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October 7, 2008

Lifelong consulting learning

I spoke to a guy in Australia recently who asked me point blank why I had not done anything to continue my academic education.

This stunned me as I had never even thought about it. It actually took me a few minutes before I realized that I do view life as a learnign journey - but just not the journey that everyone else has taken for many years.

My academic education was exceptionally short and limited. I would have liked to do more, but it just wasn't a possibility at that time for a number of reasons. So I did an apprenticeship as an electrician...

So obviously moving from there to here wsa not possible without some additional career development, but I never really had time to go back and do an MBA, Engineers degree, or anything like that.

Instead - I educated myself. 

A lot of my early career was spent hunting down (stalking?) the very best in the world in my areas and basically harassing them until they agreed to work with me. This ended up costing me 18 months working for no wages, the other one required me to work for ages in Egypt of all places, and then one other required me to travel regularly from Chile to the USA at my own cost.

Not the greatest way to save money - but a fascinating journey to learn from the very best in the world. From my experience after that these guys taught me things that you just do not learn in colleges.

Other Avenues

I also started to read a lot at around the same time. I read everything I could find on my own area in engineering, and then started to write my own articles and books. But I also read a lot from Weiss, Harding, and Brock, all good foundational stuff for someone planning a career in consulting as I was back then.

Today I read blogs every single day, and subscribe to dozens and dozens of them. My podcast library is now pretty big and I have a large range of business, sales, consulting and entrepreneurial podcasts that help me to learn more about life, the universe and everything. (Douglas Adams, great author)

The web is a fantastic resource for learning new stuff also. Right now I am working my way through the video tutorials on, and I spend a lot of time working with other similar learning and information type websites.

Webinars are a fantastic source of information also. You need to be a bit careful with these. Some of them are far more sales than they are information. But you can find some real diamonds in the rough. This week I am have registered for one from PivotLink related to Business Intelligence, one on publicizing your books through PR techniques, and one from on building an SaaS company.

You can bet that if these are any good I will be blogging about them here.

I think the last, and greatest, learning tool I have had is experience. Getting in over my head, working out how to get out of it, learning from the experience, and applying it again as quickly as possible.(The best way to learn anything, period)

So my answer now, in hindsight, is that I never stopped learning and probably never will do. In fact everyday I continue to seek out mentors, new information sources and I read / listen or watch anything that I can get my hands on for general information.

What are you doing to enhance your value for your clients? Are you investing in your own skillset either through money or time? And if you aren't willing to invest in you - why should anybody else?