from 20 countries that are committed to making their businesses better. The industries and sectors represented are wide. We spent five straight days tucked into a classroom, learning from 9 a.m. until 9 p.m. each day. It was a whirlwind.

At the end of those five days, you would expect to be tired, exhausted, and spent. After all, you just drank from a firehose for 120 straight hours. Interestingly for me, and I suspect of most others, I finished that 5-day jaunt invigorated, excited, and ready to go, go, go. Each speaker echoed a similar theme that consisted of two parts. The first was people, people, and people. The second was training, training, and training. Geoff Smart, New York Times Best Selling author of Who, commented that you can have piles of money, a great product, and a terrific strategy…but if you don’t have the right people on your team, you will still fail.

Verne Harnish, CEO of Gazelles, and the leader of the FORTUNE Leadership Summit and FORTUNE Growth Summit said, “organizations that out-learn their competition beat their competition.” As I was flying home from Boston, I wondered how many entrepreneurs and business leaders engage in rigorous, ongoing professional development, not just for themselves but also for everyone on their team? I recently finished the book What’s The Secret? by customer experience guru John DiJulius. In the book, John points out that the companies that create great customer experiences invest 10 times more in training and professional development around soft skills than their closest competitor.

At Advantage, one of our core values is “commit to life long learning.” As publishers of business, self-improvement, and professional developments books, you might be disappointed if that was not a value of ours! We currently require each team member to complete 56 hours of professional development annually. We provide each team member with a $1,000 in continuing education reimbursement. We recently established a monthly book club for our Leadership Team and will roll it out to the entire company next year. And, despite all of this, we can and should be doing so much more. More training, more role playing, more job shadowing, more cross training, more soft skills training, more leadership development.

So fellow entrepreneurs, business leaders, and authors, I put it to you…what are you doing in your organization to commit to life long learning? Keep Learning. Keep Growing!

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